Tag Archives: Donnington Valley Hotel and Spa

New Year’s Fitness Resolutions

The New Year is always a good time for reflection on what you achieved last year. Look back at what you accomplished fitness-wise and decide what you will do to make those changes. Here are some tips from Senior itness Instructor Phoebe McCully to help you stick to your new resolution.

Be Realistic

This is one of the most important tips to think about and remember when setting your new fitness resolution. If you go straight in and set yourself a huge goal of losing a stone in a month or jumping straight in to 7 gym sessions a week you might find yourself slipping off the path you set yourself on.

Decide what type of challenge you want to set yourself for the new year and then break it down into smaller step by step amounts which you will achieve, keeping you motivated and on the right path.

For example if you’ve set yourself the goal to run 10k, don’t jump straight in and try and run the 10k, if you don’t succeed you may end up de motivating yourself. Set yourself chunks, first session run 2k, then 3k then 4k and so on. Or run the first 3k, walk 1k, run 3k, walk 1k. As your fitness improves you’ll see that you will be able to make more of a dent in the 10k before you have to walk.

Being realistic isn’t just a tip for those wanting to start fitness; those of you who have been using the gym for years will still need to be realistic when planning your new personal workout targets.

Make a Plan

Once you have decided on realistic new targets for your fitness, it’s time to get organised. By creating a step-by-step guide to reach your aspirations, it will set you up for success.

If you don’t make a plan, you are more likely to stop going to the gym and end up doing nothing. With the colder temperatures lingering about, it’s beneficial to have a specific schedule that you can work with – meaning no excuses not to come.

When you set your schedule remember to set yourself rest days, if not you may end up burning yourself out and setting yourself back to where you started.

An example of a plan could be to attend a mixture of cardio and strength classes so you work a variety of different muscles. If you prefer to train on your own you could split the different muscle groups into different days. This way you won’t feel like you have to rush your gym session to fit in each area you want to train.

If you’re new to the gym you could start by attending one fitness class a week and as you feel yourself getting fitter you could pick it up to two classes a week and so on.

Reward Yourself

We need to remember to reward ourselves when we reach our little targets that help us get to our main goal. By rewarding yourself it will keep your mind on the right path, and it’s always good to make yourself feel good about what you have achieved.

When you set your plan, decided what your rewards will be when you reach that particular goal, this will help you stay motivated and focused on getting there.

Remember you can always come and talk to one of our fitness instructors in the gym for advice, if you feel personal training sessions are what you need to help you get to your goal, then come and speak to one of us today.

Mum-To-Be with Little Butterfly

Little Butterfly London is Britain’s first organic-certified luxury skincare range for “babies” only. Our Spa offers the products to take away and treatments to enjoy here. Hannah, our Spa Director, tells us more.

Mum-To-Be

Dewdrops at Dawn, Bubbles in the Breeze and Fall into Dreams are some of newest products we have introduced to the Spa this month. These names are just an insight into the beautiful new range that is “Little Butterfly”.  The most precious natural and organic ingredients are generously blended to delight the senses and nurture delicate skin. Created in London and manufactured in England, Little Butterfly London has an air of elegance, with chalky pastel hues, fine wooden closures and luxurious cartons. Delicate skins deserve the kindest, safest skin care. All products are suitable for newborn and eczema-prone skin and are free from mineral oil, paraffin, parabens, SLS, silicones, DEA, TEA, PEGs and artificial fragrances.

The products in the range are:

Dewdrops at Dawn (Body Lotion)

Bubbles in the Breeze ( Top to Toe Wash)

Soft as Moonlight (Nappy Change Cream)

Floating on Clouds (Bedtime Bath Milk)

Fall into Dreams (Mother and Baby Massage Oil)

For the “Mum To Be” there is the Dreamy Pregnancy Massage available as a 55 minute or 80 minute option and suitable after the 14th week of pregnancy. This heavenly treatment incorporates the Mother and Baby oil with a full body massage which has been designed to soothe, calm and relieve the strains of pregnancy. For the mum to be that is experiencing disturbed sleep, aches, pains and puffiness, this dreamy massage will give you a moment to rest and restore. A new, “Fall into Dreams Mother and Baby Massage Oil” will be opened and used for your treatment, allowing you to take the rest of the product home with you; to nourish, soften and promote peaceful sleep for both you and baby.

