Meet the wellness retreat you’ll really want to go to

It seems the world is going increasingly mad for health and fitness retreats. Our Instagram feeds were full of them this summer; from colonics in Cuba to hiking the hills of LA and getting our downward dog on in Kerala. But if you’re thinking there’s no way you’d spend your hard-earned cash on a holiday where you’re not allowed to eat or deviate from a strict regime, think again. We’ve got just the hotel for those wanting to dip a toe in the world of wellness. It’s called the Longevity Cegonha Country Club.

Nestled in picturesque Vilamoura in the gorgeous Algarve region of Portugal, this charming resort is just close enough to the area’s renowned beaches, golf courses and marina that you can visit, but just far enough away that you feel utterly secluded. Its lush green surroundings compliment the rejuvenating and relaxing nature of their health and wellbeing programmes that range from Rebalance and Detox to Weight Loss and Fitness. Oh, and the year-round temperate climate means almost-guaranteed sun. Ready to book a flight? Allow us to continue.

Inside this oasis of calm is not a whiff of pretentiousness. You’re paying for a relaxing escape that leaves the stresses of the everyday behind, and that’s just what the staff here provide. Their first order of business is getting you settled into your suite. Bright and spacious with traditional Portuguese tiled floors and a terrace for private sunbathing, the lodging is tailored for comfort over luxury.

To ensure you get the most from your stay, the lovely on-site nutritionist sees every guest within their first couple of hours for a wellness evaluation that looks at your health as a whole. You’ll step onto a Tanita machine that measures more than just your weight – visceral fat, muscle mass, bone density, metabolic age and more – which she’ll then talk you through. Next, you’ll discuss your lifestyle and goals for your stay, which she’ll use to recommend a culinary plan.

Meals can be enjoyed in your suite or the PURE café, and boy will you enjoy them! The recipes are the brainchild of the nutritionist and chef, who together have created something truly special. The menu changes each day but you can guarantee whatever you’re served will be full of flavour and nutrients, resulting in a cacophony of flavour that you’ll marvel at from first to last bite. Organic, alkaline ingredients are at their core, aiming to rid the body of toxins and promote anti-inflammatory effects. And proving they really do know what they’re doing, you’ll sip alkaline water with a 9.5ph balance that tastes smoother than you thought possible.

Liquid meals/days are extremely well designed and worth trying at least once; ensuring you get all the goodness you need through soups, smoothies and juices. Hand on heart, 99% of them were delicious, with the exception of one morning shot of apple cider vinegar, lemon and pepper that I’ll admit tasted exactly as it sounds. Other than that, the liquid diet was not hard to follow and I felt great as a result. I’ve even whipped up a few of their recipes since I’ve been home – namely the spinach, pear, vegan protein and rice milk smoothie, and the watermelon and basil gazpacho. Don’t fancy the liquid diet? There’s zero pressure to participate and no judgement for eating the ‘normal’ meals. There’s even organic wine and beer on offer which I had to sample, all in the name of a good review of course!

And it’s not just the cuisine; every aspect of your stay can be personalised. Start your morning with a Pilates class, al fresco yoga or personal training session, then choose to go or not go on a bike ride or gentle hike along the trails of the National Park. There’s fitness classes and wellness workshops to fill the hours if you’re interested, or you can raise your heartrate in the well-equipped gym or tennis courts. But don’t feel that exercise is obligatory. You’re equally welcome to lay by the pool gazing out at the treetops or head to the pond where you’ll have tiny turtles for company. Zen areas are hiding around every corner, including an infrared sauna overlooking the pool, salt room for improved respiration and tropical hot and cold rain showers to name just a few. And when we say everything can be tailored to you, we mean everything. Even the steam room gives you a choice of fresh peppermint or sweet orange as the scent. And that’s before we mention the treatments. The spa is small but tranquil, with organic and locally sourced products ready to soften your skin and care for your complexion. Here, traditional treatments like massages, facials, body scrubs and wraps are offered alongside high-tech options like the Japanese sauna (picture an MRI machine that’s a whole lot more relaxing and will seriously make you sweat) and craniosacral therapy.

Overall, this gloriously invigorating retreat is just what the doctor ordered. Proving that ‘wellness’ is more than just a buzzword, their holistic and welcoming approach soothes the soul, cares for the body and quietens the mind; leaving you feeling refreshed and ready to re-join the ever-increasing speeds on the treadmill of daily life.

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