Giving in to a facial at Lefay Resort & SPA, Lake Garda

Giving in to a facial at Lefay Resort & SPA, Lake Garda, Italy

Tom Sylger Jones visits a cosseting spa resort overlooking Lake Garda in Italy with his wife Caroline and discovers the pleasures of being still and having facials.

I rarely take the opportunity to look at my reflection. Most moments in the bathroom are interrupted by my lovely ladies ushering me out, or I’m distracted urging others to get on with tasks like pre-school teeth cleaning.  So when my wife Caroline lightly suggests it might be time to take a look at my tired and ‘ruined’ (my daughter’s prognosis) face and try a men’s facial, I decide to give it a go. Having been slowly and gently immersed in the pleasures of Lefay’s pampering machine, I find my energy to protest has ebbed away and I happily indulge in the ritual.

Four days ago we arrived at Lefay in the hills above Lake Garda, exhausted and sticky from another epic journey from the south-west of England. We promptly stripped and floated in La Luna Nel Lago – a private salt lake at the spa, where a lilac moon loomed over us as we gently drifted into and away from each other, easing our fatigue. Later we recharged on home made ravioli with mediterranean salads and a white sustainably caught fish of the day cooked in seafood broth with capers and lemon. I sipped a local dry white and felt all tension ebb away.

Before this little Italian sojourn without our daughter, I held an ambition to stand up paddle board across the lake at some point. Instead I find the temptation to be more sedentary at Lefay is overwhelming.  In the mornings I use a treadmill – unheard of for me, as I find exercising indoors suffocating – but the vast glazed gym doors, refreshingly slightly open, allows a panoramic view of the glittering expanse of Lake Garda below us, with a backdrop of gentle hills scattered with gorgeous churches and olive trees, and it was easy to run on a machine with such a view.  As a local government planner, it was pure heaven, for as I ran I imagined the locations in South Devon that could be enhanced with a similarly exquisitely designed built environment.

‘Having been slowly and gently immersed in the pleasures of Lefay’s pampering machine, I find my energy to protest has ebbed away and I happily indulge in the ritual’

Lefay’s extensive therapeutic garden, Giardino Energetico Terapeutico, further extinguishes any desire to move far.   The 11 hectares of grounds have been designed to remind guests of the four stages and seasons of life, from birth to death, from Spring to Winter.  We meander in the gentle and occasional spring sunshine and connect most deeply with La Tigre Bianca, The White Tiger, a calm and settled grassy area designed to represent autumn and the start of meditation and maturity. We sit on the white metal benches surrounded by beds of white flowers and the subtle scent of eucalyptus trees and chat about how we might bring some of these colour and planting ideas to our own garden. It’s a place we revisit each day during our stay, come rain or shine.

We do venture out – once to the charming little town of Limone to walk the wooden pathway right beside the lake and buy some linen shirts, and once up into the hills for a gentle stroll. Other than that, our days are a languid mix of excellent massages, sessions in various saunas, relaxing in the outdoor hydro pool, plenty of time out to chat, read and ponder and the sheer delight of not having to shop, cook or care for our little one for a few days.

And so here I am, having my Senza Tempo Uomo – Facial treatment for men – lying down and placing my trust entirely in my therapist, Patrizia, who is manipulating my face and smothering it in creams that alternately sting and sooth.  As a facial mask stiffens, I attempt a minor chuckle at the idea of how I must look, covered in goo, a fetching white band framing my face and heavens knows what stuck on my eyes – but my resulting firmer and more vibrant skin when she has finished is astonishing. Combined with a more toned and relaxed torso and calm aura, I’m mightily impressed with the regenerating powers of Lefay as I take my wife’s hand and lead her to a waiting taxi to begin our journey home.


Tom and Caroline used Holiday Extras in the UK to help make their trip before and after their flight to Italy hassle free. They offer book airport parking and hotels across UK airports – you can contact them on 0800 955 5989 or at

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