For more information please contact the spa on 01635 551188.

Local Events this December

This month there’s a plethora of festive local events and activities happening in the  area. We’ve picked our six of the best:

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Bucklebury Christmas on the Farm
1st December to 23rd December
Opening times: 09:30 – 17:00
Call: 0118 971 4002
Ticket prices apply
A magical place at Christmas, Bucklebury Farm is stunning: the holly is chock-full with berries, the tree is up in the barn and the fairy lights are shining bright. All this and Santa is here! He is dropping in every day to meet the children and check up on his reindeer who are right next door to his grotto and busy getting fed ready for the busy time ahead. With home-cooked Christmas lunches up to 23rd December booking is essential and as we are now licensed you can enjoy a small alcoholic beverage with your food.
With a deer park, farm animals, indoor play, pedal go-cart track, tractor rides refreshments, adventure playground, a wild walk, Be a Farmer Club and den building, this is a fantastic day out for everyone, whatever the weather.


Watermill Book Club – The Story of Alice
Tuesday 1st December
Opening time: 7pm
Call: 01635 46044
Ticket prices apply

A good part of our cultural heritage is based on wonderland, and artists, poets, writers and many others have used this theme for over a century. Among this heritage sits the complex history of the author Charles Dodgson, the quiet academic, and his better-known counterpart, Lewis Carroll – storyteller and innovator. This author dreamed up Alice Liddell’s fictional alter ego in the seminal storybook that has spanned generations.
In this evening, Professor Robert Douglas-Fairhurst uses previously unpublished material to bring the timeless legend of ‘Alice’ to light.


Wine School at The Vineyard – Christmas Wines
Wednesday 2nd December
Opening time: 630pm to 8pm
£30 per person

This evening is quite simple. A collection of bottles suitable for the festive lunch and some tips on what to match with, serving ideas, plus a host of tips on making the most important lunch of the year stress-free!


Champagne Jazz Lunch at The Vineyard
Sunday 13th December
Opening time: 12pm to 4pm
£55 per person

The perfect way to begin the festive celebrations;live jazz, great food and unlimited Champagne! Sit back, relax and listen to the soulful sounds of jazz whilst enjoying a three course lunch and unlimited** Champagne with friends and family.
**Unlimited Champagne will only be served during lunch from starter to dessert.


Dick Whittington At The Corn Exchange
27th November 2015 to 3rd January 2016
Call: 0845 5218 218
Ticket prices apply

The 2015 Corn Exchange Christmas Pantomime is full of adventure, danger and magic. Joined by his cat and Sarah the Cook, Dick Whittington is trying to seek his fortune. Will he defeat the devilish King Rat, or save his love, Alice? Sure to be lots of fun and laughter, some performances are sold out already so book your tickets quickly!


A Merry Christmas At Basildon Park
28th November 2015 to 5th January 2016
Opening Times: 10:00 – 15:00
Call: 01491 672382
Ticket prices apply

This Georgian Mansion, surrounded by parkland, will be beautifully decorated for Christmas. Explore the wintery gardens with their trail and see the lovingly restored mansion with fine paintings, fabrics and furniture which you can still see today. Make the most of your visit by treating yourself to cream tea, explore the refined house, or breathe in the fresh air by taking one of their marked trails through the 400 acres of historic parkland.


Spa-rkle for Christmas – Prepare for Party Season

We are now entering the party season, the time when going out on “a school night” is actually acceptable, whether it be a night out with friends or the annual Christmas work do. Often it means treating ourselves to a new party outfit or two and a pre party pamper treat. Hannah our Spa Director offers top tips to prepare.

