Travel Blog - Wellbeing Escapes Retreat at Quinta da Calma - Portugal
Our Sales and Marketing Executive, Dominika, heads off to the Algarve in Portugal to check out the Wellbeing Escapes Retreat at Quinta da Calma and reports back on her visit:
What were your first impressions when you arrived?
I wasn't sure what to expect (except that it must be good if our Managing Director, Stella, had discovered it!) but was very impressed right from the start. I felt instantly at home as the team were so friendly and helpful. I was staying in one of the newly refurbished cottages and when I went out exploring, I was amazed at the vastness of the grounds. It's so spacious and you have plenty of areas to tuck away in if you are loooking for some peace and quiet. I felt like I could breathe more easily and my mind felt lighter - I really did love the stillness of this place after coming from busy London. What a positive change!
What do you think makes the retreat so special?
It must be its history. Quinta opened more then 35 years ago and was the first integral yoga centre in Portugal. Sylta, the wonderful person who opened this retreat, is still there and you can feel her presence everywhere. She is a veteran of wellbeing and a very skilled naturopath. She has a big heart and if you get the opportunity, make sure that you chat to her! In my opinion, the retreat has an amazing energy and it is a true gem when it comes to spiritual, holistic retreats.
What was your favourite treatment?
I think I enjoyed an evening yoga class with Yvonne the most. Quinta da Calma is focusing on integral yoga which was totally new to me as I usually practise more active yoga like Ashtanga or Vinyasa. Integral yoga is a very peaceful and slow practice and Yvonne is a very calm and patient teacher. I really enjoyed this nurturing and meditative class and the studio is also incredible. I could watch the sunset whilst in a pose and could also listen to the soothing sounds coming from outside while in 'Savasana' at the end of the class. Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to attend Yvonne's workshop on Stress Managment but was lucky to discuss it with her - it sounds fantastic so I will hopefully go back soon to try it!
What was your favourite activity?
I really liked wandering around the retreat as there are lots of little paths so you can easily explore your surroundings. I found it very easy to settle into a meditation whilst on my walks too. The nature is amazing here with magnificant trees and ponds plus beautiful indigenous fauna and flora. If you like hiking, do make sure that you go to the nearby beach. It takes a little over an hour to walk there and it's so worth it - take a towel and chill out once you are there! Or take your diary or journal and catch up with your thoughts.
How was the food?
All the food is vegetarian and served buffet style. The menu varies every day and consist of delicious fresh salads, soups, main courses and puddings (home-made and sugar-free - yay!). The restaurant has amazing views and it's a great place to socialise with fellow guests. Make sure that you look around the local market which is next to the restaurant every Wednesday lunchtime - how neat that the market comes to you eh? It's only small but it offers fresh local fruit and vegetables as well as nice crafts. The restaurant is open to the public on Wednesdays too so I enjoyed meeting the local community as well.
What was your favourite aspect of the resort?
I stayed in a Cottage which was newly refurbished. I have to say, it was super stylish, light and airy and I loved it! The rooms are cosy and you have your own kitchenette, lounge area and separate bedroom and bathroom. Each cottage has its own little porch with a table and chairs so I could read, write or just have a cup of tea here which was lovely. I loved the fact that there is no Wi-Fi in the bedroom (it's only available in the lounge area by reception) which was very refreshing and really made me digitally detox properly - I didn't use my phone once! Another thing that I loved were the sounds at night - keep you window open and just listen - you'll see what I mean...
Who would you recommend the resort to?
I would recommend this place to anyone who wants to have some quality time in the nature and doesn't mind spending time alone to relax and reflect. It's not a 5 star luxury resort. It's very holistic and true to its principles and that makes it very special. If you want to escape the stress of the city or a busy personal life for a nurturing time and the chance to re-connect with yourself in a peaceful environment, this is a right place for you - no doubt!