A brief history of the start of the Spa.
The history of 24 Bristol Gardens as far as we can ascertain, was that it was originally the lodge to the 19th century Regency house in Sussex Square and over the years had been used for many different purposes, one of the more recent being that it was bought by Nigel Green the actor and converted into a Yoga studio, this was successful for many years until he died, we have been told that Iyengar himself once practiced in the building and was said to have loved the feeling of the place. Later on after being used mainly for storage it was sold to a lady who tried to convert it to a dance studio but she was working on a shoestring of a budget and it failed miserably. The building remained empty for many years having been repossessed by the building society who were then happy to accept Mike’s offer to purchase.
Bristol Gardens Health Spa is a family run business owned by Mike & Pam and their two daughters Angie & Sam.
In 1983/4 they lived in Surrey and Mike & Pam were running a successful building company in and around London. They both wanted a change of lifestyle and Mike had a hankering for his own health club but had so far been unable to find the right premises.
An actor friend of theirs lived in Brighton and knew of Mike’s ambitions. He called Mike one day and told him there was a “Dance Studio” for sale. He came and looked at it and bought it. That was just the beginning; the place was a dilapidated wreck in need of much love and attention. Luckily Mike had the knowledge and skills to not be intimidated by this wreck and so started the year long job of rebuilding and remodelling. It was back breaking work with Pam still running the company in Surrey and Mike working 7 days a week building the spa. At weekends the family would get together and everyone would chip in knocking down walls and digging out holes. Eventually in April 1985 the first half of BGHS was ready to open. The business in Surrey was closed and the family moved down to Brighton permanently.
There are many stories about the conversion and the way we had to design the available space to make it work, but that can wait for another time.
The original visitors and long term customers / friends of BGHS will remember that the building was half the size it is today. The business was opened with only one sauna, one steam, two small hot tubs and the pool. Upstairs didn’t have the TV lounge or the sundeck or as many restrooms. It was small but it was clean, friendly and happy place to be and soon became the place to visit.
It wasn’t until 1990 that we were offered 26 Bristol Gardens, it had been used as a garage on the ground floor and the rest of the building was about to fall down (seriously) it had been totally neglected. You may remember that this was a period when we had the first recession and not a good time to throw large sums of money about, but we had no alternative other than to buy the property at that time because the opportunity to expand next door would never have happened again. However, spending money on renovation and conversion was a step too far so instead we took several years to do the work and paid for it out of income on a monthly basis plus a lot of personal effort on the family’s behalf. The positive side to this was when the work was finished, there were no borrowings and we were able to keep our running cost affordable and weather the new storm on the horizon, the real recession.
Since the two halves of BGHS were joined to make the spa we have today we have continued with our tradition of improving and renovating on a regular basis. Those of you who have visited us from the beginning will truly appreciate how much has changed but just in case you are new to us, here is a small idea of what has happened. The dining area in the lounge used to be a cold conservatory space only useable on the warmest of days. The massage room used to be a small gym. The sunbed room was storage space and the first restroom was the sunbed room. The outdoor roof space was just a roof and the large steam room were two small hot tubs. The large hot tub was a result of a few bricks missing in the wall that showed the derelict cellars that ran under the road. There have been many other projects too. Alongside the expansion of the business we needed to expand the core workings of the spa too and new boiler rooms were created along with stock areas and office space.
Still to this day we have plans for future renovations and redecorations. We joke about it being like the Forth Bridge as our work is never done. We have always believed in investing back into the business and strive to constantly improve and this is why we believe we have remained at the top of our game for so many years and long may that continue.