The Best Portugal Spa Hotel

SPA OF THE MONTH

Vitalise at Vila Mimosa,

Spa Portugal

Need a new year detox but don’t fancy a clinical spa? Vitalise at Vila Mimosa in Portugal could well be the place tor you. This stylish health retreat combines expert detox programmes with pampering treatments and exercise, in a friendly, nurturing environment. Just outside the bustling resort of Albufeira, the pretty retreat is the ideal destination for a healthy but relaxing break. Whether you want to follow a strict juice fast and exercise from dawn fill dusk, or simply fry a lighter diet and relax by the pool, the choice is yours.

THE VILLA

Nestled at the end of a country lane, a 10-minute walk from a white sandy beach, Vila Mimosa is a beautiful Moorish-style villa with 14 en-suite rooms, dining room, lounge and a new spa suite set next to the outdoor pool. A maximum of 18 guests (of all ages and nationalities) at any time ensures hands-on guidance and a warm, friendly atmosphere. Many guests return every year.

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THE PROGRAMME

Soon after arriving at Vila Mimosa, I have a private consultation to discuss my health, weight and blood pressure. I’m told I can choose between two fast programmes: a juice fast or a mild fast with light food. Wanting to give my body a break after the party season, I sign up for the juice fast, which involves drinking fruit and vegetable juices, herbal teas and eating vegetable soup for the evening meal. The retreat’s expert chefs ensure the juices contain all the vitamins and minerals your body needs (after a few days, I’m simply not hungry). However, if you do struggle with the lack of food, you can swap to the mild fast programme with light, vegan meals.

The new spa complex boasts a Finnish sauna, Turkish steam bath and infrared sauna to help you detox.

Aside from giving your digestive system a rest, the fasts are designed to help you break bad eating habits, plus facilitate inner peace and mental wellbeing. Both programmes include a daily exercise schedule, daily liver pack, one massage, one detox face mask and two lymphatic drainage treatments, plus guided meditations three times a week.

THE SCHEDULE

You’ll start the day with a herbal tea and blood-pressure reading, followed by a stretch class, then a 5-7km walk along the cliffs or beach, or across the beautiful nature reserve. Once a week, there’s a special walk along the Seven Hanging Valleys trail. Once back, I have my first juice of the day. Then there’s a busy schedule of classes, treatments and activities to choose from, punctuated by juice (or meal).

NAP AWAY

Having a nap helps you consolidate new information and make decisions. A new study at The University of Bristol Medical School monitored 16 participants as they took part in two tests: one where they were presented with information so quickly, they didn’t have time to register it consciously; and a second, control task, where they had time to register images consciously. After performing the tasks, they either stayed awake or took a 90-minute nap, before doing the tasks again, while researchers monitored brain activity with an EEG. The results showed that naps increased the processing speed in the first activity but not the second, strengthening the idea that we process unconscious information when asleep, and that sleep may aid our decisionmaking when awake. Where’s that sofa?

Bea Skin Care Rejuvenating Treatment Eye Masks, £48 for six pairs; bea-skincare.com

Feeling worn out, but no time to get to a spa? Try these collagen-enriched under-eye masks to attack those dark circles and boost hydration and skin texture, thanks to the hyaluronic acid they contain, plus vitamin B3 and C. After cleansing your face, remove the clear film from a pair of patches, sit back and apply a patch just under each eye. After 15-20 minutes, remove the jelly-like patches and gently massage any remaining hyaluronic acid into your eyelids, making sure you don’t get any in your eyes. After a few uses, you should notice a more refreshed appearance – hooray! Use in conjunction with Bea Peptide Eye Serum daily to brighten any existing skin discolouration and to stimulate collagen production even more…

In the mornings, I opt for the Bodyshape class. In the afternoons, the aqua jogging class is great fun. Or you can do aerobics, Pilates or yoga. Many of the classes are held on the roof deck so we can enjoy the panoramic views. Were encouraged to get active during as it’s believed exercise while fasting helps draw on the body’s fat reserves, aiding weight loss. The schedule is full-on, but the staff fell us to listen to our body and rest whenever we want to. We end each day with yoga or relaxation before gathering round the dinner table for vegetable soup and chat. After dinner, we listen to expert talks or simply relax.

There’s plenty of time for fun and, during the week, we have two excursions – one to the local mountain town of Louie, where we stock up on delicious local foods to take home at the market. There are also guided e-bike rides.

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