Name of company
Type of activity
A detox centre for the mind and body, based around fasting, exercise, wellness treatments, and the peace and quiet of the surroundings.
Vila Mimosa in Galé, near Albufeira.
Unlike some detox retreats, Vitalisé is based more on the physical approach rather than the spiritual, with the emphasis on a daily routine that combines fasting with activity and relaxation.
It is more of a holiday location than a ‘retreat’ in the sense that Vila Mimosa is a modern villa on the outskirts of a popular tourist destination rather than a rural hideaway.
Having said that, it is very relaxing, and whilst you need to be the sociable type to enjoy it to the full, there are quiet corners to escape to - and of course you are free to wander down to the beach or into the surrounding countryside when you please.
It’s not a strict-regime boot camp, and you’re certainly not cut off from the world - there’s satellite TV and free internet access.
Vila Mimosa has 14 comfortable en-suite double bedrooms, all with air conditioning. There’s also a communal dining room, a lounge with a small library of books, a workout studio, large gardens, a heated pool, a sauna and a hot tub.
The villa has been running as a detox retreat for several years. In its current format as Vitalisé, it has been under the management of Karen Bosman and her husband Kees Martens since 2010. The couple have instigated an ongoing refurbishment programme, and streamlined the structure and programmes.
Any combination of unhealthy or excessive eating, stress, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle fills the body with wastes and toxins. This can lead to physical symptoms such as fatigue, lethargy, aching joints and muscles, recurring colds and sniffles, menstrual problems, etc. Every now and then, it's important to introduce a new routine of fasting and exercise, which gives the body a chance to purify itself.
It’s also a good way of losing a little weight, de-stressing, and re-educating the body and mind for when you return to ‘real life.’
There’s a choice of either juice fasting or mild fasting, based on detox programmes of either 8, 12 or 15 days, with a maximum number of around 20 participants.
The daily routine also includes optional beach walks, aerobic sessions in the fitness studio, and water aerobics in the pool, with plenty of down-time in between.
With juice fasting, you get fruit and vegetable juices three times a day, and a vegetable soup in the evening. The juices contain all the vitamins and minerals that the body needs to function properly, and because your body does not have to digest during the fasting, you have more energy for other things, such as sports.
Mild fasting is a gentler form of fasting, with several light meals based on an alkaline diet, and includes nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and some cheeses and fats. This is designed to counter acidity, which makes the body more susceptible to bacteria, fungi, viruses and free radicals, and can lead to obesity.
Included in the price of each Vitalisé programme are return transfers from Faro airport, two lymphatic therapies, a half-hour massage, daily liver gaskets, a detox face mask, and outside trips to Albufeira and Loulé.
Other treatments available at extra cost include Swedish massage, relaxation massage, aromatherapy massage, enemas, colon hydrotherapy, body wraps, facials, manicures and pedicures.
After a detox break, you should feel fully relaxed and revitalised, not to mention having lost a few kilos. Be warned: it’s not a drastic weight-loss programme, nor does it claim to be. But to support and encourage guests to improve their lifestyles, you’ll receive a comprehensive booklet with tips and recipes, and if it makes you think a little more about your diet, lifestyle and exercise regime, it’s achieved its purpose.
When to go?
Vitalisé is open for around nine months of the year, usually closing for the period from mid-November to mid-February (although it is open over Christmas and New Year). Check the website for details.
Prices don’t differ depending on the season, but of course your flight prices will if you are coming from outside Portugal.
Suffice to say, you will enjoy the experience more when the weather is warmer, as you can spend more time in the pool and gardens.
Who should go?
Anybody who wants to learn more about their body, and what could be wrong with their diet and lifestyle. Or just if you are looking for a total switch-off from the world for a brief spell. You’ll come back feeling re-energised, and probably with some new friends.
You can go on your own, with a friend, or with your partner. The atmosphere is very relaxed and friendly, and designed to make everybody feel comfortable. The majority of the guests seem to be women, but more men are discovering they also need to start looking after themselves!
The diets are compiled by Vitalisé’s natural therapist, and anybody with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or weight problems will benefit from the treatment. You’ll have your blood pressure checked on a daily basis, and be weighed-in and weighed out at the start and end of your stay. If you suffer from any serious illnesses however, it is advisable to consult your own doctor or specialist in advance.
Karen is Belgian, and a large number of the guests at the moment are Belgian, Dutch, German or Scandinavian, but there are also more British and Irish guests discovering Vitalisé. English tends to be the ‘lingua franca’ however, so nobody will feel left out of any of the conversations.