Blogger, and unlikely spa aficionado, Andrew Boulton, explains why a spa break is the boys’ weekend of 2014 …
The morning after I returned from my last ‘boys’ weekend’ I felt like I had been savaged by a polar bear.
It had been an all too messy experience and now I was left to count the costs of the foolhardy gusto with which I had launched myself into proceedings. Hangover battled with paintball welts for the undivided attention of my pain receptors and I lay there thinking that I was going to need a bigger Berocca.
But why do we do this to ourselves? Why does the ‘lads weekend’ have to be carnage and debauchery on such a scale that Ollie Reed would ask us to take it down a notch?
I am increasingly of the opinion that groups of male friends could have a thoroughly enjoyable and entirely pain free weekend at a spa.
When I suggested this to my friends their initial gasp was followed in turn by laughter, derision and a series of painful dead arms.
But why are men so unreceptive to the idea? It is undoubtedly a question of perception.
The spa weekend is done a terrible disservice by the label ‘pampering weekend’. It makes it sound frivolous, fluffy and impossibly ‘girly’.
My experiences of spas have never approached anything I could describe as ‘fluffy’.
The gym I go to in real life is, in terms of decor and personnel, not unlike a prison gym. The shabby equipment creaks, the treadmills wildly fluctuate between their two speeds of super slow and Tron, and neck tattooed ruffians jostle to see who can grunt the loudest while lifting weights bigger than my car. Gyms at spas are, in my experience, immaculate, modern, welcoming environments that are conducive to an enjoyable and productive workout.
Another misconception is that the restaurants are sub-standard, that they will somehow try and force an unpalatable salad or watery broth into your face under the pretence that it’s good for you. Wrong again. Some of the finest restaurants I’ve ever eaten in have been in spa hotels and delicious and innovative cuisine is as much a part of a spa weekend as making your swimming shorts blow up in the Jacuzzi.
But aside from the facilities and food, the most common and ignorant misconception about spa weekends is that relaxation is any way a strictly feminine indulgence. Men have stresses, whether it’s a demanding job or a football team so incapable of passing to each other you are frequently left wondering if they’re all suffering from chronic ‘only child syndrome’.
A spa is an ideal environment for male groups of friends to exercise, reenergise and relax in ways that their regular lifestyle simply doesn’t allow. What’s more it’s a time spent with dear friends in comfortable surroundings. Time that does not involve cowering behind a tree while you’re closest companions in the world try to maim you with high velocity bullets of paint.
There’s nothing wrong with a weekend with the boys getting smashed. But there’s nothing wrong with a weekend that puts you back together again either.
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