In part two of our guide to Europe’s lakes, Hannah Baker unwinds at the breathtaking Lefay Resort and Spa on Lake Garda before investigating the family-run establishment’s treatments for people with problems caused by bad posture
The snow-capped peaks of Italy’s Monte Baldo peek out between low-hanging clouds and sunlight streams onto the sparkling cobalt lake. It’s a breathtaking scene, and as I stand on the terrace of Lefay Resort and Spa overlooking Lake Garda, sipping a refreshing cocktail, I am astounded by the view.
The family-run hotel is nestled in the Italian hills of Riviera dei Limoni, a 90-minute drive from Milan Linate airport. Founded by the Leali family in 2008, the five-star superior hotel is luxurious (think Italian marble, panoramic views and warm olive wood), and has fantastic green credentials thanks to its policy of all-natural materials.
The location is magical, but if you’re looking to escape the rigours of work, or simply need time to de-stress, then Lefay’s spa is a must. With 21 treatment rooms, heated indoor and outdoor pools, an infinity pool, five saunas, an ice fountain, a fitness centre and a saltwater pool for physiotherapy treatment, it’s easy to forget your troubles, and drift away in blissful relaxation.
The spa, which merges Chinese medicine with western techniques, has a substantial offering including the Postural Programme – a series of treatments for people with problems caused by bad posture.
I was invited for a private energy interview and ‘postural analysis’ with the hotel’s specialist in sports medicine and teacher of classic Chinese medicine, Maurizio Corradin. After 30 minutes of balancing exercises (I soon discovered this is not a strong point) and a series of questions including dream patterns, Corradin suggested exercises to improve my balance, strengthen my back, and help my wellbeing. He also ‘prescribed’ a horsetail and passionflower tea – it’s calming properties were surprisingly effective.
Next stop was the Tuina massage. This Chinese therapy focuses on grasping different areas of the body to improve joint mobility and mental and emotional balance. My friendly Italian masseur may not have spoken any English (there was an interpreter on hand to translate his explanations), but the massage sent me into a deep state of relaxation with vivid dreams, from which I awoke more refreshed and calm than I could recall feeling for a long time.
Later, I enjoyed a moxa treatment – a Far Eastern technique where acupuncture points are heated with an Artemisia cigar. The cigar is placed an inch or so from the body and the heat targets the pain. For those troubled with back pain, this is very effective.
Last stop was the indoor ‘saltwater lake’ – La Luna nel Lago. Heated at 37°C, the pool is located in a darkened underground room carved out of natural rock where guests can lie back and float in the warm mineral-filled water while staring up at a bright moon-like sculpture and forget about all their troubles.
After a day in the spa it’s easy to work up an appetite, and if it’s a total body recharge you’re looking for, the hotel’s foodie offering will be right up your street. With a focus on healthy Mediterranean cuisine, Trattoria La Vigna serves traditional Italian dishes – we sampled veal in tuna fish sauce and fresh pasta including ravioli stuffed with aubergine – but there’s also a special detox menu on offer.
Breakfast is served in La Grande Limonaia – an outdoor eatery with stunning views across Lake Garda. Also open for lunch and dinner, the menu includes freshly grilled fish and salads.
If you’re looking for a place to recharge emotionally and physically, Lefay Resort and Spa will help you rebalance. I certainly noticed a new spring in my step after three nights in this beautiful resort. If you want to reclaim your health or embark on a new approach to life, you’ll find few better places to start.
Next week: old-school glamour on Lake Como
Part one: Quirky elegance at Fairmont Le Montreux Palace on Lake Geneva
Getting to the Lefay Resort and Spa on Lake Garda
EasyJet flies to Milan Linate from Gatwick daily. Visit easyjet.com
Prices for the five-night Postural Programme start from €2,190 (£1,495) per person including accommodation and treatments.