The Times – Online – Chris McCooey – September 3, 2008

(Review  by Timesonline  journalist & research assist visit to Chi – Mind, Body & Spirit)

Chi Mind, Body and Spirit, Devon

A superb value holistic spa behind the shopfront crystals in the bucolic depths of the West Country

THE MISSION To check out the holistic therapies and beauty treatments that are offered for both men and women, locals and visitors, in a rural village in the depths of Devon.

AMBIENCE Unpretentious but thoroughly professional, quite unlike the usual sanitised, clinical, whitewashed beauty parlours and spas in more swankier locations.The two treatment rooms have the usual soft light, relaxing music, flickering candles and pleasant, wafty smells. There are plans for a third treatment room, relaxation space and Jacuzzi upstairs.

QUALITY OF EXPERIENCE I had an aromatherapy massage, including face and scalp, for an hour and then 30 minutes of reflexology from owner Tracee Cullen. She asked me whether I wanted to be energised or relaxed and mixed a massage oil, with essence of rosemary, lavender and lemon grass. Tracee assured me this would be good for revitalising the muscles as well as relieving tension.

Practised hands did just that and I was surprised how pleasurable it was having tufts of (thinning) hair pulled. It was teasingly and ticklingly pleasant to have my toes and sole of my feet massaged.

I’m not sure I subscribe to the efficacy of Chakra, having seven different crystals placed on my body “to rebalance it” but Tracee certainly got rid of the knot in my shoulder during the session and energised me sufficiently.

The Research Assistant had a Dead Sea salt scrub and then mud envelopment treatment (wrapped in tin foil and hot towels) followed by a manicure delivered expertly by a employee. It met with her approval: “My skin feels like a new baby’s.” The vivid Cambridge Blue nail polish did not meet with my approval, being an Oxford man myself, but she said the colour went with her blouse.

PRODUCTS Ahava Dead Sea products are used for the treatments, based on natural minerals that encourage the self-repair of skin. Essential oils are individually mixed according to the treatments required.

FOOD Tracee and her team offer pamper packages for small groups and she uses one or other of the pubs in the village to supply them with buffet-style food over the day as well as juices. Otherwise there is plenty of water on tap and fruit teas.

IN CROWD The place is very popular with locals who come in to ease away their aches and pains or for beauty treatments. Five years ago when Tracee returned to her native village after living abroad (she was the MD of an IT company before re-training), there were few male clients. Today about a third are men. I asked one client, a farmer’s wife, why she came to Chi. “Sometimes it’s maintenance, sometimes it’s necessity and sometimes it’s pure indulgence. It depends on the finances. But it’s wonderful to have this in the village. Before I had to struggle to Exeter for treatments …”

WALLET WATCH The treatments are exceptional value for money.

NEED TO KNOW Located in the main street of High Bickington, North Devon (01769 560118);  (This website is now directed to
Review Link:

North Devon Journal Review – Thursday, November 27, 2008, 09:57

New relaxation area at rural salon

LOOKING for a relaxing hideaway, away from the demands of your everyday life?

Chi, Mind, Body and Spirit at High Bickington has expanded its premises giving you and your friends the chance to enjoy a pampering retreat.

According to owner Tracee Cullen it’s the ideal place to go to relax, read, chat or chill out while also being on the receiving end of some serious pampering.

“In today’s climate, with the credit crunch, people are struggling even more with the daily stresses of life and more than ever need a bit of time out to recharge,” said Tracee. “A lot of our clients come to us for need rather than luxury.”

Thanks to a newly refurbished area the salon can now offer relaxation half or full days for up to 10 people.

“So many people at the moment are just doing the best they can to survive the credit crunch and cut backs, but most of our clients find that a treatment helps them to ‘keep going’,” added Tracee. “This is why I have also introduced a pamper and relaxation, half and full day, so that it is affordable for everyone.”

A typical relaxation day costs £52.50 per person and includes three half hour treatments. Unlimted drinks are available throughout the day and a light lunch from local caterers can be requested at an additional cost of £6.50 per head. You are welcome to go on your own or as part of a group.

“We have several people who have said they would love to have a pamper day but would it be okay to come on their own and absolutely you are welcome to come on your own so that you can hide away for a few hours or a full day to recharge and feel ready to face the world again.”

The holistic centre also does His and Hers packages where a couple can both enjoy relaxation and treatments at the same time. They also welcome get-togethers for hen nights, clubs, societies and work friends.

“A minimum of six is required for exclusivity and up to 10 maximum. If more than 10 then we can come out to you,” added Tracee.

For a chance to see the new relaxation area and additional treatment room you are invited to an open day, where the salon celebrates its fourth anniversary, on Saturday (November 29 2008), 10am to 6pm. There will be a glass of wine or fruit juice on arrival, canapes, free taster treatments and a free draw to win gifts and treatments at Chi.

“My concern is that we live in a world that is so fast and we push ourselves to the limit, and then we are normally at the bottom of the list,” said Tracee. “We all need a bit of time out to be strong enough to keep going and to be strong enough to help others.

Bookings: 01769 560118.
(This website is now directed to