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Our Spa Blog

Our Blog

Welcome to the Essential Escapes blog, where we give you the latest from the frontline of luxury spa holidays. We interview experts in the field of wellbeing, and bring you unique first-hand reports from discerning spa-goers, covering every corner of the globe. Read our reviews from our hardworking team of spa testers!

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Eating your way to a good night's sleep

Nutrition consultant, Claire Cantor, offers advice for those seeking a good night's sleep:

"We all experience sleepless nights from time to time. For some however, sleep can be elusive on a regular basis. Sleep deprivation can lead to depression and a reduced immune system, amongst other conditions.

Sleep-inducing substances like tryptophan, can help you sleep better and longer. Tryptophan is an amino acid, found predominantly in protein foods (chicken, fish, turkey, eggs) and can help with relaxation and mood. It is best absorbed in the system when eaten with carbohydrates. An evening snack of oat cakes and a cup of warm milk, or nuts and seeds may be the first place to start your sleep regime.

Foods rich in magnesium, B vitamins and Vitamin C may be helpful as they are good for reducing stress as they are involved in nerve function and cell growth. Vitamin B rich complex carbohydrates such as wholegrains, keep blood sugar levels stable, which may, in turn, help with mood swings and anxiety. Vitamin C rich foods offer essential antioxidants to support your immune system as well as combat fatigue.

Recommended foods for sleep

Magnesium is present in green leafy vegetables, molasses, nuts and seeds, grains, soya beans, almonds, cod and mackerel.

Vitamin C is rich in citrus fruits, parsley and berries, kiwis, cauliflower.

B vitamins can be found in brown rice, and other wholegrains as well as pulses, yeast extract, nuts, beef, soya beans, chicken, turkey, bananas, avocadoes, egg yolks, tuna, salmon, mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower.

Potassium, in bananas and Vitamin E rich foods such as avocados/ olive oil/ nuts and seeds may also help with sleep.

For their generally calming properties, Dr Caroline Longmore suggests, in her book “The Serotonin Secret”, the foods containing the highest levels of tryptophan are mung beans, lobster, turkey, asparagus, sunflower seeds, cottage cheese, pineapple, tofu, spinach and bananas.

Sleep Schedule

Experts also suggest that sticking to a regular sleep schedule and avoiding alcohol and other stimulants in the evening (tv, computers, sugars) can encourage healthy, restorative sleep. So prepare yourself a warm bath, a camomile tea, try some yoga, relax and give yourself some well-deserved 'me' time."

Read more on Claire's nutrition and wellbeing website >

Check out the Sleep Enhancement Programme at Kamalaya in Thailand >


Sweet ways to cut sugar

Even those with a healthy diet and lifestyle often succumb to the crystalline charms of the white stuff... and I'm talking about sugar. Never a favourite with dentists or dieters, now sugar has become the newest baddie on the block, accused of contributing to heart disease, cancer growth, high cholesterol, weight gain, skin age-ing and even causing an addictive response in the brain.

Whilst dieticians often warn against people cutting out an entire food group, sugar in itself contains no proteins, nutrients, enzymes or healthy fats, and there is a growing clamour for people to dramatically reduce their sugar intake. For those who have had the "5 a day" message drummed into them, the news that sugar intake from fresh and dried fruit also counts toward the overall daily sugar limits may come of something as a shock. 

Having already reduced our consumption of caffeine, alcohol and fried foods, the warnings about sugar do seem particularly harsh. Is nothing sacred? Are there no innocent joys left? For those of us who take especial pleasure in our food ( = everyone!), it comes as welcome news that there are sugar-less ways to enjoy delicious meals that actually do your body a favour. Once you've broken the cycle of addictive highs and lows that sugar brings to your diet, you'll miss it far less than you thought.

The pure refuge that is Kamalaya in Thailand has long been the home of food that cures rather than kills. The spa sanctuary was founded as part of a quest for a nutritional cure, as potent curative herbs grow in the area. The chefs there prepare fresh, wholesome food, drawing upon the best of Asian and western traditions, including their signature tonics that taste far too good to be healthy! Menus are tailored to those who wish to detox, lose weight, or conversely to rebuild their strength and aid recuperation.

Closer to home, SHA Wellness in Spain has built it's reputation on macro-biotic cuisine. The restaurants offer a fusion of Mediterranean and Japanese gastronomy, but if you're travelling with a less well-intentioned partner, there are plenty of traditional gourmet choices on offer. Even the snacks and selection of herbal teas are selected with a nod to health benefits as well as great taste.

