Pioneering a psycho-emotional approach to spa, the team at Vair Spa at Borgo Egnazia has created an award-winning wellness offering that focusses on happiness, drawing on the culture and traditions of Puglia, Italy. Choosing to visit a wellness destination that bills itself as a psycho-emotional spa raises just as many questions as it does gives answers. I will guide you through my experiences. It was truly life-changing.
Deeply rooted in the traditions of Puglia, the resort and hotel of Borgo Egnazia has been designed as a traditional local village constructed from tuff stone and is surrounded by millennia-old olive groves. It subtly blends old world charm with hidden contemporary touches that gives the property a true sense of place in the heart of the Italian countryside.
You may have read about it in the press already. The hotel shot to fame in 2012 when Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel chose the property for their exclusive celebrity wedding. Beyond the notoriety of the celebrity press, the hotel and spa have received numerous international accolades. But its how it connects on a deeper level that much more interesting.
Vair Spa at Borgo Egnazia
Vair Spa blends spa and wellness with psychological cocooning and physiological care in the hands of some of Europe’s most intuitive therapists. This isn’t an arty, hippy retreat, although it does require a touch of art and magic to deliver the awesome menu that you will find here.
Under the direction of award-winning spa director, Patrizia Bortolin, the concept unites elements of touch, aromachology, psychology, shamanism, life-coaching and bodywork in the pursuit of health and happiness. Local and indigenous culture provides inspiration for the programmes. Mixed with artistic practices as diverse as yoga, dance and acting, it’s an esoteric and ethereal blend of therapies that is powerful, potent and touches guests on the deepest level. Vair Spa at Borgo Egnazia works to restore and rebalance guest’s emotions, whilst resetting their mind, body and soul.
From the Broken Heart programme, which caters to divorcees and people recovering from a traumatic break-up to the specialised three-day Tarant programme, the offering is unlike any wellness regime as it addresses the emotions, leading a path of awareness and awakening, to happiness.
Creating an ethereal feel in the spa, therapists wear flowing pleated robes in the spirit of the 3500-year-old Greek, later Roman, city whose ruins lie next to Borgo Egnazia. The spa is a calm and soothing place designed with cream and honey stone, wood and wicker. Flickering candlelight and the sound and reflections of moving water create a sense of serenity.
Facilities in the spa include: Roman bath with a tepidarium, caldarium, Kneipp bath, calidarium, frigidarium, biosauna, yoga studio, plunge pools and marble scrub room, manicure and pedicure suite and cinema.
The spa team are touching emotions, helping, healing, calming and soothing. To date I’ve never encountered such a warm, in tune team who are committed to delivering much more than a massage or facial. Connecting with all of the senses, the spa has a real local flavour inspired by the plants, terroir and traditions of Puglia, I can honestly say I felt real change in my mood, spirit, body and soul. To move someone on that level takes great attention and true skill.
The treatments on the spa menu do have a synergy with therapies you may have encountered at many spas around the world. They combine massage, touch, scent, aromatherapy and great aftercare. So, what is the magic?
The shaman at Vair Spa
The treatments are designed to take the client to a deeper level, the therapists guide you on a journey to inner peace and harmony, resolving issues from stress, sleep, lack of confidence – and in my instance, I managed to resolve pent up ill feeling and anxiety. It was the direct result of an overly fastidious approach to work and unresolved that guilt I was holding in my stomach. I experienced the most powerful emotional release during and after my session with Stefano Battaglia, otherwise known as the shaman. He conducts the renowned Avemmari session.
A short chat, light touch and he taps into your inner core and sets to work. Each session is different and he uses a mix of massage, touch, cranial sacral manipulation and a technique called orthno bionomy. It’s all very matter of fact in its approach, but the result for me and my colleagues was profound and life changing.
Developed by Dr. Arthur Lincoln Pauls, Ortho-Bionomy is a gentle, non-invasive, osteopathically-based form of body therapy which works with chronic stress, injuries and pain or problems associated with postural and structural imbalances. It is said to be system of healing that reminds the body of its natural ability to restore balance. Its principles are based on a simple yet profound philosophy: allow the body to correct itself. Battaglia is an expert at body work and a powerful conductor of change.
With this intuitive practice based on physiology and a touch of psychology he creates a treatment that combines talk and touch in the most powerful way.
The spa is open to everyone, but I think it takes a person with an open mind to truly understand what can be achieved here. Sure, you can have a massage or a facial but if you open your mind to the possibilities, to release and to moving forward, the change can be profound.
What can men learn from this?
Today we face more pressure than ever before. In our digitally driven society, we rarely, if ever switch off. Work is constantly a call or email away, and we carry our work with us in our pockets via mobile or tablet devices.
Facing constant pressure from work and life to meet unrealistically high expectations, deadlines and targets, stress and anxiety manifests itself in many ways, both in the mind, in lack of sleep and also in the body. It can be held in the body without realising it too. For me it manifests in the stomach. It’s my trigger point and it’s where Stefano spent most of his session identifying pain and working to release the tension.
Men are notorious for denying their feelings and holding them close to their chest. Burying them away is not healthy for the mind or body and can impact our long-term health and relationships with others. Masculinity and the ever-present existence of our macho society is problematic for men who want to be in touch with their true inner feelings. The concept of what it is to be a man is in flux. It presents an inherent range of different challenges too, especially when it comes to expressing emotion.
So, it’s very interesting to find a spa that addresses our emotions in an open accessible way.
Vair Spa at Borgo Egnazia offers a unique mix of manual manipulation to release physical tension from the body with innovative protocols that take your massage or facial to a whole new level. Mixing it with aromacology or light and colour therapy to take the guest on a journey, beyond to the body to a secret place in the mind. Intuitive staff help to connect with the guest on a level I’ve not encountered before. There are so many techniques used, some borrowed from other cultures and philosophies, some totally unique in this setting. Yoga, fitness, exercise, dance and vocal therapy. The choices are endless.
On a practical level – the work that the team does eases tension in the body and mind and restores a kind of equilibrium and inner peace and happiness. What I sensed from the therapies was that it boosted strength, my coping mechanisms and shone a light on happiness.
You can take it to whatever level you wish, but the mix of protocols and rituals elevate the treatments to something super special. I want to say ethereal, but that sounds too fluffy. It is grounded in reality but allows an escape for the body and mind like no other.
Presenting so many options for the spa guest Vair Spa can be as challenging and confronting or as cocooning and consoling as you wish and everything in between. There really is nothing like it.