Beauties, I owe you a big thank you.
I am so full of gratitude. In fact, I don't think there has been a time in my life where I have felt more thankful and loved than these past few months. I am thankful for the kindness, compassion and wonderful people that have come into my life over the years. I am thankful for my family, for my friends, for my friends that have turned into family and I am thankful for you reaching out and sending notes full of love.
You may have noticed my absence over the past couple months. It certainly wasn't by choice, but instead by necessity. I had some healing to do before feeling ready to open my heart up to the world again. Well, here I am, and while still healing, I am ready to get into some heart opening.
Several weeks ago I went through a pretty devastating breakup. My world turned upside-down. Moving to Norway wasn't a lighthearted decision. It was an "I'm starting my life with this person" decision. That was the plan. I left my family, my friends, my home, my company, my language - everything that I knew and loved. The journey in Norway wasn't easy, but I always felt it was worth it. I was brought into his family as if I already belonged and made new friends that I will keep for a lifetime. The challenges I've faced here have been enormous but the learning has been unparalleled. All that being said, I wouldn't change it for anything. It was all part of my path.
During these past few weeks the stars aligned when I was asked to come and visit a wellbeing retreat, Shanti-Som, in the South of Spain thanks to Wellbeing Escapes. The universe was giving me exactly what I needed, when I needed it. It always does. I trust that now more than ever. So, while I'm opening my heart, I also want to talk about this beautiful retreat in Marbella, Spain, where I went through part of my healing process.
Before I get into the details of the weekend at Shanti-Som, I must highlight Wellbeing Escapes.
If When you're ever looking for a spa or wellness retreat, you don't need to look much further than Wellbeing Escapes. Not only do they have the best packages at some of the best health spas around the world, everything is centered around health and wellness. The packages they create mean lower prices for more treatments and perks at the hotel when you stay. Further still, their packages mean you can handpick exactly what you're looking for: yoga? juice detox? hiking? beach? mountains? raw food? You got it! It's the perfect place to find your ideal destination for soul searching, healing, wellness enhancing or just unplugging.
I had a crazy week prior to staying at Shanti-Som. I was in New York for work and flew straight from an event to Spain. 16 hours later I was in 25 degrees celcius and facing the most beautiful sunset. I was picked up at the airport by a driver that took me straight to the hotel - a 40 minute drive from Malaga Airport. The time flew by, as I watched the golden sun set over the mountains (Ok to my fellow Vancouverites, more like hills, but still) as we drove through the tiny towns and the never ending greenery.
Upon arriving I was greeted by the sweet receptionist and a glass of special lemon aid ice tea - yum - and a big hug from one of my close girlfriends that was meeting me there for the weekend. It was just what the
doctor naturopath ordered for a tired & heartbroken gal. It was late, so I ate a bowl of stirfried quinoa and vegetables (yum!) and a glass of vino before heading to bed.
The hotel is small and exclusive, housing only 14 rooms, meaning you'll never feel overwhelmed by too many people. The room we stayed in was quaint and cute. It had a private terrace (all rooms do) - but when you stay, make sure you grab a room on the side of the hotel facing the pastures. The rooms were clean and the showers, big, with waterfall shower heads.
The Area at Shanti-Som
The area of Marbella is beautiful; however, the retreat is actually located about a 10 minutes drive from the city, in the mountains in Sierra de Las Nieves Nature Park. In the area you are surrounded by silence, well almost. There are no cars, just birds, wind, cow bells and the fountains. It is so beautiful, really and truly. I felt like I was transported to a place that you can't help but feel alive, loved and well.
Yoga Facilities at Shanti-Som
Shanti-Som is both a spa and wellness retreat. There is no shortage of facilities - including 2 yoga studios - despite the number of hotel rooms being small. The outdoor yoga pavilion is beautiful - a grass thatched wooden yoga shala room that looks out onto the pastures that are filled with trees, and even the odd cow grazing. Just beautiful. Each day there is yoga at 9 AM and again at 4 PM, plus, during the day you can take advantage of self practice in either the indoor or outdoor yoga studio. Mats are provided, but if you love your own mat, feel free to bring it on your trip.
I practiced yoga several times during my stay and I spent one of the two afternoons I was there meditating and indulging in some self-practice. I flowed through my practice releasing everything that didn't serve me. It was healing.
The yoga types and teachers vary from class to class, which was quite nice. We practiced kundalini on our first morning and then both hatha and a vinyasa flow on the second day. The classes held by Lyma were sent from above. While in camel pose (ustrasana) she called out for us to release whoever was causing you pain in your life... talk about heart opening.
*The yoga classes are fine for beginners, so newbies don't be scared! There were many beginners in the classes I took, but since it is your own practice, you make it as intense or light as you wish.
The Shanti-Som Spa + Facilities
The spa at Shanti-Som was wonderful, peaceful and clean. The treatments were among many, and while I didn't have enough time to take advantage of everything I had hoped, I did manage to try out some of the main treats they had on offer. I did the Wellbeing Booster package from Wellbeing Escapes, this included:
- Full Body Relaxation Massage - at Shanti-Som you can also chose from your choice of deep tissue, fusion, hot stones, Thai, slimming, aromatherapy & mother-to-be
- Reflexology Treatment - the practitioner worked on my heart center and boy did I feel that come up
- Aromatic Facial - the facial massage incorporated in this treatment helps to naturally drain your lymphatic system and take down puffiness
- Lemon & Ginger Body Scrub - I came out feeling like a newborn
The spa facilities also include a steam room, sauna, swimming pool and small gym. It is very well equipped given the size of the hotel, but this is part of what makes it such a special place to visit.
**A note on the beauty products: Checking over the ingredients while I was there, I found many of the products used in facials were not natural, something to keep in mind when you're choosing your treatments.
Food & Drink + Dining Facilities
Some packages at Shanti-Som include your food and drink (with some restrictions, which are good to know in advance), while others you will need to pay for separately. Make sure you look into this in advance of purchasing your package. There aren't any nearby restaurants to walk to (as far as I could see... we were in the mountains), so eating at the hotel is quite necessary (unless you're taking trips out to the city.. but really, why would you? Look at this place!).
Each morning, after a yoga class, we would head up to The Samsara restaurant in the hotel. It was beautiful, and you could choose to eat either inside our outside on a lounging daybed or umbrella-covered table.
The food was mostly Asian fusion, all which was both tasty and for the most part, healthy. If you weren't happy with what was being served on the menu that day, you were welcomed to order a la carte as well, albeit at your own expense. The staff & kitchen were good to accommodate specific dietary requirements. Being the gluten-free, dairy free and vegetarian nightmare that I am, there - surprisingly - wasn't ever a problem.
I had my fill of fresh pressed juice, salads, quinoa bowls, gluten free deserts and fresh fruit. I was more than satisfied.
Being both candid and fair, I was slightly disappointed by a couple things here: there was a lack of gluten-free bread (not that I eat it often, but my French girlfriend was going out of her mind without it for her camembert in the AMs - haha), there were tight restrictions on number of juices you could drink that were included with your meal (1) and the strict limits on number of drinks and deserts at mealtime (i.e. having to choose between desert and tea... I want both!) #gluttony.