VILALARA THALASSA RESORT, PORTUGAL
Vilalara Thalassa Resort is an exclusive space dedicated to well-being and the senses. Sitting snug along the stunning Algarve coastline with seaside gardens and direct access to soft golden sands, this is a world-class resort retreat where exclusivity, comfort and stunning surroundings combine into a unique experience of well-being and health.
Every detail has been carefully designed to fulfil your needs and pamper you in a luxurious and indulgent environment. Vilalara particularly suits those who seek revitalisation and mindfulness.
The SPA, the very essence of Vilalara – is a well-equipped haven of rejuvenation and renewal of mind and body, while superb accommodation options make this resort a must-go retreat destination.
The five-night Longevity Wellness Booster is the break to book for an anti-ageing fix: there’s measuring (bio-physical evaluation clocks BMI and fat distribution), lengthening (osteopathy and craniosacral therapy), relaxation (massages, jet baths, mindfulness therapy) and pampering (more massages, plus skin-boosting exfoliation).
Known for having one of the worlds-best thalassotherapy centres and saltwater healing facilities, guests travel from all over to seek treatment for skin conditions, aches, pains and more. The thalassotherapy sessions are combined with other five-star spa treatments for a truly relaxing, wellness experience.
The luxurious resort features six swimming pools, four outdoor pools, two restaurants, beauty salon and even a golf centre.
Russian physiotherapist Vladimir Papakides, who has been practicing at the spa for eight years, works wonders with sports injuries, spinal ailments, torn tendons and all sorts of aches and pains.
People come back time and time again for his rehabilitation therapies and thorough massages. He is a constant at Anassa and he is brilliant. The same goes for the hotel itself. It is strikingly dependable, so it’s no surprise that there are so many regulars.
The SPA, flooded with sunlight and fresh air, is a serious set up, designed as much for those who want a five-day programme (fitness or anti-ageing, for example) as for those who just want the odd treatment, use the gym or swim in the saltwater exercise pool.
The main focus is thalassotherapy, with water for the invigorating and restorative jet sprays and hydro baths pumped straight from the Mediterranean. There’s a comprehensive range of Ila therapies alongside QMS anti-ageing options, but it’s the newly introduced Anastasia Achilleos facial that everyone seems desperate to book (ask for gentle, intuitive Claudia). This extraordinary treatment is a fully nurturing session where you are cradled in the therapist’s arms while lying on a heated water pad. The attention on the face is soothing and hydrating but it’s the rest of the 90 minutes that really gets interesting, with a kundalini massage using warm argan oil, abdominal work, a gentle foot rub and a scalp massage. The healing bubble doesn’t burst when you emerge. As evening falls there is peace and quiet, whispered tones at supper and early nights had by all.
French superstar chef Michel Guérard is famous not just for his fantastically refined food but for something that seems wholly at odds with fine dining: weight loss. At his deeply chic manor-house hotel in Gascony, foodie guests sit alongside those who flock for the anti-ageing and anti-stress retreats and, most popular of all, the Minceur Essentielle slimming programme. Guérard’s vision for shifting the bulge is simple: combine a delicious, low-calorie diet with a personalised exercise plan and sculpting treatments using sulphur- and magnesium-enriched water from the nearby hot spring. Crucially though, this programme aims for sustainable slimness by delivering a take-home strategy covering nutrition and physical activity, with medical consultations and follow-ups – a truly expansive approach.
The SPA, which from the outside looks more cosy French farmhouse than hi-tech facility, really packs a punch. All the body-shaping hydrotherapies are taken while naked as the needle-fine, high-pressure jets of water break down fat cells more efficiently when blasted directly onto bare skin. It stings – just a little. But not all the prescribed cures are such a shock to the system. Baths in solid marble tubs in front of open fires envelop limbs in the pungent spring water (sulphur and magnesium are known for their anti-inflammatory and diuretic effects), while for the signature white clay bath, which aids digestion, you wallow in toffee-coloured mud the consistency of thick cream. On the nine- or 12-day regime these hydro treatments are scheduled four times a day, alternating with mineral and vegetable infusions. Repetition is key.
In between trips to the spa there is time to exercise. This can be one-on-one with a personal trainer, alone in the pool or gym, or out exploring the cycle paths that crisscross the estate. The aim of the activity is to train the body and engage the mind while assisting with weight loss. It all feels very doable and therefore easier to maintain later. As does the calorie-controlled diet. The food is limited, but still mouthwatering. A three-course lunch of tangy white bean and tomato salad with soft pear followed by sea bass in a vegetable-and-herb tea is just over 500 calories. And that includes the chocolate-cream pudding. The spa list extends to facials, manicures and pedicures, and more, so while Les Prés d’Eugénie offers a hand-held, step-by-step way to lose weight it is also somewhere to indulge a little.
VIVAMAYR IN ALTAUSSEE, AUSTRIA
The VIVAMAYR center Altaussee combines uniquely one of the most modern and luxurious health resorts in the world and is located in one of the most beautiful and picturesque places in the Austrian Alpes at the foot of the mountain Loser. The perfect combination for all those who are looking for rest, relaxation and health.
For those new to the Mayr cure, this efficacious diet plan – combined with holistic treatments – was first developed by pioneering doctor Franz Xaver Mayr at the turn of the 20th century. It is based on the principle that giving an overworked digestive system a break allows other parts of the body to begin to repair themselves. Such are its remarkable effects that the method has reached legendary status, especially when it comes to tackling issues such as chronic fatigue, allergies, arthritis, migraine and sleep problems. Mayr hallmarks include chewing each mouthful of food at least 30 times (the notorious spelt bread is served stale to ensure it’s tough enough to eat slowly), drinking Epsom salts to help intestinal cleansing, daily abdominal massages and liver compresses. You are encouraged not to talk during meals, although guests do rebel as it’s too tempting not to swap detox symptoms.
Stay here to experience the latest arrival on the Mayr scene: this is the sister property to the original Vivamayr on Lake Wörth. While it’s definitely a clinical environment, the overall design is akin to a gigantic modern chalet, clean-lined and clad in oak, rather than being spartan or surgical. It’s a lot more cocooning than any of the other Mayr outposts, with jaunty colours adding a cheery pop to interiors. The food is healthy, modern Mayr at its best – no sugar, no dairy, no alcohol. The philosophy is based on ingredients which alkalise, and how you eat is as important as what you eat. Sometimes dinner is just a bowl of broth or herbal tea. Many people come here to lose weight, others to press pause, still more for an annual health MOT. The vast medical department is where you will spend most of your time, dipping into everything from traditional massages and intravenous drips to bone-density measurements and hi-tech oxygen therapy used by astronauts. The diagnostics are mind-bogglingly impressive – blood tests, mineral tests, cardiovascular tests, intolerance tests – all of which dictate your treatments, as well as lay bare the real state of your health. A key point of difference to Vivamayr Maria Wörth is that the salt water you drink here is drawn straight from the depths of the nearby quarries, so it is of superlative provenance and is perhaps another reason – on top of all the others – why you will leave feeling sparkly.