D-Toxd Body Mind Life retreat review | Detox retreats, Spain
Holistic detox retreat in the Spanish mountains
The Quick Read: D-Toxd Body Mind Life retreat is tucked away beneath the stunning Bernia mountains, about 30 minutes drive from Calpe, in Alicante, Spain. The brainchild of established NLP practitioners Gareth Stubbs and Jeroen Coenen, the weeklong retreat runs for most of the year and is all about listening to your mind and body. Healthy eating and creative workshops are interspersed with yoga, Pilates and hiking. It’s not a bootcamp, but a simple unfussy way of breaking free from poor habits and getting back on track. You’ll shift weight and get fitter, stronger and healthier, all under the expert supervision of a hugely supportive team.
Who it’s best for: D-Toxd has no typical guest, but is the ideal halfway house for those looking for something deeper than regular yoga practice and walking, but who don’t feel quite up for the full-on bootcamp challenge. It’s big on mental wellbeing, although there is no pressure to join any classes. Couples, groups (of up to 15) and solo travellers will all be comfortable and relaxed. If you are looking for a little space and time out, to get your head together and move your body in peace, you will love it, but super-competitive folk and those looking for the plushest interiors should probably try elsewhere.
What you can do: There’s a morning class at 8am – either yoga with Juliette Noske, Pilates or straightforward stretching. The daily walk is at 10 am, with a relatively easy ramble through the vines and olive groves on the first morning. As the week progresses the hikes become more arduous, but are all based on the needs and abilities of guests (some do the 10km walk to the closest village, Benissa, and back). There’s a daily conditioning class at noon, while afternoon sessions mostly focus on mindset issues, except the weekly creative expression art class on a Monday. Some evenings there is also a more meditative yoga session at 7pm.
Downtime is spent lounging by the pool, meandering the mountain trails or checking out the beautiful Iris and Rose gardens (within walking distance), reading, writing, watching DVDs (although the choice is limited).
Spa treatments are available – be sure to book them in advance. There are two rather dark but comfortable treatment rooms in the basement, where therapies on offer range from rejuvenating and rehydrating facials to Indian Head Massage, deep tissue and full body massages, Reiki, Reflexology, Cranio Sacral therapy and nail care (manicures and pedicures). Products used are the therapist’s own and are not for sale.
Where you stay: This ‘Big House, No Food’ (as a local taxi driver described it) is nestled almost at the end of a very windy mountain road, so exercise is naturally built in. First impressions are great, with the traditional colonial style villa exuding warmth and positive energy. The pool with the Bernia mountain backdrop is the centrepiece, with comfy loungers and a tiny meditation garden to one side of it. The overall feel is simple, uncluttered and relaxed, and the villa is pretty much self- sustaining – over 90 percent of its energy needs are met by the sun and wind.
With just eight bedrooms it feels like a holiday villa. Our ensuite room on the ground floor was clean, convenient and perfectly adequate for our needs, with a comfortable bed (though I admit I would have liked really top quality sheets). The bathroom could have been a little more inviting however – it was a bit dated with a small shower head built over the bath. Other rooms are similar, although sized differently, with the best a first floor room featuring a very generous balcony overlooking the pool (priced slightly higher than the rest).
The living room has a grand piano in one corner and a limited library in another. This area also serves as a slightly cramped yoga, stretching and Pilates shala when the weather isn’t kind. Otherwise exercise classes take place poolside. The hallway and traditionally curved staircase are candle-lit at night, lending a cosy, calm atmosphere.
How was it for us: Although weight loss is top of the agenda for the majority of D-Toxd guests, the main focus for me was some time out from my daily grind and getting back into yoga, for I have been yearning to get back into a routine after a few years absence.
Our small group (just seven) comprised an eclectic mix of couples and singles – one returning guest was on her third week, having already lost over 15 pounds (7kg). I’m not a seasoned detoxer, and found the obligatory three-day juice fast extremely difficult, especially once the pounding lack-of-caffeine-induced headache set in. But it was comforting to know that I wasn’t alone. Although there is a set schedule for the activity programme, it can change based on guests’ needs and abilities, and I found this lack of rigidity refreshing.
