Rejuvenate, reboot, refresh: A transformative retreat

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Rejuvenate, reboot, refresh: A transformative retreat

Thursday, 15 February 2024 | Nivi Shrivastava

Rejuvenate, reboot, refresh: A transformative retreat

The year 2024 is all about transformative travel, and powered with lifestyle resolutions and more awareness for wellness, we embark on a life-changing journey through the snowy hilltops of Gabala, Azerbaijan. By Nivi Shrivastava

If you’ve ever wondered how many days would you survive without tea or coffee, completely sugar-free meals, and with just one gram of salt in the entire day, you need to try out the Chenot detox. On a self-exploration wellness journey in peak winters, I find myself in one of the most breathtaking landscapes of Gabala, Azerbaijan. Covered in layers of fresh snow, the surrounding white vistas and a cold frozen lake welcome me to a retreat set in a winter wonderland straight out of a mystical fairytale.

Road to renovation

Although being a travel and food writer it is hard to not indulge, I look forward to following the three-day advanced detox program in the Chenot Palace Gabala, without giving in to the temptations. The biggest challenge is to resist the sugar and salt withdrawals, but once the body gets in sync and the therapies begin it won’t seem so rigorous I am told. In the luxurious wellness center, each guest undergoes a comprehensive health evaluation followed by a bespoke tailored program, where they are guided by certified medical and wellness professionals to fine-tune their metabolism and physical strength. As I embark on this exciting journey of wellness, I am set to test my endurance with a strict nutritional diet, medically supervised fitness, and rejuvenating therapies for aligning mind and body.

The daily wellness activities form an integral part of the retreat’s holistic approach. From yoga and meditation to specialized fitness programs, guests are immersed in a diverse range of activities that cater to the body, mind, and soul. From aromatic hydrotherapies to invigorating mud baths in warm water beds, lymphatic massages, and light therapies for sound sleep and relaxation, the treatments allow guests to reconnect with their inner selves. Personalized nutrition takes center stage as well, with tailored diets focusing on caloric density, nutritional value, and preparation methods to purify and rebalance the body.

Food for thought

A standout feature of the retreat is the full-board meal plan, featuring a healthy diet enriched with healing non-alcoholic beverages. Crafted in alignment with the Chenot philosophy, the culinary offerings are not just a treat for the taste buds but also contribute to the overall well-being of guests. Each meal is a harmonious blend of flavors and nutrients, reinforcing the idea that food is not just sustenance but a vital component of holistic health. From steamed and baked vegetables paired with interesting sauces, buckwheat risottos, muesli soaked in almond milk, fiber-rich salads, and delicious blends of gastronomical delight - each meal was savoured in luxurious dining and consisted of approximately 800 calories per day.

A lack of salt and sugar was substituted with some healthy toppings of paprika, curry mix, and turmeric powder for those who craved more textures. One of the highlights of my stay was the exclusive masterclass with the in-house Chef Ramiz Bayramov, where I had the opportunity to participate in a cooking class and learned some simple yet effective ways to whip up some healthy dishes without extra calories. Following the culinary experience was undoubtedly the hardest part of the program, but it made me realize that the taste buds can be re-programmed by making mindful dietary choices, and that’s something I wish to follow beyond the retreat.

Holistic holidays

From the carefully curated treatments designed to revitalize, traditional spa therapies to cutting-edge techniques, think of this as a sophisticated approach to vitality customized for every participant. As the wellness industry is witnessing an unprecedented rise beyond physical exercise and aesthetic pursuits, trends that help in pursuit of "longevity" and "anti-aging" are significantly gaining attention among elite travellers. One notable trend shaping the wellness landscape is the rise of holistic escapes. This trend reflects a growing preference for well-being experiences among travellers, blending luxury with health-focused activities in natural settings.

Henri Chenot, the visionary behind Chenot Group, leads the charge in the trend of proactive scientific wellness. This approach focuses on prevention and adaptation, leveraging innovation, technology, and precision medicine to enhance overall well-being. The emphasis on a proactive stance towards health embraces this movement with specialized programs like three-day, seven-day, and 14-day advanced detox packages, catering to diverse individual needs. Speaking about the rise in interest in wellness retreats and rejuvenation holidays, Rishad Sharifov, General Manager of Chenot Palace Gabala, shares an insightful perspective. He mentions, "A growing awareness of well-being is putting a stronger spotlight on individual health. Whether in trends, travel, or daily routines, the key is maintaining a constant dedication to wellness; we not just offer temporary escapes but inspire guests to incorporate enduring insights into their lives."

Snow and solitude

In the state-of-the-art wellness facility, it’s easy to lose the sense of time and after all the daily fitness activities and therapies, we had the luxury of leisure. Being fond of water activities, I spent most of my free time practicing aqua aerobics and swimming in the heated pool that overlooked the snow-capped mountains afar. And, to catch the sunset I did not forget to take a long walk on the cobbled pathways, where tangerine skies reflected beautifully in the still waters of the frozen lake. On other days, a cozy time in the Moroccan-styled mosaic hamam was just the perfect way to relax or one can mull over life in the steam and sauna sessions and come back with a clear head.  

For those seeking an adventurous touch to their wellness journey, an outdoor excursion to the Tufandag Ski Resort is also very popular. Nestled in the picturesque mountains surrounding Gabala, this thrilling trip adds an element of excitement to the overall experience. The crisp mountain air and the adrenaline-pumping activities at the resort complement the serenity of the wellness retreat, creating a perfect balance between tranquility and adventure.

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