A French Spa Retreat
And this is where you'll find The Retreat, a lovely guesthouse that Jackie and Vince set up.
Asides from beautiful surroundings and plenty to see and do in the local area, their guesthouse comes equipped with a music studio and spa. Hair and Beauty Jobs wanted to find out what made them come up with this unusual but winning combination.
Q. What inspired you to go and open up a guesthouse in France?
My fiance is a songwriter and after winning two UK INDY Music awards last year we both decided that it was the right time for us to have an adventure together rather than passing like ships in the night for the past 4 years. We decided that it would perhaps be interesting to combine a music studio (songwriting retreat) with a Spa but within a guest house environment combining both of our skill sets.
Q. What's special about what you're offering?
Well the Guest house is called The Retreat and we are trying to create a place that people come to and leave the pressures of UK living behind. We are not charging extortionate prices as we feel we want to offer a Spa experience within a home environment for everyone not just the affluent. The main distinction for us is that The Retreat is small, (only three rooms) but with a SPA, music studio, and beautiful surroundings allowing our guests to unwind in whichever way they see fit.
Q. What have been the most challenging aspects so far of setting up and running your own business abroad?
Setting up in another country especially one in a foreign language has been difficult. We have made a few mistakes just through complete misunderstanding! Our French is getting better but we both came out here with a very small working knowledge
Q. What do you miss most about the UK?
We are both very sociable people and I suppose it's not so much the UK but the friends and family we have left behind. Mind you its only 1hr 20 minutes on a plane!!!
Q. Is it unusual for a guesthouse to have a small spa?
We think so. A lot of expats buy large properties in France and run a guest house or Chambre D'otes only offering the facilities of bed and breakfast e.t.c. It's important for us to make sure our guests have a wonderful time. These little added extras for some people will make their stay more special.
Q. Is the spa for staying guests only or can locals have beauty treatments too?
We are just in the process of opening to the general public so yes there will be client based treatments by appointment. The priority though is our guests and their needs.
Q. What's your proudest achievement?
Getting The Retreat up and running in 7 weeks. I have worked for everyone from ESPA to Decleor. I have even done make up shows for Toni and Guy and London Fashion Week but for me the sense of achievement in getting something like this running on such a tight budget has been amazing.....and it's ours
Q. Describe the main differences with the beauty industry in France compared to the UK?
Beauty therapists are held in very high regard in France and train alongside nurses and physiotherapists. It is difficult for an English therapist to come over and just work especially in the fields of Sport therapy. You would have to completely retrain for this if you hold NVQs.
Q. What are your aspirations for the future?
This is very much our first start up and we have so far been delighted with our guest's feedback and responses. We would like to move or create a second guest house in northern Spain in the future. Perhaps somewhere nearer the coast. This adventure for us is about finding that elusive 'quality of life' that most people search their whole lives for. Now that we have found it we would like to share it with as many people as possible.
Q. For anyone looking to set up their own beauty business in France what would you advise they do?
It's really important to get the correct advice and with hindsight we perhaps should have hired a consultant to do this. Largely though the business plans/models and research that would go into opening any business is the same as in the UK.
The French Embassy and Chambre De Commerce are really good places to start. Also invite your local Mayor round for dinner.....it can mean the difference between a business that works and a business that doesn't!!
Get in touch
For further information on how you could enjoy a break away in rural France and enjoy a bit of much needed me time, visitwww.theretreatfrance.com
or call +033 (0) 555 607
Quote 'Hair and Beauty Jobs' and you'll receive a fabulous 15% off a spa stay (this is not in conjunction with any other offer and is for the SPA weekends and block bookings only).