After the holidays – detox at Lake Garda/Italy

Soon the holidays will be over and we’ll all have to pay the price. Too much food and drink, too little exercise, the past- festivities hangover will kick in. Not to worry though, help is at hand.What about booking yourself into this fabulous spa, getting fit and detoxed and enjoying a great part of Italy at the same time?

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Rebalance your body after the festive season at the eco spa Lefay Resort & SPA overlooking Lake Garda with a programme to purify the body of toxins. In just three days the treatments will improve the free flow of vital energy and eliminate such symptoms as fatigue, irritability and swelling.

 

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The holistic purifying programme uses the stimulation of the Classical Chinese energy points to eliminate toxins, caused by factors such as poor eating habits, alcohol and cigarettes.

Treatments include a detoxifying massage, aimed at removing accumulated toxins working on the meridians and specific points of Classical Chinese Medicine that promote lymphatic drainage and eliminate toxins.

Guests will be given personalised phytotherapy, using specific medicinal plants that work mainly on the kidney and liver to create a bespoke Classical Chinese medicinal herbal infusion that guests drink during and after their stay.

Other treatments include a wrap with micro-eclatée algae and detoxifying essential oils, a massage with mud rich in oils, clays, sulphates and marillonite, which performs an osmotic detoxifying and antioxidant effect and a session in the salt water lake – the high temperature allows the body to absorb the trace elements and minerals from the marine salt dissolved in the water, which has a draining, detoxifying and relaxing effect.

The purifying programme is accompanied by a slightly low-calorie and detoxifying diet.   The price per person is £880 (Euros 1,035) based on two sharing and includes accommodation, all treatments and meals but not flights. The nearest airport is Verona.

http://lagodigarda.lefayresorts.com/eng/special-offers/wellness-programme/

Images provided by the resort.

Enjoy an Autumn Break in Adelboden/Switzerland

As you know, the glamourgranny is always on the look-out for wonderful destinations which are not generally known. Adelboden in Switzerland is just such a place. See for yourselves.

Adelboden: a picture-postcard perfect destination for Autumn

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Hands up how many people have been to Adelboden? If it is bragging rights you’re after from a holiday, then Adelboden should be on your “to go” list. This pretty as a picture hidden gem, tucked away at the end of a valley in the Bernese Oberland, but less than an hour’s drive from the capital of Berne, is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. And while summer may be over, there’s still plenty to do in Adelboden through Autumn.

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The globally renowned Golf Mountain pop-up course on Adelboden’s Engstligenalp, the only one of its kind in the world, is now enjoying its sixth season and remains open till 23rd October.  During the summer, this plateau is used for grazing cattle as it has been for centuries, while during the winter, it’s a winter wonderland offering downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snow tubing and a fondue igloo, hence the limited window of opportunity for the pop-up golf course.

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Views of Golf Mountain

With 18 holes ranging from par 3s to a par 5s, Golf Mountain provides even the most skilled of golfers with a unique challenge. Hazards include streams and rocky outcrops as well as swirling mountain winds and extreme weather conditions – one minute, golfers might be in bright sunshine, the next in dense cloud.

The unpredictable conditions are worth enduring, however, as the stunning setting is a sight to behold. Located at 1,964 metres, making it the highest golf course in Europe, Engstligenalp is a nature reserve of other-worldly character with breathtaking views over the village of Adelboden, where the stresses of the everyday easily slip away.

For those who do not have the patience or aptitude to battle the elements on a golf course, there are plenty of hiking trails to suit all abilities in and around Adelboden, from guided tours of the village to all-day outings. The latest, opened up thanks to a new four-seater chair lift conveying passengers from Bergläger to Höchst, leads walkers from the Chuenisbärgli (a famous World Cup skiing slope) to the climbing tower in front of the Niesen mountain chain. This three-and-a-half hour, horseshoe-shaped walk is not for the feint-hearted, with the start taking place at almost 2000 metres above sea level, but it’s well worth it for the stunning panoramic views from the Hahnenmoos Pass and, of course, the fun to be had whizzing back down towards the village on a Trottinett scooter.