Spa

To prepare your skin for the festive season, ensure you drink a lot of water, 2 litres a day is the recommended intake. If over indulging is on the cards your water intake should be increased. There are ways to help the skin feel more hydrated and therefore be refreshed, glowing and allow make up to have a flawless finish. At home you can exfoliate your skin once or twice a week to remove any dead skin cells and use a hydrating mask once or twice a week to combat dehydration and infuse the skin with much needed nutrients. In the spa treat yourself to the collagen smoothing facial which will give your skin a collagen boost and correct the signs of ageing as they appear. The collagen mask smoothes fine lines and has a plumping effect, after the treatment your skin will be radiant and its collagen reserves restored.

To prepare for the LBD at home, skin brushing and a good body exfoliation will help to increase the circulation and leave the skin looking radiant and feeling smooth. In the spa the Thalgo slim and sculpt treatment is perfect for targeting stubborn unwanted curves and cellulite. You can combine this treatment with a full body exfoliation to save having to worry about how to reach your back or those difficult-to-reach areas. If you want to add a nice shimmer to the skin use the Polynesia Sacred Oil which gives a lovely gold shimmer as well as hydrating and nourishing. The other alternative is to have a spray tan or apply self tan at home. In the spa we use the Vita Liberata spray tan, an organic luxury anti ageing brand, with three different strengths of tan. You can choose from a touch of colour, a week away or even a two week holiday tan.

On-trend colours for make up this festive season are very much plums and purples and shimmers are back. A smoky eye is sultry and seductive, apply a shimmering, mid tone eye shadow to the moving part of the eyelid, use a brush to blend from lash line to socket line, use a darker shade on the outside corner of the eye, sweeping along the lash line and slightly into the socket line, add a little under the lower lashes, working inwards. Line the eyes with eyeliner to the lash line, for a more dramatic look apply to the lower line as well. Finish the look with mascara on the upper and lower lashes.

For nails, add sparkle to the ring finger or a touch of glitter to all nails.

Wine Tasting and Cocktail Making

Are you are looking for something a little different to reward your delegates with after a hard day’s work? Why not test our experts and try a wine tasting session before dinner? Julie Weston, our Events Manager, explains more.

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Blind tasting is always a fun way to challenge your taste buds, (don’t worry, no blindfolds are used). The wine is poured before you arrive to ensure there will be no cheating.

Throughout the session, our knowledgeable sommelier will give you a lesson in how to taste wine, and pass on lots of interesting facts about grape varieties and regions to wet your appetite for the tasting. And possibly help you determine their origin.

If you fancy yourself as a budding Tom Cruise, we could arrange a cocktail making master class, with plenty of testing and even the opportunity to mix your own creation!

Don’t have too much fun, in case there is a second day of concentration required!

Ask our conference experts about adding on something different to your residential conference, or for their team building ideas.

Change Your Routine to Keep Seeing Results

You’ve set yourself a hard gym routine to help get you through the summer season, now it’s time to make a change to keep on seeing those results. Phoebe McCully, a Senior Fitness Instructor at our Health Club, gives us some top tips.

 Matrix gym cardio suite at Donnington Valley

Sticking to the same routine can be very easy and comfortable, but at some point, your routine may not give you the results you want, so you need to shake things up. Changing your workout routine can be a motivator and may make things more interesting for you.

You work hard in the gym trying to find the routine that suits you. You start the routine and you notice that it is helping you make the changes that you want, so you stick with it. However, after a few months you may notice that the changes you liked to see have stopped appearing. The reason this happens is because repetition means the body can adapt. It will know what to expect and will then use less energy.

So here aresome signs that you can look for when deciding if you should change up your routine.

Do you get bored in the gym? Are you noticing fewer results? You find the workout less challenging? If you have answered yes to any of these questions then you need to mix things up!

Instead of just spending your amount of time on the treadmill, or cross trainer at a constant speed, I recommend our clients try our new ‘Sprint 8’ software. It is designed to help improve fitness levels, and burn away fat. It will be hard and will kick-start your body into making those changes again.

Mix up your strength routine by adding in a super set, to challenge your muscles even more. Finish the reps on the exercise that you are doing and then go straight into another one for the same muscle group. Super sets will help improve your endurance and build muscle.

If you make changes you will keep seeing results, and you will stay motivated. Try to make a change every four to six weeks. To help you make the right changes, why not book in for a review with the Fitness team? We would be only too happy to help and you never know how it will change the way you feel about your routine fore the better.

