Last year, we launched a competition in partnership with Wellbeing Escapes to find eight agents who wanted to embrace wellness. Embrace it in their personal and work lives, so that they could become healthier and make their bank balance healthier too. Four fam trips, two agents on each, to four hotels with different takes on wellbeing.
Our second pair of agents went to the Divani Apollon Palace & Thalasso on the Athens Riviera (see review, page 88). Here, Matthew Ruth and Claire Somerville share their thoughts before, during and after their trip.
Matthew Ruth, Personal Travel Agents
Before: Like many people, I have become more aware of looking after myself and try to eat less sugar and more greens. I’ve also been getting into meditation, mindfulness and yoga, but it’s often hard to fit everything into my day. I entered this competition as it mentioned yoga and I thought it sounded like a great way to find out more. After all, if I want to do it, I bet my clients will too. Added to that is the chance to spend a few days in a five-star hotel having massages and doing water sports. I hope I’m going to unwind and come back feeling better than when I went away, which hasn’t always been the case in the past. Clients want experiences they will enjoy and remember – a few days where the emails don’t ping every 30 seconds – and I think wellbeing breaks fit so well into that. It’s definitely a growing market.
During: I’m enjoying everything so far. I’m not so fussed about the facials, but the yoga has had a really positive affect on me mentally. It gives you the chance to get inside your head, pause and reflect. Some dedicated spa resorts don’t have things like Wi-Fi, which I think is a bit extreme. I like that the Divani Apollon is a nice middle ground: internet access, but plenty of time to relax and unwind. Ten years ago, if men did this, it might have seemed strange. But I can see a group of guys coming here and feeling perfectly at ease. Location-wise, it’s also fantastic – I wouldn’t want to be in the city centre during the summer, but here you get the best of both worlds: Athens close by, but the beach within reach.
After: I loved the hotel and Athens – especially my trip to the Acropolis. The spa was amazing and the Mythos By The Sea restaurant was out of this world. Overall, I found it very relaxing, and loved the yoga session on the beach, the massages and the Thalassotherapy Pool. I want one in my house! Now I’m back, I’ve managed to incorporate more yoga into my daily life, as well as some of the healthy food. The nutritionist sent me a recipe for a delicious green salad, which I’ve already tried on friends. I have already recommended the Divani Apollon to one of my clients too, a lady who wanted to go to Athens with her son, but didn’t want to stay in the city centre. I’m keeping my eye out for others.
Claire Somerville, Travel PA
Before: I applied for this competition because I wanted to escape some of the stresses back home and enjoy a few relaxing days away. I’ve recently had an extension built on my house, which is the most stressful thing I’ve ever done. I also need to lose some weight and I’m hoping the trip will kick-start that process. Finally, I have psoriasis, a stress-related skin condition, which is particularly bad at the moment due to the building work. Anything that can help would be a huge relief. Overall, I’m keen to try out everything and return with first-hand experiences to share with my clients.
During: So far, I’ve really enjoyed the outdoor yoga – I didn’t realise how good it is to spend some time de-stressing, just focusing on balance and breathing. I also found my session with the dietician really useful and thought the Relaxing Massage with Essential Oils was a great way to ease into the holiday. Other highlights have included the Bamboo Massage and the Thalgo Marine Prelude. I’ve tried this last one three times before – at The Ritz-Carlton in Dubai, Tanjong Jara in Malaysia and Elysian Fields in Cyprus – and I think this was superior. Considering they are all five-star hotels, they take some beating too. I’ve also loved the daily detox waters, which get delivered to your room each morning before breakfast. Especially the melon and mint – a great way to start the day.
After: This trip exceeded my expectations in so many ways. Twenty minutes with the dietician turned my eating habits around – I’ve already lost 1st and 8lbs in two weeks. She also sent me a suggested menu once home, which has been hugely helpful. The Thalgo Marine Prelude treatment, which uses natural sea salts and marine mud to exfoliate the body, before massaging in Ligne St Barth Avocado Oil, gave fabulous results for my psoriasis. Having seen the results, the therapists then went on to suggest a combination of three Ligne St Barth products to help maintain the benefits. After two weeks of using the Aloe Vera Gel with Mint, the Avocado Oil and the Cream Mask with Pink Clay and Passion Fruit, I have no psoriasis on my elbows and forehead – an amazing result, after 15 years trying to hide it. This now gives me the biggest incentive to lose more weight – bikini, here I come!
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