The Bicester


A blog from Bicester Hotel, Golf and Spa

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Dan Thomas Golf Blog

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Through out the 2012 golf tournament season I will be playing on several tours including The Professional Golfers Association Europro tour, The Jamega tour and the TP series tour, as well as playing pro-ams in any spare time I may have.

The first of these events starts at Wensum valley from the 25th-27th April. My main aim this year is to finish in the top 5 in the European Golf Tour Order of Merit. This will enable me to automatically qualify for the European Golf Challenge Tour the following year. Bicester Hotel Golf and Spa has fantastic golf and fitness training facilities which will enable me to do this.

My daily routine generally consists of a morning warm up session on the golf driving range working my way through my golf bag. Starting with sand iron moving to driver and then back to short pitching clubs. I try not to focus too much on what the ball is doing at first and just working on the key movements in my swing. Following this I hit balls focusing only on my pre shot routine and distance control including the flight and attempting to hit the golf ball as I would in a tournament. This helps focus my brain on targets.
Being away on tour a lot in the summer my fitness levels are tested to the limit! Therefore it is key that I add fitness and a healthy diet to my daily routine. The Gym at Bicester Hotel Golf and Spa is ideal. On my first visit I had a talk with one of the Personal Trainers about what I wanted to achieve. They then helped me to generate a personalised fitness program to suit my needs. Long drives come from core strength and with a combination of flexibility and speed the further I can hit the ball. With all the latest cardiovascular and weights fitness equipment available at Bicester I find it easy to do this by targeting exercises for my legs, chest, arms and back.

I certainly recommend to all who want to get more out of there game to find the time where possible to build there own daily “routine’s” as I have mine. I leave you with a simple thought.
“The fear of bad golf shots come from the fear of hitting bad golf shots! Dan

Elemis ‘Treatments on Tour’ SpaBus comes to Bicester Hotel, Golf & Spa

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

To celebrate 20 years of success, Elemis takes its award-winning products to the people with the “Treatments on Tour” SpaBus, whilst also raising essential money to help vulnerable children through Mothers4Children Charity.

The Elemis Spa Bus is exclusively coming to Bicester Hotel Golf and Spa on Friday 23rd September form 11.00am-4.00pm. The Elemis SpaBus is an eye catching royal blue customised London bus that proudly bears the Elemis 20th anniversary livery and is flying the Union Flag. With beautiful spa interiors on both Lower and Top Deck, Elemis welcomes you on-board for MAXIMUM RESULTS in MINIMUM TIME.

Elemis has created five unique and luxurious 15 minute facial and body spa-therapies to choose from for just £10, each is performed by one of the professional ‘Elemis Angels’ either on an Intelligent Massage or Spot-On Shiatsu chair whilst you’re fully clothed for instant relaxation and rejuvenation. S This is the only opportunity for you to experience these exclusive Elemis spa treatments in Oxfordshire.

On entrance to the Lower Deck, the fully trained ‘Elemis Angels’ will carry out each spa-therapy so you’re in professional hands. Take a seat and put your hand out for a mini Exotic Hand & Arm Massage, attend a beauty workshop and have a 1-2-1 professional lifestyle and skincare consultations. You can also benefit from special promotions and Elemis offers during the day.

Head upstairs onto the Top Deck where the SpaPod treatment area contains two Intelligent Massage chairs and two spot-on Shiatsu Chair. You can choose from a Skin Booster Facial, Chill-Out Shoulder and Scalp Massage, Exotic Hand & Arm Massage, Sole Rescue Foot Treatment or Re-Charge Power Back Massage. Each therapy is 15 minutes of pure bliss to take you on a relaxation and rejuvenation journey – all guaranteed to relieve aches, pains and leave you radiant with a bounce in your step.

Pre-booking is essential for your 15 minute treatment, so please contact us on 01869 241204 or email We will also be combining the Elemis Spa Bus visit with a charity coffee morning to provide you with an exclusive opportunity to view the latest Elemis product ranges as well as enjoying our pink themed day. Coffee, tea  and cakes will be served through the day with proceeds going to Breast Cancer Care. Elemis UK aims to raise well over £50,000 for the Mothers4Children charity and are also donating £10,000 to Breast Cancer Care.