Upcoming Events this September

With summer drawing to a close and early signs of the Autumn onset starting to show, Newbury continues to maintain its calendar of ever- buzzing activity to get us out in the Autumn sunshine!

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Royal Country of Berkshire Show

19th September – 20th September   

This annual family event is a highlight in Newbury’s social calendar. It’s a fun filled weekend for all the family to enjoy. Don the wellies and wrap up warm – it is sure to be a wonderful weekend with something to keep everyone happy. From furry farm animals to a selection of Britain’s finest foods, this is one for all the family.

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Newbury Real Ale Festival

12th September 

Live bands and beer… just what Saturday dreams are made of. With over 150 real ales, ciders and perrys for everyone to try and also a range of food options, including multiple hog roasts. Newbury’s annual Real Ale Festival is back and with a growing cult following, this year is bound to be better than before. Join and support local bands and breweries – and enjoy yourself very much! Opening Hours from 12 noon.

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Music in Victoria Park Bandstand

6th September      City of Oxford Silver Band

13th September    Hannington Silver Band

20th September    Cholsey Silver Band

27th September    Reading Spring Gardens Band

This September, take time for yourself and get lost in our local talent playing at the bandstand at Victoria Park in Newbury. Wrap up warm and join for a couple of hours of relaxation alongside the Kennet & Avon canal. Pack the picnic rugs and refreshments and pick from a selection of dates to suit you.

Playing between 15:00 – 17:00

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Burgundy Grand Cru Dinner

Wednesday 9th September

7pm arrival for 7.30pm

Grand Cru – The best of the best. There are 32 Grand Cru vineyards in Burgundy, accounting for less than 2 percent of all Burgundy wine production.  Esteemed by wine experts and cellar aficionados alike, this region also makes wines that match superbly with foods. Join our hosts for the night, including our wine expert James Hocking to learn more – and to enjoy imbibing! This is a unique event at The Vineyard; the first time that we have raided our cellar to show off some of our very best wines. Often referred to as “the holy grail” of wine producing regions, this is a dinner not to be missed!

Five course dinner with matching wines £150 per person

Stay the night with breakfast from £173.50 per person*

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Summer Holiday Essential Tips

Feeling your best before going on a Summer holiday is essential. Here are three major tips from our Spa Manager Hannah Henley-Thrift to ensure you are ready for anything!

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With such busy lifestyles, getting body-ready for sunny climes before we go away often seems like a lot of effort. However, the results really are worth it! Envision yourself feeling great on holiday and follow these following tips for tanning, tinting and slimming.

Firstly, a healthy radiant glow will set the tone. A perfect tan comes with precision preparation. It might sound an effort but it will pay off! Exfoliating the body 24 hours before your tan is essential. For the best results apply your chosen body scrub to dry skin before showering, pay particular attention to dry areas, for example the elbows, knees, ankles and knuckles. Don’t forget any hair removal should also be done 24 hours before a tan but can be done after your exfoliation. Products containing oils should be avoided as the oil can remain on the skin resulting in a not so even tan.

If you are new to tanning, try a gradual tan which builds up as applied or get it applied professionally. For a long lasting tan, we treasure the Vita Liberata range – their pHenomenal (two to three week) tan is a tinted mousse making application very easy and giving you an instant glow.

For a flawless look throughout the summer tinting your eye lashes is a simple solution, rather than worrying about your mascara smudging. (IT is also great for swimmers and gym goers for the same reason! Eyelashes and eyebrows can be tinted and will last four to six weeks. A vegetable-based dye is used by your beauty therapist and applied to the desired area. A variety of colours is available and this will be discussed at the consultation stage. A patch test is required at least 24 hours prior to your appointment, so don’t forget to plan this into your pre-holiday calendar. (Another one for the list!)

Slimming
We are a massive fan of Thalgo’s Ocea Draine detoxifying products. Recommended before starting an intensive slimming regime, it triggers the elimination and weight loss process. This ten day intensive course will help you reach your goal – or just feel less bloated and trim.

