World Class treatments on your doorstep
As a beauty editor, coauthor of the bestselling Beauty Bible series of books, and co-founder of Green and Black's organic chocolate, Jo Fairley talks to Wellbeing Magazine about her move to Hastings and about creating her own centre offering a plethora of therapies and awardwinning treatments.
Over the past 20 years, Jo Fairley has been slathered in mud in Tuscany, had her pores examined up-closeand- personal by none other than Eve Lom (she was the first journalist ever to write about the skincare guru, back in 1991), hot-Stoned and generally pummelled by some of the best therapists in the business "it's a tough job, but someone's got to write about it," Jo begins.
Over the years, I've forensically examined what it was that I did and didn't like about the hundreds of treatments I've experienced, and the spas and wellbeing centres I've visited. I certainly never imagined that one day, I'd open an integrated health centre of my own. Jo goes on to explain what prompted her decision to create The Wellington Centre. "When you've lived in London (for 12 years in Portobello Road, as I did)," Jo says "you come to expect access to wonderful treatments in cocooning surroundings." When Fairley moved with her husband Craig Sams to Hastings, a few years ago - after they had sold Green & Black's, the chocolate brand they had created together, to Cadbury's - a fabulous wellbeing centre was the missing part of the lifestyle jigsaw. "Yes, I juggle for England. Like most women."
As part of their ‘positive health' programme (eating well, keeping stress to a minimum, walking miles every day), they were instead having treatments in practitioners' houses - or in their own home "never ideal, with jangling phones and noisy children" Jo explains. But when they stumbled upon a beautiful Regency ‘wedding cake'- style building in Hastings's most majestic square (which was up for auction), they got goosebumps - realising that it would, with very little alteration, make the most fabulous health centre: Jo describes eleven spacious rooms, one perfect for a fullyequipped Pilates Studio, another for Yoga classes - with a space for a Healthy Eating Cookery School in the basement.
"It took six months of builders crawling all over the place - and me trying to put myself in my customers' shoes (which is how I always do things). What furniture would they like? What would I like?" Jo describes an eclectic mix of locally-sourced antiques and natural, earthy pieces such as a long carpenter's bench, which - when sanded and waxed - has a wonderful sculptural feel. "Natural paints were a must (and the wood-chip had to go)." Jo insisted that everything had to look - and feel - a notch above, with organic towels and original artwork. A feng shui expert - Lewes-based Jinpa Smith - helped ensure that the building's energy was as welcoming and healing as possible.
"But anyone can create a beautiful space, with a bit of help." Jo points out modestly. "Finding the people to work there ought to be tougher - but it wasn't. It's as if gifted therapists were magically attracted to the building; we started with our own ‘positive health' team, and then in turn recommended others.
(Naturally, I road-tested them all!)" And so, a team of over 40 was assembled - offering everything from Cosmetic Acupuncture to Zero Balancing, top-to-toe Health M.O.Ts (from a qualified nurse), plus almost 20 different classes (Pilates, Tai Chi, Yoga) each week.
And Jo got busy on the phones, persuading brands like Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare and Dr. Hauschka to let them showcase their wares.
Two years on, Jo describes how The Wellington Centre is everything she personally wanted in a wellbeing destination. "I feel absolutely blessed that the success of Green & Black's has enabled me to create such a special place." Jo explains, and if their clients didn't already tell them what they need to know, being runner-up in an award - the Healing Spaces in Holistic Healthcare Awards (which recognises that buildings themselves can have an important impact on treatment) - has confirmed it. "I've lost count of the comments in our book which tell us, ‘My treatment begins the minute I step inside..."
"And how happy am I to now have world-class treatments - on my doorstep...?" Jo pauses before stating quite simply "Tuscany's loss, frankly, is East Sussex's gain!"
The Wellington Centre, 44
Hastings, TN34 1PN