Name of establishment
Moinhos Velhos Health Retreat, Lagos
What is it?
A detox for the mind, body and spirit, based around fasting, yoga, meditation, wellness treatments, complementary therapies and the peace and quiet of the surroundings.
A restored farm set in a secluded valley in the hills above Lagos, with acres of beautiful gardens, organic orchards and unspoiled countryside in which to walk around. Rustic yet very comfortable, and incredibly relaxing.
The set up
Established in 1993 by Norwegian holistic health practitioners and yoga teachers Anne Karine Moss and Frank Jensen, it combines nutritional practices with holistic treatments and general wellbeing to rejuvenate guests. Programmes are normally for 7, 10 or 14 days, with a maximum number of around 12-14 participants.
A combination of single chalet-style rooms and larger double cabins, dotted throughout the retreat. All have private toilets and showers, come equipped with everything from electric fans to mosquito nets, and have comfortable indoor and outdoor relaxation areas for quiet contemplation. But don't expect designer luxury.
The fasting programme, health check-up, and daily yoga and meditation sessions are included in the price, along with a weekly trip to Lagos or the beaches of the west coast.
For an additional fee of between €50-€85 per session, there is the option of various treatments, including Swedish massage, Thai yoga massage, aromatherapy massage, crystal therapy, reflexology, healing, homeopathy, acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, shiatsu and the ground-breaking Physiospect, based on brain-wave technology.
The food regime
A carefully-balanced and entirely safe fasting programme, where the fasting is phased in and out. The central section of your stay is based on a low-solids, high-energy diet of juices, broths, liquids and nutritional supplements. There are set communal meal times, and you have the option of unlimited liquids (water, herbal tea, etc) at any time.
All meals are taken in the large farmhouse kitchen, and the yoga and meditation sessions take place in the ‘temple.’ There’s also a well-stocked library if you haven’t brought your own selection of holiday reading, plus a lounge with a DVD player, and there’s internet access if you really can’t do without access to the real world. Outside there’s a swimming pool, hot tub and sauna, plus plenty of quiet seating areas and open spaces.
Why do you like it?
Next time you want to stop the world and get off, bear Moinhos Velhos in mind. It’s non denominational, non-discriminatory, and non-judgmental. It’s incredibly relaxing, and you have total freedom to be as sociable or as introspective as you want. You’ll learn more about yourself, your body, and what’s (almost certainly) wrong with your diet and lifestyle, and if you’ve ever wanted to try yoga, meditation or a variety of wellness treatments, but just never found the time, this is the perfect opportunity.
You’ll come back feeling energised, ready to take on the world, and with some new best friends.
You can go as a couple or with a friend, but part of the group dynamic is that you meet new people, and therefore tend not to bring your troubles and emotional ‘luggage’ with you, giving you the chance to totally switch off.
It’s not a naturist centre, but in keeping with the natural and relaxed feel and spirit of the place, everybody there seemed perfectly happy being naked in and around the swimming pool, sauna and hot tub.
Outside of the set dates, the retreat can be booked by clubs, associations, companies, etc for their own holistic, health, wellness, complementary medicine or training programmes, with non-fasting cuisine on offer.
Close to the village of Cotifo, near Lagos, just above the Barragem da Bravura. Full directions will be sent with your booking. You won’t need a car during your stay, so if you live in the Algarve, arrange to be dropped off and picked up. If you’re arriving from other parts of Portugal or overseas, transport can be arranged from Faro airport or a suitable train station.
From €950 per person for the 7-day programme, based on sharing a room.
Mid-January to early December, although fasting is much easier in warmer weather. And of course you can take more advantage of the outdoor facilities and the countryside. See the website for programme dates.