The Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire, the idyllic English countryside resort set in a restored, 18th-century manor on 500 acres of picturesque grounds about an hour drive outside of London, is launching ESCAPE, a new extreme fitness weekend June 14 – 16. Incorporating fitness, nutrition and mindfulness, ESCAPE promises to take those brave enough to try it “out of their comfort zone.” A sneak peek by Luxury Travel Advisor, revealed that not only does the ESCAPE feature a mandatory digital detox, it also pushes clients to their personal maximum, both mentally and physically (think: strenuous boot camp-style workouts and high line ropes courses balanced with massages, meditation and nutrition counseling).
Four Seasons Hampshire has spent more than two years to put ESCAPE together, and we sat with spa manager Reka Seres to learn more about the genesis of the program and what guests can expect. Here is our conversation:
What inspired the ESCAPE program?
We have incredible facilities here—a spa, gym, pool, ropes course, mountain bikes; plus, 500 acres of countryside, even more than what you would expect from a five-star resort—but it is the personal experience of our trainers and therapists that really inspired the program. We all have highly competitive sports backgrounds, and our head trainer, Josh Blackmer, is a former member of the U.S. Army Special Forces Unit, so we wanted to create a program to share the rewards and benefits of pushing yourself through physical fitness and teamwork.
Who is ESCAPE for?
Honestly, anyone who has the desire to refocus and recharge their life. We designed the program to offer intense athletic training for any ability, from sedentary and even injured folks to uber-athletes—we will cater to each individual. Being a competitive athlete is not just about how fast or strong you are, it’s about mental toughness, as well. We wanted to offer something more than your typical yoga or sports weekend; ESCAPE was created to take each guest to their personal limit.
Why did it take two years to develop ESCAPE?
Careful planning takes time; in order to include all the elements we wanted, each activity had to be tested, retested and timed and scheduled. ESCAPE incorporates fitness, recovery, mindfulness and nutrition. We had to think about each day and balance every activity with the others.
What can guests expect during the weekend?
The mission of ESCAPE is to take guests out of their normal routines. This starts immediately as we take away all technology: No phones or tech for the entire weekend—no exceptions! On the Friday arrival, guests are issued with personalized ESCAPE gear, followed by an orientation of the grounds via mountain bikes and on foot to learn the local terrain, then a meditation session and dinner. The second day starts at 6:00 a.m. and includes two extreme exercise classes, healthy breakfast and a nutrition masterclass, before launching into the Special Forces-style boot camp led by Joshua Blackmer, followed by an ice bath and personalized spa treatment. The day is finished with yoga and stretching and a refueling dinner. Sunday also begins early, at 8 a.m., with a morning Thai Chi session, followed by an adrenaline-boosting activity on our Highwire Adventure ropes course (we tested this—it definitely takes guts and strength!) and is completed with an indulgent spa treatment. Plus, there are a few surprises I can’t give details on, but know that by the end of the weekend, participants will complete more than 12 hours of fitness training.
Sounds tough. Does the pampering help?
We’ve developed a 90-minute massage that combines Asian therapies with sports massage and Swedish techniques, plus music and ambient sensational changes, it’s a totally new service for us. (We tried this too, and the massage is strong yet somehow deeply soothing, as the movements of the masseuse choreographed to music. Andrea Molnar was an incredible therapist.)
What about food?
All the meals are enjoyed in Wild Carrot restaurant, which features seasonal, natural and locally sourced ingredients from Hampshire. Food served will be special to the ESCAPE program, offering balanced nutrition to refuel for each activity. The weekend also includes a nutrition course to explain basics on calories, macronutrients and meal timings.
Details: ESCAPE will take place on Friday June 14 – Sunday 16 and includes all fitness training, three hours of spa treatments, breakfasts, lunches and dinners, use of the spa facilities and two nights’ accommodation for £1,850 (approximately $2,400) per person, based on single occupancy. ESCAPE is limited to 14 guests. Travel Advisors can book by phone, 44-1253-853-306, and can email spa manager Reka Seres ([email protected]) with any questions. An additional ESCAPE weekend will be held in September.