Both these resorts emphasise learning healthy habits for life, so you can return home with the resort's own cook books tucked into your luggage, bringing the fresh taste of holidays into your own kitchen. As you adapt to new flavours and cleaner cuisine, you'll find the siren call of the sugar bowl easier to resist. 

Spa holidays in Egypt

Relax in Egypt - The Ultimate Spa Holidays in Egypt

"Famous for its ancient civilisations and iconic landscapes, Egypt is a popular holiday destination for those looking for adventure. Its history spans over a thousand years and continues to fascinate millions of visitors each year. But it’s not just pyramids and archaeological wonders on offer in this North African cultural hotspot. Egypt knows how to relax and is the perfect place to indulge body and soul in a luxury spa holiday.

Whether you’re looking to shed some pounds, boost your anti-ageing treatments or simply spend a few days catching up on some serious “me time”, a spa break in Egypt is sure to fit the bill. There are many activities to choose from spa treatments to outdoor sports. Flights to Sharm el Sheikh depart direct from the UK making Egypt an easy place to visit. Once you arrive here’s a few tips on how to spend your ultimate spa break in Egypt:


Many luxury spa treatments target specific health issues such as weight loss and anti-stress therapy in addition to general wellbeing. The highly regarded method of thalassotherapy reaps the benefits of mineral rich seawater and can be helpful for people trying to lose weight.

Surrounded by the azure waters of Soma Bay, Egypt’s La Residence des Cascades resort boasts one of the biggest thalasso therapy centres in the world. To aid slimming, guests can chose from a variety of luxury treatments including a seaweed wrap, underwater massage and session in the “sea mist” room. During the therapies, healing minerals are absorbed through the skin and work on relaxing and toning the body. The Dead Sea salt and mud therapies have long since been regarded for their benefits to health. As one of the leading centres for thalasso therapy, La Residence des Cascades is the perfect place to indulge in this luxury treatment.


Egypt has a reputation for breathtaking diving and following a relaxing pampering treatment there is no better way to re-energise yourself than by swimming out into tropical waters. PADI dive schools operate along the coast and you can chose from a 60-minute taster session or longer courses depending on your needs. Diving down to multicoloured coral and swimming underwater alongside sea life of all shapes and colours is an Egyptian experience not to be missed. In the Red Sea you can visit coral covered shipwrecks and deep caves full of marine wonders on your diving trip. Professional guides can lead you to the best dive sites on the coast and point out sea life specific to the local area.


With year round sunshine and a temperate climate, Egypt is a great place to play your favourite sport. Golf courses line the headlands and many clubs organise tournaments for guests or caddies to simply help you on your way round. Tennis is also popular and at the La Residence des Cascades resort, guests can play on four flood lit courts. The resort also has a hydra pool, sauna and steam room, a huge gym for workout sessions and squash courts if you really want to thrash out some energy. More relaxing yoga and fitness classes encourage guests to kick-start their day on a more relaxing note and will set you up for a luxurious day of pampering ahead.

Although it is outside of Europe, Egypt is easily reached from Britain. Flights to Sharm el Sheikh depart from many major airports across the UK making this a perfect destination for a long spa weekend. With a flying time of just over five hours, Egypt makes the perfect exotic escape for people looking to relax in beautiful surroundings."

