Boutique AA 4-star destination Lincombe Hall Hotel, Torquay, has expanded its leisure provision by unveiling a £2m designated luxury spa.
Interior designers Ashton House Design called in changing room specialists Crown Sports Lockers once again to manufacture and fitout the changing areas for what is a high specification build.
“Lincombe House is our third project working with Ashton House Design, famed for their keen eye for detail,” notes Crown project manager Sam Palmer, “so the install is to the most exacting standards.”
After working with the interior designers on spas at Ilsington Country House Hotel, Newton Abbot, and Thurlestone Hotel, Kingsbridge, Crown have partnered them in creating arguably the consultancy’s most expansive facility to date.
“We enjoyed a constructive first meeting with Simon Bantock at Ashton House, followed by equally positive meet-ups with Brett Powis and wife Jo, who own and run Lincombe Hall,” explains Sam.
The high-end specification features painted shaker doors with Polyrey laminate centre panels, internal beading detail and matching shaker closure panels to create a guest changing environment oozing style.
Wet and dry vanities with elaborate upholstered seating and special profile stitch detailing, plus towel drop units further enhance the scope of provision. Completing the fitout is a unique oval island seat with tiled funnel to ceiling, creating a truly standout feature.
In the four additional single treatment rooms and couple’s room, Crown manufactured and fitted cabinets with fascias in painted forest green, also fitting tailored units in the nailbar and pedicure bars.
Guests have a host of immersive treatments to experience, including halotherapy in the Himalayan Salt Room, Scandinavian sauna and aromatherapy steam room, providing coconut, orange blossom, eucalyptus and vanilla fragrance options (Temple Spa products are used throughout the spa), and cold therapy ice room with ice fountain.
The 15m indoor lap pool and 13m hydro pool – with 10 different stations each with air jets and volcanoes (pressurised bubbles) – sit within a `wraparound` windowless setting geared to help guests relax with minimal external stimuli.
The Powis family purchased Lincombe Hall Hotel in April 2017, adding to its nearby Riviera Hotel and Babbacombe Hotel properties. “Lincombe is by far the highest-end of the three,” says Brett Powis, who, with Jo, was fully involved throughout the spa project.
“Our two sister hotels serve the coach market but we have invested extensively in these too – in total at least £10m in the bay English Riviera, which includes Babbacombe, Brixham, Paignton and Torquay,” he states.
Lincombe Hall is the first hotel of this stature to open in the locality for 10 years, Brett claims. “It was a semi-derelict, 2- or 3-star destination when we bought it. Now it’s AA 4-star, adult-only boutique hotel with luxury spa, the only one of its kind in Torbay and proving extremely popular.
“We began the spa process three years ago and it has taken a year to build.
We had planning permission for 12 extra bedrooms but decided that a spa provided a better addition to the hotel,” he says.
The treatment rooms came on line a month before the main spa opened in late November 2019. “We wanted to open before Christmas as this is a hectic time,” says Brett, “and that decision delivered a real bonus for us.
“We cannot claim to be experts in spa design,” he concedes, “so worked closely with the architects and other specialists on the physical layout of the pools, the outdoor spa cabins and interior décor and provision.”
Brett had checked out several spa hotels, including Thurlestone and Ilsington, and chose Ashton House Design after one of them recommended the consultancy. “These two stood out as they exceeded my expectations as a visiting hotelier, “Brett recalls.
Simon Bantock adds: “We helped transform both sites from facilities that lacked imagination – that had simply ticked the boxes and so had unappealing atmospheres – to inspiring, memorable spa guest experiences.”
After “tweaking” the architects’ proposed layouts, Simon collaborated with Brett and Jo on their preferences, which included spa cabins sourced from Inbecca, Barcelona.
Jo and spa manager Sarah Caplan selected soft furnishings and fittings,
working with Simon on colour schemes. “Every project we undertake is unique,” says Simon, “and we always seek to introduce something different, such as the Dyson hairdryers in Lincombe Hall Hotel’s spa washrooms.”
Selecting the spa fitments and finishes, tiling, pictures, artwork and wallcoverings, Ashton House Design conceived the layouts for the changing areas from what was a generous space reserved for them.
“The ladies area takes up the lion’s share,” says Simon, “and we accented the colour palate of the spa, introducing plenty of reflective surfaces with floor to ceiling backlit mirrors and four vanities.”
The consultancy also introduced solid-walled toilets to add extra privacy, two generous showers and two private changing rooms.
The original layout morphed several times as spaces changed,” adds Simon. So did the colour scheme, from its conceptual blue theme. “Dramatic etched imagery to the poolside glass, complete with backlit 2.5m high artwork and imagery of jellyfish, some in vinyl, is set off by dark etched reflective pool ceiling, creating a double-height spacial effect.”
Pool tiling proved “a big decision,” says Simon. “We decided on differing shades for dry and wet areas and colours varying with water depth – plenty of teale, electric turquoise and grey blue to summit up an impression of walking into the Swiss Alps – going to great lengths to make the setting special.”
Inclusivity ranks high at the hotel. The spa allows wheelchair users ready access to the treatment rooms, pool and changing areas, with disabled changing room and shower on hand, while all cabins, poolside loungers and chairs offer level access.
Simon and Sam co-ordinated design of the distinctive locker door fronts. “The appearance was critical in creating an eyecatching effect. Lighting really catches the profile of the textured veneer facing.”
In this third spa project partnering Crown, Simon says of the Made in Britain and FSC-certified manufacturer: “I love the install quality and their workmanship. They are punctual and a joy to work with.”
In preferring traditional lock and key storage security rather than an electronic option, Lincombe Hall solved a perennial bugbear for leisure operators. “The sector suffers with key management issues,” Sam reports.
“So many go missing. The addition of a cork key fob elegantly solves the problem. If guests lose their key in the pool, it simply bobs to the surface. Simple yet effective.”
Brett is also delighted with his experience of working with Crown. “They were fantastic throughout, and Sam was particularly easy to work with. Handling the construction side, I was dealing with 15 contractors and Crown were top drawer. No problems at all. We were lucky to have them on our doorstep [Crown are based in Paignton].”
Also on a mission of a plastic-free guest experience, Lincombe Hall Hotel is capturing the boutique, bespoke spa sector in Torbay with its membership offering, spa days and breaks in a highly immersive and stimulating leisure environment.
Plans are afoot to extend facilities beyond the outdoor pool too so a rosy future beckons for a year-round luxury leisure destination large enough to lure day guests and staycationers alike.