For over quarter of a century, Jo Foley has been visiting and reviewing Spas, Sanctuaries and Wellness Centres on four continents and has written about them for many publications including the Financial Times, Conde Nast Traveller, Tatler, Harper's Bazaar, Daily Mail, The Times and Sunday Telegraph. She has observed as Fat Farms have morphed into Pleasure Palaces and Health Centres into Holistic Hideaways, and has experienced rather more than her fair share of ayurvedic retreats in India, to detoxes in the Dolomites, and hammams throughout the Middle East. Hence, she can spot a charlatan at fifty paces, and is quick to differentiate between those who can truly cure and those who merely con.
Paul Joseph is co-founder of Health and Fitness Travel, experts in tailor-made healthy holidays worldwide. He searches for the rare and hidden gems around the world and puts together exclusive and trend-setting holidays for those who would like to improve or maintain their health and fitness whilst on holiday. As well as a love of all things travel, Paul's other love is exercise, cycling and yoga. Paul also contributes to the travel pages of various high-profile newspapers and magazines where he offers his expert advice on wellness holidays.
Dr. Manoj Kutteri
Dr. Manoj Kutteri is the Wellness Centre Director at The BodyHoliday in St Lucia. He has worked in the spa and well-being sector for over a decade, and has been in the Caribbean for the last 10 years working with health and well-being teams in Grenada and St. Lucia. He holds a Master's Degree in Psychology, a Graduate Degree in Naturopathy, Acupuncture and Yoga Therapies. Prior to his arrival in the Caribbean, Dr Kutteri practiced at both hospitals and wellness centres in his native India. He is also involved in developing regional standards for health and wellness within the Caribbean.
Prior to becoming a naturopath, Sue Davis spent many years working in the corporate environment; this experience helped her gain invaluable insights into the multi-layered health and wellness challenges faced by busy executives. It was Sue's hectic, fast paced and ultimately unhealthy lifestyle in Hong Kong that spurred her on to retrain as a naturopath for four years in Sydney. After a successful number of years helping the elite clientele of the top ranking International Health and Wellness Resort 'Chiva-Som' in Thailand, Sue is now back on her home ground in the UK.
Interview with a Naturopath
Can you explain what being a naturopath and naturopathy treatment entails?
The naturopathic philosophy is to stimulate the healing power of the body and to treat the root cause of disease. Symptoms of disease are seen as red flags highlighting improper functioning of the body. Naturopathic medicine is the fusion of modern scientific research and the timeless wisdom of nature. It is a profound healing system that encompasses all aspects of health and truly embraces the mind-body-spirit connection. The most basic premise of naturopathy is that the body has the inherent ability to heal itself if given the right tools. These could include dietary and lifestyle correction, the concept of 'food as medicine', herbs, flower essences, nutritional supplements, detoxification and exercise.
What are the most common health benefits after a naturopathy treatment?
Naturopathy is very empowering as much emphasis is placed on education so that the person has the tools to take control of their health. Once someone understands that health doesn't just happen by chance and that it is a life-long process that involves a clear understanding of the factors that affect their health then they are in a much stronger position to achieve long term health and vitality.
Some people have a whole range of symptoms that they have been unable to address on their own or with the help of other medical practitioners. With a broad understanding of the relationship between health, life and the environment naturopaths are often able to offer a new perspective and provide safe and effective ways to restore health. Naturopathic medicine is very effective in improving quality of life for those with serious and life threatening illnesses. It works very well for those patients that are looking to combine conventional and naturopathic treatments with the aim of minimising side effects to drugs and conventional treatments.
What treatments would you recommend for clients who are stressed?
In terms of spa treatments, ESPA personalised massages are a wonderful way to relax. For those requiring something more indulgent then a Hot stone back, face and scalp for the ladies and a Stress buster for the gents are highly recommended. Meditation classes are also a great way to reduce stress, especially as a private session. Other great treatments for stress are Shiatsu massage which works on balancing and releasing energetic blocks from joints and muscles to restore vitality. For those that don't like massage, Reiki is a gentle, healing process performed while fully clothed aimed at restoring balance to mind, body and spirit.
An ESPA personalised massage
What part do herbs play in Naturopathy and how can herbs work in combination with other forms of natural medicine?
Many pharmaceuticals have been formulated by isolating an active constituent in a herb. A great example is aspirin derived from Willow Bark. Nature is very clever and doesn't tend to get things wrong so herbalists traditionally use the whole herb rather than a part. Whole plants are known to synergise and potentise an active ingredient as well as ward off any side effects common in conventional medications.
