Mar 21, 2023
In the Cotswolds, a New £15,000-a-Year Club for the Fitness-Obsessed
(Bloomberg) -- On the Daylesford estate in the Cotswolds, if you take a walk past the bustling farm shop with the honeyed local-stone exterior, and the spa-in-a-barn with “wellness is a way of life” emblazoned on the side, you’ll soon find the region’s newest exclusive members club. When The Club by Bamford opens at the end of this month, clients can pay up to £15,000 ($18,300) a year to sip coffees at tree trunk tables near roaring fires, consult with doctors about their bloodwork, immerse themselves in a “restorative” sub-zero cryotherapy chamber, and pump iron overlooking the bucolic countryside.
Lady Carole Bamford made Daylesford a destination over 20 years ago with her organic farm shop, which is busy year-round with shoppers eyeing £22 organic chickens and £29 geranium scented candles. She created the Bamford spa at the same location in 2005, which has since been repeated in top hotels like The Berkeley in London and the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. Her activewear range, also sold on-site, includes £215 zip-up hoodies and £48 rose quartz water bottles. It’s a whole countryside healthy living empire set on some of the most pastoral and photographed parts of the English landscape.View this post on Instagram
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Boris Johnson and his wife, Carrie, got married at the Bamford’s Daylesford residence last summer (the Bamfords have been major donors to the Tories), and celebrities like David Beckham have been seen at the farm. Daylesford and its charming neighboring village of Kingham are hot spots for both day-trippers making the two-hour drive from London to experience country life and locals seeking an organic lunch or glass of wine.
As for the new project, “The Cotswolds is my home and while there are members clubs in the area, there are very few that focus on wellness in this way,” Bamford tells Bloomberg. “I wanted to offer something different and unique to visitors who are seeking a more holistic approach to fitness,” Her goal, she says, was to create an offering unlike anything you can find in London.
Bloomberg Pursuits got an early look at the club, before doors open to members.
Let’s start with the fitness facilities, which can be enjoyed while gazing out the windows at lounging cows and blossoming orchards. The main gym floor is a 340-square-meter (3,660-square-foot), light-filled space with Technogym equipment, Stages Smart Bikes for spin classes, and mirrors with phrases like Rest, Reset and Restart written on them. There’s an outdoor training space called Farm Fitness that incorporates tire flipping, rope climbing and weight lifting. The indoor and outdoor swimming pools are a highlight, and a very friendly and patient trainer taught me how to play padel, a popular mix of tennis and squash, on the club’s courts. In many of the outdoor areas, there’s no escaping the barnyard smells—the club is seriously luxurious, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s on a functional farm.
Back inside, the changing rooms have Bamford bath products, of course, alongside organic cotton robes, Dyson hairdryers, underfloor heating, and lockers with USB charging points. Light fixtures are attached to a branch of a birch tree, bringing the outside in.
Also included is a cryotherapy machine to help athletes recover faster—and a red light therapy machine meant to reduce wrinkles and acne. The building itself is awash in light-colored stone from the Cotswolds and locally sourced timber. It’s what the club calls “new modern sustainable” design, and the club’s director says Lady Bamford has been incredibly involved in the process. After a workout, guests can refuel with a nutritionist-designed menu at a cafe inside the club space that uses ingredients from the farm, or treat themselves to a glass of wine outside on the terrace in the evening. The all-electric kitchen is powered using renewable energy from the roof of the building.
But perhaps more notable than all the gym equipment, farm-to-table salads and countryside greenery is the partnership with medical concierge service Effect Doctors, which Bamford says she chose because they’re leaders in the area of science-led wellness. Members are offered a doctor-led full body and blood analysis. The consultation rooms where members can chat with Effect Doctors are also used for spa treatments and have low, dim lighting and soothing scents. They couldn’t look more different than the inside of a typical NHS doctor’s office.
“It’s important to focus on preventive care,” says Will Buxton, one of the founders of Effect Doctors, and a full-time doctor within the UK’s National Health Service at Kings College Hospital London. He says he wants his patients (and club members) to take care of their health proactively instead of just going to a doctor when they’re sick. If a patient is suffering from iron deficiency for example, they can book an iron infusion for £895 on-location. After members get their results, Buxton and his team will refer them to doctors like Christian Collins, a Cotswolds-based general practitioner with a special interest in lifestyle medicine. The doctors will closely monitor progress on health and fitness, and can make themselves available for consults as much as patients desire. Buxton suggests a follow-up in about six months.
The Price Points
None of this comes cheap. The lowest-priced membership option is the Escape to the Farm offer, which is essentially for Londoners, as you have to live at least 50 miles away from the club to be eligible. It includes 25 visits per calendar year, and is priced at £2,250 plus a £500 joining fee. It’s for people down in the Cotswolds for the occasional weekend or who have a holiday home in the area. If you include the joining fee, that’s about £110 per visit.
At the top end of membership options, there’s a £15,000 tier with a £1,000 joining fee that includes two personal training sessions a week, two cryotherapy sessions a week, one red light therapy session a week, two spa treatments a month and a quarterly nutrition consultation. This membership tier is for someone living nearby, and the club’s director says it’s for people with big goals around changing their bodies, or for those trying to achieve a fitness milestone, like training for an Ironman competition.
That’s assuming your membership gets approved. The club is trying to avoid overcrowding—a complaint about neighboring spots in the Cotswolds. The club is very close to trendy Soho Farmhouse and Jeremy Clarkson’s TV-famous farm, and roads get jampacked with Londoners fleeing the city for the countryside, especially in the summer months.
The application process is relatively straightforward: You’re either put forward by someone on the committee, or you register your interest online and meet with the club afterward. In your interview, they want to know what wellness means to you. Some of the names on the membership committee reviewing applicants include Sebastian Coe (chairman of the London Olympic Organizing Committee and former Olympian himself) and Rose van Cutsem (nee Astor; her ancestor was William Waldorf Astor; her daughter’s godfather is Prince William).
“We’re planning on having members’ evenings outside, especially when the weather gets better, where our guests can interact and build friendship and business networks with each other,” says Hugh Murphy, director of the Club.
As to whether Boris and Carrie have joined, the Club says it won’t comment on individual members, but considering Johnson reportedly ordered £12,500 worth of organic food from Daylesford during the pandemic, and Carrie posted her cookery class at Daylesford on Instagram, it wouldn’t be a surprise.
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