To the un-initiated - the words ‘health spa’ will do little more than conjure up images of gruelling exercise routines, burly men administering muscle cracking massage and plates of lettuce.
But they couldn’t be further from the truth.
Situated in the rolling Leicestershire countryside a short distance away from Melton Mowbray, Ragdale Hall is as luxurious as it is a boost for the work-weathered and weary.
The stunning location, with a 20 mile view in each direction, was once an Elizabethan hunting lodge before major rebuilds in the 18th and early 20th Centuries gave it its impressive, almost castle-like appearance today.
It first became a health hydro in 1972, but great attention has been spared to keeping the aesthetic of a country mansion with a grand dining hall and welcoming lobby.
And the grandeur doesn’t stop there - all the rooms are beautifully decorated with plenty of nice touches.
The attention to detail is apparent from the moment you check your bags in, from the warm reception and initial guided tour of the venue - right to the shiny brass finishes on the en-suite bathroom taps.
Emphasis at Ragdale, which is made clear from your first sight of its guests exclusively dressed in the supplied white robes, is on relaxation.
Yes, there are a bewildering range of treatments available, from body massages, facials and manicures, right through to more exotic sounding all-in-one packages such as the ‘Decleor Morrocan Spice Detox’.
Aside from that a well-equipped gym and fitness classes such as zumba and water aerobics will satisfy those who want to shed excess pounds and get the blood pumping. In the summer you can hire tennis courts, make use of the outdoor pool, pitch and putt and stroll the acres of wonderful grounds.
It is a health spa after all.
But if you are like me, Ragdale can be the ideal place to simply do nothing at all.
A welcome hush prevails throughout the 18th Century hall, allowing peace and quiet to those that want to read in a comfy chair, grab a coffee or indulge in a nap. No over-enthusiastic holiday reps trying to force you into playing croquet here - you can do as much or as little as you want.
Certainly the happiest medium between activity and lethargy, and in my opinion the crowning glory at Ragdale hall, is the Thermal Spa area. Built in 2007 and featuring an array of saunas and steam rooms amid a setting of running water and a heated outdoor pool in which the steam rises off it in a similar fashion to a Scandanavian volcanic pool, the newest facet of the grand location is a real luxury.
And then there’s the food.
Of course the menu, devised by executive head chef David Ross and head chef Anthony Doyle, has an emphasis on healthy cuisine, but don’t expect some hastily arranged leaves on a plate here. The extensive lunchtime buffet carries a good range of fish dishes, meat, salads -and dare I say it - the odd naughty pudding, to satisfy all cravings both indulgent and health-conscious.
Evening’s three course meal has a similar ethos - with dishes graded on the menu in terms of their calorific value and a good range of wines to accompany, or fruit juice, again, if that’s your thing.
As an overall experience it is easy to see why Ragdale hall has been garlanded with several awards over the years, topping numerous polls of favourite UK spas.
There is no pretending it’s cheap though.
An overnight stay with dinner and a complimentary treatment can range in price between £233 and £338 depending on the room, a day trip from £70 to £170 depending on the treatments and extra treatments range from £30 to £130.
But if you want luxury and don’t want to travel too far for it, there are few places that offer the same quality of service and facilities.
And with Mothers’ Day looming - what better way could there be to treat mum as a change from the usual flowers, ornaments and chocolates.
There is still time to book a stay, and deals are available on purchases of £150 or more, which will give you a complimentary £25 treatment voucher.
For more information head to www.ragdalehall.co.uk - or to book call 01664 433000.