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Bowood's Rooibos Tea and Honey Enzyme Facial brightens natural tones from within. (Handout/Handout)
Bowood's Rooibos Tea and Honey Enzyme Facial brightens natural tones from within. (Handout/Handout)

Unwind in a proper British manor at this Cotswolds spa Add to ...


The romanticization of alabaster skin the likes of Kate Winslet has given rise to a multimillion dollar "depigmentation" market, with products designed to strip away natural olive tones (read: ethnic). Bowood Spa buries the cultural tyranny of the English Rose complexion in the cosmetics market with its Sundari facials. While some banned skin bleaching products contain mercury, arsenic and other unpronounceable compounds found in film developer, Bowood's Rooibos Tea and Honey Enzyme Brightening Facial isn't about making you look like "white;" it brightens natural tones from within.

My aesthetician tells me everything is formulated with organic ingredients where possible, using therapeutic grade essential oils and no synthetic fragrance or dye. She applies an exfoliating complex of tea and fruit enzymes that feels fresh and active; effervescent tingling is so much more pleasant than medicinal burning. Bowood's facials are heavy on massage - a big plus in my book. More than any serum, the stimulating techniques leave skin feeling oxygenated and enlivened.


Rooibos tisane is the new coconut water, the trendy tonic on every food hipster's lips. The plant contains high levels of zinc and vitamin D to promote healthy skin. Studies show this South African red bush treats eczema and acne; the tea's high level of flavonoids are thought to encourage the body to destroy unwanted pathogens.


Take a lord with a savoir faire for entertaining, add a lady with a savvy flair for design, and all hail Bowood - the finest new country hotel and spa in Britain. Charles and Fiona Petty-FitzMaurice, ninth Marquess and Marchioness of Lansdowne, opened the 43-room hotel in 2009 on the 2,000 acres of parkland of his ancestral Wiltshire estate. Following an active career in politics, Lord Lansdowne's primary objective has been to restore the contemporary relevance and viability of his estate (one can only imagine the overhead). Spa enthusiasts have Lady Lansdowne to thank for the most stunning new haven to hit the Cotswolds, a skill carried over from her interior design career in London. One might say wellness pursuits are a perfect fit for Bowood as, in 1774, scientist Joseph Priestley, employed as a tutor, discovered oxygen here.

Easily irked by outside "white noise" or hallway foot traffic? You'll appreciate the sonic and physical isolation of the spa suites as you walk up the tower stairs to an expansive treatment room with ensuite bath, boasting views worthy of artist J.M.W. Turner.

Simply reclining in a pasture designed by 18th-century British landscape architect Lancelot (Capability) Brown lowers the blood pressure, and Bowood offers one of his masterpieces.

Visitors to Bowood will find a pleasurable "Anglogasm" around every corner - couture bubble and squeak in the kitchen, Somerset lamb in the larder, Herefordshire cider on tap and national treasures on the walls, including political caricatures by 18th-century satirist James Gillray, many of which depict Landsdowne family members. After all, in this robust family tree, the 1st Marquess of Lansdowne is commonly credited with "brokering" American Independence while the 5th Marquess was the fifth Governor General of Canada.

The resort also boasts an ambitious 18-hole championship golf course.


Bowood Hotel, Spa and Golf Resort at Bowood, Derry Hill, Wiltshire; 44-1249-822228; bowood-hotel.co.uk; $176 for 90 minutes.

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