Grace Belgravia | Where the self-care cognoscenti go
With what looks to be luxury’s long-term trend towards all things wellbeing, we hear directly from Grace Belgravia CEO, Kate Percival on what inspired her to establish her London health club for women.
Self-care may be one of the biggest wellbeing trends of the year, but at Grace Belgravia, London’s only female health, wellbeing and lifestyle club, we’ve been pioneering it since 2013, when I founded the club with Medical Director Dr Tim Evans in a light-filled, 12,000 sq ft Grade II listed townhouse in central London. Long before anyone had even heard of the term, the idea was central to our wellbeing offering for women.
Self-care books may be crowding the shelves, but in my experience, the idea that a scented candle and a motivational read will suddenly evaporate our stress is naïve.
My issue with the mass approach to self-care – and the reason why we may never get beyond the ‘sticking plaster’ stage of hot bath and a meditation download – is that what works for other people may not work for you.
To be truly effective, it has to be bespoke. In the luxury sector, it has to speak the language of intelligent, busy women; 82 per cent of our membership are businesswomen, many are international, all of them time-pressed. These are women who will check in with us for a vitamin infusion straight off a long-haul flight before a day of meetings ahead. They want what works.
Grace speaks to women who know the value of their health and wellbeing and come to us for our curated edit of the tools they need to feel and look their best.
In the age of pay-as-you-go gyms and high octane fitness classes, we focus on the individual with personalised one-on-one attention, supporting members in the way they need most. That might mean a DNA fitness programme, a speed peel, a sleep therapist appointment, a blow dry and a deliciously healthy take-away.
When they join, our members receive a wellness consultation and are personally directed to the services that we know best suit their needs. We work with them to identify key issues and goals, while factoring in business and social time constraints to create a bespoke programme to begin their journey at Grace.
Our ethos is ‘preventative medicine and ageing well’; our health clinic is staffed by some of the best practitioners in the country – from GPs, dermatologists, acupuncturists, hormone specialists, to nutritionists and aestheticians. The Grace approach to wellbeing works on a number of integrated health programmes targeting stress, sleep deprivation, weight management, fertility, menopause and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle for ageing well. We have a gym offering personal training and over 100 classes a week, a healthy food restaurant and a wellness spa.
We put women at the top of our to-do list. After all, who else is going to do it for you? Grace is a place for you to leave all your job titles – mother, CEO, partner, family organiser, counsellor, friend – at the door and have a precious moment to touch base with who you are and what you need. When you walk in, you exhale.
We are a supportive space for women – we are not anti-men, we’re just very pro-women. Being pioneers in the field of women-only membership clubs, we recognised early on a paradigm shift – that women are increasingly seeking out other women’s company. Not that they don’t love their husbands and partners, but they often have deeper conversations with women. Women have become less competitive with each other, more embracing and there appears to be a sorority that is stronger than it’s ever been. We are catering to that unique bond between women and fostering deeper connections. We know that they need more than just a stylish networking space with treatments tagged on. We take a 360-degree approach – if you ask women what they really want from a members’ club, it’s an island in their busy lives where they can escape the pressure of work and family life and recharge.
My personal impetus for setting up Grace Belgravia came when I turned 50 and realised that I had to work harder at staying fit and that I wasn’t ready to BE ‘old’! I certainly didn’t feel it. I had also worked for 20-plus years in the property industry advising developer clients and creating marketing and branding campaigns and was ready for a change of career. In 2008, I embarked on a Master’s Degree in Luxury Brands and Services and my thesis was on The Convergence of Medicine and the Global Spa Industry, for which I won the University Thesis Prize. This provided the basis of the business plan for Grace – a space that is a sanctuary for women and supports them in health and wellbeing, body and soul.
We’re now five years old and in that time the wellness sector has moved from niche to mainstream and become crowded with all-comers to the point of overwhelm. At Grace, we cut through the noise, identifying key trends such as high-performance natural skincare and epigenetics and have earned the reputation as pulse-takers in wellness provision. Everything we do is medically led, we’ve done the research for you and while we remain at the cutting edge, it is imperative that we are never tempted by the ‘snake oil’ side of wellness and select only treatments and products with integrity and that we know truly deliver.
We’re also becoming known for our UK firsts and exclusives, such as the pioneering JK7® Natural Skincare. We are the only place outside Italy to offer Capri Leg School®, which is not only a beauty treatment, but is also a powerful detox and is particularly good for heart health.
We’ve also seen how women are increasingly organising their social life around wellness with friends – a fitness class, a mani and a talk on art or culture followed by a green juice or a glass of wine. At Grace, it’s all under one roof.
What we offer is self-care for the cognoscenti. In fact, many women tell me they put Grace in their diary as a meeting – an appointment with themselves. Grace is a place to come and be looked after and inspired, to be among a like-minded cohort of women – one of whom may be your next fitness buddy or co-founder. But more than that, it’s a place to find yourself again – your best self. And true health is the ultimate luxury.