Ambitious spa plans for South Lodge Hotel

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Plans are afoot to build a major new spa in the grounds of South Lodge Hotel, Lower Beeding.

Agents acting for the hotel have applied for planning permission to build a spa and six ‘Eco-­Lodge’ pods.

Hotel general manager David Connell told the County Times that they are focussed on getting the spa open by the end of 2017, with the Eco-Lodge being a longer term plan.

He said that a family-friendly spa is something they ought to have in order to remain competitive: “We’ve quite a strong conference-based hotel, but when we don’t have that business - in periods such as school holidays and such - it’s quite a challenge for us to get those bed-nights filled.”

They estimate that having the spa on site would lengthen the average guest’s stay from 1.2 nights to 1.6.

“That’s better for us, and better for the local community, because they tend to stay in the area as well,” said Mr Connell. The spa will be open to local members as well as hotel guests.

The plans have the spa as a separate building, tucked into the natural contours of the land, so that the four storey building is barely visible from the direction of the car park, but offers stunning views over the Downs.

Mr Connell said: “We wanted it to be separate, and part of the brief is that it’s to be part of the landscape,” adding that the building would have respectable green credentials, with power provided by biomass boilers and photovoltaic solar cells, and a grass and wildflower roof.

“It’s being sunk into the ground, there’s effectively only one and a half storeys above ground level, so actually when you look from the car park you wont see the building at all,” he said.

“We have a natural slope here anyway, so the building will open up - it’s actually four storeys.”

Plans for the outdoor facilities, all downslope from the spa building, include turning natural water features into two bathing pools.

One will be heated, the other unheated, and both will be kept clean using natural reed beds, so as not to rely on harmful chemicals.

Although there are trees nearby, it should be possible to leave them undisturbed. with the exception of one, which may have to be uprooted and moved to a safe distance.

Inside the building, interconnecting rooms will offer a range of spa treatments and activities, likely to include steam rooms, saunas, hydrotherapy pool, and yoga and pilates studios.

An indoor pool will be kept clean using ozone treatment rather than chlorine, in order to limit the site’s environmental impact.

“The Eco-Lodge is more of a long term vision,” said Mr Connell.

“When we were originally looking at this, the plan was only to build another block of bedrooms.

“It just unbalanced the feel of the property. I don’t think people staying at hotels like the idea of going to another block of bedrooms.

“So, we came up with the idea of these Eco-Lodges.

“The thought was that we’ve got this wonderful landscape here with the lakes, so why don’t we have these Eco-Lodges, but still with the five star expectation.”

If and when that part of the plan goes ahead, the idea is that the construction will be carbon neutral.

Horsham District Council is due to make a decision on the application for planning permission by the end of August.