Champneys Forest Mere
What We Love
- A lovely stay in one of England's national parks, with health-conscious meals and thalassotherapyThe beautiful and peaceful grounds that form this historic estate
- The food – healthy, plentiful and absolutely delicious
- Tuning out with a relaxing thalassotherapy treatment
What To Know
- The spa goes above and beyond with a thalassotherapy pool, fitness boot camps, and relaxation rooms with water beds
- The food is also aligned with the health-focus approach, so expect lots of fresh ingredients
- Free WiFi
A stalwart of spa hospitality, Champneys have been providing world-class well-being services for almost 30 years. Described by The Telegraph as “the most sumptuous of all health farms”, Champneys Forest Mere is the cream of the crop, offering pure relaxation that is second to none.
Originally a hunting lodge and keeper’s house for the Royal Forest of Woolmer, the resort offers an idyllic spot to unwind in. Part of the South Downs National Park, secluded Champneys Forest Mere is surrounded by enchanting woodland and a peaceful lake. Indulge in a soothing massage, learn the art of tai chi or enjoy a healing therapy. For something a little more active, you can pack your days with fitness and well-being classes. The pampering resort also has tennis courts, cycling and walking paths and a nearby golf course, the Liphook Golf Club.
How to Get There
Forest Mere is tired, outdated and in need of a refresh, sadly not a relaxing experience. The staff clearly work so hard, long hours and are catering for the masses. This results in a budget Butlins holiday camp experience with queues for everything (and there is nothing wrong with Butlins BTW!)- from the overcrowded noisy spa facilities to a canteen style resturant and mass produced menus.
The difference clearly being the prices, budget this is not, extortionate prices for additional items on the menu and for a glass of wine with your dinner = £9 for a very small glass.
The whole feeling you get is that this is a money/profit making venture with a hard sell at every opportunity.
Pre-booking treatments on line is impossible, and trying to call on the phone results in a premium cost. By the time you arrive, due to limited availabilty you are only offered 25 minute treatment slots (as thats all that is left), however its a bit like a GP's surgery, you are told if you come back early the next day they might be able to fit you in resulting in another at queue at the reception desk the following day.
The 25 minute treatments are not 25 minutes after you have met the therapist and signed your health form, they are also under pressure to finish for the next appointment. In addition, the Elemis products recommended can be bought for up to 40%-50% cheaper on line.
In short, the machine that Champneys has become makes the whole experience stressful for the consumer. I am sure Forest Mere was fantastic in its heyday- but now it needs a complete re-fresh and rethink on consumer satisfaction, staff support and its marketing strategy. Other cheaper spa hotels offer more for less. I can honestly say I heard the same story from many other visitors this weekend. People who had been guests at Champneys on many occasions over the years who vowed not to return, and I am included in that cohort.
Gratuity and a charity donation: added to the final bill- I would gladly tip the staff in cash, and prefer to choose a charity of my choice, so I requested this addition to the bill be removed.
I think the staff were lovely, but appeared very pressured and stressed, this made me feel very uncomfortable. Finally I am writing this review based on the fact I bought a discounted package through Groupon, so I did not pay the full price which seems a fair trade off for what was provided. You do get the impression the discounted deal bookings customers are not treated the same as the other full paying customers- but this is just my experience.
Finally- I have read the comments on the Tripadvisor site, the themes are the same and the manager responses perfunctory, if not defensive. I have left my comments in good faith and hope that improvements are considered. I however do not expect a response.
2nd and last time at Forest Mere. Long queues at booking in, guests offered a complimentary drink..not us. Overcrowded noisy pool, loud music for a pool class. No room in sauna or steam room. No where to sit. Staff at dinner very stressed rushing through courses, extras on menu very expensive. Wine ridiculously priced. Bed hard and uncomfortable. Breakfast cold pot of tea. BUT treatments of facial and massage were nice. Sorry Champneys really overpriced as 5* you are not.
I was very disappointed with the smaller elements of our stay. We paid for a 'superior room' but the room was very small, the bed was 2 twins pushed together and the shower pressure was terrible. Considering how expensive champneys is, you would expect these little touches to be top end.
The service was again average, mixed information from reception and the restaurant. We were told check out was 4pm but then told it was 11am, we were told our drink at dinner was complementary and were then charged for it on check out. The bed was hard and uncomfortable and we didn't sleep well.
The spa was beautiful, the pool and whirl pools were so relaxing. All the beds around the pool were super comfortable.
I had a massage and the therapist was very friendly and I felt great afterwards. The food was brilliant, despite there being no bar to sit at after dinner.
I would not recommend staying overnight at forest mere but I think a spa day with treatments would be more enjoyable.
Unfortunately, I would not return.