At the Forest of Wellbeing We offer a haven of tranquility in our exclusive health spa in Oxfordshire. We welcome you to come and invigorate your senses with a choice of our elemis facials and body treatments, in addition to our full range of Jessica and Lava Shells therapies.

If you are looking for spa days in the uk or for your perfect spa day in Oxfordshire then our central location is ideal, only 5 minutes from junction 9 of the M40.  All of our spa day packages offer full use of our luxury swimming pool and spa facilities including Tropicarium, Sauna, Steam Room, Hydrospa, Jacuzzi and experience showers. You can also experience total relaxation in our outdoor spa garden with exclusive hot tub facilities. For an overnight spa experience we offer a range of exclusive  spa breaks perfect for combining total relaxation with visit to Bicester Village, Oxford, Blenheim Palace or the Cotswolds.

Health clubs new additions

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Last week Bicester Hotel Golf and Spa had 2 new X Dream bikes arrive at the gym. These will be a great addition to the gym as they are the first indoor fitness product that accurately simulates the experience of riding outdoors.

This exercise bike is equipped with real feel gears, brakes, handlebars, pedals, cranks and seat sensors which enables each move the rider makes to be accurately portrayed within the experience.

The bike puts you into a virtual world via the attached computer screen. As you ride, the full experience on the screen is translated to the equipment!

It will work a full range of muscles in the upper body and lower body so gives you a more complete workout then a standard exercise bike.

To experience the X Dream bike, discuss gym membership, our health club facilities or personal training contact the health club or call 01869 241204.

B4 Business visit and review Bicester Hotel, Golf and Spa

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

Bicester Hotel, Golf and Spa recently received a visit from James White of the Oxfordshire B4 Business Magazine. James came to review the hotel and facilities for the magazine, aimed at the business community of Oxfordshire, and enjoyed an overnight stay.

Some of his favourable comments included the following;

“Set in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside, The new luxury accommodation comprises fifty two bedrooms. Two of the rooms are bridal/executive suites. All rooms are en suite and decorated to a high specification, with views overlooking the luxurious courtyard or golf course. Ample allowance has also been made to cater for disabled guests with wide hallways, a selection of specially designed bedrooms and bathrooms, together with a lift.”

“Alongside Bicester’s new accommodation offering, there is a spectacular new Orangery, seating up to two hundred theatre style, and one hundred cabaret style. There are also flexible conference rooms, a further two meeting rooms, new kitchens, fine dining restaurant, brasserie and additional bar facilities. This enables the venue to cater for all types and sizes of functions, both in the corporate and private markets.”

“Leisure seekers can choose from the impressive gym, which includes a variety of cardiovascular and resistance machines, plus a large free weights area, exercise classes catering for both fitness and relaxation, or use of the poolside, which not only looks magnificent but has a Pool, Hydro-Spa, Steam Room, Sauna and Tropicariums to relax in.”

“Just a stone’s throw from junction nine of the M40, make sure you take time to visit Bicester Hotel, Golf and Spa – the facilities are first class.”

Read our review for yourself by following this link

If you are looking for a venue for your conference or simply a place to meet business associates, and you haven’t tried us before, then why not take advantage of our great 25% off introductory conference and meeting rates offer.

Day 11, we made it!

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Day Eleven The bikes spent the night in a typical stone outhouse and were ready to go straight out on to the main A9 road and a sign post ’55 miles to John O’Groats’.  We’re on the home stretch now and not a moment to soon, I feel everyone is ready to get the job done.

Starting in the rain the road rises over brows of hills and then drops dramatically down to tiny ports at the mouths of rivers. One of the guests at last night’s lodgings warned of oily roads due to the cargo of fish being hauled along this route and it is evident that the large double length timber carriers of the last couple of days have given way to more compact (but still fast) lorries.

It is amazing how the light and conditions can change almost from moment to moment, bright sun becomes driving rain within no time at all.