After any exertion, there’s the chance to relax and recuperate, with three hotels – The Cambrian Adelboden, Parkhotel Bellevue & Spa and Adler Adelboden – having fantastic spas that are all open to non-residents. Warm tired muscles in saunas and steam rooms, or simply enjoy the Alpine vistas from one of the outdoor heated swimming pools. Alternatively, visit the Engstligenalp waterfall and absorb the power of the cascading water, while meditating or moving through a few yoga poses.

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Spa time in Adelboden

On those days when the weather does not clamour for an outdoor activity, there is the Tropenhaus in Frutigen to visit; it recently launched an interactive exhibition called “How the fish came to the mountain” telling the story of Russian sturgeon from their incarnation 200 million years’ ago up to the moment they were introduced into the Bernese Oberland to make caviar. Yes! Switzerland makes its very own caviar! Who knew?

Other attractions include five GaultMillau restaurants flying the flag for fine dining, climbing towers, riding Segways and a chance to watch marmots… While autumn events include the Swiss Chamber Music Festival (23 September to 2 October) and the Autumn Fair (2 October). Details of all these and more can be found on the Adelboden website. But shhh! Don’t tell everyone, let’s just keep this little secret between you and me…

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Getting to Adelboden Swiss airline Skywork (www.flyskywork.com) operates daily flights from London City to Berne (less than an hour’s drive from Adelboden). Alternatively, a number of airlines fly from various UK airports to Zurich, from where it’s a 2 hour, 45 minute train journey to Adelboden.

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Golf Mountain: The green fee at Golf Mountain, which also includes return cable car ride, is CHF85 (approx Euros 77 & £65). Advance bookings can be made by emailing kontakt@golfmountain.ch. Golfers can also stay up on Engstligenalp, at the basic but comfortable Berghotel. Those seeking a few more luxuries may prefer to stay in one of the many hotels in the village of Adelboden and use the cable car to access/exit Engstligenalp during the day.
Hiking: More details of all the hiking available in and around Adelboden can be found at: http://www.adelboden.ch/en/s/hiking-summer

Adelboden Facts & Figures
Adelboden, with a population of just over 3,500, lies in the west of the Bernese Oberland, at the end of the Engstlige valley.  It is a traditional, south-facing Swiss mountain resort, filled to the rafters with wooden chalets that look over to the Engstligen waterfalls (the second longest falls in Switzerland). Adelboden’s main street lies at 1,350 m (4,430 ft), while the highest point in the area, the Grossstrubel, reaches 3,242 m (10,636 ft).

In 1903, Adelboden was the destination of the first packaged winter sports holiday, which was organised by Sir Henry Lunn, one of the founders of travel agency Lunn Poly.  The Adelboden-Frutigen-Lenk ski region remains a tempting destination for winter sport enthusiasts.  In summer, the village is very popular among hikers, mountain bikers and e-bikers, as well as with families.

Adelboden has 28 hotels (ranging from 4* superior to B&Bs) with 1585 beds, 3800 vacation homes with 7,600 beds, 30 group accommodations with 1835 beds, 3 camp sites and 21 restaurants offering a wide range of cuisines, from traditional Swiss to fast food to Asian.

 

 

Pamper yourself in a brand new spa in South Africa

It’s so important for us baby boomers to look after our health. Whenever or wherever in the world I hear about a new, glorious spa, it gest mentioned here and shared with you, my readers. This is the latest I came across, in the middle of South Africa’s Cape Winelands.

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Leeu Estates – home to the first ilā spa in southern Africa

 

Franschhoek, July 2016: Leeu Estates, Leeu Collection’s flagship property that opened last month (15 June) in the Cape Winelands’ Franschhoek Valley, is home to the first ilā spa in southern Africa. Set among tranquil vineyards with panoramic views of the majestic valley, Leeu Spa offers a wellness sanctuary just moments away from the hustle and bustle of South Africa’s gourmet capital.

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Leeu Spa, with its contemporary floor-to-ceiling glass windows and timber frame designed by celebrated Spanish architect Tomeu Esteva of Esteva i Esteva Arquitectura, was conceived as the physical and emotional heart of Leeu Estates. Its location, shape and building materials are intended to create a direct link with the dramatic natural setting.

