Spending a few days at a health retreat is something that appears on many people’s bucket lists, so when Danielle Higgins was invited to The Farm at San Benito in the Philippines to experience their treatments, wellness programmes and organic cuisine, she jumped at the chance.
“Located amid tropical jungle, just a 90-minute drive from Manila, The Farm is one of the world’s top health and wellness retreats. Famous for its customised detox and wellness programmes, it’s the only health retreat of its kind in the Philippines, dedicated to restoring the optimal wellbeing of body, mind and soul.
As we drove through the gates, I felt the craziness of the world I’d just left behind fade into a distant memory, as I was surrounded by the sounds of nature and the tranquillity of this incredible health retreat. My Narra Pool Villa was luxurious and spacious. It had an enormous bathroom, huge private balcony overlooking the treetops, and private pool. After being shown around, I was given the details of the daily activities, such as yoga, power walks, fitness classes and vegan cooking classes.
A dip in the pool followed, and then I went out to explore the 10-hectare resort. The thing I noticed immediately is how quiet it is. You’ll often hear the peacocks calling out to each other, but other than that, it’s silent. Throughout the grounds there are meditation huts hidden away amongst the trees, for those looking for some peaceful, private solitude. The villas are surrounded by lush vegetation, giving a real sense of privacy to the whole property.
Retreat and rejuvenate
My first appointment was a holistic consultation, in the recently opened Holistic Sanctuary. Here, I received a live blood analysis, which was done by studying a drop of my blood under a microscope, to assess its condition. I was happy to be told that I have “beautiful blood”, which I think means I’m healthy, so I was off to a good start.
Being somewhat out of practice when it comes to yoga, and about as flexible as a piece of wood. I wasn’t sure if I’d be out of my depth in a yoga class, but I went along anyway. The instructor, Earl, was encouraging and patient, and explained the moves very clearly with step-by-step instructions. He runs a variety of yoga and yogalates classes throughout the day in a beautiful setting, so I kept going back for more.
The cuisine at The Farm is vegan, and is served in the resort’s Alive! restaurant. As a meat-eater, I resisted the urge to pack some beef jerky in my bag for emergency cravings, and decided to embrace the vegan menu, without really knowing what that even meant. Would I be nibbling on carrot sticks and lettuce leaves for dinner?
Well, I was in for a pleasant surprise! There is a huge, varied menu, and the meals are delicious, and very filling. Most of the ingredients are grown at the resort. There’s also a huge selection of super refreshing juices and smoothies on the menu. Standout dishes for me were the carrot gnocchi and the sweet potato tacos. They were not only tasty but beautifully presented. And, as no meal is complete without dessert, I highly recommend the pumpkin pie ice cream. Yes, it’s as good as it sounds.
Spa treatment heaven
By far my favourite place at The Farm was, predictably, the spa. Named the Healing Sanctuary, this place is like walking into a little slice of heaven. There’s a wide range of treatments, from massages and facials, to salt baths and body wraps. One of the most luxurious is the three-hour Tres Banyos Lunas, which involves a 30-minute soak in a tub filled with a blend of Filipino traditional herbs, a 15-minute steam treatment, followed by a warm glass-bottle massage. This treatment is designed to improve vitality, release toxins and strengthen the immune system. Therapist Geralyn has certainly raised the bar to a new high for my future massages. It was soothing, relaxing and simply outstanding. I really can’t think of a better way to spend a morning.
It’s often the small details that make the biggest impression, and from the relaxation music in the car ride from the airport to the personalised notes on your bed each night, The Farm gets these things just right. The health retreat staff are friendly and helpful and the grounds are immaculate. Even the peacocks seem to play their part in giving the guests a unique experience, spreading out their feathers to display their beautiful, colourful fans each morning.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and I must admit the thought of leaving this health retreat, and heading back to “real life” was a tough one. Still, I left The Farm feeling relaxed, refreshed and super healthy, and with only one regret – that I didn’t stay for a month!”
Various airlines fly daily to Manila (2 hours 15 minutes).
For more information about The Farm, or to book your next getaway, visit thefarmatsanbenito.com.
This article first appeared in the June/July edition of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue!
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