Out of the Ordinary: the weird and wonderful wellness trends to know now
If you fancy a spa treatment that’s a little bit more adventurous than the massage table, look no further. Tempus explores the new treatments and retreats to whet your wellness appetite this season
As the year hurtles along at an extraordinarily fast pace, you may be approaching spring already feeling spun out and in need of a reset. For many of us, though, what’s needed to shed stress and aid rejuvenation is something a little more ‘out there’ than a hot stone massage. From a new CBD-centric retreat in Thailand to animal interventions to the acupuncturist the London A-list have on speed dial, we’ve compiled your ultimate little black book of spas, clinics and retreats offering a range of therapies to delight even the most seasoned feel-good aficionado.
Give yourself free rein to seek solace and clarity – among a herd of 27 semi-feral horses. Nihi, a luxurious resort on the Indonesian island of Sumba, hosts Retreat and Conquer; an Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) getaway led by British-Flemish professor of psychology and psychotherapy Dr Andreas Liefooghe. It’s the brainchild of renowned London-based horse therapy centre Operation Centaur, and aids everything from anxiety to coping with grief. The intensive programme combines group therapy sessions with practical exercises with the horses and promises (and delivers) “life changing” results. The best bit? There’s no requirement to ride or have any prior equine expertise. And rave reviews mean the format is being trotted out around the world – Nihi is the first five-day retreat to launch, with Mustique, the UAE and Africa saddling up to offer similar retreats later this year.
FIVE ELEMENTS ACUPUNCTURE
Centred in the ancient Chinese theory that mind, body and spirit are made up of the five elements – wood, fire, earth, metal and water – this therapy is designed to create much-needed balance. Ross Barr, a registered acupuncturist and member of the British Acupuncture Council, specialises in fertility and wellness, and his five elements acupuncture assists with everything from stress and sleep issues to digestive problems, hair loss and anxiety. The Duchess of Sussex, Megan Markle, is a fan, and a long list of celebrity clientele flock to his London outposts – including Claridge’s, Mayfair, and the Cowshed Spa in Shoreditch.
Gwyneth Paltrow swears by this intensive ancient Ayurvedic programme that promises a serious detox. Traditionally, the cleansing and rejuvenation process takes 28 days of hands-on treatment, detoxifying teas and a rigid diet to purify the body. For the time-starved, however, Panchakarma is accessible in neat, week-long retreats. Modern Ayurveda expert Martha Soffer is a Panchakarma specialist based in Los Angeles and her spa, Surya, is one of the only centres in the US to offer it. Closer to home, book in for treatments at The Ayurvedic Clinic, London.
In line with the recent legalisation of cannabis use in Thailand, Aleenta Phuket Resort and Spa has launched a CBD stress and pain reduction retreat – one of the first hotels in the country to offer such treatments for therapeutic use. The CBD-based programme, curated to fit individual needs, is targeted at everything from treating and healing pain to stress and sleep management and restoring your sense of self. Expect restorative cannabis-infused oil massages, hemp seed oil facials, bath and body treatments, immersive yoga, sound baths and meditations, and a personalised plant-based diet.
HYPERBARIC OXYGEN THERAPY
You may well have heard about the benefits to your health and wellbeing of lowering yourself into a high-tech oxygen chamber. And now you can try it for yourself. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a non-invasive treatment that involves breathing pure oxygen inside a pressurised chamber. Facilities are springing up all around the world and it has become one of the most popular treatments at
The Wellness Lab in London’s Knightsbridge. Simple but powerfully effective, increased oxygen levels can promote healing and rejuvenation, reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. It’s administered by trained professionals in a comfortable, relaxing and pampering space – a little bit of luxury that’s also good for you.
Rooted in ancient healing traditions, facial cupping involves gentle suction to the face to draw blood flow towards the skin surface and encourage the formation of new blood vessels. The process gently tones the facial muscles, boosts collagen production and stimulates the lymphatic system. London-based Ada Ooi – whose celebrity fan base includes actors Rooney Mara, Emma Mackey and Ariana DeBose – is the traditional Chinese medicine practitioner to visit. She will work to regulate your qi (energy life flow) by way of the body’s meridian networks, releasing stagnated energy, toxins and emotions… all great for getting mind and body back on track.
This 80-minute treatment created by Lush Spa London’s co-founder Mark Constantine reinvents the massage by playing with the five senses. During a preliminary consultation you choose a number of themes to create a specific state of mind. For example, Humour might elicit a giggle while Relax can lead to deep sleep. New themes such as Belonging, Empowerment and Hope have recently been added – all feelings that can be achieved through a multi-sensory experience incorporating a variety of smells, sounds, textures and pressure points.
OBAGI CHEMICAL PEEL
Chemical peels date back as far as ancient Egypt, when a mix of lactic acid and sour milk was used to achieve smoother, more radiant skin. Back in the present day, the deeply rejuvenating Obagi Blue Peel Radiance peel at The Clinic Holland Park in London takes this ancient and potent practice to a new level. A course of four to six peels provides the best results. A salicylic-acid-based solution is applied to remove the damaged outer layers of skin (usually the face, neck and hands) to banish blemishes, acne scars, wrinkles and sun damage while tightening pores and leaving your skin with a natural – and thoroughly modern – glow.
HYPNOTHERAPY MIND MASSAGE
If you need to switch off the constant whir of modern life, consider a mind massage. Ursula James, a London-based clinical hypnotherapist and patron of Anxiety UK, performs a targeted half-hour hypnosis session tailored to boost your wellbeing. This restorative and deeply relaxing process is designed to help you let go of stress, calm anxiety and recharge your energy, leaving space for a more positive mindset. Ursula – whose popular weekly podcast, HypnoSOS, is available on all the usual platforms – has lectured on the power of hypnosis at the UK’s most prestigious medical schools including Oxford and Cambridge. Just what the doctor ordered.
Usually, one tastes local wines while on holiday, rather than bathing in them. Not so at Lopota Resort & Spa in eastern Georgia. Lopota Forest Spa offers an Elixir of Youth treatment where therapists take byproducts of the resort’s Kakhetian wine (produced at the on-site winery) and pour them over your body in what’s called vinotherapy. The pulp and pips have exfoliating qualities proved to help reduce the signs of ageing. Toast your wellbeing with this relaxing and rejuvenating treatment while enjoying the Kakheti region, an area of outstanding natural beauty with lush greenery, vast forests and glassy lakes, and a backdrop of the picturesque Caucasus Mountains – perfect for hiking and cycling, or just indulging in a peaceful rest far from the madding crowd.
If you’re not afraid to embrace the dark the side of alternative therapies, this may be the one for you. During this vaguely vampiresque treatment, medical-grade ozone – a mixture of purest ozone and purest oxygen with remarkable bactericidal, fungicidal and virostatic properties – is either infused into a saline solution or mixed with a patient’s own blood and then injected into the body. Why? Ozone is a naturally occurring gas made up of three oxygen atoms and is believed to hold powerful antioxidant and anti- inflammatory properties. It is thought to help improve immune function and promote overall health and wellness.