Late last year saw the full opening of Grace Belgravia in West London, a female-only private member’s club that provides a range of health and lifestyle services to “spirited, sophisticated and health-conscious women”. Located within a Grade II-listed building, the club contains a health spa, restaurant, boutique, nutrition service and bar. Members have access to all of these facilities including medical care from the Queen’s doctor and exercise sessions with Matt Roberts, the personal trainer of Prime Minister David Cameron’s wife Samantha.
With several other female-only leisure and recreation venues, including gyms and restaurants, which are already open in the capital, Grace Belgravia marks the latest in a growing trend. We caught up with Kate Percival, the brainchild behind the club, to find out more.
LM: Where did the idea for Grace Belgravia come from?
KP: Four years ago I was offered the chance to purchase a property in Italy, an amazing convent, and I started looking at the idea of a destination spa. But as I began to think about the idea, it occurred to me that if you want to have an integrated spa experience, you pretty much have to fly abroad. There’s nowhere you can go at home on a day-to-day basis that is sustainable. So what invariably happens is, you go away, you return to everyday life and you pick up the same old routine. It’s the yo-yo effect. I decided that was needed was an everyday support for women – from lifestyle to health care.
LM: What is your own professional background?
KP: I’m a branding and marketing person. I set up my own business specialising in branding and marketing, and sold that to Chime Communications in 1997 and then ran creative and marketing services for Chime for four years. Then in 2008/09, I did a Masters in Luxury Branding and Services at the University of Monaco.
KP: Very tough, especially in London. But eventually we found it, and the way it happened was very fortunate. Believe it or not, I was shopping in Waitrose on West Halkin Street when I saw a hanging board offering the property for sale. And that was that! It’s a Grade-II listed building and has two incredible atriums, and the most fantastic thing about it is that it is flooded with natural light on the first and mezzanine floors. Most spas and gyms are in the basement so this was very lucky indeed.
LM: What is the pricing structure for membership?
KP: Full standard membership costs £5,500 per annum, plus a £2,000 joining fee. There are also several other packages available including an Out of Town/Overseas Membership, Mother & Daughter Membership, and Life Membership.
LM: How would you describe your typical client?
KP: Extremely diverse. The age range is literally from 25 to 75. Primarily I would say our clients are business people, but for me, Grace is the thinking woman’s club, so even if they aren’t here working, they may be here because it’s an interesting place, for its events, lectures, book signings, etc. There’s also a very strong American interest, not surprisingly. Americans have always been interested in health and wellness and they love the attention to detail here. People don’t want opulence anymore, they want fantastic service, which is what we provide.
LM: There seems to be a trend for female-only venues – why do you think this is happening?
KP: I think there’s been a paradigm shift which means women are seeking out other women’s company. Not that they don’t love their husbands and partners, but they often have better conversation with women than men. I think women are definitely more collegiate than in the past. Women have become less competitive with each other, and the whole sorority of sisterhood is stronger than it’s ever been. And these female-only venues are a consequence of that change.
LM: Are there any other plans for the club in terms of new facilities/services?
KP: Well we’re limited in terms of space here. But one of things we have done is become the first company in the UK to partner with the world-renowned detox expert Henri Chenot. Under this partnership we’ll be the first company to offer a weekly detoxification programme on a day-to-day basis, rather than having to fly off somewhere around the world. The response we’ve had from members has been great. Aside from that, there’s definitely an opportunity to take Grace to other areas around the world, where you have a large density of high net-worth individuals, so we shall see…
LM: What do you expect to be the next big lifestyle trend to hit London?
KP: We are it! I think we’re just the beginning of it, I really do. Maybe it’s not a trend, but a cultural phenomenon. Look at the way our lives are, we’re all running at 100 miles per hour, and many of us need the kind of support that Grace provides. Grace is not for spoilt women. It isn’t just there for ladies who lunch. It’s for impressive women who recognise that they’re fallible and need support. We talk about empowering women, giving them the tools to go out and be the best that they can be. I expect that for women, once they become members, the club will become an essential part of their lives.
For more information, visit www.gracebelgravia.com.
By Paul Joseph