Jo visits Longevity in Portugal

Jo tells us about her visit to Longevity Wellness Clinic in Portugal in December.
"The transfer from Faro Airport to Longevity is about 50 minutes.  We had a welcome drink on arrival and checked in.  The room was actually an apartment with two bathrooms – one with shower and one with a bath.  There was an open plan living room and kitchen with herbal teas and a double bedroom.  There was a balcony with a hammock and a couple of day beds.  The view of the mountains was lovely.  I would recommend a mountain view as the coastal view has a road at the front of the hotel.  It is not a busy road but the noise from the occasional car can interrupt the tranquillity when on your balcony.
We had our first “wellness cuisine” dinner that evening.  Sardine on lentils, quail and carrot puree for starter, salmon for main and champagne sorbet and apple strudel in a fat free pastry for desert.  I noticed the butter is salt free.  I was offered water, the juice of the day (made from parsley), or red wine.  The only alcohol they serve is wine and they prefer to serve red as it is healthier.  However, you can have white if you prefer!
The next morning there was a lovely buffet for breakfast and an a la carte menu.  I had an apple porridge made from Quinoa to which I added some fruit and seeds from the buffet.  There are also egg dishes and a vitamin shake on the menu.
We met one of the personal trainers who took us for a walk in the pretty surrounding area.  Coming from minus 3 degrees in London in December to a warm and sunny 15 degrees was very pleasant.  We walked through the countryside and nearby village where there is a pretty square and bar. 
Back at the hotel I went to the spa early to relax before my first treatment.  There is an indoor heated pool with loungers and fluffy towels so you can relax and read a book.  There is a sauna and steam room to pop in and out of.  Outside the spa is a cold, outdoor pool for a very quick dip if you want to get your circulation going.  There is another outdoor, heated pool in the grounds.  My treatment in the spa was a body scrub and massage.  It was in a lovely dimly lit room.  The treatment bed was so comfortable with thick warm towels.  The therapist offered a choice of 3 oils and I chose lavender.  The body scrub was salt mixed with lavender oil.  Afterwards there is a shower to wash the salt off and you get back on the bed for your massage with oil.  At the end of the massage I could have happily stayed there all afternoon wrapped in hot towels and covered in lavender oil.  Instead I went out to the relaxation area for a herbal tea.
For lunch on our second day we helped ourselves to the buffet where there was soup, salad and wraps.  We also had Portuguese custard pastries which are not so healthy but had been specially requested.
In the afternoon I had my evaluation where you are told your biological age.  To do this they take your weight, height and body composition of fat/water/muscle.  My biological age is 15 years younger than my real age!  I was told that if you exercise and speed up your metabolism, it helps to make your biological age younger – so I went straight to the gym!   I think if I returned to Longevity I would book some personal training sessions to kick start my improved exercise routine before my return home.
That evening we dined at the small restaurant a 5 minute walk down the road for an authentic Portuguese experience.  It is possible to go there if you are craving a meal with chips and a beer!
The next morning after breakfast we had a meditation class during which I fell asleep!  We had a 3 course lunch which consisted of a spinach soup, guinea fowl and crème brulée which I am told was healthier than the normal version.
In the afternoon I had my nutritional evaluation.  The results from the biological evaluation are used with your levels of water, fat and muscle and how evenly muscle and fat is distributed around your body.  You are advised where you can make amendments to your diet – I need to go shopping for some Gingo Biloba tea which aids circulation!  You are sent an email of the recommendations once you have returned home.
Unfortunately it was time for me to return home.  I would very happily return and would choose to travel out of season.  I really enjoyed the temperature being 17 degrees more than London in December and it was great to get some sunshine and fresh air.  I liked the style of the hotel which is very light as they have used a lot of glass.  It is also very relaxed and some of us had lunch in our bathrobes one day!"
December 2012.

Restful Sleep

The importance of restful sleep

We are delighted to share with you news that one of our favourite wellness retreats, Kamalaya Koh Samui, has just launched a new Sleep Enhancement programme. The brand new programme which launched at the beginning of June, has been developed in response to the number of guests reporting sleep difficulties and will focus on addressing sleep issues and imbalances and re-establishing healthy and restful sleep patterns, not only during a guest’s time at Kamalaya but also for the long term back home.

The programme has been designed by Karina Stewart, co-founder of Kamalaya and doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. On a recent visit to London, Karina told us that an inadequate amount of sleep has been associated with higher risks of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and more recently colon cancer. According to Stanford University’s Sleep Laboratory Founder and Director Dr. William Dement, “Healthful sleep has been empirically proven to be the single most important factor in predicting longevity, more influential than diet, exercise or heredity.”

At Kamalaya, sleep difficulties will be addressed through a combination of core treatments and therapies drawing from naturopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine, massage therapy and mind-body balance. Treatments and therapies include Shirodhara, Royal Ayurvedic massage, acupuncture, yoga, herbal foot baths with foot massage, as well as herbs & supplements and personal mentoring sessions to address any lifestyle factors and personal issues that may be contributing to sleep problems.

“We are creatures of habit and the body likes routine,” says Stewart. She goes on to say, “It is therefore really important to establish a pre-sleep ritual ten minutes to an hour before bed as these habits will help to prepare the body and promote a restful sleep. Simple things that everyone can do at home include taking a warm shower or bath with some relaxing essential oils; play some quiet relaxing music or enjoy some peaceful reading time; and practice relaxation techniques before bed, for example deeper breathing practices such as pranayama and yoga nidra or meditation. It’s also important to get into the habit of a regular bedtime at the same time each evening, ideally before 10pm.”

For more information on Kamalaya’s new Sleep Enhancement programme, click here

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