You arrive with a list of expectations. Pre-arrival questionnaires have been registered and personal programmes prepared to coalesce with your goals. You’ve allotted upwards of ten days and expect to see results. Welcome to the high performance world of wellness centers where the retreat is the destination and guests pay a premium to be deprived of life’s little luxuries. With diet, activities programs, holistic health and wellness treatments all prescribed, these holiday escapes are the ultimate in bespoke sanctuaries.
Aided by modern communications and technology, we may be more in touch than at any time in human history yet conversely, we have less time for both ourselves and our relationships. Being busy 24/7 often masks a lack of willingness to confront issues that are at the core of our psychological happiness, something that Dr Martin Seligman, psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania coins as ‘positive psychology’.
According to Seligman, resilience, balance and freedom are the cornerstones of personal wellness which focuses on positive emotions and strengths. In trying to find the key to modern-day happiness, these fundamentals are opening the door to a new breed of wellness centres that treat the mind, body and soul with abstemious style.
At COMO Shambhala Estate near Ubud, Bali, the aim is to empower guests. Consultations with nutritionists, holistic health specialists and psychologists assist in identifying key issues that guests want to address. Diet, treatments and activities programs are then tailored to fit with emphasis on Ayurvedic and cleansing programmes.
I’m here to research rather than repair and in the treetops Pilates studio, I strike up a conversation with Marion, a London born, Hong Kong-based businesswoman who is at CSE for a ten day de-tox program.
“I’m constantly traveling for work and desperately need time-out to get back in the driver’s seat,” she confesses after our one hour workout. Spending her first five days on a liquid diet, she is experiencing ‘coming down’ off the high of constant busy-ness and away from other distractions is relishing the opportunity to be ‘still’.
Amanda Gale heads up the culinary team who are aware of each guest’s dietary requirements. Personal eating plans are created with a keen awareness of intelligent nutrition and the raw and cooked menus at Glow restaurant focus on organic cuisine that’s locally sourced, delivered from field to table with minimum delay. Raw fruit and vegetables are critically important, richer in living enzymes, and there’s an extensive juice and vegetable extract menu for guests who are fasting.
Reinforcing a farm-acy rather than pharmaceutical approach to wellness, guests are encouraged to gather food and take a hand in preparing it alongside Glow’s chefs before retiring to residential-sized villas where Japanese architect Koichiro Ikebuchi has pulled out all the stops to create the epitome of Zen. It’s the art of simple living ladened with luxe.
It takes three hundred steps to reach Nirvana, a water garden with outdoor treatment rooms and pools fed from The Source, a natural spring revered for its healing properties. An outdoor hydrotherapy area, 25m swimming pool, yoga and pilates studio nestle in the valley, a jungle gym, hiking and rafting are complemented by psychological discussions and the influential thinking of visiting Masters such as Dr Robert Thurman, Uma’s dad.
This is a place of space, water and air set amidst manicured grounds and terraced paddie fields and whilst the setting is luxurious, it isn’t simply pampering but a 360-degree, sometimes confronting, lifestyle audit and overhaul that’ll leave you full of good intentions.
Try COMO Shambhala’s Stress Reliever pick-me-up at home. For a single portion blend the following ingredients in a slow juicer for maximum yield, vitamins and minerals.
300g carrots, 250g red apple, 50g red grapes, a thumbnail of ginger, 50g spinach, 40g fennel, 50g beetroot and leaves, 25g celery, 100g sweet potato.
Links : Como Shambhala Estate