A Hotel and Spa Experience Sure to Pick You Up Post-Lockdown
Lockdown has been a challenging time for almost everyone I know. Starting out with the most minimal of concerns – such as not being able to get your hair cut, nails painted, or get to the shops – to having to cope with months of isolation from friends, family and loved ones, to having to deal with so much uncertainty, financial worries and stress that none of us ever envisaged happening.
One thing that has been very apparent to most during lockdown is just how vulnerable our health and national healthcare system is. And how incredibly important it is that we prioritise our wellbeing as much as we can, as it’s not something that can always be remedied and resolved with a trip to the GP or a course of antibiotics.
Health and fitness-focused holidays, spas and spiritual & detox retreats are not by any means a new thing, but consumer demand for these types of travel experiences has greatly increased over the last 10 years due to people taking their wellbeing more seriously, and yearning for a restorative break to counterbalance the hedonism and stress they encounter throughout much of the year.
We have all heard the phrase ‘Health is Wealth’ and although it’s a bit of a cliché; there is a great deal of truth behind it.
Every week there are stories published about financially powerful and successful men and women dying too young of heart attacks or suffering from ill health later in life often due them neglecting their wellness needs to make work and business the top priority.
So many of us live our lives with niggling health problems, be that chronic tiredness, gut problems, headaches, insomnia, or backache – often just soldiering on with the odd trip to the GP and a dose of prescription medication to mask the effects of it. Surely we are not supposed to live like this?
No, we are not. And as people are starting to wake up to a new way of living – albeit a life without being at the mercy of a GP waiting list and rattling with prescription medication to help you survive – it’s no wonder that specialist anti-ageing, medical and wellness holiday destinations like Longevity, are welcoming many more guests from the UK coming to fix their health problems and discover how they can live a life full of energy and without worry and pain.
Balance writer, Charlotte Dormon, takes a trip to Longevity Health & Wellness hotel in Alvor to help her get her energy and vitality back.
What to expect?
From burnt-out TV personalities and out of shape Tech Billionaires, to Brides-to-be and high powered CEO’s, Longevity’s main USP is to help people of all ages and backgrounds avoid unnecessary ill-health, premature ageing and degenerative disease, and ensure their bodies are functioning at peak potential to enable them to look, feel and perform at their very best every step of the way.
By providing a range of clinical and holistic assessments, medical tests and scans investigating everything from your nutritional deficiencies, inflammatory markers, hormonal imbalances, bone health, fitness assessments and ECG’s; Longevity’s team of top health experts will collectively look at your results to see how your body is performing and create a bespoke integrative health, fitness, medical, nutritional and anti-ageing regime to help you perform at your best. A trip will make you feel younger, fitter and more revitalised, as well as lead you down on the right path help you avoid ill health and accelerated age-related degeneration later in life.
Testing, testing one-two.
I turned 40 last year, and despite being in ‘good health’ I am a notorious stress head, spend most of my time travelling and working in a polluted city and sit at a desk staring at a screen for more hours than I care to count. I have my head stuck in a mobile phone a lot of the day, drink far too many cups of coffee and often have far less sleep than is deemed healthy.
When I was given the opportunity to visit Longevity Health & Wellness hotel after lockdown, I was looking forward to having the chance to relax in the spa, eat some healthy food and get training in the gym again; but most appealing was the holistic health checks that would allow me to get a good insight into how my body was ageing and functioning.
In the UK, unless you have private health care, or see a holistic therapist, you are probably not given the opportunity to get tests that will give you such an insight into everything from your vitamin and mineral profile to your metabolic age versus your chronological age (be prepared to be scared if you have been badly behaving…as this test won’t lie!) and if overall to investigate if your body is functioning at its optimal level. Even small signs we don’t see as a real medical concern – such as constipation, bloating and general tiredness – can all be traced back to imbalances that need correcting.
For me, there was good and bad news when it came to my test results. The good was the fact that when it came to my biophysical evaluation, cardiovascular tests and fitness evaluation it was all good news. I was relieved to hear that my daily power-walking and twice-weekly Pilates and healthy diet regime meant my body fat was low, muscle ratio was high and overall the test showed my fitness was in great shape, and especially very good for my age – nice.
