3 Zest writers find an escape route and leave the daily grind far behind
Kate Langrish learns to let go in luxurious Lake Garda
These days, many places claim to be spa hotels when what they actually mean is they have a couple of treatment rooms in a converted basement. Not so Lefay Resort & Spa Lago di Garda. Here, the spa not only lies physically at the heart of the resort – you have to walk through it to get to the bedrooms or restaurants – it’s also fundamental to the resort’s ethos. Every aspect – from the food and the treatments to the architecture – is centred on the idea of wellness.
On my first morning, I have my ‘energy consultation’ with Dr Maria Manerba. The resort has developed its own Lefay Method, which combines traditional Chinese medicine with western techniques to tailor various wellbeing programmes for guests. After checking my pulse, looking at my tongue and asking me a series of questions, Dr Manerba firmly announces that I’m ‘very angry’. I’m a little taken aback, having expected the usual spa platitudes of ‘tired, stressed, exhausted’. Besides, I’ve never shouted at anyone. But Dr Manerba (a medic, psychologist and specialist in acupuncture) explains I’m a serial over-thinker who bottles things up and revisits emotions. Shouting, she says, is something I should be doing more. Of course, she’s absolutely right. I’m guilty of biting my tongue whenever anyone is rude to me – then replaying all the witty retorts I should have said over and over in my head afterwards, which only winds my own tension up tighter.
Dr Manerba prescribes my de-stress programme: a number of treatments, including a massage and a facial, that work on specific acupressure points, and also a bespoke tisane of medicinal plants, which I’m to drink during my stay. This reminds me of the health retreats that ailing Victorians were sent to, to take in the mountain air, only in my case there’s added luxe – plus an infinity pool offering spectacular views over the lake, a giant Jacuzzi and its very own salt-water cave.
My prescription also extends to my diet. Thankfully, the selection of fresh, local and seasonal food with a delicious Italian twist.
Chill out in one of Italy's top stress-busting spas
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