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I am at SHA Wellness, the renowned Spanish clinic just outside Alicante for a three-day immersion at this world-famous health retreat.
The first thing to strike me is the calm atmosphere, which is what you would expect at a top-notch health resort but, believe me, it’s not always achieved. The hotel is incredibly cleverly-designed with very few solid walls and masses of greenery so you feel you’re walking through a beautiful, many-tiered garden whether inside or out. The fact that this has been designed by a Feng Shui expert is evident.
Having spent the summer mainly on planes and in cars, travelling the world checking out some of the best health retreats out there I am, ironically, feeling the need to stretch my legs. My week-long stay at Kamalaya on Koh Samui presents the ideal opportunity for this, renowned as it is for its excellent facilities and treatments . I’ve been jogging and doing a bit of yoga at home but really want to kick start my fitness with an intensive week of personal training.
As I turn off Autostrada 1 I reach for the directions I’ve been sent by the owner of the remote, monastic health retreat for which I am destined. At first glance they seem somewhat overly-detailed but I soon see why. Eremito Hotelito del Alma (The Hermitage) is not a place that’s meant to be found at random. Like ‘The Beach’ you have to know that it’s there and trust your guides.
Prior to experiencing my first ever retreat my holidays tended to consist of cultural touring, lots of physical activity (skiing, riding and hiking) or, occasionally, lying on the beach somewhere in the Indian Ocean. I would come back feeling somewhat refreshed by the break from work but often not very relaxed or feeling I had had any real time to myself.
It is always very insightful to talk to experts in their field; John is an ecologist who works at the Shamwari Game Reserve. Shamwari is one of the most successful private conservation initiatives in Southern Africa, that has been tirelessly conserving and rehabilitating wildlife in the Eastern Cape for 25 years.
Our European Destination Specialist Jackie Slaughter loves nothing more than discovering other cultures, so she couldn’t wait to get involved in a Sicilian cookery class at the Verdura Resort in Sicily this summer. She joined local chef Gianluca and a handful of other guests to prepare a delicious lunch. The dishes were crafted under Gianluca’s watchful eye, using fresh local ingredients. To bring the taste of Sicily into your own home this chilly autumn , see the recipes below.
We had the great pleasure of chatting to Johan, a vet at The Wildlife Centre Shamwari Game Reserve in the East Cape of South Africa. Shamwari, which first opened in 1992, is one of the most successful private conservation initiatives in Southern Africa. Due to hunting and over-farming, wildlife numbers in the Eastern Cape had been dramatically reduced, but Shamwari’s relentless conservation and rehabilitation efforts over the last 25 years is going a long way to rectify that. Shamwari also has six separate 5-star lodges, an Explorer Camp, three different education and rehabilitation facilities – the ideal environment for discerning guests to enjoy a sublime pocket of South Africa, flourishing with free-roaming wildlife.
From its source on the Tibetan Plateau in China, the Mekong River runs a 4,350km journey through Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam and culminates at the Mekong Delta close to Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam. The Mekong is a vital source for all the countries that touch it and life on its banks has not changed for thousands of years. Indeed, it’s delta is known as the ‘rice bowl of Vietnam’.
No one can disagree that the backdrop for the 2016 Olympics in Rio is one of the most, if not, the most stunning in the history of this media-saturated sporting spectacular. The weather, on the whole, has lit up the golden beaches, emerald forested mountain outcrops and the shiny Rio skyscrapers.
Ten years ago Shyama regularly shared her passion for cooking with her friends by hosting popular dinner parties. One evening a guest, who happened to work in the travel industry, convinced her that she really ought to run her own business giving cookery demonstrations for the many visitors to Pondicherry in South-east India. What started as a dinner party conversation led to a profession welcoming guests and presenting the region’s rich gastronomy. Here she shares an insight into her profession and explains how she sees opportunities for women in modern India developing.