An unexpected highlight was the creative art class, or ‘meditation by colour’, as our teacher, artist Janet Poulles (aka Jereon’s Mum) describes it. After looking blankly at the clean canvas – all of us thinking ‘what am I going to do with this’ – we managed to create visual pieces that quickly adorned the living room walls.
The afternoon D-Toxd mindset sessions is where the retreat really comes into its own, as both Jereon and Gareth are highly qualified NLP masters and well respected in the industry.
I enjoyed a full body massage in the basement therapy room, and the evening yoga meditations were wonderful, bringing a real sense of sunset calm to the end of each day. A sunrise hike (which is supposed to be a real treat) was planned on two separate mornings, but sadly the weather wasn’t kind.
What we took home: Apart from losing three pounds without even trying, my time at D-Toxd reaffirmed to me how much better and stronger I feel with a regular yoga practice and deliciously healthy, colourful juices and meals. Follow up support is ongoing, with a post retreat 10-day challenge, and a group Facebook page so you can keep in touch with other D-Toxd friends if you so choose.
Would we go back? Yes absolutely, but with a different agenda and some individual time guaranteed with Jereon and Gareth.
People watch: All sessions were insightful, but yoga teacher Juliette stood out. She is obviously very highly trained and multi-disciplined in her approach, and her guided mediation at the end of each class was powerful – her tone just perfect. Please start recording that mediation CD you mentioned, Juliette!
Food watch: Most of the food is organic, local and seasonally sourced, and all meals are home cooked. A delicious paella of vegetables, pulses and rice prepared in typical Spanish style was our first (and last!) supper before the obligatory juice detox. With plates cleaned in seconds, most of us had more, stocking up for the coming deprivation. Over the following three days, fresh juices were served, five times a day, chosen from a limited menu of supergreen and seasonal fruit-inspired recipes.
After breaking our fast on day four, we then enjoyed a range of enticing colourful meals (all sugar free, and organic where possible) based on the D-Toxd Acid Alkaline principle, which ensures you’re getting a very balanced meal. Everything looked and tasted great, and showed just how enticing healthy cuisine can be. We tried cauliflower, broccoli and chick pea soup, veggie bolognaise with courgette spaghetti, and lentil cottage pie with spinach & asparagus salad.
Our traditional three-course ‘Naya Fiesta’ supper on the Friday evening was a real treat with guacamole and salmon & cream cheese vol au vents, followed by parmesan grilled chicken on a bed of quinoa with mushrooms and red peppers plus roast garlic and tomato sauce and fresh balsamic marinated strawberries with vanilla marscapone, all washed down with a celebratory glass of local organic wine. Divine!
What’s queenly: The core D-Toxd team were highly supportive and obliging, and all highly qualified in their respective fields. The place really did feel like home, and there was a welcome, positive vibe. ‘Gratitude for 3 things’ was the mantra reinforced throughout – which we’ll always remember.
What’s lowly: While both leaders led sessions, they were not as visible as we would have liked during our retreat – when we go back we’ll be sure to book one-to-one time with them.
Insider tip: The ‘Big House, No Food’ is difficult to find, nestled almost at the end of a very windy mountain road, so do ensure you arrange transport in advance. Bring your own toiletries, as very little is provided, and bring a fleece, as early mornings and evenings can be quite cool, even during the hotter months.
Price per person with a companion: €1,280 (£931) per person based on two sharing a double room for 7 nights excluding flights, transfers from Alicante airport which cost €70 (£51) return and spa treatments. A 1-hour facial or full body massage cost €57.
Price per person going solo: € 1,130 (£822) for single deluxe room for 7 nights excluding flights, transfers from Alicante airport (as above) and spa treatments.
Value for money: D-Toxd is great value and considerably cheaper than many other similarly styled European retreats. There is a 10 percent discount for returning guests & those staying longer than a week
Reviewed by Kate O’Brien
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