Euphoria Retreat, Greece
Clever holistic spa retreat on the Peloponnese
Best for: Luxury wellbeing holidays with a spiritual edge
Not for: Anyone with a cat allergy – a ginger Tomcat stalks the restaurant terrace
Euphoria Retreat is a holistic spa retreat on mainland Greece within striking distance of the mysterious ancient UNESCO world heritage site of Mystras on the Peloponnese. Set just above the terracotta roofs of Mystras village, with views out to the plains of Sparta and its moody mountains beyond, it’s the creation of Marina Efraimoglou, an inspired Greek banker turned energy therapist who has battled with cancer. The centrepiece is a magnificent, feminine spa where you’ll want to spend a lot of your time. Come for a weekend, a week or longer to experience treatments or wellbeing programmes that pivot on a combination of Chinese Taoist and Greek Hellenic philosophies. There’s everything from destress, detox, fitness and weightless programmes to those dedicated to yoga, self awareness or meaningful relationships.
Euphoria embraces mental, physical and emotional wellbeing, but in line with the ‘living well’ principle of Hippocratic medicine, there’s nothing dogmatic or earnest here – you feel, just like its owner, there’s a true celebration of life and abundance instead. Mediterranean-inspired meals don’t feel like deprivation, and there’s no forced sharing in workshops or fake-feeling rituals before treatments. Instead, you are offered a fragrant citrus oil to sniff, and a hand-blended citrus hand cream to smooth onto your hands before climbing onto the massage bed.
The spa is the only place to really hang out apart from your bedroom, though it does have a huge relaxation space and outdoor terrace. The outdoor loungers aren’t that comfy – but friendly spa attendants will happily move one of the delicious indoor sofas outside if you ask them. Euphoria still uses single use plastics.
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Come for a weekend, a week or longer to enjoy the spa and experience holistic treatments and programmes that pivot on both Chinese Taoist and Greek Hellenic philosophies.
You’ll want to send a lot of your time in Euphoria’s magnificent spa, the centrepiece of the retreat. It’s a very feminine space which offers kniepp therapy, a soothing circular, womb-like indoor pool with the sound of dolphins and whales calling under its surface, hydrotherapy, and a wonderful area to sauna, steam and use a giant marbled hammam, where treatments are a head to toe indulgent purge that will have you covered in mud, shampooed from top to toe, scrubbed with eucalyptus-infused black soap and massaged and rinsed into a blissed out state.
There’s all manner of treatments on offer, from signature massages to holistic bodywork, acupuncture and reflexology to holistic beauty treatments such as Rejuvance, a natural face lifting treatment. In the treatment rooms, music can be changed from yogic, to classical, to the option of playing your own set via bluetooth.
From the gorgeous Greek spa receptionists who look like goddesses to the funny and lively spa attendants on the 3rd floor, the spa is a welcoming place to read, relax and hang out as well as have treatments and use the wet areas. There are lockers here where you can keep your things all day if you so choose.
<p”>Holistic programmes available year-round pivot on a combination of Chinese Taoist and Greek Hellenic philosophies. There are two types of detoxing programme – one gentle and one advanced; a programme dedicated to advanced weight loss; one for relaxation and destress; one for fitness; two for yoga – combine it with relaxation or movement; a beautifying programme called Inner and Outer Glow; and other packages devoted to Meaningful Relationships or Self Awareness. Talk to staff about your needs before you book.
<p1″>Euphoria’s 7 day Signature Emotional and Physical Transformation group retreat is on offer a few times a year and pivots on the theory of the Five Elements found in both Greek and Chinese philosophy. Through talk and meditation, you are taught about the physical and emotional aspects of a different element each day and what happens when they are out of balance, covering Water (I dream), Wood (I think), Fire (I know), Earth (I do) and Metal (I feel). Personalised massage and energy work each afternoon then helps to balance the element of the day in your own bodies. Private consultations are also included. For a low down on the retreats, read our personal review in the Queen of Retreats Journal.