Herbs are very effective in the initial stages of a naturopathic protocol and can work quickly to help alleviate a condition. Digestive health issues and hormonal imbalances respond very well to herbs. They are prescribed either as liquid blends, tinctures or as herbal teas. Herbs are also great in treatments for stress in conjunction with meditation. Reflexology can help herbs to work more quickly and efficiently and acupuncturists routinely prescribe herbs to balance and heal the body following a treatment.
If you lived on a deserted island for one year, what seven foods would you most want to take with you?
1. The first food would already be there, the humble coconut. So versatile and excellent for good fats, protein and the isotonic properties of the coconut water.
2. Dark chocolate for antioxidants and magnesium and I'm a woman so a no brainer.
3. Quinoa working on the basis it's the only grain that's a carbohydrate and a protein plus it kept the Incas going.
4. Potatoes -surprisingly a good source of vitamin C and excellent for making fat chips
5. Almonds - good for calcium
6. Extra Virgin Olive Oil - good source of omegas and needed for the fat chips
7. Red wine - for antioxidants and to relieve the inevitable boredom
Can you name a few examples of common ailments or problems that can be treated by a naturopath and how?
Digestive health issues respond particularly well to naturopathic intervention. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common ailment with stress as the root factor. Advice will include practical ways to reduce stress levels including relaxing abdominal breathing techniques, yoga, regular massage and meditation. Inflammation of the digestive tract is often present and this is addressed through 'healing and sealing' of the digestive tract with soothing demulcent herbs such as Slippery Elm and Aloe Vera. Oily fish two to three times a week or fish oil supplementation will be recommended for the Omega 3 anti-inflammatory properties. Food intolerances may be an issue particularly if the integrity of the gut lining is compromised so a finger prick blood test may be performed in the consultation to detect for food antibodies. Probiotics to restore friendly gut bacteria and digestive enzyme supplements for the efficient breakdown of proteins, fats and carbohydrates may be necessary to help the body better assimilate nutrients and build healthier cells. Those with big coffee habits will be cajoled to switch to soothing chamomile and peppermint teas.
As a Naturopath much emphasis is placed on the digestive health as we very much believe 'you are how you digest'. You can have the best diet in the world but if your digestion is compromised you won't reap the full benefits.
Feeling tired all the time (TATT) is another common complaint that responds well to naturopathy. Some initial blood tests may be required from the person's doctor to rule out any thyroid problems or anaemia. Emphasis would again be placed on improving the overall digestive health to promote better energy production. The liver is a governing organ for energy so cleansing herbs, juices and foods such as beetroot, proven to generate nitric oxide and stamina would be prescribed. White refined carbohydrates such as bread, pizzas, baguettes, pasta, potatoes and white rice often form the bulk of a person's daily dietary habits and these can swing blood sugars causing a person to feel extremely tired. To break this cycle each meal would need to include some type of protein together with complex carbohydrates and beneficial fats. B-Complex supplementation would be prescribed as well as my favourite recommendation of supergreens powder which is a powdered blend of wheatgrass, barleygrass, chlorella, nettles, sea greens and other green dried superfoods. Both of these create more energy.
Relaxing in a hydrotherapy pool and receiving a leg massage
Tell us about a client that you most enjoyed helping any why?
My favourite client was a very busy events organiser in his mid 50's based in Hong Kong. He would regularly visit Chiva Som in Thailand for 2 weeks at a time. The first time he arrived he was very overweight, with a poor complexion, bloating, very stressed and completely burn out from flying all over Asia. He didn't have time for exercise, was an insomniac and tended to eat all the wrong things at all the wrong times due to the nature of his job. His blood pressure and cholesterol were very high.
From a practitioner's view point this was damage control at the extreme, however, it is never too late to create positive health changes especially when an individual has identified the need for help and this chap was willing to consider anything if it meant he would look and feel better.
Initially I worked on correcting his poor dietary habits providing him with tips and advice that were practical and achievable for his erratic lifestyle. He undertook a cleansing detox programme at the start of his stay to give his liver some support, normalise his digestion and create some motivational weight loss. Heavy duty exercise is not recommended during a cleanse so this provided the perfect opportunity for him to rest and recharge and normalise his sleeping patterns.
After the detox and for the rest of his stay he ate a balanced daily diet of good quality protein, fruit and vegetables. He exercised with the physiotherapist in the swimming pool in the mornings to protect his joints and back and in the afternoon either did interval training in the gym or went for long brisk walks. This combination proved to be a winner and he had lost 7kg by the time he left. His blood pressure had normalised and blood tests revealed much improved cholesterol levels.
