Located in a beautiful 18th century Sussex country house set in 15 acres of lush countryside, Simply Healing is a luxury detox retreat offering beautiful woodland walks, nature and fresh air alongside treatments, therapies and juice plans.
A healthy gut equals a healthy mind. They’re connected – it’s simple, look after your gut – and it will look after you”, explains Kate. It’s day one and I’m having my introductory consultation with one of the integral members of the small, but fullhearted, team.
We’re sitting in the consultation room of a large and characterful country home (come wellness business), located in rural Sussex, named Alliblasters – an old French term for crossbowman, believed to stem back to the Normans and named after William Le Alblaster (1279). This impressive property is owned and family-run by Vivien Kay and daughter Caroline, who together with the help from Kate and Carolyn, (and occasionally dog Poppy) have spent a decade mastering their secret winning formula that results in guests dancing their way out of the door by the end of their detox plan.
I’ve not been here long, just enough time to check-in and to see my room (a deluxe double), suitably equipped and tastefully furnished, and I’m surprised by just how homely it feels – the house is elegantly decorated, full of colour and character, with high ceilings and a grand staircase. Photos, books, DVDs and elegant travel ornaments and souvenirs, line the book shelves and table tops in every room and corridor, giving guests an insight into Vivien’s intrepid world-travels. She is one of a family-generation of healers and herbalists, and has worked with shaman in countries including Peru, Canada, Mexico and Egypt.
Kate takes my blood, weighs me, and chats to me generally about my physical and mental wellbeing. People come here for many different reasons; it’s a celebrity favourite for keeping the weight off, others come for a general cleanse, some more for the emotional or shamanic healing therapies. I am here just in search of a kick-start to a healthier lifestyle.
It’s simple, or at least that’s what I thought – a few spa treatments, some juice, cut out my caffeine and sugar intake, what could be so hard about that? Other than owning a Nutri-bullet I know very little about the detox journey I am about to take. I head back to my room with my treatment itinerary in hand, keen to research more into Colonic Hydrotherapy and Manual Lymphatic Drainage.
I make my way down to the lounge before my first treatment; Outer Glow Body Scrub. It is easy to relax here. However, I am still struggling to allow myself to. As I am sure most of you will relate to, I’m so used to being on-the-go, juggling both family and work life, deadlines, meetings, emails (mostly coffee-fuelled), that I am feeling guilty, and slightly uneasy, at doing so little.
I look out of the window and it helps, the uninterrupted views of the South Downs and beautifully kept English gardens are a world away from my usual daily routines. Guests are asked to refrain from using their phones, laptops and other devices in guest areas, (although there’s wifi in the bedrooms) and this ‘out of sight out of mind’ digital-detox approach doesn’t take long to have a positive effect.
Therapist Kate works wonders on me – feeling much more relaxed I head to the dining room wrapped up in my fluffy dressing gown and slippers ready to meet the other guests and enjoy a fresh juice.
I am in great company. There’s a scientist, musician, doctor, actor and owner of a top London talent agency. We hit it off, there’s lots of laughter and many share their stories having been here several times before.
There is around a 70% visitor return rate here, so they must be doing something right.
Vivien joins in the conversations and takes the opportunity to tell us about her latest venture – restoring antique chairs into reimagined vintage masterpieces. I had already spotted a few finished gems dotted around the house, each design unique with exquisite colourful fabrics. Vivien was enjoying naming them appropriately, Daisy, Purple Star and Sunshine, and tagged, we could see, many were already sold. (see vintagechairsreimagined.com)
Clearly Vivien is a lady of multi-talents, passionate and positive, with a warm caring aura that permeates her home.
In the evening we gather in the lounge for a group-meditation session, the open fire roaring, throws, blankets and soft cushions all-around, we settle, listening to the crackling sound of the wood, as Kate’s voice sends us into a sleepy trance.
The day is finished off with a delicious detox soup and one of the best night’s sleep of my life. It takes less than 24 hours to really start embracing the detox experience as I begin relaxing. I am no longer fretting about emails, or checking my phone with every alert, and I am acutely aware of a mental shift to a calmer mind, and an ability now to properly unwind.
The following four days adhere to a similar schedule, filled with various combinations of fresh juices (apple, pear and ginger being my personal favourite) and treatments throughout the day to fill our time. The juices are prepared to keep our blood sugar levels stable, sometimes served along with Psyllium Husk, Bentonite Clay and Cleansing Herbs which take me a little more getting used to.
We are given five juices a day, soup in the evening and treated to a delicious fresh fruit breakfast and salad lunch on the day of departure. Everyone agrees how surprising it is that this is enough to stop you feeling at all hungry – if anything I actually felt pretty full most of the time – but thirsty. It is important to also drink plenty of water while detoxing, Vivien suggests at least eight glasses a day. Other than a slight headache I felt mostly fine throughout the detox, although I was sick several times on day three. This can happen but apparently it is not all that common – perhaps because I was a first-timer, and I maybe should have better prepared my body in the weeks approaching my stay. I carried on though and managed to brave it through my colonics, which weren’t anywhere near as terrifying as I had feared.
The house has a lovely conservatory with a running machine, and you are advised to make use of the chi machine and toning plates which I really got into using (said to be good for shifting the toxins out of your body). Each morning we went on an invigorating woodland walk too, making the most of our surroundings and connecting with nature while we talked – great for bonding time.
My last treatment was the ‘totally quenched and drenched facial’, a Temple Spa special, booked as an extra on one of the other house guests recommendation – and I am so pleased I did. Carolyn my therapist was fantastic. In fact, all the therapists at the retreat were brilliant, but if you can ask for Beatrice for your Detox Massage, her hands work magic, and Carolyn for your colonics, she will make you feel immediately comfortable and is extremely knowledgeable about the detox process, with 20 years’ experience.
I must admit I came into the process a little naïve and I had to work much harder for the reward than I imagined I would. But, while it wasn’t all plain sailing, it was entirely worth it. You feel positive, energised, focussed and I have never felt so emotionally well-balanced and ready to face the winter. I am a firm believer that you can’t buy happiness, but at Simply Healing you can buy the helping hand you need to make you feel happier – and what more could you want than that? Simply priceless.
Simply Healing detox programmes start at £1475 for a 5 Day Juice Cleanse Detox Plan. simplyhealingcentre.com