The vitamin and mineral profile tests were also very good showing I had no major deficiencies (again I was relieved to know that my invested time and money spent on vitamin pill-popping had paid off) but just needed to top up a little more on zinc (this was key as it was essential to help immunity and repair, as well as detoxification of heavy metals), for which the doctor advised me to eat more oysters and munch on pumpkin seeds – yum. As well as topping up on extra vitamin C, which she said was a little too low and may contribute to poor collagen repair and may result in poor wound healing, sagging skin and more fine lines and wrinkles forming – not at all what I need.
The doctor explained that many people have underlying nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamin D, Vitamin K or Magnesium, all of which can cause numerous chronic health problems (such as osteoporosis) if left untreated. Once you are aware of any missing nutrients, making simple dietary changes to ensure you get more of the nutrient you are missing can help, or a supplement may be required if the doctor advises.
The bad news was the fact that osteopathy and Thermographic Evaluation showed that my shoulder rotator was inflamed (this I suspected as I had been doing a little too much home exercise during lockdown and gave myself a bit of an injury) and that my shoulders were very uptight (say hello to stress and a desk job) and my adrenal glands had been suffering a great deal with overexertion.
I must admit, I felt a little teary when the doctor alerted me to the state of my adrenals. It was a bit of a shock, as well as the serious wake-up call that I needed to start sleeping better and switching off the stress button a lot more.
The doctor prescribed me some melatonin drops to help me sleep better (it did help) and advised me to try taking up meditation and stepping away from the computer earlier to allow my mind to switch off and relax. I also was advised to up my vitamin C through supplementation and focus on getting more greens into my daily diet.
According to health experts at Longevity, our bodies can accumulate stored toxins in our tissues and cells that may hinder our natural detoxification efficacy and result in us feeling more sluggish than we should. These types of toxins can come from pollution we inhale (car fumes are a big issue) to the types of food and drink we consume, as well as via the skin through chemicals found in certain cosmetics.
Two things you can try out whilst there to help your body kick start its cleansing is the Longevity infrared sauna treatment to help you seriously sweat it out (this is far more effective than a regular sauna and far easier to handle for longer), as well as trying a liquid-only diet for 24 hours to help alkalinise the body and help the gut take a break from digesting food and eliminate some of the excess waste stored up.
I had never done a 24-hour liquid diet, but despite the two hours in-between lunch and dinner where I almost broke it by ordering food in the restaurant (thank goodness the waitress had her eye on me and told me that I would regret it….in a polite way, as it would mess up the cleanse) I found it pretty good and easier overall than I expected.
I did indeed get the results I wanted. A very flat stomach, a great night of sleep, and I felt far more energized the next day despite not inhaling my usual three meals of food. I would certainly be in favour of doing this again.
The infrared sauna is amazing. I had no idea that I could sweat that much and at one point was worried if I would have any water left inside my body, but again, after the treatment, I felt so good. Really fresh headed and my skin was glowing with such radiance.
Let’s get pampered
As I was told that I should relax and switch off more, I invested my me-time into a detoxifying sea salt and rosemary body scrub, followed by a relaxing deep tissue massage – just what the doctor ordered!
First up was the overall WOW factor of the Longevity treatment rooms and spa facilities. I can’t say I have been a spa pampered princess all my adult life, but I have seen a fair few luxury treatment rooms on my travels and this place was gleaming with five-star elegance that unrivalled a fair few of the hotels I had previously seen.
The lighting was right, the massage bed was so incredibly comfortable and the therapist was completely amazing. When it was finished it was like every single ache and pain and tension I had been holding in my body just completely dissipated and I was left floating in a serene Zen-like state with beautifully soft, hydrated skin.
As well as being able to choose from a huge list of beautifying and pampering treatments, the spa area has the most magnificent steam room, hydra pools, a seawater pool and Himalayan salt relaxation room and very fancy showers with ice buckets and all sorts to try out – all in all, it’s very luxurious and restorative experience.
Let’s get fit
As well as a super slick state of the art gym with the very latest high tech fitness equipment to help you get your body fit and strong, you will also find a range of daily fitness and wellness classes you can join (they will all be in the terrace outside due to COVID), including pilates, yoga, gong baths, meditation, and HIT training. I opted to try the pilates and yoga classes, both of which were super relaxing, easy to follow and just what I needed to help my achy muscles stretch out and relax.