Once home he hired a personal trainer and became more organised with his food, often taking his own snacks on planes or by simply making better choices. We had talked about the 80/20 rule meaning 80% of the time he followed the plan and 20% of the time he could relax and eat anything he fancied. This worked well as it ruled out denial and cravings, the downfall of most diets. Two years later and with regular trips to the resort I was greeted with the question 'Would you like to see my six pack?'
What's the most significant thing you've learnt about your health over the course of your career?
That my body likes routine and if I swerve away from regular good habits then I'll pay for it with poor sleep and lower energy levels.
Why do you think alternative therapies like naturopathy are becoming more popular?
I think there is a general air of disillusionment with the healthcare service and that people are becoming more wary of prescribed pharmaceuticals that often carry unwanted side effects. Articles on natural health are becoming more mainstream in popular magazines and newspapers so people know that they can take Echinacea to ward off a cold or drink more water to cure a headache. If they venture to see a naturopath they are guaranteed at least an hour to focus on themselves rather than the 3 minutes allocated by a time poor GP.
What are your top health, lifestyle and diet tips?
Start each morning with ½ lemon squeezed in warm water to cleanse, alkalise and initiate digestion. Add a thumb size piece of fresh grated ginger to improve circulation and alleviate bloating then stir in a teaspoon of manuka honey to keep the immune system happy.
If you had to recommend one simple lifestyle change we could make, what would it be?
Switch off all technological equipment before going to bed. Electro-smog from technology builds up in our bodies so it is not a good idea to use your mobile phone as alarm. Televisions should be switched off at the plug in bedrooms and Wi-Fi should be off when not in use. You will sleep better for it.
View our Luxury Spa Breaks for further inspiration.
Deniz Susever is a Watsu-Tantsu-WATA (water dance), EFT practitioner and Yoga Teacher at Kempinski Barbaros Bay. She began her journey of alternative therapies and healing energies in 1997. After being introduced to yoga as a guest she decided to go to Rishikesh (India) and became a yoga teacher, she also has studied Integrative Massage in India. Deniz has excellent charisma in Watsu (Water-Shiatsu), Tantsu (Watsu on land) and Water dance (WATA) Therapy training in India. The last six years she has been a Vipassana Meditator.
Interview with a Watsu Practitioner
What inspired you to study alternative therapies and remedies?
I started my journey of alternative therapies and healing energies with Reiki, and I discovered that everyone of us has a healing power. Being in a position to provide healing for clients and also myself has filled me with tremendous happiness. Reiki has enhanced my interest in the workings of the human body, and the energies which surround us and are also within us.
What is Watsu and how is it similar to Tantsu?
Watsu is a fusion of water and shiatsu is a form of body massage performed while floating in warm water. It combines the therapeutic benefits of warm water and Zen Shiatsu, Yoga, Alexander Technique and Meditation. Tantsu is Watsu on land. There's no set pattern to the movements and there is stretching, wavelike movement of the water, the breath and heart connection, stillness and cradling throughout the session like on Watsu.
As a waterdance therapist, do you feel water is an important element when it comes to healing?
Water is a miraculous element which transforms and heals the person physicaly, physiologicaly and psychologically. Waterdance is combined with underwater movements reminiscent of the womb and creates a tremendously healing experience. The water itself carries teachings that can actually support and nurture extraordinary relaxation by encouraging effortless insight into ourselves.
WATA (waterdance) is a unique form of bodywork, can you describe how it works?
Waterdance is a form of aquatic bodywork like Watsu, it begins on the surface. Then the receiver is given a nose clip and step by step is gently guided under the water. The session incorporates elements of massage, dolphin and snake movements, rolls, somersaults, inversions and dance. The effects are physical release such as joint mobilisation and can encourage deep states of relaxation.
The Watsu pool at Kempinski Barbaros Bay
As an EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) practitioner can you describe this technique and how it is beneficial?
EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) combines Acupressure and Affirmation Techniques which works by neutralizing disruptions in the body's electrical system, then stops the chemical chain reaction and frees the person from emotional and physical discomforts. New or old emotional upsets, life long phobias, compulsive behaviors and unhealthy patterns can often be released easily. These techniques are so gentle, rapid and startlingly effective.
Why is integrative massage so beneficial and how is it different to other massage therapies?