Happy holidays!

Wedding Tips at Donnington Valley

When planning for your wedding day, catering will be one of the biggest decisions you will make. The food is one of the main things your guests will remember from the day, what they had, was there enough, was there too little and how did the food reflect you as a couple? Here are our best tips.

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When it comes to deciding on catering for your big day there are a number of choices: a traditional three course wedding breakfast; a relaxed summer barbecue or even a Champagne afternoon tea. Try and be different – and think about the best bits from previous weddings you would have attended. Make it more about you and your partner.

Upon arrival following your ceremony, guests might be a little peckish; the perfect little appetiser would be individually handmade canapés. Time of year is key as to what this might entail – hot, cold, heavy or fresh. You might want the freedom to choose, some venues are more flexible here than others.

Drinks are also a very important part of the day and not everyone wants to drink, though some do! A range of beverages for your reception depending on the time of year including a Summer Pimms or hot winter cider toddy will go down well and don’t have to break the bank.

The main meal, often called the wedding breakfast, can come in a variety of guises – and our Head Chef, Kelvin Johnson, is happy to design a menu for our guests’ wedding day. Kelvin’s menus are influenced by the seasons, using the freshest ingredients from our local suppliers. Importantly for many, wines to compliment your menu sounds like a minefield but needn’t – our award winning wine sommelier, Chris Neeves would assist on selecting exactly what went with your chosen dish. Whatever you choose though, again consider what you and your partner like.

It is also nice to cater for others for example the vegetarians and children who might need something different to the rest. At Donnington we create ‘Little Meals’ – mini fish & chip cones or mini burgers and chips . If you have a large number of evening guests attending or have a family with a large appetite, a finger buffet is perfect, and we are able to customise to suit any dietary requirements. If you fancy something simple; a bacon, egg or sausage roll will go down a treat too and once the party starts can often be the saving grace!

And throughout the evening, something fun will keep everyone entertained and energy levels high! How about going for your favourite retro sweets, a popcorn machine or even candy floss! A great Summer treat is a slush machine which you can make alcoholic, adults only or even an ice cream stand- everyone loves ice cream!

It can be overwhelming trying to accommodate all of your family and friends’ needs. But most importantly remember the day is your day, and if you choose to have it at Donnington, we are here to make your day as special and memorable for you as possible.

Wedding Tips at Donnington Valley

Choosing a wedding venue is a source of great enjoyment – but also can be one of the most stressful and difficult decisions of the occasion. Our Special events co-ordinator Katie Foulds gives a few tips – her first in a series of top wedding tips – to help you plan the perfect day.

 Weddings at Donnington Valley.

When it comes to choosing a wedding reception venue there are of course a lot of factors which need to be taken into consideration. This can be very overwhelming to a couple and I often speak to brides who simply don’t know where to start.

The best place to start is for you to sit down and work out what type of reception venue you are drawn to. Are you interested in historical properties such as a country manor, castle, period hotel, or stately home? Maybe you’d prefer a barn style venue or even a marquee. I advise writing a list between you and your partner of what you’re looking for from a venue, such as: high ceilings, natural light, outside space, traditional features etc. By starting at this point you can easily eliminate the types of venues which don’t appeal to you both. This will instantly make the venue finding process easier and a lot less time consuming.

The next thing to do (if you haven’t already) is to plan your guest list. Knowing how many guests are attending your wedding reception will help eliminate down the venues that are too small or even too large for your needs. Having a number in mind also helps the venue quote for your wedding.

If you plan to hold your wedding ceremony at a different location from your wedding reception try to look for venues within a radius of a thirty minute drive from your chosen location.

Once you’ve narrowed your search down to a list of approximately ten, get in touch with the venues and organise a show round with the wedding co-ordinator.

When making your first enquiry always give the venue the following details:

  •  You and your fiancé/e’s full name
  •  The number of guests you’re interested in having attend your ceremony and/ or reception
  •   A date if you have one (if you don’t have a date, a rough month and year will always help give you an accurate quote)

Giving these details will mean the wedding co-ordinator at your venue can give you a quote as accurately as possible to your requirements and budget.