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Once guests have been welcomed at the Spa reception, they can take one of two routes that both create a sensory experience imbuing visitors with an immediate feeling of wellbeing.

The first takes guests on an enchanting journey down a gently descending staircase between an extended bamboo courtyard and beautiful stone walls. At the bottom lies the 15-metre infinity swimming pool with its comfortable loungers, surrounded by vines, where guests can soak up the South African sunshine and views of vineyards, valley and mountains. Beyond the pool terraces, luxuriously appointed covered seating serves as the resort’s relaxation area. A striking fireplace is all that stands between the guests and the magnificent views of the valley.

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The second takes guests to the hydrotherapy area, with separate changing and steam rooms for male and female guests, and a plunge pool overlooking a tranquil lily pond. It is here that all three treatment rooms, including one double suite, and a hair salon, plus nail bar, are also located.

In keeping with the ilā philosophy, Leeu Spa offers authentic massages and holistic treatments by expert therapists who have been recruited specifically for their “healing” hands. The therapists deliver restorative treatments inspired by centuries-old Asian traditions using wild-harvested organic ingredients from remote, untainted regions of the world such as the Amazon rain forest and the Himalayas that harness their own natural healing energy, as well as indigenous plants with beneficial qualities.

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Leeu Spa’s two signature treatments are The Summer Tree of Life Journey and The Warming Winter Vine, Earth & Stone Journey, both incorporating local products natural to South Africa and some taken from the Leeu Estates grounds. Both treatments last 90 minutes and cost ZAR 1500 (approx £75).

The Summer Journey starts with the cleansing aroma of Pala Santo – the South American sacred wood. Warm marula and baobab oil, delicately fragranced with buchu and rose geranium essential oils, is then drizzled onto sacred points of the back to open meridians. This is followed by a rooibos salt scrub and a facial incorporating pomegranate, grapeseed and honey. The Winter Journey incorporates a crushed grapeseed with marula and baobab full body scrub (Vine), a black mud pack infused with rosemary and lemon thyme from the hotel’s gardens (Earth) and then a Leeu Estates river stone and hot poultice massage (Stone).

For those who prefer physical activities to pampering sessions, there is a spacious gym, furnished with the latest equipment, offering framed views of the majestic mountains. A second fitness space, made of stone, encourages dialogue with nature as it is a flexible building with no boundaries – an extension of the resort out into the vines. It is here that personal training and yoga instruction can take place. Outside the Leeu Spa walls, walkers, joggers and cyclists can take to the extensive network of trails that crisscross the rolling estate, hilly mountain slopes and banks of the river if they prefer to exercise in the open air.

Leeu Spa is open seven days per week from 10am to 7pm, with the gym open slightly longer from 7am to 7pm.

Leeu Estates rates start from ZAR 7300 (approx £335) in the low season (15 June to 31 August) and from ZAR 9000 (approx £415) in the high season (1 September to 30 April), for two people sharing a Classic Room. Rates include:

• Breakfast (07h00–11h00) • Nespresso machine and mini bar in room • Unlimited Internet access • All national phone calls • Complimentary tasting of Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines at Leeu Estates per guest per stay • Complimentary scheduled transfers to sister property • 14% VAT

Leeu Estates does not accept children under the age of six years.

For reservations, email reservations@leeucollection.com or call +27 21 492 2222. Visit www.leeucollection.com for more information.

Be surprised by summer delights in St. Moritz

When I think about the legendary resort of St. Moritz in Switzerland, its winter that springs to mind. Skiing down Corviglia, after ski in the many glamorous bars and clubs, watching horse races on the frozen lake or jingling along, wrapped in warm blankets,  in horse drawn sleighs.

To my surprise, I recently found out that in the 19th century, St. Moritz was a very popular summer holiday destination, to which loyal customers retreated year after year “to take the waters” of the healing springs that date back almost 3,500 years.  Today, the stunning natural landscape, with its glaciers, creeks, rivers, lakes and snow-capped peaks, plus the modern spa facilities offered by hotels such as the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz (www.kulm.com) make it the perfect place for a truly restorative holiday.