Unless you’re on the bespoke liquid diet of cleansing juices, teas, and soups, then you can choose from a great selection of healthy and delicious dishes. The restaurant menu has been designed by Longevity’s in-house nutritionist to ensure food is balanced, healthy and nourishing, along with their head chef to ensure taste and satiety standards are met.
No fear meat eaters, it’s not just plant-based! There are meat, fish, and vegan options, and allergies can be easily accommodated. And if you wake up with an appetite, I am happy to say that I loved the breakfasts. They seemed to be a never-ending selection of fruits, homemade jams, granola and chia pots, eggs, toast, and many other yummy things to pick from. And for coffee drinkers, you won’t need to miss out as you can still get a flat white and the organic coffee they use is so good. It’s also table service, so no need to stand at a buffet trying to control your hunger monster from grabbing a load of fried bacon when you’re trying to be good.
There are different levels of room spec, of which you will have to select depending on your desired spend, but overall the rooms are modern, peaceful, and impeccably clean with a big power shower, comfy bed, and good-sized balcony. My personal advice would be to request a room with a view over the countryside and mountains as it’s a better view and you get to watch a glorious sunset. You will also be pleased to find super fluffy slippers, big comfy dressing gowns, and really thick soft towels – total relaxation bedroom bliss.
Let’s feel like a rock star
Within a couple of days of staying at Longevity, I had recognised the difference it had made. The appearance of my skin had benefited from a little dose of sunbathing, sleeping, healthy eating, and hanging out in the spa. My bloating had disappeared, tense muscles had finally relaxed and my mood and state of mind had gone from flat and full of worry to calm, focused, and far more positive.
All though I was happy with the way things were evolving, I wanted to take it to the next level and decided to get myself booked in for Ozone therapy.
What is Ozone therapy I hear you say? This infusion treatment that helps optimise the amount of oxygen in our bodies. Ozone has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and detoxifying properties and helps to reduce inflammation, reduce free radicals. By going straight to the bloodstream and bypassing the digestive process it ensures that oxygen is delivered directly to the cells and body systems effectively.
The treatment is supposed to help detoxification, enhance anti-oxidative capacity, boost immunity, regenerate cellular health, and overall improve health and wellbeing.
I had read a lot of great things about the benefits of vitamin infusions in the UK and was eager to see how it would work for me.
At first, I did not notice any difference. I thought I would get off the chair and start leaping around the room with a big boost of uncontrollable energy. Not the case and neither is it supposed to be like that. Instead, they said I would start to feel less fatigue and could notice a difference when training and potentially sleep more soundly.
After the treatment, I left Longevity and continued my travels to stay further along the Algarve at another hotel. Sadly, this new hotel did not have beds as comfortable as Longevity and the air-conditioning was noisy so didn’t contribute to me getting a peaceful night’s rest. The next morning I had a HIIT training class at 9 am. I almost forgot about the class and then left my hotel room in a rush to make it to the class, which was a drive away from the hotel. I didn’t even get time for a coffee to pep up my energy and had not done a workout class of that intensity since pre-lockdown, so I was rather worried about it.
The class was as hardcore as it gets and I was sweating away in the heat. The thing I could not seem to workout during the class was why I was able to keep up so easily with the intensity. I’d had no coffee; I had slept badly and hadn’t even eaten any food. But rather than laying on the floor dead and unable to keep up the a-game, I was getting a ‘great job’ from the instructor and outdoing the others in the class.
I noticed that after the class I still felt full of energy – which continued to stay consistent throughout the day – and I woke up the following morning with almost zero achy muscles compared to what I would normally experience after a training session at that level.
In summary, I can say that I think the Ozone Therapy seemed to work a treat, as I can’t put my champion performance and vitality down to anything else and I did continue to feel much more of a spring in my step throughout the rest of that week. I’d say it is certainly worth giving it a go.
To stay at Longevity Hotel, rooms start from 145 euros per night for two guests. For more information on the hotel and treatments, visit www.longevityalvor.com