Each guest who books a wellbeing programme at Euphoria Retreat has a 3GL blood test that measures the three most important biomarkers for metabolic health – glycogen, glucose and glutathione (hence 3GL) – the main endogenous antioxidants against free radicals. The result reveals your individual cellular needs in metabolic regulation and activation, anti-aging, wellness, cellular protection and longevity, and helps to decide your mid morning and mid afternoon snacks plus any dietary needs you may have during your stay.
Whichever programme you choose, or whether you come here just to relax and dip in and out of treatments, there’s a soothing outdoor swimming pool and a hugely impressive gym at the spa for you to use, plus a daily wellness activity schedule you can dip in and out of as you choose. Go for invigorating morning hikes in the local area (a great choice to get out and about a bit), total body workouts, all sorts of yoga, Pilates, tai chi and energy movement and stretching. Cooking classes and guided meditation sessions are also on offer for a fee (45 euros pp).
Bedrooms are in three different areas. The best, most interesting rooms are in the converted Leoncini mansion, where you can bag yourself a romantic four poster room with a Juliet balcony looking out across the plains and mountains.
Other rooms are comfortably designed with wooden floors, good quality wood furniture, comfy beds and individually designed soft furnishings inspired by the reds, blues or gold colours and designs from different icons of Byzantine art.
Those in the lower block have the feel of more traditional hotel rooms, while those in the higher block feel more retreat-like.
Some have balconies with shade, some don’t, some are twin bedded, some are double, some have baths, some have showers – do ask ahead to ensure you get the room that suits you best.
Be sure to visit the wonderful ancient UNESCO site of Mystras while you are here – go early morning by taxi for the chance to have it to yourself. As the spa is where everything happens, come prepared each morning to keep all the things you might need throughout the day in a locker, so you don’t need to keep going back and forth to your bedroom, some of which are further from the spa than others. There’s currently no complimentary water in the rooms – but the tap water is safe to drink.
When to Go
The weather is mild throughout the year, with a pleasant winter, mostly accompanied by a sunny sky. Spring and autumn are very colourful periods, with flowers and falling leaves. Greek summers are known for their excellent weather and high temperatures.
All meals are eaten at Gaia Restaurant, though you can also eat them in your room for a 10 euros charge. There’s a spacious terrace with umbrellas for shade, so you can sit looking out over the terracotta roofs of Mystras village and the plains of Sparta and mountains beyond. The inside of the restaurant is large, quite brightly lit and has mainly communal tables. For more privacy and softness, choose one of the five cushioned seating areas to the side.
Meals are simple and tasty, Mediterranean-inspired dishes cooked without sugar and salt. There’s a breakfast menu, one set menu for those on wellbeing packages to cater for both lunch and supper, a slightly larger a la carte menu, and a vegan menu that varies slightly from the main one. You won’t find gourmet health cuisine here, but it’s all very well done and cooked with care.
Breakfast might be the wondrous freshly squeezed orange juice, sheep’s yogurt and fresh fruits, with scrambled eggs or tofu and mushrooms. Lunches and suppers range from turkey burgers or sea bass with salad to mushroom risotto or Fava beans paste. Guilt-free (sugar-free) puddings include baklava and a delicious chocolate mousse.
Guests who book a Euphoria Retreat spa programme have two complimentary healthy snacks to boost metabolism and energy levels, one mid-morning and one mid-afternoon. Alcohol is available at supper if you so choose, but it’s not encouraged, and this is an easy place to steer clear. Hot drinks include the delicious local Mountain Tea, but other teas and some coffee is available. Special diets can be catered for and there’s a detox menu if you’re on a detox programme, but it’s best to talk to them ahead of your stay.
Euphoria recycles most of its waste and manages its water in line with the Forestry Authority. It gets most of its food from local farmers and producers, and intends to offer special programmes to help Greeks with special conditions who might not normally be able to afford a stay here. Most of the staff are Greek. They have their own set of fragrant, toxin free toiletries, but they are packaged in plastic bottles. They use other single use plastics, including plastic water bottles and plastic straws. In line with a strange Greek law, individual plastic bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar are served at every meal rather than in large glass bottles.
Euphoria Retreat, Mistras 231 00, Greece
Kalamata (Summer months) and Athens
Kalamata 1 hour; Athens 2.5 hours