Spas We Love: Vair Spa, Puglia, Italy


Attached to the five star Borgo Egnazio hotel, a honey-coloured purpose-built ‘village’ set by the coast in Puglia, the Vair Spa is a haven. Spa Director Patrizia Bortolin’s mission was to create a mind and body wellness centre where the focus is as much on promoting happiness and beauty as on physical wellbeing and relaxation. Sarah visited in October, when the sky was clear blue and the sun shone warmly from dawn to beautiful dusk... The different areas of expertise gathered by Patrizia include some you might expect – fantastic beauty treatments, nutrition, naturopathy, Iyengar yoga, ortho-bionomy (a potent type of bodywork practised by a brilliant if rather grumpy therapist who is also a clinical psychologist), different types of massage and aromatherapy – and others such as music and dance that may seem unrelated but do underpin the mind body connection – and make you revel in spontaneous expression, even if you can’t play a musical instrument and have two left feet….  (Mind you, Sarah proved to be a whiz at the ancient Puglian sword dance – no idea what that says but it was a triumphant moment.)

Oh, and there is a dynamite process called Spirt (‘speert’) where you go through a process of being immersed in hot and cold water ‘experiences’ (including a bucket of cold water over your unsuspecting head…) – actually it was fabulous, or rather the invigorating result was.

Many of the treatments are based on local traditions and produce - olive oil, lemons, sea salt and herbs. Whether you are a guest at the blissful hotel or visiting the region (now rivalling Tuscany as a destination for holidays), you can dip in an out of treatments and therapies. Sarah’s favourite was the heavenly Abbel Bel facial, devised by Patrizia to relax and sooth your mind, brain and face, with fresh plants plus the delightful experience of different essential oils wafted beneath your nose throughout the treatment. Special praise here for the adorable life-enhancing facialist Antonella.

Adventurous souls could opt for the three-day Tarant Programme, which some clients claim has prompted them to reassess their lives. Sarah experienced the 90-minute detoxing Tarant massage, which was performed in time to a sound track of hypnotic chanting and urgent violin-playing and involved a lot of olive oil. As the masseur threw my slippery body and limbs around (no room for modesty here as the paper undies abandon any pretence of cover-up), I remembered Patrizia’s warning that it is ‘rather wild’.

Vair is a very special place (do go if you can) so we asked Patrizia to suggest things we can all do, some at home, some as we go about our daily lives, to increase our happiness in the New Year.

Make time for yourself every day. Do what you want to do, even if it is only for a short time.

Learn to be present in the moment. Practise yoga or mindfulness meditation. Also really allow yourself to experience things like having your hair done: focus on the sensation rather than reading a magazine.

Be creative: painting and colouring can help anxiety and stress as well as promoting joy.

Live in your body as well as your brain. The majority of things we do are mental and many people ‘cut off’ below their necks. Play table tennis, learn to juggle, dance the tango or flamenco, massage your hands and feet – and your partner’s or friends.

For more details, 080 225 5455

Vair Spa - Spirt
Vair Spa - Spirt