Travel Blog - Alpino Atlantico Ayurveda Cure Centre in Madeira
Lisa, our Wellbeing Specialist, visited Alpino Atlantico Ayurveda Cure Centre in Madeira and gives us the low-down from her wonderful escape...
I had heard a lot about the wonders of Ayurveda but I'd never experienced it myself so I was very excited about my stay. It's an easy hop from London to Madeira (which is known as the floating garden) and was soon being whisked off to the beautiful hotel. It's only a 15 minute transfer (if that) which is great after a flight as you just want to start your holiday when you arrive eh?!
What were your first impressions when you arrived?
Alpino Atlantico has a small and friendly vibe with pretty Portugese touches such as the bright orange walls, lush plants and mosaic tiles. The receptionist greeted me with a warm hand towel and I then had an in-depth tour around the hotel and given my itinerary for my stay. I was also surprised by a complimentary 10 minute foot massage in my room which helped to relax me after my flight...it was a lovely touch indeed.
What do you think makes the hotel so special?
I would say the care and attention that the team clearly take to ensure that you are comfortable- it makes for a special stay. The Ayurvedic Cure Centre has 2 Ayurvedic doctors who trained in Kerala so have a wealth of experience and knowledge. It has a raw and authentic environment yet at the same times it's very organised and professional... almost like the team are your friends.
How was the Ayurveda experience?
As it was my first experience of Ayurveda, I really wasn't sure what to expect but was thoroughly guided. I had a consulation with the Ayurvedic doctor (Dr Subha P. Sasidharan) which was in-depth and all rather fascinating. She established my dosha (basically your mind/body type - there are 3 doshas in Ayurveda) and also gave me some really helpful nutritional and health tips to take home with me. I had a full body oil massage with warm oils containing Ayurvedic herbs which was incredibly relaxing. To avoid waiting around, you get changed into your robe and slippers in your bedroom and then are called to the treatment room once your therapist is ready. All the therapists are trained to the highest standard and receive on-going Ayurveda training so it felt very authentic - I really could have been in Kerala!
What was your favourite activity & why?
If you are looking to kick back and relax, Alpino Atlantico is an ideal choice as it's very peaceful - you certainly don't have a packed schedule so there's no looking at your watch! I took a yoga or Qigong class every morning and I especially enjoyed the early morning yoga class as it was so energising and a great way to start the day. The yoga studio has floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views of the Atlantic ocean and all you can hear is the sound of the crashing waves against the cliffs below - dreamy...
I also walked 5 minutes down the road to Alpino's 2 sister hotels to use the outdoor swimming pool. They also have an indoor pool, gym, sporting facilities and daily group fitness classes (complimentary access for Wellbeing Escapes guests) plus another spa. Whilst there are no beaches within walking distance, there is a beautiful outdoor lido filled with seawater and a sunbathing terrace, diving school and bar terrace (do try not to be tempted by the alcohol!).
How was the food?
All the food is vegetarian Ayurvedic cuisine and it's packed full of flavour and goodness. It's served buffet style and the dishes include all 3 doshas - they are not separated out as in some Ayurveda destinations. However, if you are taking a Panchakarma programme, you are served set meals according to your dosha for maximum results. The resturant terrace was a lovely place to dine and I enjoyed the wonderful coastal views and the pods of dolphins on the horizon.
Who would you recommend the hotel to?
The hotel is ideal if you are seeking an authentic Ayurvedic experience but don't want to travel further afield. There is almost guaranteed sunshine all year round due to Madeira's micro-climate too. There is a sociable atmosphere so you end up chatting to the other guests at the wellbeing workshops and there are sharing tables at mealtimes so it's great if you are solo traveller. When I was there, the guests were mainly English, German or Portugese but all the classes and workshops are in English and the team also speak excellent English.