New Year, New You

Dec 19, 2017

As we wave goodbye to turkey-guzzling and bubbly poppin’, and the Christmas jumper is tucked into drawer for another year, it’s time to start the New Year as we mean to go on. We’ve rounded up the ways in which we can stick to those New Year’s resolutions, as the year ahead shines bright and fresh.

Find courage and conquer your greatest fears

New for 2018, The Bear Grylls Adventure (link is external) at Birmingham NEC is a great way to channel your inner strength with a series of adventure activities designed to test self-belief and physical and mental agility. Challenges will include conquering small spaces, indoor skydiving and the highest free-roam high ropes in Europe.

Can’t think of anything worse than falling face-down deep inside a cave? Turn that fear into thrills by signing up to the Black Cat Free Fall at Cheddar Gorge & Caves (link is external) – the first of its kind in any UK cave.

Those who prefer feet safely on the ground, meet some fluffy friends at Longleat (link is external) (Wiltshire) for its animal experiences, as rangers arrange a personal introduction where you can hold a tarantula, or let a snake slither across your shoulders.

Get spiritualised

With meditating emojis taking over our digital lives, find your zen in the real world with health and wellbeing retreats at Chilston Park Hotel (link is external) in Kent. From New Beginnings and Restoring You courses to Couple’s Mindfulness, free your mind from the stresses of 2017.

Or get back in the saddle as horse riding has been billed as the latest fitness trend to aid mindfulness. The new Salisbury Plain Horse Back Safaris (link is external) take in the dramatic landscapes and picturesque villages surrounding Stonehenge and the Plain, as well as Europe’s largest chalk grassland while on horseback.

Enjoy more ‘you time’

Indulge yourself with a spa break at HarSPA, the newly opened Southampton Harbour Hotel & Spa (link is external). From a crystal steam room to hydrotherapy pool and massages, the new spa offers all the facilities for a perfect moment of relaxation. After a busy day, enjoy a facial massage or a hot stone back massage.

Or, head to Llandrindod Wells (link is external) in mid-Wales. The legacy for this town is resplendent with Victorian hotels such as the magnificent, recently restored Metropole (link is external). Enjoy contemporary four star spa experience at The Rock Spa, amid the surroundings of a Victorian-style conservatory. The hotel’s award-winning Radnor & Miles Restaurant serves up a delicious à la carte menu for lunch and dinner.

Alternatively, go up the North and visit the Scottish town of Crieff (link is external), located less than an hour and a half by train from Scotland. To this day, its Crieff Hydro (link is external) remains a relaxing retreat for visitors. This four star spa is set amid beautiful grounds and offers an enormous range of leisure activities additional to the usual body and beauty treatments, making it a family holiday destination too.

Let your creativity flow and learn a new skill

The hills are alive on the Isle of Wight and the sounds of your song can run through them, learn to hit those high notes with the Joy of Singing Weekend (link is external) (16-18 Feb). Free your voice, increase your confidence, enjoy self-expression and ignite your creativity.

If your voice is best kept for the shower, tie on your apron, unleash your creativity, and get cooking! For a cookery class with a difference, head to Blackaddie Hotel (link is external) in Scotland, owned by Ian McAndrew. This is not your normal cookery school, but hands-on work in a real kitchen, with a maximum of two students at a time. Experience what goes into a full day in the kitchens, from initial menu planning with the chefs in the morning through to preparation and live service.

If in London, the V&A Museum (link is external) also offers a range of various artistic workshops from gouache portraits to polaroid photography techniques. Participants will be able to explore and develop new skills and learn from experts in a creative environment.

Work off those mince pies

Get in shape with a two-night electric-bike sightseeing package (link is external) on the Isle of Wight, offering a great way to get exercise in the fresh air but the extra help from the electric motor. Yoga classes on the water are a great way to challenge your body’s balance and restore inner peace.

Or, following in the steps of Wales’ national footballers and head to The Vale Resort (link is external) where the team trained before their semi-final run at 2016’s European Championships. This four-star hotel have outstanding sporting facilities but offers also Wales’ largest spa, a gigantic gym geared for professional athletes and two 18-hole championship golf courses, plus academy and pro shop.

As the only Northern Irish hotel to promise ‘sporting excellence’, no wonder the Crowne Plaza (link is external) receives so many visiting sports teams. Its on-site health centre stars a large pool and can rent out bikes, while local partners include rugby, cricket, Gaelic football and hockey clubs, with all those sports possible to arrange. Ditto sea-kayaking. Some guests work up an perfectly-adequate sweat merely exploring Belfast, and especially its Titanic Experience