By: ANETTA NOWOSIELSKA
A NEW GENERATION OF WELLNESS RESORTS ARE DEFINING THE MODERN IDEA OF ITALIAN SELF-CARE. FEATURING DELICIOUS CULINARY ARTS, CUTTING-EDGE MEDICAL/BEAUTY TREATMENTS AND STUNNING LOCATIONS, PALAZZO FIUGGI AND LEFAY RESORT & SPA ARE LEADING THE CHARGE.
If the ol’ Ralph Waldo Emerson’s adage “it’s not the destination; it’s the journey” is true, then the 10 days I spent at Palazzo Fiuggi, located an hour south of Rome, in pursuit of a leaner, healthier, and detoxed self were more rewarding than the way I looked and felt on my last day there. But the semantics are meaningless. The optimum weight/deep detox program at Palazzo Fiuggi is a game changer regardless of whether you identify as a proverbial wellness wanderer or someone who is simply goal-driven. In my case, the rewards of acquiescing to a rigorous method were as fulfilling as the restorative process itself.
A little background on Fiuggi the hometown of this splendid wellness medical retreat: renowned since the Middle Ages for its thermal springs, the town became famous when Pope Boniface VIII claimed he had been cured of urolithiasis, thanks to the mineral waters of a nearby spring. Two centuries later, Michelangelo made similar declarations resulting in export of the Fiuggi waters to all the courts of Europe. Fast forward to the 20th century when Palazzo della Fonte was built here in the Art Nouveau style, quickly ascending to the top of the list of most beautiful palaces in Italy. Its splendor attracted Italian king Vittorio Emanuele II and the royal family, who often visited, and a slew of artists and politicians seeking calm and convalescence. Palazzo Fiuggi (as it is called these days) is the new epicenter of medical wellness in Europe, giving the likes of SHA Wellness Clinic in Spain and Lanserhof in Germany some serious competition. Its programming, location, and facilities have won over The Ranch Malibu, the reigning luxury fitness retreat in California, which by establishing its European satellite program here, has given the newcomer the ultimate endorsement.
At the core of its wellness protocol, Palazzo Fiuggi fuses ancient holistic disciplines with the keystones of traditional Western medicine. Its impressive lineup of medical/scientific therapies promotes greater well-being, health, and longevity. My experience begins with a targeted evaluation and diagnostic consultancy with an in-house team of scientists, doctors, and experts who create a bespoke pathway for me and designed to deliver tangible results. I’m measured, probed, and evaluated several times during my stay using blood and body composition analysis, 3D body scans, ultrasounds, and cardiograms. But it’s the initial consultation with my doctor, endocrinologist, and nutritionist that yields a carefully calibrated prescription to meet my objectives not only during my stay, but long after I have returned to civilization.
A pampering mecca as much as a medi- spa with copious facilities and a hefty 34-page treatment guide, my circadian routine at Palazzo Fiuggi includes daily private training at the “Movement Lab,” that I can only describe as the chicest gymnasium I have ever seen stocked with Technogym equipment and next level virtual reality experiences like the Icaros VR machines. The sessions are followed by a barrage of massages, cleansing rituals, hydro cures, lymphatic drainage treatments plus plasma and light therapies. These keep my mind off the fact that I’m operating on a limited caloric intake of 1,200 per day (on liquid days, I’m down to 850 calories.) At first, the thought of such restrictions seems daunting, but the kind of gastronomy served here makes the impossible delicious. Heinz Beck, the three-star Michelin chef and holder of an honorary degree in natural bioenergy and naturopathy, and Professor David Della Morte Canosci, a specialist in senescence and genetics, have introduced a totally unique diet concept that aims to reduce fat without harming muscle mass. There is no punitive diet here, even when partaking in liquid days (for the record, no coffee is served which, to my surprise, doesn’t impede my awareness usually dormant until the third cup kicks in.) Instead, the program harnesses the power of essential nutrients and micronutrients to create delicious meals while avoiding the usual hunger pangs. My personalized combination of nutrients activating the molecular pathways stimulates cellular rejuvenation and naturally contributes to an impressive loss of five pounds and a gain of an unprecedented sensation of agility and sharpness.
