It's funny isn't it, when you revisit places from your past and they have changed beyond recognition from your memory?
I hadn’t been to the Slinfold Golf & Country Club for over 10 years, having moved further south in the County which put it out of reach. However, when I pulled up in the car park the only bit I recognized was the split 9-hole course, which runs either side of the drive. My husband and I played golf here years ago and while the course was well kept then, the clubhouse was, bluntly, tired.
I had asked for a "show-round" (OK, a nose around) so that I could see how the place had come on and I was genuinely surprised. The reception staff were absolutely lovely and very kind. Dan (in photo by the pool) gave me the guided tour and did a great job explaining the benefits, what members love and how they make it work. Slinfold is a completely different place to the one I remember and is a real find if you live close by. The pool is a fantastic size, a sensible shape, with a steam room and hot tub completing the wet area. The changing rooms were luxurious, compared to some I see, with wooden lockers that actually return your coin rather than keeping it, a petty, pointless practice which just gets everyone's blood up. However I did note that they didn't give me a pound coin for my locker but rather a generic coin with no value - very wise.
The gym is more comprehensive than many local authority ones (and certainly knocks Sally-on-the-farm's stable conversion into a cocked riding hat) with a strong mix of equipment that is again, well thought out. I particularly liked the Power Plate's (except your bum faces everyone else in the gym which is not a good look in my case), the Spinning Room with disco lights (see below) and the studio as I love weigh based exercise classes like Body Combat.
I was very impressed that the gym was non-smelly so that it would appeal to both men and women. If you like weight training (and I do) this is great, but if you like CV you get the bonus of a fantastic view across the countryside to while away the miles.
The management are nicely proactive; there's a different food night each week, members events at the weekend, a carvery on Sunday and activities a-plenty. If I had a young family, was on my own or was retired I can see how Slinfold would offer a real chance to socialise in relaxed surroundings, even if you don't play golf.
Like all these clubs, they're only worth it if you use it, but if you do think you want to get fit/get out more/learn golf then I think it's not a bad place to start and no, I'm not being paid to say so!
Spa Review of The Retreat at Slinfold coming up on 27th September 2012 in West Sussex County Times