Six sensational wellness havens
From immune-system boosting treatments in the wilds of Greece's Peloponnese to tailored fitness weeks in the Spanish Pyrenees
By Suzanne Duckett, Spa Expert and Founder of Onolla
A message has come through loud and clear from the past year that we all need to take care of ourselves, both physically and mentally; that it's not about living to work but about working to live; and that if we haven't got our health, what have we got? These six wellness retreats are each offering you the chance to take stock and re-boot, in their own inimitably luxurious way...
Owned by Greek ex-banker Marina Efraimoglou, a woman with a passion for Greek and Taoist philosophies, Euphoria sits serenely on the edge of the 13th-century town of Mystras in the Peloponnese. Well-being here combines traditional Chinese medicine, Theta Healing, meditation and biomedicine. Forty-five rooms are scattered throughout three distinct buildings, including the beautiful six-bedroom private Leoncini heritage mansion with valley views across orange, lemon and olive groves.
Book this and there's ample space to have treatments 'at home' in your room or the library, or your party can block out the entire four-storey spa built into the mountainside, all Byzantine domes and elegant curves (the main pool is a womb-like affair with hydro jets and underwater dolphin music).
There are new programmes designed for these uncertain times, including 'immunity re-set' - an in-depth programme offering medical diagnostics, a personalised nutrition plan and bespoke fitness regime - and the immune-system boosting 'balance and recover'.
Led by Anna Boglione, one of the daughters of the founders of Petersham Nurseries, the brand-new private group Retreats by the Gut concept is a series of personalised, intimate escapes designed to 'rewild' you from your insides out - literally.
Working alongside organic farmers, dieticians, herbalists and Petersham nurseries' chefs, these bespoke day-and-residential retreats are all about healing the gut. Held at locations from Petersham House in Richmond to French alpine cabins and Portuguese beach houses, the idea is that spending time in a beautiful setting combined with a diverse network of practitioners instigates a deep healing beyond anything you could get in a clinic.
The day retreats at Petersham House centre on a specific focus such as detox, mood and weight loss, and Boglione will have you doing yoga, meditation and sound baths. The three- and five-day sojourns further afield include foraging, climbing and wild swimming.
The owners of all-natural luxury organic skincare and spa brand ILA have just launched Maison ila - a seven-bedroom wellness centre in the south of France, with a range of holistic therapies including Flexbeam red-light therapy.
A former chambre d'hôte in the pretty village of Sonnac, there are just seven guest bedrooms (five in the main house, two in a separate cottage) so it's ideal for a private group looking for a restorative break. There's also a communal dining space, a snug, treatment room and a yoga and sound-healing studio.
Breaks last three-to-seven nights and include wellness consultations, yoga, sound healing, shamanic healing, cycling, wild swimming and forest bathing - all complemented by exceptionally good organic vegetarian food.
Tour de France cyclists might train on the terrain surrounding Can Terrades, a stylishly contemporary villa in the foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees, but those that hire it can be as active or sedentary as they like.
For several weeks a year the villa is the base for Artah health retreats: yoga and fitness programmes founded by Rhian Stephenson, the CEO of boutique London fitness studio Psycle. The rest of the time, it's available to private groups of up to 20 who can make use of the gym and spa, yoga teachers, fitness trainers, massage therapists and chefs, with bespoke itineraries to suit.
Mornings might begin with sunrise flow yoga followed by a three-hour hike, with afternoons spent milling between pool and spa, or rock climbing, canyoning or windsurfing nearby. If you're all in need of a post-lockdown detox, chefs can devise plant-based, low-calorie menus. If you're after something more indulgent, mix al fresco lunches overlooking vineyards with dinners at one of the Michelin-starred restaurants in nearby Figueres.
Seventy-seven and still going strong, Henri Chenot is the grandfather of detoxing. Now, his world-famous method of cleansing, detoxing and better-ageing programmes has landed on the sunny and wild shores of Boka Bay on Montenegro's Adriatic coast. The opening date of the hotel has been pushed back a little but it will now launch on 21 March 2021.
This is One&Only's first foray into Europe and their first global partnership with Chenot Espace, whose philosophy is based on the principles of traditional Chinese healing combined with scientific advances in Western medicine, creating a 360-degree holistic approach to preventative healthcare. Programmes are bespoke, treatments tailored and include nutritional menus, fitness schedules and stress relief, as well as some serious beautifying using 'next generation technology' skincare.
Gilpin Hotel and Lake House Windermere, The Lake District
This whitewashed Edwardian house, set in 21 private acres, has extended and evolved over the years, especially where well-being is concerned. Seclusion has always seduced guests here: the whole point and design of the place allows glorious isolation and the chance to disconnect (the patchy Wi-Fi helps).
The first of five new Spa Lodges that are even roomier than the existing ones has just opened, with a lounge, large circular stone bath, a walled garden with private hot tub, steam room, sauna and treatment room equipped with infrared lounge beds - a private pocket-spa for two. Or book the exclusive-use Lake House, for you and a group of friends (sleeps 12 in six bedrooms).
Be sure to do The Jetty Spa Trail, a 3 ½ hour-long extravaganza involving local aromatic spa products, private swims, saunas, sipping cold champagne in a hot tub and a thoroughly modern treatment in a hi-tech massage chair.