I leave feeling fitter and stronger, walloped into a new and leaner version of self. The fear of the carbohydrated and sweet temptations awaiting me outside the gates is palatable. But so is my determination to stay the course just until I’m ready to come back for more of the Palazzo Fiuggi’s alchemic reboot.
Lefay Resort & SPA Dolomiti
It takes Sushanto less than five minutes to pinpoint the source of my backaches and ailments which have plagued me for as long as I can remember. “You are a centimeter shorter on one side,” he delivers the verdict with the cheeky smile of someone who has cracked an unsolvable riddle. “And you sleep on your ‘taller’ side causing the ‘shorter’ one to collapse more and causing more pain.” My session with the resident physiotherapist at the five-star Lefay Resort & SPA Dolomiti ends with a series of stretches, pulls and pushes that leave me feeling lighter and taller, despite my miserable osteological deficiencies. As I leave for a daily sauna session, he promises to speak with Marco, private trainer in charge of my fitness programming, to ensure that our training includes strengthening exercises to develop a stronger lumbar area.
I quickly discover that a stay at the beautiful Lefay Resort, in the splendid Italian Dolomite mountains, is a beautifully orchestrated symphony of treatments, itineraries and wellness modalities working together to revitalize. Therapists across all disciplines work in tandem to decipher the best course of action for those seeking a resolution to a myriad of issues in the beautifully appointed resort on a cliff. Covering almost 54,000 square feet, LeFay Resort & SPA Dolomiti is one of the largest in the Alps. Here innovation and nature meet the principles of Eastern and Western therapies using products sourced from the local forests, waters, minerals and muds. The result is an endless list of therapies and protocols organized into paths distinguished by different levels of temperature, humidity and dedicated phytotherapy. I choose my services a la carte to reflect a need for utter self-indulgence. Think stretching in a sauna, deep-tissue shiatzu and head massages. While these services are all outstanding (the head massage is literarily an out-of-body experience), the soothing mud therapy is one takeaway I will not soon forget. This stimulating experience, which takes place in a Nuvola, a flotation bed, gives a feeling of renewed well-being both in the body and mind. Once wrapped in local mud enriched with trace elements and cloaked in warm wings of the Nuvola, the body begins to float on 400 liters of hot water that is gently rocked by the therapist. The sensation is best described as womblike. It’s an emotionally transformative conduit to a state of unparalleled calm, plus your skin looks and feels great to boot!
The harmonious dialogue with nature is personified in the resort’s architecture; a manifestation of a modern chalet inspired by the local resources. The property is integrated into the surrounding landscape and, thanks to its inclusion in the land’s morphology, it enjoys solar exposure throughout the day. The interior design is very much informed by LeFay Resort’s environmental ethos of renewable green energy and latest-generation technologies designed to reduce energy and water consumption. The rooms are outfitted in local materials like oak and chestnut, as well as Italian natural leathers and wools. The floor-to-ceiling glass walls, uninterrupted views and open fireplaces evoke the Italian equivalent of hygge.
Two restaurants helm LeFay Resort’s culinary offerings. Grual, the fine-dining option, features a 12-course tasting menu that celebrates local bounty and the altitude of their provenance– from the valley floor to the mountain top. Dolomia Restaurant offers an approachable menu with healthy options for those looking to maximize their wellness experience.
On the last day of my retreat at LeFay Resort, I decide to take a swim in the pool that connects to the outdoors. There is a chill in the air and steam rises above the warm water’s surface. Some snow manages to cling onto the treetops that surround the property. The sun peaks through the branches. A supernatural energy engulfs the scene, covering it with a dreamlike quality. If this is not the quintessence of wellness, I don’t know what is.