Interior of avant-garde sphere pool with dome-shaped stone walls
The “sphere pool” at Euphoria Retreat in Mystras, Greece

Travel

Renowned Wellness Retreats in Europe

By Deborah Frank

Beautiful outdoor infinity pool and lounge area with tall trees in the background
Outdoor Pool at Euphoria Retreat

Woman floating in water inside dome-shaped indoor wellness pool
The “sphere pool” at Euphoria Retreat

Woman wearing swimsuit standing inside tall water well for therapy footbaths
Water well at Euphoria Retreat

Euphoria Retreat

Mind & Soul in Greece

Mystras, 2.5-hour drive from Athens


Much of what makes Euphoria Retreat special is the place itself. Situated at the base of an ancient witches’ forest in the mountains above the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mystras, a mythical village near Sparta, this holistic well-being destination spa features symbolic architectural spaces and soothing color schemes thoughtfully planned out by its Greek founder, Marina Efraimaglou. A former banker who used ancient Greek homeopathic medicine blended with Chinese methods to aid her recovery from a serious illness, Efraimaglou discovered the 1830 mansion by chance and was sold on the property as soon as she saw the private forest. “The energy here plays a big part,” she says. “It’s a sublime thing and rises at the correct time, when you need it.” With a blend of Byzantine art and Zen design, Efraimaglou built a unique healing environment featuring an 82-foot-tall water well for Kneipp Therapy footbaths and the retreat’s most striking and inviting sanctuary, the “sphere pool.” To swim in it is to experience rebirth, according to Efraimaglou. “I want it to feel like a womb, and when you dive really deep, you see the light seeping in from the dome’s circular opening. When you have the courage to go deep, you will always find the light.” Diving 13 feet to the bottom or just floating on top, you will also hear the sounds of dolphins and whales. “I love the sea and wanted to bring something from it here,” says Efraimaglou. “Also, whales and dolphins are ancient creatures of the Earth.”


The Program

The Euphoria Methodos blends ancient healing practices, Greek philosophy, and scientific innovation. “It took a lot of years of research,” says Efraimaglou, “and my aha moment came when I combined the Chinese medicine therapies I was studying with what I call the ethos, the moral values of ancient Greek philosophers.” What the two practices had in common, according to Efraimaglou, is that they view the world as an exchange of energy between humans and nature. “It’s not dictating what you should do, but rather, inspiring you and creating an atmosphere that will help you be proactive, both in your personal life and as a member of society.”


Choose from a number of programs and retreats that cover everything from emotional harmony to weight management. “It is all very tailored,” says Efraimaglou. For example, a nutritionist will determine your body’s needs and create a signature diet plan combining carbs, vitamins, proteins, and so on. “This is also unique to us, because most centers have like five meal plans, and they will put you in one of those five menus,” she explains. “We create a meal plan for each guest individually, even if we have 20 people here at one time. If you stay here, eat, and don’t exercise, you will tend to lose weight without trying.”


And if you do decide to partake in the activities, the offerings range from yoga to dance to energy walks in the forest. The signature spa offerings include such stress-relieving treatments as
Sanctuary for Busy Minds and Reiki work.


Groundbreaking Highlight

The science-backed Euphoria 3GL Methodos approach supports the retreat’s holistic treatments and nutrition and exercise plans through a pre-arrival questionnaire about dietary and lifestyle habits, and the measurement of glutathione, glucose, and glycogen levels (3GL). The results help determine your body’s nutritional needs and cellular requirements for metabolic regulation, antiaging, wellness, cellular protection, and longevity. A Mediterranean diet is rich in antioxidants, and Euphoria serves dishes based on local ingredients, fruits, vegetables, and olive oil from Laconia on the Peloponnese peninsula.


Accommodations

Efraimaglou consulted a professor of Byzantine architecture and used colors and schemes from paintings of that era to custom design the textiles, pillows, and throws in the 45 guestrooms. “We also designed the windows to open wide, almost like you’re outside,” she says. “I’m not a hotelier, so I designed it and furnished it like my home.”


