Ladies first

Date Posted: 02/06/2010

From blissful spa retreats to days at the races and action-packed weekends, there are plenty of ways to spoil and inspire female groups.

Fall in love with Mr Darcy all over again

Fans of the 1995 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, memorably starring Colin Firth as Mr Darcy, will swoon at the prospect of a break with P and P Tours. Groups can take tea in the sitting room where Mr Darcy proposed, dip their toes in the lake featured in the famous diving scene and, in short, thoroughly immerse themselves in the life and times of Miss Bennet.

Jane Austen tour experts, Helen Wilkinson and Maddy Hall, an authority on the television production, offer tours of the UK filming locations that really are ‘behind the scenes’ as they include several sites not open to the public.

Beginning in Bath and ending in Manchester, the tours include locations used for Meryton, Netherfield, Hunsford Parsonage and, of course, Pemberley. En-route your group members will meet people involved in the filming and have the chance to ride in one of the carriages used by the BBC. Highlights include a Regency supper in the house that doubled as Longbourn, home of the Bennet family, where guests are encouraged to wear period clothes. There are discounts for group bookings, and Atonement, Victorian Farm, Sense and Sensibility and Jane Eyre-themed tours are also available.

A winning day out

It may be famous for this month’s Royal Ascot, but there are many occasions when your group can enjoy a day at the famous Berkshire racecourse. The fashion stakes are just as high on King George’s Day, 24th July, which also features the summer cocktail party. Another option is the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup meeting on 7th August, which will be followed by a live 80s themed concert. Special packages for groups of ten or more include grandstand tickets, a racecard, drinks and a £2 bet.

The most glamorous day at Doncaster Racecourse, which recently underwent a multimillion pound refurbishment, is the Ladbrokes St Leger Festival’s Ladies’ Day. Taking place on the second day of the festival, 9th September, the course offers discounts for parties of ten or more.

So near so spa

A pampering spa day is a wonderful treat and provides the perfect environment for groups to chill out and feel thoroughly spoilt. The most stress-free way to arrange a spa trip is to book a half or full day package that includes treatments and refreshments, leaving group organisers free to sit back and relax.

Champneys is a famous name on the spa scene and has four resorts to choose from: Springs in Leicestershire, Henlow in Bedfordshire, Forest Mere in Hampshire and Tring in Hertfordshire. Spa Days include an introductory tour of the facilities and a welcome tea or coffee, Champneys body massage, a relaxing facial, thalassotherapy pool session, buffet lunch and unlimited use of facilities such as the swimming pool, sauna, gym and exercise and relaxation classes. For every 16 booked one lady goes free.

The Sanctuary is a female-only haven in the heart of London’s bustling Covent Garden. With the fantastic array of shops in the area, groups can enjoy a spot of retail therapy before taking time out in the spa, which boasts a newly refurbished lounge. Splash out in the atrium pool, exercise and spa pools, relax in the lounge as koi carp swim past or head to the Sleep Retreat, where soundwave therapy beds help to ease tension. Groups can arrive in the morning for a full day, or midday for a half day stay. A ten per cent discount is offered on group bookings.

The ultimate spa destination in the UK is the Thermae Bath Spa, Britain’s only natural thermal spa. Here, your group can bathe in the warm waters, relax in the open air rooftop pool, enjoy the views over the city of Bath, spend time in the steam room and waterfall shower, and choose from a range of more than 50 treatments. Half and full day packages are available so a trip to the spa could again be combined with morning or afternoon shopping.

Sweet treat

Three Ways House Hotel, in the Cotswold village of Mickleton, is home of the Pudding Club, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Originally founded to prevent the demise of the traditional British pudding, the club also hosts chocolate events throughout the year and the majority of guests are women! The chocoholic events are based around a chocolate-themed lunch or overnight stay with a chocolate dinner. If you opt for the half day option your group members will enjoy homemade chocolate biscuits and refreshments on arrival followed by a cookery demonstration with plenty of sampling opportunities. The lunch includes chocolate options at each course, with non-chocolate dishes available for the faint-hearted. The residential stay begins with chocolate treats on arrival during the afternoon, dinner, a chocolate treasure hunt after breakfast and cookery demonstration. Discounts are offered for group bookings.

Action women

Mix relaxation with exhilaration at a girls’ only surf and spa break at the Bay Hotel and Fistral Spa on the stunning Pentire Peninsula near Newquay. Designed for women who either want to start surfing or improve their skills, the Roxy Surf Weekends run through to October. The spa, which boasts a pool with underwater music, is the perfect spot to unwind after an action-packed day on the beach. The weekends include two half day surf lessons, equipment hire, a yoga lesson and use of the spa.

Thrill-seeking groups can find more adventure at the Mount Severn Activity Centre, near the source of the River Severn in Llanidloes, Mid Wales. Activities include climbing, caving, abseiling and half to two-day kayak trips. Accommodation is in a Grade II listed Georgian house, which can be exclusively booked by groups.

Back on dry land, Rutland Cycling offers girlie getaways in Britain’s smallest county, which has the country’s largest man-made lake as its centrepiece. Don’t worry if your group members haven’t been on a bike since their schooldays as the picturesque waterside track offers 23 miles of traffic-free cycling. Weekends include hire of women-specific bikes and an overnight stay, with dinner and breakfast, at Barnsdale Lodge, a beautifully converted farmhouse on the lakeside.

Finally, if you prefer to sit back and watch the action, the Aegon Pro Series International Ladies’ tennis tournament, taking place at Foxhills, in Ottershaw, Surrey, from 11th to 17th July, promises to be a great day out.

Perfect packages

•Brilliant Trips offers a vast range of breaks and fun activities for women, including city trips around the UK, spa visits, cookery classes, dancing, wine tasting and cocktail making clinics, to name just a few.
0845-299 4096
www.brillianttrips.co.uk
•When you want to let your hair down you can’t beat a Big Weekend at Butlins. Soul and Motown, Disco Inferno and Festival of the 60s are some of the themed weekends taking place at Bognor Regis, Minehead and Skegness.
0845-070 4747
www.bigweekends.com
•Leger Holidays offers residential breaks that take in some of the UK’s top events including Ladies’ Day at Ascot and Hampton Court Flower Show.
0844-504 6250
www.legerbreaks.info
•The stylish Macdonald Frimley Hall Hotel, near Camberley, and Macdonald Berystede Hotel, near Ascot, host Girlie Weekend pamper breaks.
0844-879 9110 (Frimley)
0844-879 9104 (Berystede)
www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk
•Warner Leisure Hotels has 13 historic hotels and coastal resorts that offer a welcoming environment for women who want to relax, or try something new. In addition to spa breaks, the many activities include singing, painting, gardening, golf, yoga and dancing (no partner required!).
0800-072 0772
www.warnergroups.co.uk

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