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Wellness and happiness at Amanzo'e by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in HOTELS + VILLAS By Maggie O' Sullivan

Hippocrates maintained that the key to health is a good diet, sea bathing, exercise, gymnastics, massage, and hydrotherapy. At Amanzo’e, close to Epidaurus where Asclepius, the god of healing, was born, they believe much the same thing and have wrapped it all up in a holistic wellness programme.Amanzo’e, as the first part of its name suggests, belongs to the ultra-exclusive Aman group. Aman properties are always in the best locations and, perched on a hilltop in the Peloponnese, with a private beach club on the coast below, Amanzo’e is no different. But the real clue to this hotel lies in the ‘zo’e’ – the Greek for life, or nurturing. Luxury here is not about pillow menus or bath butlers. It's about giving guests the support they need to slow down and rebalance their lives. Thus, at the heart of Amanzo’e is the spa, a harmonious mix of contemporary and classical design, dedicated to treatments, integrated movement, therapies and relaxation.Many of the complementary therapies are provided by visiting specialists, such as aquatic bodywork teacher and craniosacral therapist Steve Karle (above). Steve brings together elements of Watsu, Shiatsu, joint mobilisation, stretching and deep-tissue massage – simply put, he moves you around a specially designed pool, supporting your body as he works on muscles and joints. Some people, he says, have an emotional reaction, while for others the effect is one of utter relaxation. I just felt happy and clear-headed. It ended, as all the spa treatments do, with a cup of mountain tea sweetened with local organic honey. Delicious – and (whisper it) I’m not that fond of the food of the gods.Movement and realignment – what Hippocrates would have called exercise and gymnastics – is essential part of the Amanzo'e wellness programme. The hotel has an excellent gym and a particularly beautiful east-facing yoga pavilion, with views across the tumbling olive groves towards the sea. Half way through an early yoga class, I caught sight of the mist-topped hills in the mirror, and completely forgot what I was doing.Later, back in the spa, I had a holistic facial massage, using Aman’s own products supplemented with Greek yoghurt and local honey (who knew honey is an exfoliant?) I'm not sure whether it was the facial or the massage of face, shoulders, neck, feet or hands, that did the trick, but the improvement in my skin tone really was noticeable.In truth, everything at Amanzo’e – from the glorious location and pared-down design to the locally sourced cuisine – is so well done that you could doubtless achieve a certain balance without setting foot in the spa – but then you really would be missing out.

Amanzoe Wellness Program (movement & alignment), which includes a private instruction session in Pilates, yoga or personal training; a Thai massage and a session of aquatic bodywork costs €400; Holistic Amanzoe Facial Massage €200. For further information and room rates, contact Amanzo’e

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