Best Time to Go

All four seasons have something to offer. Winter is about cocooning in the spa’s big relaxation room and by the fireplace in the historic mansion. Efraimaglou’s favorite season is spring, “because all the oranges are blossoming and you have the smell of the flowers. But fall is also really nice.” In summer, the Greek islands are notorious for 100-degree Fahrenheit heat, but Euphoria Retreat is located in the mountains where the heat is dry and the nights are cool. A constant breeze of fresh pine air from the cypress forest cools things off, even on a hot day. “In ancient Greece, all the healing places were high up near the pine forest, never near the sea,” says Efraimaglou. “It’s the best oxygen provider.” euphoriaretreat.com

Historical villa with classic Italian architecture nestled amidst breathtaking mountains and landscaped gardens.
The Ranch Italy, Apennine Mountains

Plant-based entrée of zucchini and marinara sauce
Dining at The Ranch Italy

Woman receiving personal strength training from instructor on water rowing machine
Personal strength training at The Ranch Italy

Man standing on large rock near waterfall during hiking trip
Hiking at The Ranch Italy

The Ranch Italy at Palazzo Fiuggi

Hiking Bootcamp in Italy

Fiuggi, an hour’s drive from Rome


Since its inception in 2010, The Ranch Malibu has established an award-winning franchise with its immersive health, weight loss, and fitness programs. Its new Italian home at Palazzo Fiuggi is no exception. The wellness medical retreat in the historic hill town of Fiuggi, renowned for its therapeutic mineral waters, offers Ranchers an expansive spa facility featuring everything from infrared saunas to thalassotherapy baths to diagnostic testing, in addition to the Ranch’s requisite four-hour morning hikes, fitness classes, yoga sessions, and sports massages. Physical benefits aside, mental advantages are to be gained as well. “We create a structure that allows people to focus on what is front of mind,” says
co-founder Alex Glasscock. “When you’re out in nature for four hours, you achieve great clarity. And it’s interesting how when you’re looking for an answer and you’re hiking with these strangers who become this bonded group for a week, you find the answers.”


The Program

In Italy, The Ranch Malibu’s signature seven-day program is expanded to eight days and includes its highly structured, plant-based diet. Palazzo Fiuggi’s locale offers easy access to the area’s organic and biodynamic fruit and vegetables, so the nutritionally dense menu features a bit of Italian flair. The weekly hiking schedule takes place in the nearby Apennine Mountains, which feature a variety of terrain from canopied forests
to open meadows to steep valleys. One day’s trek is on a portion of the famous Cammino di San Benedetto, where hikers pass spiritual pilgrims making their way
along the route of St. Benedict.


A new four-day program, The Ranch Italy 4.0, offers guests a chance to tack on a reset pre or post, say, a Roman holiday. From Thursday to Monday, Ranchers get all the mental and physical results along with medical insights condensed into a long weekend.


Groundbreaking Highlight

“Water, water, water” is the motto of The Ranch, so it’s only fitting that acqua di Fiuggi contains healing and detoxifying properties. Throughout history powerful families, politicians, and popes would come to Palazzo Fiuggi, which used to be the house of royals, to drink from the Fountain of Life on its property. The water is said to purify the urinary tract system and is known to dissolve kidney stones. Its unique mineral composition has a detoxifying power that helps restore balance and supports the endogenous defense mechanism crucial to long-term well-being. It is also found in the palazzo’s thalasso pools, which are revitalizing after the miles-long hikes.


Accommodations

In addition to Palazzo Fiuggi’s luxurious guestrooms filled with every amenity imaginable and attentive housekeeping services, the palatial hotel features a movie theater where films are screened every night, a library, and a Movement Lab, the former ballroom turned into a gym with all the latest Technogym equipment and cutting-edge ICAROS Virtual Reality workout machines.


Best Time to Go

Traveling to Italy is a bonus any time of the year, and an added premium during winter is hiking in the Apennine Mountains. The Ranch team scouts special routes to traverse limited snow and ice. But if you’re interested in staying closer to home this fall, The Ranch’s latest limited-time wellness retreat is The Ranch Vail at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch. The program in Colorado will take place from September 3 to October 27 in the exclusive enclave of Beaver Creek Mountain. Limited to 25 guests a week, it will be a five-night, six-day stay featuring a daily schedule that mirrors The Ranch Malibu’s signature “no-options” experience of morning hikes, afternoon core and strength training classes, yoga, and a daily massage. Ranchers can also access the resort’s 21,000-square-foot spa complete with relaxation lounges, steam rooms, dry saunas, hot and cold plunge pools, and a stone-lined coed grotto. theranchmalibu.com

Woman laying face up receiving facial treatment with specialized facial device
Facial treatment at Chenot Palace Weggis