After Wick the landscape flattens out and becomes wild with only the odd croft dotted amongst the bracken and heather. The upside of this – little but local traffic and looking around one can understand why, few people come here!

There is a last bête noir in the form of a long uphill pedal to the brow of the very last hill and from here the most amazing view out over the Pentlands Firth (very appropriate for me as I have connections with Pentland) due north to the island of Stroma in the foreground with Hoy and the other Orkney Isles in the distance.

It’s downhill all the way now. The boys wait for each other at this point and take their time cruising down together, savoring the reward that all their effort has given them.

We reflect on the many wondrous sights we have seen along the way, the many warm and friendly people we have met, the continuous support from those at home  and what ‘digging deep’ teaches us about ourselves and how best we can put that to good use in the future.

The bleakness of John O’Groats seems not as inhospitable as Lands End with an information centre, shop, derelict hotel and welcoming café – but still the raging wind.

Having enjoyed the moment, a hot chocolate and another donation from a man celebrating his 2nd wedding anniversary who comes from Chesterfield, we set off down south.

We think the journey will be quick and easy but road works on the Black Isle delay us considerably and driving snow as we pass through the Cairngorms and Aviemore make us realise how lucky the boys were.

Scotland doesn’t want to lose us that easily and we get horribly lost around Glasgow eventually joining the M74 passing Abington were we were a few nights ago.

We eventually cross the border and leave Scotland some 8 hours after we started!!

We arrive at Bicester at approximately 4 a.m. and Graham has got us all home safely after such a mammoth journey.

The boys have raised in excess of £3,500 for the Captains charity, Helen Douglas House, which, having seen the effort it has taken  I am enormously proud of.

But for me it was all about the camaraderie and being part of the team.

Thanks boys for letting us tag along and I hope you, the reader, have enjoyed this record.

Graham Payne

Celebrations at John O' Groats

Celebrations at John O' Groats

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Day 10, the final push

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Day Ten. There is almost a feeling that we are winding down with John O’Groats only a couple of days away.

The weather changes from moment to moment, one minute bright sun and the next dark clouds laden with rain but at least the visibility is quite good since the clouds rolled away quite early on.

Graham and Maggie stopped half way down Loch Ness, not to look for Nessy as you might imagine but to look around Urghart Castle which has been there since 1200.  The Scots have so much history it is almost too much to absorb but the castle was esthetically stunning and beautiful kept up.

Always believing one should pass on the best part of an experience rather than the negative I complimented the grounds man and a conversation developed.  As we were leaving Ian Mcwhirr thrust some money in our hands for Helen Douglas House.

I am amazed at the spontaneous kindness and generosity shown by the people we have met on our journey, especially north of the border – who said the Scots were mean, it must have been an Englishman.

Through Inverness, over the Black Isle and up the Cromarty Firth we see signs of huge rigs at Invergordon giving an indication of the contribution to the economy that the off shore oil industry makes.

There is a narrow mouth out to the North Sea over which the Nigg Ferry (taking all of two cars a time) sails.

Showers develop after lunch and Tain, a quaint hillside town on an otherwise flat coast comes and goes.  It could be a result of the volatile weather or if you believe in fate it must be a positive sign that we have been followed by amazing rainbows this afternoon. Not just one or two but at least six.

Tain was a landmark for Lawrence on his first trip but the boys want to try and get a few more miles  nearer their goal and will push on to either Brora or Helmsdale.  It very much depends on the weather which has now become constantly wet and the winds have picked up considerably.  It can’t be nice for them on the bikes and apart from the discomfort it is much more dangerous.

I for one am beginning to look forward to the conclusion of this mammoth task and I know that Lawrence has commented that this time around, although the journey has been physically easier (he did’nt have a back up team last time!) he has found it physiologically more challenging due to the fact that he has responsibilities at home.

At about three in the afternoon it was decided to reduce the target to Brora, however as things turned out we could not find a bed anywhere for less than £80 so pressed on to Helmsdale where we were warmly welcomed at Ruorn guest house.

