We like a trip out from Silver Towers, so Debbie and I were delighted to be invited to visit the brand new Richmond Village at Witney in Oxfordshire, erstwhile seat of David Cameron. It’s a charming market town, with more than a nod to its historical wool industry origins.
As we walked into the Witney reception, it felt akin to a leisurely 5-star hotel, with stunning design and furnishings that suit the age of the residents, well-trained, welcoming staff and attention to the niceties of life, including the best afternoon tea we’ve had in ages. Everywhere is wheelchair friendly of course, and there’s an atmosphere of well-being that is encouraging, kind and exactly right for older people.
Richmond Villages have several locations around the Cotswolds and the Midlands, where the concept of the retirement settlement becomes real. There are rather lovely apartments for the active retired, who lead lives just as they might in St Albans or anywhere else. Then there are well finished Village Suites, many with balconies or private patios, within a main building, for those who don’t want to or perhaps can’t, maintain such a high degree of independence or too much living space. These consist of a carefully-adapted ensuite and bedroom, sitting room with fireplace (electric) and simple kitchen area. Both the apartments and suites are bought, as any property might be, with a fairly high service charge, for good reason. The owners are essentially buying life in beautiful and fabulously maintained surroundings, with first rate leisure facilities. The library certainly exceeded all my expectations, it was just as you might imagine in an Evelyn Waugh country house – tranquil, leathery and a touch learned. Audrey fforbes-Hamilton would most certainly approve!
The swimming pool at Witney is glorious, large, airy, I was tempted to jump right in, with folding doors to a sun trap of a terrace, where food and drinks can be ordered. There’s even a gradual slope descending into the water, with rail, for those less mobile than they were. We spotted an immaculate bowling green, although as yet, this sport is a mystery to both Debbie and I. No doubt that will change over the coming years! Add the spa, with treatments and a hairdresser, certainly matching several smart hotels I know. And the exercise studio and gym, both excellent, with classes to keep bodies in good condition and healthy. In fact, so good are these facilities, that they have a local membership too, which really adds to the buzz of the place with younger folk coming in as if it were a private club. I’d join like a shot!
Most helpfully, and with an eye to ‘try before you buy’, several of the Village suites are available for care-assisted holidays, where visitors enjoy the full works: three meals a day, with breakfast in your suite if preferred, a wide range of activities both active and sitting, trips to Witney and, where Richmond Retreats wins hands down, the personally tailored care package, if needed. Thus there is simply no need to worry, everything can be taken care of and a holiday away from home can be thoroughly enjoyed in safety and security. We know how very important this is – many of you email to ask about such matters on a daily basis.
If I was older (just 55 at the moment) and need of a super safe holiday, this is most certainly where I’d want to come. In fact, I’ve left the details around for the grown-up children to see and I’ve mentioned it to my mother, who is currently a toe-tapping 77. However, when the moment arrives, this absolutely is the place to be.