Newsletter: FT Weekend
Get weekend inspiration with the best of life, arts and culture. Delivered every Saturday morning.
Find your zen in the hills of Tuscany
Christina Ong’s name has been associated with wellness for almost as long as wellness in Southeast Asia is one thing: her COMO Shambhala estate in Bali set the bar almost two decades ago, and her satellites, from Singapore to the Maldives to London, continue to deliver solid results. . More recently, COMO Shambhala has moved to the hills of Tuscany: Castello del Nero, which is about a 20-minute drive south of Florence, was quietly taken over by the COMO d’Ong hotel group in 2019. Renovated under his aegis by the talented and wonderfully whimsical Paola. Navona, the Castello has, since last month, officially been home to a full-service COMO Shambhala retreat. Its 1000m² of space includes fitness studios (including private pilates and yoga rooms), expansive thermal pools and saunas, seven treatment rooms and an outdoor exercise and training area. “Ritual” packages include bespoke menus and fitness, facials and body treatments, unlimited use of spa suites and swimming pools, and guided hikes through the estate’s more than 700 acres. comohotels.com, from £ 474
Wilderness Retreats – and Dr Barbara Sturm – in Scotland
When Sharan Pasricha, a member of the Ennismore Hotel Powerhouse, took charge of Gleneagles in Scotland, a whole new level of sophistication and brilliance was brought to the historic estate. Starting this month, that is complemented by a comprehensive, ambitious and quite fabulous wellness offering, which will include the UK’s first resident clinic of skin care star Dr Barbara Sturm outside of London. , as well as dishes prepared at the Spa and Garden Café by Romarin Ferguson. Gleneagles’ new Wild Wellness Retreats are two-day, supercharged nature immersions that include waterfall swims and foraging, hiking, and fishing for your own dinner (if desired). All enhanced by the recently completed renovation of the hotel’s wellness, spa and fitness areas, and the launch of its own essential oils and signature essences made from plants harvested on and around. of the domain. gleneagles.com, from £ 475
Go with the snow in Colorado and Iceland
To watch this winter: alpha wellness retreats concocted by the Eleven Experience team, whose slice of ultra-exclusive buyout properties spans Chilean Patagonia and Iceland, the French Alps and the Bahamas. Eleven Life is something every guest can get a taste of – through one-on-one adventures, menus and meals, and treatments. The more ambitious can sign up for wellness experiences, which are currently held regularly at Taylor River Lodge, Scarp Ridge Lodge, and Sopris House in Colorado, and at Deplar Farm, their ski lodge on the Troll Peninsula in Iceland. They’re not for the faint of heart: think snow showers and ice baths, hardcore nutrition, and general pushing of physical and mental limits. But the payoff is scientifically documented, and the landscape and surrounding area promise to be spectacular. elevenexperience.com, from £ 651
The art of feeling good in Crete
A handful of wellness proposals of a slightly different stripe are expected to take place at the end of this month, beginning of October, and then again in May and June 2022, in the small village of Gavalochori, Crete. Artful Retreats has been running art therapy-based wellness programs for nearly a decade, in locations ranging from the hills outside of Zurich to Singapore. In Crete, guests will stay in a modern and bright private estate just outside the village. After morning yoga and breakfast, they retreat to the studio, where guided sketches and paintings are designed to help access and deal with blockages and psychological and emotional issues (lest it feel a little too close to the woo-woo space, consider that the use of art to relieve mental and psychological distress has been championed by everyone from Hippocrates to Carl Jung). There are up to six hours a day of art and discussion, interspersed with olive groves, evening village tours, and poolside downtime (also known to have a salutary effect on state of mind). artfulretreats.com, four days from £ 980 per person
Easy Ayurveda meet beach happiness
And finally, to the far northwest of Kerala, and the coast to Kasaragod, where there is a little place that has been on the favorites list of some very worldly people. Neeleshwar Hermitage is not an Ayurvedic retreat in the strict sense, although the cuisine and therapies it offers in the spacious lodges of its 12 acres by the sea incorporate many elements of Ayurveda. It’s not a five-star proposition either, so those obsessed with thread count and 2am room service should probably book elsewhere. What Neeleshwar is is a shrine in the most absolute sense. That’s for sure, both in terms of Covid-19 (Kerala has had one of India’s most successful vaccine deployment programs and fastest recovery, and is open to tourism again) and in personal terms (I have cycled – each guest receives one for the duration of their stay – throughout the territory, morning and early evening).
It’s generous: the portions of clean and fresh curries and rice made from fish and vegetables are robust, the breakfasts plentiful and varied, the staff talkative and smiling. Oil treatments and massages are often provided by two therapists working in tandem, and the blouse at the entrance to the resort will happily smear you bolt after bolt of sherbet-shaded cotton for you to enjoy. admire. And finally, Neeleshwar is very pretty: the cottages are large and airy, with wooden floors and white beds, and patios with rattan furniture and strung hammocks. The restaurant is the literal manifestation of feet in the sand, with rich purple and pink tablecloths. And the sun dips dramatically into the Indian Ocean, a nighttime spectacle that seems to be happening just for you, and must be food for the soul. neeleshwarhermitage.com, from around £ 380 per night, with half board