If one area of my life is not going to plan, I put those issues in a box and place my focus elsewhere – work had become my everything and for months I’d ignored my food issues and what was beneath the neckline. By the time I got to Borgo Egnazia, a beautiful property in Puglia, south Italy, that borders the hills of the ancient city of Egnazia, a few metres from the Adriatic coast – I’d managed to convince myself that I didn’t have a problem.
Rooms here are calm and welcoming (limestone walls, cream decor, rustic accents); the food is a reinterpretation of traditional Apulian cuisine, rich in fruit, vegetables and seafood; and with the beach a short bike-ride away, it’s easy to feel like you’re in another world. My first dose of reality came when I was told I’d been booked to try the group Roman bath ritual. I normally avoid situations where I have to wear a swimsuit around other people, so I panicked.
Vair is a psycho-emotional wellness spa (like no other I’ve been to) with a concept of beauty and wellbeing driven by ‘loving oneself’ through psychological fulfilment, so I had asked to try these treatments (in the belief this would be a ‘safe option’, but no). These include: loosening emotional and physical blocks, sensory deprivation, recalling your childhood to understand your present, and tapping into your interpersonal skills through dance, as well as one-on-ones with resident psychologists.
I tried the Avemmarì treatment, created by Vair Spa’s senior therapist Stefano Battaglia, which aims to check the balance between body and mind. There was no massage in the traditional sense of the word – it was more like a gentle touch on different points of the body. As if he could hear my thoughts, Stefano very quickly picked up on how I was feeling, telling me to reconnect with my body, to accept it and love it. The atmosphere was intense; I began to let go and, as I did, felt a rush of emotion that left me in tears. All I’d bottled up and ignored came to the surface.
Recalling the treatment now it sounds a little wacky, but I’d liken it to bypassing multiple hours of therapy and getting to the core of your emotions quickly, thanks to Stefano’s ability to intuitively pick up on how I was feeling without me having to say a word – I’m still astonished now.
Words: Amerley Ollennu