I arrived in the Algarve region of Portugal on a Friday morning after a quick overnight in a hotel near the Paris-Orly airport. The flight is a quick one, only 90 minutes non-stop. Upon arrival at the Faro airport, I was greeted by a driver and taken to the Longevity Wellness Resort, just outside the small town of Monchique, about an hour west of Faro.
“The Algarve” is the name of the southern region of Portugal, which covers an area of around 2,000 square miles along the Atlantic Ocean. It is very popular with tourists for its warm climate and its seaside locale, and serves as a retirement destination for many ex-pats, primarily Brits.
Monchique is in an area that is known as the “garden” of the Algarve, as it is situated inland in the thickly wooded mountains. It is specifically recognized for its four hot springs, where water is bottled at the source and visitors come from around the world to be healed and restored.
I chose the Longevity Wellness Spa after a single day of reading online reviews—I had no time to do a great deal of research and hoped that I had made the right decision. I would be here for a week, after all. My goal was to find a place that was not just about relaxation, but that took a more holistic approach to wellness, with a program of diet and exercise integrated into the visit. The exercise would have to be tailored for someone with a broken toe, and it seemed that Longevity would be able to accommodate.
My initial impression of Longevity was a bit mixed. The building is über modern and a bit stark and cold. However, after a few hours of being there, the brilliant staff made it seem warm and welcoming. Upon arrival, I was given a calendar of activities for the week, including everything from meetings with nutritionists to physical fitness tests to Pilates classes, and of course, spa services…this is a spa, after all. Every day I was indulged with some kind of decadent treatment, including body scrubs, wraps, massages, facials and detox baths. It was very nice indeed, and one could easily become accustomed to it. Interspersed between the various activities, were 5 healthy meals per day, which the staff was extremely emphatic about. They knew immediately if you skipped a lunch or snack, and would find you on the premises to gently nudge you if you happened to get off track. The idea was to get your body into a rhythm of eating regular small meals to help reset your metabolism. During the time between all of this “activity”, there was little else to do but read and lounge by the pool. I have to admit, that a week of this was nice, but more than that probably would have been a bit monotonous.
My hat goes off to one of my fellow spa-goers, Bert from The Netherlands, who had committed to a 3-month stay in order to get himself healthy and back in shape. While I’m on the subject of guests, I have to name drop for just a moment, and mention that Florence Welch of the band Florence and the Machine was also staying there. I’m a huge fan, and though I gave her space to unwind and be “anonymous”, it was fun to spend the week in close quarters with her. Just a bit of harmless scoop…she looks much younger in person.
By the time I left, I felt cleansed, polished, massaged and buffed to within an inch of my life. It was a very nice feeling, and I was a bit concerned about what would happen to my super-healthy self once I arrived at my next destination: Sancerre, France, the land of wine, cheese and baguettes…!