Kulm Hotel - summer exterior

For example, on the slopes of Corvatsch, there is a designated 2.5 hour “Water Path” around six small mountain lakes, while the much larger Lake Silvaplana and Lake St. Moritz provide ample space for everything from paddle boarding to kite surfing and fishing, depending on how active you want to be.

Paddle boarding

Paddle boarding

Corvatsch Water path

Corvatsch Water path

At the hotel, after a long day of water-based activities, the in-house spa provides multiple opportunities to continue with water therapy, whether it’s a swim in the indoor lap pool, a session in the heated outdoor pool with its various water jets while being mesmerised by the stunning panoramic view or a hydro-massage or herbal bath in one of the treatment rooms.

Summer spa pool

Summer spa pool

For summer 2016, the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz (www.kulm.com) has put together a “Water is Life” package designed to completely re-charge the batteries, because – as experts inform us – the only way a body can begin to heal is when it is really relaxed and the comfort of water stimulates the body’s natural ability to relax.  Included in the package are three nights’ half-board accommodation, a boat trip, lunch out to sample delicious fresh fish straight from the lake, a sailing excursion, a guided hike along the Water Path, a hydro jet massage bath and early morning stand-up paddling, as well as unlimited use of the Kulm Spa St. Moritz.

Prices start from CHF1,585 (approx £1100) per person sharing a double room. To book, call the Kulm Hotel St Moritz on +41 81 836 8000 or email info@kulm.com.
Kulm Hotel St. Moritz (www.kulm.com) was the first hotel to be built in St. Moritz. The Kulm Hotel opened its doors in 1856 and immediately became popular for summer spa and painting holidays, particularly among the British who comprised around 75% of the hotel guests. The owner of the Kulm Hotel, Johannes Badrutt, initiated winter holidays to St. Moritz from 1864 and, as a result, the hotel, resort and Switzerland itself celebrated 150 years of winter tourism in the 2014/15 season.

 

Since the 19th century, the Kulm Hotel has changed considerably through expansion and renovation, but the fabulous location at the heart of St. Moritz with views over the Lake remains the same. A member of The Leading Hotels of the World, Kulm Hotel St. Moritz has 173 rooms, five restaurants (offering formal dining, French fine dining – the Gourmet-Restaurant the K has 16 GaultMillau points, the Italian Pizzeria with 13 GaultMillau points, local Engadine specialities and Japanese), the extensive  Kulm Spa St. Moritz (with a 20 m indoor pool with underwater music, various saunas and steam room, a Jacuzzi, a fully-equipped gym and treatment rooms, all with stunning views over Lake St. Moritz) and six conference rooms, with capacities ranging from 50 to 500 people.

 

Entertainment and sports facilities include the 9-hole Kulm Golf Course St. Moritz (the oldest golf course in the country), three tennis courts, a natural ice rink, a curling field and the Marmotta Kids’ Club. The Kulm Hotel St. Moritz is inextricably linked to the Cresta Run, which was built within the hotel’s grounds in 1891. To this day, tobogganing pilots congregate in the Kulm’s Sunny Bar, which is Switzerland’s oldest sports bar; the walls of the bar are lined with trophies and images of famous people who have hurled themselves down the infamous ice track.

 

Recent awards for the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz include being named best mountain hotel in Switzerland at the Connoisseur Circle Awards, Switzerland’s third Top Luxury Hotel in the 2016 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice® awards, as well as fifth place in the hotels worldwide recognised for best service category. This year, the Kulm was also named sixth best hotel in Switzerland by HolidayCheck and one of the most popular hotels worldwide. In 2015, the Kulm secured a top ten place in the “Friendliest Luxury Hotel” category at the Switzerland Tourism PRIX BIENVENU awards, entered the TripAdvisor Hall of Fame for excellence in hospitality for consistently achieving great traveller reviews on TripAdvisor, was named 5th best hotel in Switzerland by SonntagsZeitung’s hotel critic Karl Wild and was named the best five-star hotel in St. Moritz for wellness, active holidays and luxury travel by HolidayCheck; the hotel’s Gourmet-Restaurant the K also won 16 GaultMillau points. In 2014, the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz was included in a list of the top ten best holiday hotels in Switzerland compiled by renowned Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung and the top ten most welcoming luxury hotels in the country list put together by Switzerland Tourism.