Integrative Massage is done by applying oil which cleanses and relaxes the body. This massage contains 3 parts: in the first part, we awaken the body by pressing the important points which we call "marma". After that, by applying oil we stimulate the lymphatic system and detoxify and strenghten the muscles, joints and ligaments. In the last part, we increase the flexibility and the energy level of the body with some passive static stretching exercises.
Can you describe Klang massage and what makes it distinctive?
Nepal's traditional sound massage (Klang Massage) is applied with special bowls produced from an alloy of 16 different materials. Before the session we determine the chakras we are going to work on and we work on every chakra with their colour one by one. The person can explore the self-regeneration and self-treatment power of the body with sound vibrations.
What is Vipassana Meditation and how is it beneficial?
Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are is one of India's most ancient techniques of meditation. It was taught in India more than 2,500 years ago as a universal remedy for universal ills, i.e., an Art of Living. In Vipassana Meditation one experiences that everything is passing away. In our life, pain or pleasure is also impermanent, so no need to generate attachment or craving for something which gives pleasure and no need to generate anger or hatred for something which makes pain. When we see things as they are, we can live life in peace and harmony.
Meditation at Kempinski Barbaros Bay
What inspired you to become a yoga teacher?
When I encountered Yoga in 2000, I was living in a small town (Kas) in Turkey. We were gathering with some friends and doing yoga asanas and some pranayama techniques. I was working as a diving instructor at that moment which is why I was very familiar about explaining the postures and some details like in the diving courses. My friends were encouraging me to become a yoga teacher and I tried some of the yoga styles like Kundalini, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Vinyasa during these years. Afterwards I visited Rishikesh (where yoga was born) and ended up learning with traditional Hatha yoga which I like a lot because each pose is like deep meditation.
Kempinski Barbaros Bay offers a wide range of treatments, with your training in yoga, massage and waterdance therapies, how well do guests respond to these?
Our guests are very lucky, because we give them all special care and try our best to offer the highest levels of satisfaction. They understand the importance of relaxation and the healing effects of holistic therapies. They are very open to try new therapies like Watsu, Waterdance or Aqua Reflexology.
Stress has become prevalent in society, what top tips do you have to reduce stress?
Practise meditation ,yoga asanas (postures), and keep your inner smile on and think positively. After work take a warm shower or bath before you sleep. Eat healthy super foods (like spirulina, wheatgrass and sprouted seeds) Drink chamomile or melissa tea, walk barefoot in the grass and listen to classical music Start the day by laughing before you get up from the bed - dance and sing!
For more information visit Kempinski Barbaros Bay.
Tim Bishop is an advanced Personal Trainer who specialises in circuit training, torso training and core stability. He's also a fire fighter in the London Fire Brigade, an excellent Boxing and Kettle bell instructor, who dedicates time to passing on his knowledge of fitness training and nutrition to others. Tim runs flexible fitness retreats and boot camps at Buccament Bay in the Caribbean. After completing his gruelling commando training, Tim went on to give sterling service of 8 years in the Royal Marines. In addition to his war fighting role he has also took part in various sporting activities and competitions, as well as taking circuits for recruits and trained soldiers.
Dr Liane Weber is a General Physician and an internationally-trained Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctor. She is one of the medical Consultants at Grand Park in Austria as well as at the nearby Gastein Healing Caves where she is renowned for her work with rheumatism. At Grand Park Dr Weber offers the popular "Retreat" therapy which combines Tuina massage and low-dose laser acupuncture to restore balance, improve energy and blood flow, strengthen the immune system and promote emotional wellbeing.
Interview with a Chinese Medicine Doctor
What inspired you to become a medical doctor and specialise in complementary medicine?
As a teenager I worked in a hospital and I was really aware of the importance of the relationship between patients and nurses and doctors. It inspired me to think about how I wanted to work in my life. When I was studying to be a doctor, we did not have the option to study complementary medicine so it was not until later, and after my own personal experience with TCM, that I started to study and practise it.
Since my teenage years I have suffered from acne. I went to so many doctors, took a lot of medication and nothing really helped. Finally I went to a homeopathic doctor who told me that my acne comes from a milk protein allergy. I was sceptic, but as I stopped eating dairy my acne went away without medication. That is what sparked my interest in complementary medicine. My goal is to combine the best of both western medicine and the Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat my patients in the best possible way.
What are guests on your Retreat therapy programme looking for?
My focus is rehabilitation so most of my patients come to me with chronic pain, joint and back problems. I also get a lot of patients for which western medicine has offered limited positive results. Thus I have people with asthmatic diseases, decreased immune system, burn-out and chronic fatigue syndrome. I also see guests that want to maintain or improve their health condition. I am a huge advocate for preventive health care so I enjoying working with the patients that come for regular treatment.
