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DOWN ON THE FARM

Switch off from modern life and its stresses

Forget health farms or beauty treatments - says Liz Moscrop: The latest trend for personal healing comes in the form of wellness retreats - medical spas- which offer medical services as well as traditional spa therapies. A visit to one of Southeast Asia’s hidden gems will ensure you return to the rigors of life glowing.

The Farm at San Benito in Batangas in the Philippines is one of the few medical and wellness resorts in the world. The treatments on offer range from detoxification regimes to traditional facials and massages- and are all overseen by an on-site physician.

Located a two-hour drive (or 20 minute helicopter ride) south of Manila the award-winning 48-hectare resort offers an exceptional holistic healing environment- treating body- mind and soul. You feel the stress slip from your shoulders the minute you arrive at the welcoming reception hall- set behind a beautiful pond.

Everything on offer at The Farm is made from natural products – frequently oil or juice from the onsite coconut trees - and the resort’s ethos is “to guide and educate you toward your maximum total health potential.”

Partners Michael Di Lonardo and Jennifer Hazen manage the resort- and “firmly believe that physical- mental and emotional health is the cumulative result of our own actions and lifestyle- based on the simple laws of nature.” Unsurprisingly then- nutrition- relaxation and meditation play a big part in the treatments on offer.

Personalized Program
The onsite award winning vegan ‘Alive!’ restaurant serves organic cuisine composed primarily of uncooked fruits- vegetables- germinated grains- nuts and seeds. The Farm’s Health and Wellness programs aim to revitalize jaded people- assist with managing daily stress- support better aging and jump-start sustainable weight loss.

This happens via a consultation with one of the on site doctors on arrival- who will offer a personalized nutrition and healing regime for the duration of your stay. Treatments range from the practical – juice- fasts and massages – to the esoteric – yoga and meditation.

Don’t think that ‘vegan’ means ‘dull’: The Farm’s philosophy is to produce dishes that adhere to natural unprocessed ingredients- but the recipes are high in nutrients and low in calories- and include no meat- fish- fowl- dairy- eggs- butter- cholesterol or saturated fats from animals or animal by-products. The on-site chefs are ingenious in their use of imaginative ingredients and presentation to produce colorful- tasty dishes. It is virtually impossible to finish a threecourse dinner- the food is so rich – but I guarantee you’ll give it your best shot.

The Farm has won several awards since it opened- including- SpaAsia Crystal Award; Spa Retreat of the Year 2007 and 2008; MediSpa of the Year - and numerous destination and wellness awards. This makes it a huge hit with many of Southeast Asia’s movers and shakers. (My fellow guests included the Deputy Prime Minister of the Philippines and a top model and her family. Not that I saw much of them - the accommodation is deliberately arranged for maximum privacy and the sheer size of the resort means that you can be as private as you choose.)

Should you wish to interact with your fellow visitors- there are plenty of classes and walks on offer - and the staff is constantly available.

Jennifer and Michael have a great deal of international experience running holiday resorts and say that The Farm is “a healing journey- a ‘must have’ in every individual’s life at least once a year.” Their relaxed demeanors and good looks pay testament to the success of such a lifestyle. They continue- “Our vision is to…address individual requirements and administer a wide-array of wellness packages and customized detox treatment programs.”

Their theory is that most modernday diseases (digestive disorders- cancer- diabetes- hypertension- chronic degenerative diseases such as arthritis) have their origin in the accumulation of toxins in our bodies. Toxins- they believe- weaken our immune system- and come from environmental pollution- cigarette smoking- food preservatives- strained relations- stress and a whole lot more.

Traditional Treatments
Of course The Farm offers the more traditional treatments- too. Signature offerings like the Yin Yang Body Polish draw on the therapists’ knowledge of minerals- as well as massage strokes. The thinking is that the depletion of minerals from the soil is a major culprit of why the body process slows down.

Practitioners reckon that minerals act as the spark to power processes such as metabolism and cell damage repair (anti–aging). Sea salt is high in minerals. In ancient healing traditions- salt solutions were purported to absorb “negative energy.” Therapists apply the purification treatment to the body using special strokes to balance the body energetically using “Yin Yang” rhythmical movements. Naturally- every massage has a corresponding medical service (should you choose to take it up) - the purification complements an optional course of colon hydrotherapy.

Alternatively- you can try a Coco Cocoa Body Scrub- Coconut Cream Milk Bath & Hilot Massage. A therapist spreads you with a fresh solution made from coconut cream and powdered cocoa. Following the scrub- you indulge in a luscious bath of freshly squeezed warm coconut milk. This is followed by a sensationally luxurious Hilot Massage - a traditional Filipino treatment.

I left The Farm feeling relaxed and positive- three kilos lighter and glowing with the smugness of the virtuous. Would I do it again? I am already planning my 2012 visit…


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