Granted, this is not a cheap holiday, but then, why not splash out on a glamorous break which will do wonders for your health in truly splendid surroundings.

Of course, bank balance allowing, you can always return in winter.

Disclaimer: This is not sponsored post but based on a press release from Sue Heady Communications with permission. Images courtsy of SHC.

 

Where History meets Luxury – Pera Palace Hotel Istanbul

There are plenty of 5 star hotels to choose from in Istanbul. But nothing beats the combination of modern day comforts with the flair of history, intrigue and romance which seems to linger in every corner of the fabulous Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul, overlooking the Golden Horn.

The Golden Horn

The Golden Horn

History

Several years ago, the hotel underwent a complete restoration which not only unearthed hidden treasures but also added amenities indispensable for a luxury hotel today. One of the treasures was a huge set of Christoffel silver from Paris, still in its original packaging. And the amenity is the dreamlike spa and hamam bathed in soothing blue light.

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In the 1800 when Istanbul was the final destination of the Orient Express, a fashionable crowd was drawn to the mystic city. Sadly, she lacked a luxury European style hotel to accommodate the writers, journalists, artists and other well heeled travelers and that’s how the Pera Palace was conceived.

Overlooking the Golden Horn, the hotel opened its doors in 1892 and boasted the first electrically operated elevator in Turkey as well as hot and cold running water, but only up to the second floor. The upper floors were reserved as quarters for the maids and man servants.

Elaborate art deco furniture, fixtures and fittings were of the highest quality and many a flute  of champagne was consumed in the Orient Bar, by the likes of Hemingway, Atatürk, Churchill and…Agatha Christie. The first ever fashion show in Turkey took place in the Pera Palace in 1926.

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Agatha  loved the place and always insisted in being  given  ‘her’ room, number 411. It was in this very room that she wrote one of her most famous crime novels: Murder in the Orient Express. During recent years, the Pera Palace has undergone extensive restorations and finally opened its doors again to the public in September 2010

Staying there

By modern day standards, the Pera Palace is not a big hotel, ‘only’ 115 rooms and suites. Stepping through the front door, I immediately felt at home. The plush lobby could even be called cozy, due to the lack of size. Your eyes meet the famous elevator, flanked by two sweeping staircases which lead to the upper floors. On your right is the equally famous Orient Bar, adjacent to the reception desk you are tempted by the delicacies of the patisserie or you walk straight ahead to the lobby with a terrace overlooking the Golden Horn.

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Antiques, paintings, carpets, chandeliers, wherever you look you find something to admire. Sadly, the Agatha Christie room wasn’t available, but I got the Greta Garbo room. I have to say, that I am not a fan of minimalism, I don’t want to bash my knees on sharp corners and sleep on a rock hard mattress. Neither do I fancy needing an engineer’s degree to be able to work the tabs in the bathroom.

I want to sink into an armchair, relax and enjoy and that’s exactly what the Pera Palace is all about.

The service is immaculate, attentive people are everywhere to help you with whatever you need.

For starters, a glass of champagne in the Orient Bar was called for. It was easy to evoke the spirits of all the famous people who have done just that in this iconic place. Ataturk, Agatha, Greta, Hemingway, Jackie Kennedy and countless others have partied here.

The hotel features two excellent restaurants if you don’t want to go out and eat. The kitchen is open, so you can see the chefs toiling over their creations. You eat with silver, but not the one which was discovered during restoration. This treasure is beautifully displayed in glass cases along the wall.

And finally, there is the spa and pool. Three treatment rooms, a pool with loungers, a steam bath, Turkish bath and sauna await to spend an hour or two in utter bliss, bathed in the magic blue light. And as the hotel is relatively small, it’s never crowded.

For reservation and further information please consult www.perapalace.com.

Disclaimer: I paid a reduced press rate but my opinion and observations are my own.