A week at Longevity Ceghona Country Club, bordering Vilamoura’s pine woodland on Portugal’s Algarve, can be a life-changing experience.
“People tell me they have no stress,” says Katarina as she massages my neck and back during the osteopathy session.
“But so often their bodies tell a different story. Many people spend their days in front of a screen. And then what do they do for their leisure? They relax hunched over a tablet. Every year I am seeing bigger problems.” And how did Katarina learn her immaculate English? “Selling ice-creams on the beach,” she confides.
Katarina rubs her finger down my spine and it ain’t in the middle of my back. I’ve got Scoliosis, a spine curving to the left. Now there’s a word she didn’t learn selling ice-cream.
When it’s time for my Personal Training session I break the bad news about my back to Veronika who prescribes a mixture of Pilates and stretches. Within days I can rise from a chair without a groaning old man soundtrack.
Some of the guests are travelling on their own, taking time-out from busy lives, creating their own pampering programme of massages, meditation, saunas and relaxing by the pool.
The cafe, with its casual vibe and terrace overlooking the pool, is the social hub of Cegonha life. A few guests are on a Wellness programme to lose weight: a diet of smoothies, soups, salads and energising shots. Most guests stay on a menu that’s incredibly healthy. Chicken or duck or fish or sea-food skewers or steak come with both salad and vegetables. No chips, chocolate or puds here.
Carbohydrates are scarce though you can opt for bread with your breakfast of porridge or yogurt, fruit and eggs. This is not just cafe fare, this is an education in nutrition. But it’s not all bad news, there is organic red wine.
“Not for me, I’m afraid,” says a fellow guest. “The Wellness evaluation didn’t go to plan. My metabolic age is 13 years older than I am. This trip’s been a wake-up call.”
Meanwhile, my back is improving, I’m feeling ready for a round of golf at Dom Pedro’s Old Course. Reception arrange tee-time, club and buggy hire. This pine-scented mature course of immaculate fairways and perfect greens is celebrating its 50th Birthday. My back’s feeling good, I’m not going to outdrive Rory McIlroy, but I’m hitting the ball further than I have for years.
I return to Longevity Cegonha Country Club walking through what could be a typical Portuguese village towards the Spa. Amongst the delicate pinks and yellows of the houses – agapanthus, bougainvillea, cypress and palm trees combine to bring a restful sense of calm. Within the houses there six double rooms and 26 two-bedroom suites ideal for the many friends travelling together or mother / daughter travelling companions.
For my final treatment, I opt for the detox treatment, an Iyashi Japanese Spa, housed in the suite of rooms that is the spa. Encased in a cross between an MRI scanner and a tandoori oven, I am programmed to sweat out toxins, use up to 600 calories and lose centimetres from my waist. As I lie in the dark, I reflect on the programme.
The Wellness evaluation has set some benchmark statistics to target for the future. I would have liked to have tried a body wrap, chakra balance therapy, the floatation tank and a body wrap but I have run out of time. And there are another four golf courses that I could play …
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For more information about Michael's trip and the breaks offered at Longevity Ceghona Country Club, see the links below.
Longevity Cegonha Country Club (Tel: +351 967 108 244) offers the 5-night Longevity Feel Rebalance & Golf starting from €1,668* (£1,490) per person in a single classic room.
*Prices correct at time of publication (July 2019) Last modified: April 7, 2021