The Mirage restaurant is not to be missed and well known throughout the area. We had a fish and chip supper here which seemed quite appropriate on our last evening together as our first night was spent in a similar venue, the only difference being the absence of the fifth member of the group

Graham Payne

Quick photo opportunity at the start of Day 10

Quick photo opportunity at the start of Day 10

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Day 9, a day of close calls

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Day Nine.  Breakfast included this morning and with the prospect of nothing between here and Fort William  gratefully eaten, the trade off of a slightly later, back to 8.15, start seemed worth it.

Talking to some fellow travelers they were full of admiration for our boys and gave a donation to the Captains charity – I gave them two raffle tickets as a thank you for their really spontaneous generosity.

Lawrence’s vivid recollection of his last ’end to end’ highlighted Glen Coe as the worst day possible, so today is the day we face his bête noir – the mighty Coe.

In actually fact it was not so much the actual glen itself but the long torturously slow but relentless incline up The Mount to the glen that was so physically and mentally demanding. With driving rain, low cloud and road kill littering the verges the boys hit an all time low.

A bus came too close to Lawrence, close enough for him to bang on the side of it, and almost knocked him off.  The level of concentration demanded to ride safely is very high.

Dropping down to the valley the views are stunning.  Meeting the water the boys turn right and proceed to Fort William.

In the shadow of Ben Nevis the rain lifts for  a brief period.

The roads worsen, becoming very narrow, bad surfaces and crumbling at the edge with very heavy, fast traffic.  The rain returns intermittently and Adam is sucked into the back draft of a passing vehicle that knocks him against the kerb which in turn throws him off his bike.  The following car misses him, doesn’t stop  but at least blares its horn at the offender.

No permanent damage is done and the target of Fort Augustus is reached in plenty of time to bath and have an exquisite meal at The Lovat.

I was aware how vulnerable cyclists on the roads are but today’s experiences have certainly made me make a conscious decision to treat them with even more consideration.

Graham Payne

Checking the route with Maggie

Checking the route with Maggie

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Day 8, to the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Day eight. With the target of, to quote a line of the famous song ‘the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond’ the boys get a good start at 7.45, 10 miles back up the road where they left off.  They will stop off for breakfast at the next motorway service station.

The road into Glasgow provides ideal conditions with the cycle path very often running alongside the road.  As the buildings become more frequent the nature of the ride changes with even hecklers on the road side at Hamilton.

Traffic, lights, volume, fumes make the boys pedal faster to get through the city and out to the A82 which will lead them to Loch Lomond.

The backup team spent the morning learning about the cotton mills of the 17century and walked up the Clyde to Clyde Falls – all at the world Heritage site of New Lanark (  which meant we could catch up the bikers by taking the motorway right through Glasgow within a matter of minutes.

The mileage covered was excellent and with the lift that this gave the riders and the beautiful sight of the hills rising around the loch they decided to push on to Crainlarich some 9 miles north of the last of Loch Lomond.

They came in as light had faded at around 7.00 but it will at least give them a good start before Glen Coe tomorrow.

This must have been one of the longest days in the saddle 11 ¼ hours with a mega 100 + on the clock.

We were invited to join a Ceileidg in the Crainlarich Hotel after dinner but despite Graham’s enthusiasm and compliments from the locals, one Gay Gordon’s was enough to make us sleep soundly through the night.

Graham Payne

A route with a view

A route with a view

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Day 7, crossing the border

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Day seven. We relaxed so much last night it had diverse effects, the backup team arose fresh and rested but the riders enjoyed their beds too much and found it difficult to rise.  Back to an 8.15 start!  Scotland here we come.

Penrith past without incident and we were tempted to stop in Carlisle and see the large castle and beginnings of Hadrians Wall but a serious accident involving a jackknifed lorry meant we needed to crack on to the border and Gretna Green. Famous for elicite unions, couples in the past would leave England and its restrictive laws and cross the border into Scotland where it was easier to wed.  The local blacksmith performed the ceremonies and the smithy is now a museum to those days which have not so long passed.

