Get fit and healthy in the Algarve’s Epic Sana this summer
| 3rd July 2015
It’s a big challenge launching a five-star resort, particularly one in the Algarve, focused on the fitness and lifestyle market. After all, the Algarve has its fair share of luxury accommodation, and the region is far more quickly associated with golden beaches, rolling golf courses and family holidays, than it is bootcamps, re-shape programmes or yoga retreats.
The Epic Sana resort, situated near Albufeira, picked up the gauntlet and is now successfully making a name for itself in the wellness market. If you’re sick of spending hours trying to get fit and healthy in the gym, then this resort has something to offer you.
The expansive resort covers 20 acres of land, much of it landscaped with pine tree gardens. It offers chic, modern décor with 26 luxurious suites, 43 apartments and 160 deluxe guest rooms. The hotel’s five-star facilities, such as its five pools (with one indoors and heated), private beach and on-premise spa treatments (including a caviar facial!) offer some nice perks to those taking part in the wellness retreats, of which there are now several.
Firstly, there’s the increasingly popular Bootcamp and Reshape retreats promising to change your life in a week. Upon arrival, you’re fully informed of your schedule, personal coach and menu. Days start early with cardio circuits, beach running, step classes, boxing and cycling activities throughout. It sounds intimidating but the variety of exercises helps keep up your momentum.
The programmes include optional Yoga classes, discounts on spa treatments, and evening workshops, including a juicing and healthy cooking workshop. You’ll have your weight and waist measurements taken when you arrive and before you leave so get ready to push yourself. The Bootcamp programme offers a supplementary Kaori message whereas with Reshape, you get six transdermal mesotherapy sessions.
For those less attached to their running shoes, the Epic Sana offers a Cleansing Detox Retreat with body scrubs, massages, transdermal mesotherapy session and a detox meal plan. The De-stress Retreat is similar but with meditation classes and reflexology treatments.
The Yoga Retreat is just launched and hosted by instructor João Gouveia. Gouveia teaches Cosmic Yoga, a form of Yoga he created to combine a mix of different techniques. Like its name suggests, the practice focuses on meditation and mindful breathing. Expect to have your eyes closed for the duration of each 90 minute session – it’s an intense experience but you’ll leave with a feeling of inner peace. While the yoga is taken seriously – a typical retreat will include one or two yoga sessions a day plus meditation sessions – there is plenty of time to relax by the pool or beach.
There is also a retreat for those with suspected illnesses and conditions. The Premium Health Check-Up retreat includes access to studio classes, a nutrition evaluation, personal training sessions, massages and spa treatments. The core focus, though, is at a nearby private hospital in Albufeira, where you’ll be given a full body check-up that goes way beyond blood and urine tests. You’ll get CT scans, MRIs, ultrasounds, a bone scan and an ECG of your heart, before leaving with an impressive health action plan.
All the Epic Sana retreats are personalized to each individual. The resort’s fitness instructors, chef and nutritionist work together to create your own fitness programme and nutritionally balanced menu. The meals are genuinely tasty and are far a brown rice and veggie fare. From the menu, we sampled dishes such as a lamb and couscous main, served with a side salad dressed with raspberry vinegar. My favourite was the tofu and grilled vegetable salad (although ask for your dressing on the side if you go for this option as they tend to use the dressing a bit too freely!) If you’re a fish lover, you’re in for a treat with it all being locally caught. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free diets are happily catered for and all meals are included in the price. Whatever your diet though, you’re expected to make sacrifices and sugar is off limits for the week (apart from the desert on the first night).
Any downtime can be spent relaxing by the pools or beach. There’s no daytime entertainment so you can enjoy the peace and quiet (while sipping from a great assortment of cocktails – or green juices if you don’t want to stray too far from your new healthy vibe). If you fancy a bit more activity, Albufeira is a 15 minute drive away, where there’s beach activities, watersports and lots of English holiday makers wanting to party (you’ve been warned!) Be sure to check out the restaurant on the beach, Ruina A Restaurant – the fish is expensive but you won’t regret it.
Most people taking part in one of the Epic Sana retreats are travelling alone, but if you’re thinking of bringing a partner or friend, the resort offers a special price for accompanying guests. It makes a great resort for couples, with live music in the evenings, an adult pool, and it’s own unique ‘love tree’, where couples can hang hearts declaring their love for one another. There’s also the on-site 5-star Al Quimia restaurant serving superb Mediterranean cuisine – just check out it’s trip advisor reviews.
Prices for retreats start at €1,575 (£1120.86), but greatly fluctuate depending on the season and type of programme.
Expect to feel epic. You will leave determined to maintain your new regime.