Taking very different routes, two British Vogue editors go on a quest for bliss in 2020.
Taking very different routes, two Vogue editors go on a quest for bliss in 2020Pinterest Ellie Pithers, Digital Director Calling all stressed-out urbanites: in a sunshine-soaked corner of Puglia, there are some fennel bulbs waiting to be harvested. Reconnecting with nature by way of gardening in the grounds of Borgo Egnazia is all part of the hotel’s Happiness Break. And so it was that I found myself wresting vegetables from the earth in preparation for that evening’s supper (one I was not, thankfully, also expected to cook). During the three-day escape, organic produce dovetailed with a laughter masterclass, anti-inflammatory diet, low-intensity fitness sessions (think speed-walking along the Italian coastline) and spa treatments – all part of a programme designed to promote happiness and health. I was in the market for both. Drained after a punishing round of fashion shows – late nights, uncomfortable benches, hours of iPhone blue light – I was struggling to shift a cold and horribly hunched shoulders. I’d also been contemplating what was next on the life checklist. “The mistake we make is confusing happiness with success,” says Erica D’Angelo, director of wellbeing at Borgo Egnazia’s Vair Spa. “We think if we study hard, get a good job, make money, buy a house – only then, we might be happy. But you can only be truly successful if you have happiness, too.” D’Angelo has studied the Blue Zones, areas in the world such as Sardinia and Okinawa in Japan, where inhabitants live longer than average. She noted that many of the commonalities for happiness – community, purpose, a plant-heavy diet, a glass of wine a day – chimed with the Puglian lifestyle, and applied the philosophy to the hotel’s holistic wellness experience. Those familiar with restriction-based retreats will find Borgo Egnazia’s bon-vivant approach refreshing. Sedate cycling through olive groves, sampling Michelin-starred risotto and drinking the local D’Arapri wine are all encouraged. Admittedly, my boyfriend baulked during the laughter masterclass, which turned out to be a lesson in tarantella, a folk dance with tambourines. Then, in an Iyengar class, under the instruction of a yogi with no tolerance for my stress-crunched neck (“Remember how it feels to be tall, Ellie!” he yelled), I almost burst into tears. But I’d consent to a triangle pose for weeks if it bought me one more hour in the Vair Spa – an intimate, candlelit space built of honey-hued local stone, through which women glide in rose-pink gowns. A massage during which sage leaves covered my eyelids and my body was spritzed with lemon juice by the irrepressibly positive Dora, was life-changing. “Feel happy,” said Dora, as she led me to the steam room. I did. Six nights at Borgo Egnazia from £2,495 per person including full board, flights, private transfers and wellness programme. Healthandfitnesstravel.com Olivia Singer, Fashion News Director Over the past six years, after being diagnosed with coeliac disease and a wealth of correlating auto-immune disorders and deficiencies, I have explored every solution imaginable to my intermittent periods of ill health; spent up a storm on specialists; sought out holistic healers from Notting Hill to Stamford Hill; and been to wellness retreats across the globe. As I stared down the barrel of a new year – a new decade, in fact – a continued search for answers remained much on my mind. So when I heard of Clinique La Prairie (CLP) , renowned for its all-in-one approach and full medical MOT, I was sold. The gargantuan Swiss medical clinic has played host to everyone from Marlene Dietrich to Pope Pius XII (he turned up near death in 1953 and, supposedly, left a picture of health), and promised a week by Lake Geneva where doctors would poke and prod me for eight hours a day until they discovered the root causes behind every one of my ailments. To someone who has trawled Harley Street in despair, with disordered folders of test results stuffed in their handbag, it sounded like paradise. As soon as I arrived at the compound, I was swept out of a BMW and into my suite by a coterie of beaming staff. I’d not even unpacked before a lovely nurse knocked on the door to take vials of my blood. Next, my personal GP explained she’d see me every day and dispatch me to whichever of the on-site specialists she found most fitting, scheduling abdominal ultrasounds and cardiograms between medical-grade massages and trips to the hammam. The doctors would discuss my results and provide a schedule for the following day. My only decision? Whether I’d prefer to have my (dietician-approved) dinner in the restaurant or my room. CLP hosts more than 50 medical specialists (its staff count is 350 for only 35 rooms), from cardiologists to pneumologists. If they find something wrong, there are operating theatres fully equipped to perform every surgery imaginable – apart from heart transplants. When my ENT exam found a problem with my tympanic membrane (I’ve had a mild earache for years), a prescribed bag of treatments arrived in my room before I’d even made it back there. “Here, speed is critical,” notes clinic CEO Simone Gibertoni, of its busy, time-pressured clients. Dental makeovers that would ordinarily take weeks of operations can, he states proudly, be performed in one six-hour surgery – and anyone seeking aesthetic rejuvenation can slot it into their schedule. His passion project is the development of a 3D modelling system, whereby he would be able to present a before-and-after hologram to illustrate the physical transformations available within a week-long programme. “A dream room,” he calls it. That was the overarching message of CLP. Whether your dreams are a bigger bust, a medical overhaul or the peace of mind that comes from seeing doctors it would take you months to make appointments with elsewhere, here they can swiftly be made real. For me? I left with the most comprehensive diagnostics I could have hoped for, a rejuvenated body, an overwhelming sense of relief and a clearer mind for the year ahead. Within the global boom of the wellness industrial complex, this is the medically approved jewel in the crown. Medical check-up, price on request. 3 More Of The Best Spas To Visit Now © Anders Blomqvist Read more: British Vogue
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