In the local area there is also the local Devils Porridge Factory.  So named by Sir Arthur Canon Doyle (creator of Sherlock Holmes) when he visited the factory in 1916 and saw the explosive paste of nitro-glycerine and nitro-cotton being mixed by hand and stuffed into shells and bullets.  30,000 workers of both sexes came from throughout the world to work to produce the ammunition for World War 1 that turned the outcome of not only the war but history itself.  As a result of this increased population the well planned town of Gretna grew up but was not referred to nor on any maps as a result of its sensity nature.

There is also a large retail shopping outlet that would be very familiar to those of you that frequent Bicester village as,  behind the tourist information centre the Ralph Lauren shop is the focal point. Even the car park looks familiar and Graham told me the centre was originally set up by the same people behind our own village.

At this point the boys decided to alter their route slightly from the A75 to Dumfries to follow a B road directly north which follows the M6 motorway as the milage is less and on the assumption that the motorway will follow the line of least resistance.  Not knowing what this road would be like it was a bit of a gamble, but one that paid off,  as wide as many an A road, gently rolling with very little traffic.

The road passes through the town of Lockerbie  which brings back memories of the tragic aircrash some twenty years ago that has been in the news again recently.

We took a diversion to LochMaben to walk round the remains of a castle that has connections to Robert the Bruce in the far distant past (c1200) and Edward 1 (c1300).  The Bruces museleum is in nearby Dumfries where there are tributes to another famous name connected to this area – Rabbie Burns.

The scenery and accents are definitely Scottish now and passing Moffat there is no sign of habitation for a further 15 miles until Abington where we book into the local hotel for fear that there will be no more hostelries until we reach the outskirts of Glasgow.

We have to drive back 10 miles to pick up the boys who ran out of daylight at 6.00.

Graham Payne

A brief chat with fellow cyclists at the border

A brief chat with fellow cyclists at the border

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Day 6, a surprise visit

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Day Six. The boys decided to break the habit of an 8.15 start and, hyped up by yesterdays mega miles, wanted to leave as soon as daylight to get in a further 5 miles. One of the  back up team was suffering from a sleepless night with an upset stomach so they did not get going till much later.

We ploughed on the A49 leaving Warrington for Wigan – ribbon development with hardly a green space to be seen. Bad signage took us past the rugby league stadium in Wigan which was absolutely massive.  Pushing on Preston emerges and recedes without any particular impression.

The road grinds  on to Lancaster where we planned to stop but  the bikers had gone through and were well on their way to Kendal so we made do with sightings of docks that must have been the home of great trade in times gone past and large bold stone homes.  The stone is losing its pink hue and turning grey and some impressive buildings point this to being an important town.

Kendal is also important but on a different scale.  The gateway to the Lake District the town is buzzing with activity and a plethora of  shops selling ‘outdoor’ gear.  A very friendly and helpful tourist information centre gave us a list of hostelries between Kendal and Penrith and knowledge of the road ahead – the question will be, can the boys make the five mile hill between the two, or do they leave it till tomorrow.

A surprise phone call  has left the evening full of promise!

Well since last writing we took up a post in a layby at the top of said horrible hill with a view right down the valley south towards Kendal and awaited sighting of the now familiar two luminous yellow jackets.  Unnoticed a silver Volvo drove over the brow of the hill and joined us.  Our captain, Paul Brain, had driven all the way from Bicester to give moral support. He was a very welcome sight especially as he informed us there was a Best Western just down the hill before Shap.  He hid in his car so as not to distract the boys coming up the hill and we cheered them on loudly with news that the day was almost at an end.

Another flat tire had resulted in two very oily bikers and Adam had comically wiped his hand all over his face.

The hotel was a gem a mile off the road through moorlands with roaming sheep and nestling next to a stream.   We enjoyed Paul’s company at dinner before he tackled the long drive home and we smiled overhearing an after dinner comic entertaining a coach party of guests.

Graham Payne

A suprise visit from the golf club Captain, Paul Brain

A suprise visit from the golf club Captain, Paul Brain

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