Temple Country Retreat and Spa is located in Westmeath and allows you to choose between a structured programme or the option to come and go as you please. The retreat’s diet goes so far as to allow you some lean meats and healthy carbohydrates, unlike many other destinations. There is a life coach on hand and the structured package offers walks, yoga, swimming and cycling as well as designated time to do nothing at all.
Ard Nahoo in Co. Leitrim is a retreat that offers programmes of juice fasting, yoga or detox weekends. Accommodation is in the form of Eco Cabins and food is prepared by the local vegetarian chef. Your day is structured around walks, meditation and other gentle activities with massages, reflexology and a sauna also on offer.
Burren Yoga, Co. Galway is a yoga retreat suitable for everyone from beginners right through to qualified yoga instructors. Aside from yoga and meditation, expect walking trips and excursions into the Burren. You can also stretch out those muscles even further with deep tissue, hot stone and ayurvedic massages which are available upon request. All of the yoga classes are optional so you are free to take time off for yourself if you wish.
The key difference between the ethos of your typical day spa and that of a health farm is the effect they plan to have on your life. While spas are generally designed to provide a brief escape from the everyday before unleashing you on the world again, health spas and retreats focus on changing your lifestyle after you leave.
Cloona Health Retreat, Co. Mayo is for the more hardcore detoxer. Idyllically set between Croagh Patrick and the ocean, it promises improved health as well as a journey of self-discovery. All connections with the outside world are severed and expect a healthy, predominantly liquidised diet of fruit, soup, salad and more fruit. The brave can opt for the Green Programme which involves thriving on blended cucumber with a couple of green vegetables added in for your evening ‘meal’. Spa treatments are optional extras, as are chanting and creative writing classes.
How to achieve and maintain good health is a theory that varies between different health farms and retreats. Some believe it to involve luxurious pampering alongside some gentle exercise and home cooked meals. Others take an all things wheatgrass approach in which you will be detoxified to within an inch of your life and hiked through mountainous wilderness for a week.
The treatments on offer are not always the same as those at a day spa, with an increased focus on alternative medicine treatments such as acupuncture and reflexology. You will also find the odd massage and facial but check ahead to be sure. The thinking is that anything they provide has to benefit your health in some way, not just pamper you.