Tell us the benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Traditional Chinese Medicine has been successfully treating people for over 5000 years. The approach is different to Western medicine in that it considers the whole body's condition and then recommends quite a complex treatment - from Tuina massage, acupuncture and herbs to exercise, moxibustion, cupping, nutrition and tips for lifestyle. TCM is especially good for improving chronic diseases and also in preventive medicine. I love that in ancient China people went to the doctor and paid him when they stayed healthy. If they got sick the doctor helped but did not get paid!
The spa's indoor pool and the picture scenery surrounding Grand Park
Another popular programme at Grand Park is the Healing Caves. What are the Gastein Healing Caves and who should visit them?
When they first went looking for gold in the Radhausberg Mountain, the inhabitants of Gastein weren't to know that they would find something far more valuable: naturally occurring low levels of radon gas. This 'Tauern Gold' as it is affectionately known, combined with the caves' perfect humidity and 37-41.5°c temperature, has been scientifically- proven to help restore homeostasis in the body and strengthen the immune system. The gas, taken in through the skin and lungs, helps activate the body at a cellular level. Mild alpha radiation is released, stimulating self-healing of the body.
Scientific research has shown the treatment to be particularly beneficial to patients with musculoskeletal and joint disorders, as well as respiratory and skin diseases. Even after a long day skiing in the Alps, the healing properties of the caves can help alleviate any aches and pains. Devotees of the Gastein Healing Caves report being able to live pain-free for over a year afterwards. Many get their doctors to refer them under medical insurance for regular 'top-up' visits to the Heilstollen to enable them to be less drug- dependent.
What is included in the Grand Park Healing Caves programme and what are the benefits?
The programme includes a medical consultation from a doctor at the beginning and end of programme. Each Grand Park Healing Cavesprogramme is tailored to the individual and changes according to the concern -rheumatism diseases, arthritis or Ankylosing Spondylitis but there are 4 Gastein Cave or Heilstollen treatments and 2 radon thermal baths, 1 Tuina/Acupuncture treatment and a consultation about nutrition and lifestyle recommendations, physical treatments and exercise.
The Gastein Healving Caves
What advice and guidance do you give to your clients during their consultations?
- The most important thing is everybody should try to have a healthy, seasonal, organic diet and take regular exercise, according to your age and condition, every day. It is never too late to start
- A good night's sleep (for approx. 6-8 hours prevents you for diseases and burn-out)
- Self-development - for improving your physical and mental condition. "The Way" is the key of life. The world is full of such interesting things, why not discover it by yourselves. "For never before is the history of the world has the door of opportunity been flung so wide" (Orison Swett Marden, 1850-1924)
- Healthy emotional expression, natural self discipline as well self respect and patience are also the keys for inner happiness and success. If you think about the Bamboo, for the first four years it doesn't appear to grow at all, it just develops roots. In the fifth year it grows eighty feet. Many things in the life are like that. You might not see immediate benefit or change but if you keep trying and stay patient, eventually a tremendous success or harvest will result.
- Do not forget your humour every day. Anger or sadness decreases the power of your immune system
Dr. Manuela Figini
Dr. Manuela Figini is a highly accomplished Medical Doctor at Longevity Wellness Resort in Portugal, with an extensive knowledge in Aesthetic, preventive and ageing management. She has an impressive medical background of 40 years' experience and is the Clinical Director of the Longevity Medical Spa practice, where she is responsible for all the medical aspects of each programme and discipline, covering areas such as acupuncture, ozone therapy and aesthetic medicine. She taught pathology at the College of Nursing, was the resident doctor at Vila Real Hospital, and studied Oral and Maxillo Facial Surgery. She also holds qualifications in Acupuncture, Aesthetic Medicine, Anti- Ageing Medicine and Ozone Therapy
Toby Maguire is the Master Practitioner at The BodyHoliday in St. Lucia. He has been practicing the healing arts of the east for nearly twenty years and has spent 13 years living in south east Asia where he studied acupuncture, massage, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and meditation. In addition, he has studied an MA in Holistic Wellness, holds a diploma in nutrition and has worked as both a Health and Wellness Consultant and Practitioner at some of the top destination spas in the world including Chiva Som, Mandarin Oriental and Six Senses.
Interviews from leading health and fitness professionals from around the world to explore a wealth of knowledge in their areas of expertise.