Hotel, spa and wellness center surrounded by gardens, Lake Lucerne and Swiss Alps in the background
Chenot Palace Weggis, Lake Lucerne & Swiss Alps

Beautifully plated pudding with dark berries and colorful flowers served on black textured dish
Dining at Chenot Palace Weggis

Man wearing breathing mask while running and doing an exercise test on a treadmill
Cardiorespiratory Fitness Assessment at Chenot Palace Weggis

Chenot Palace Weggis

Scientific Reset in Switzerland

Lake Lucerne, an hour’s drive from Zurich


First things first, do not think of Chenot Palace as a medical facility or clinic. “We refer to ourselves as a Health Wellness retreat because we focus on health promotion,” explains Chenot’s chief scientific operating officer, Dr. George Gaitanos. “Health is not about the absence of disease, but rather increased adaptability and resilience to the environmental impacts that contribute to the aging process.” The whole idea is that, despite aging, you continue to enjoy life as you did when you were younger. “I would like to reach 100 without losing my functionality, having my same sexual performance, being able to climb the mountain and play football with my grandkids,” says Gaitanos. In short, the Chenot Method helps to slow the pace of age-related decline and enhance vitality for those who come regularly to reset their bodies.


The Program

Science-backed detox treatments focus on your body’s ability to heal itself and include medical and nutritional consultations; lifestyle biomarkers; minerals and heavy metals intoxication analysis; assessments to determine vascular age, oxidative stress, and skin collagen thickness; plus bio-energetic checkups and massages, among other things. A consulting doctor, an energetic doctor, and a dietitian work together to create a personalized, complementary program that optimizes results. This synergy between the departments is key, along with another integral component, the plant-based Chenot Diet. The 850-calorie-a-day fast-mimicking method has nothing to do with losing weight (though you will still shed a few pounds) and everything to do with repair. “Think of yourself when you’re not feeling well,” says Gaitanos. “Are you hungry? Of course not. Your body stops your appetite. It’s saying, ‘Please, don’t feed me. Let me get rid of the virus, release all the toxins.’ The principle is the same.”


Groundbreaking Highlight

The Molecular Lab for Optimal Living is a new service that focuses on epigenetic testing, studying how your behaviors and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes work. “We can actually see what’s going on in the body in real time,” says Gaitanos. “It allows us to take measures well before a problem occurs.” If, for example, you have a lot of inflammation without any symptoms, you will follow a diet plan for three months, take specific supplements, meditate, work out, then come back and get tested again to see whether or not the treatment is working or needs adjustments. If your family has a history of illness or disease, this is a form of prevention. “Everything can be reversed once you know at early stages what to do,” says Gaitanos. “It’s a new school of medicine where the responsibility is on the individual and how he or she lives their life. You train your health as you do your fitness. We just boost your system and your antioxidant defense.” Chenot offers the service as an add-on and is hoping to publish the findings in a scientific journal once they have collected sufficient data.


Accommodations

Chenot Palace Weggis is headquarters and the flagship for the brand, which has satellite locations at resorts like the One&Only Portonovi in Montenegro. The main building built in 1875 features curved ceilings and magnificent architectural details. A modern circular staircase connects a new, contemporary wing for a total of 97 rooms that feel very residential. Many guests travel here alone, packing a light carry-on as days are spent mostly in workout gear and bathrobes, with some guests dressing casually for dinner. The staff, led by Ivana Sgheiz, CEO of Chenot International and general manager of Chenot Palace Weggis, is welcoming, nonjudgmental, and very supportive.


Best Time to Go

This area around Lake Lucerne is known as the Riviera of Switzerland for its mild Mediterranean climate from March to August. During these months, Chenot features a “beach” with lounge chairs, SUPs to take out on the water, and e-bikes to ride to the nearby village. Winter, however, is equally majestic, and Gaitanos suggests taking a polar plunge in the lake. The minimum stay is seven nights for six full days of treatments, ideally completed once a year. “Rather than looking at this as a one-off stay, we encourage our guests to return every six to 12 months, and in the meantime to put into practice the self-awareness they gain during their stay, developing new habits to continually promote their health,” says Gaitanos. “The Chenot Lifestyle Biomarkers, our diagnostics, give you an indication of what lifestyle interventions to make in the future; what phytonutrients you are lacking, and what ongoing treatments you should consider when you get home.” chenotpalaceweggis.com


Read more about each retreat and find additional wellness offerings worldwide in LM’s 2023 Wellness Guide at luxurycard.com/guide/2023/wellness