Moinhos Velhos, Portugal
Longstanding juice fast detox retreat at a converted Portuguese mill
Best for: yogi-style cleansing
Not for: a fluffy towel spa detox
Takes up to 14 guests
Moinhos Velhos detox retreat in rural Portugal is set in a magical valley, a series of converted mill buildings that are stunningly pretty but a tad wild and wanton around the edges. The team here has been guiding people through juice fasts for 23 years way ahead of the pack. While the detox programme itself is squeaky clean and sharp as a pin, Moinhos Velhos as a whole beats to a far deeper, way more spiritual drum than most detox retreats. Theres masses to intrigue, entice and (sometimes) bemuse here providing your mind is wide open and your spirit willing. Its rather special.
The depth of knowledge and spirit of open-minded enquiry here. It has the feel of a true community of seeking souls, rather than a purely commercial enterprise.
It’s a bit shabby around the edges in places & the pool, sauna and loungers could do with a revamp and most of the bedrooms would benefit from a makeover.
Read our personal review
Jane Alexander reviews a juice fasting detox retreat in Portugal and happily finds herself spending less time doing what she thinks she ‘should’ and more just listening to her body
Stay of up to two weeks
Moinhos Velhos is one of the few places in Europe you can come to fast for up to 14 nights. Choose a start date from their online calendar and book in between April and November for 7, 10 or 14 days.
Come here to cleanse on carefully curated juice fasting programmes, and between times simply rest or sample a wide range of relaxing or more esoteric treatments.
Detoxing is a pretty full-on programme here, starting with warm lemon juice at 7.30am followed by around two hours of yoga before your first juice at 10am. ‘Meals’ are taken sitting around the dining room table and before you sip, everyone joins hands to chant three clarion Oms, followed by a rousing round of Om Namah Shivaya and a prayer to the nature spirits. Shaking your head? By the end even the most uptight sceptics join in with gusto.
In between meals, you down a handful of supplements (to get everything moving along nicely and to keep energy levels high) and perform ‘Clysmatics’ (DIY colonic hydrotherapy) in the privacy of your own bathroom. Truly, it’s not hideous and the Clysmatic is the easiest and – dare we say it – most pleasant system we’ve found to date.
Need some extra healing? There’s a magnetic bed and ‘Zapping’ equipment (to smite parasites apparently) which can be used freely (and without charge) throughout your stay – and a trip to a nearby salt cave is included.
A team of therapists are on hand (at extra cost) covering a wide range of therapies both standard (deep tissue, reflexology, acupuncture) and more unusual, such as past life therapy, rebirthing, Physiospect (a digital tool for scanning the various organs and systems of the physical body without having to make a medical or surgical intrusion and healing ills via natural remedies) and Herbal Stamp (massage plus a detoxifying herbal poultice).
Sweating out toxins in the wood-fired sauna is recommended daily as is a turn in the Jacuzzi which is a dreamy spot for some star-gazing.
Yoga is classical Hatha and Raja yoga from the Sivananda tradition, and all levels of experience are welcome. There’s a two hour class in the morning at 8am, with one of three teachers. The classes are based on the teachings of Swami Sivananda and his disciple Svami Vishnudevananda, author of ‘The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga’, based on the teaching of a classic fifteenth century manual on Hatha yoga. This class starts with a short meditation followed by some warmup exercises, sun salutations and 12 other postures. Depending on who is teaching, there might be other types of yoga class available.
Every evening there is a meditation or activity in the temple, ranging from guided visualisation, Biodanza (therapeutic dance) to gong baths and a Hindu fire ceremony to release whatever is holding you back. It’s all optional and entirely up to you if you’d rather go it alone with private time in your rooms or cosied up in the sitting room which has a DVD player and PC.
During the day you can swim, sunbathe, read or watch something from MVs collection. Or, once you regain your energy (and you do, you really do), there are a couple of lovely circular walks around and out the property, through the woods to the nearby dam. On one day there’s the option to go to a nearby (stunning) beach for the day, taking juices with you of course, or to the nearby town of Lagos for a bit of shopping.
It can get chilly in the evenings, so pack a wrap and some cosy socks or furry boots. If you’re arriving early on the first day, be aware that lunch isn’t provided although fruit is freely available and there’s a little café/restaurant at the top of the drive for a last meal.
When to Go
There’s usually a long summer in Portugal from early May until October, although the weather in the south can stay warm until mid November.
It’s juice, juice and more juice. ‘Breakfast’ is a litre of freshly squeezed orange juice (often directly from Moinhos Velhos’s own trees). The two other daily juices are combinations of vegetables and fruits with healing properties – so think broccoli, cucumber, pepper, tomato, kale, beetroot and carrot. Information sheets on what they’re doing for you scattered over the table make the medicine go down better.
Highlights were watermelon one day, and pineapple another. Evening broth is a thin beast, close companion to gruel, but you can liven it up with miso, fiery piri-piri sauce, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. Herbal tea is freely available, as is lemon water. Water is purified by reverse osmosis.
The last morning, as you break your fast, you get fresh melon and are sent off on your onward journey with a packed lunch of fruit and a little bag of probiotics.
Moinhos Velhos recycle all of their waste and only use organic certified produce for our juices, or produce from our own garden. Our garden, which provide much of the produce for our juices, have been organic for 25 years.
We use solar for much of our hot water and electricity.
Barragem da Bravura
Transfer Time: One hour
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