Destress & Unwind: Getting away from it all at MarBella Corfu
We often go on holiday to get away from it all – the idea of using a holiday to destress and unwind is not a new one. But how often does it often work? Julianna Barnaby discovers the perfect stress-free getaway at MarBella Corfu.
Corfu is no stranger to luxury. It was the birthplace of the recently-retired Prince Philip, and has long been a go-to destination for international jetsetters and the global elite. MarBella Corfu has been setting the pace for luxury travel on the island since it opened in the 1970s and is renowned for offering a high-end, short-haul getaway for holidaymakers in search of sunshine.
While Corfu is well-known as a luxury getaway it’s not so renowned for its wellness and holistic offering, but that’s all set to change with MarBella’s new range of therapies and health-focused programmes.
How often have you been away on a holiday, with the objection of de-stressing and taking a break, only to find yourself just as frazzled as when you went away? It’s not that often that you come back feeling truly refreshed and rebooted and ready to face the day-to-day world again. But that’s exactly what happened when I visited MarBella Corfu.
The key? MarBella Corfu’s winning combination of luxury accommodation, wellness activities, balanced cuisine and a new stress-management programme called Mastermind 2.0. Sound simple? The beauty is that it is.
A Warm Welcome
First impressions count for a lot. We’d started travelling early and I was only half-awake by the time we landed on Corfu and transferred over to MarBella but perked up considerably when we arrived at the property. Set on the south-east coast of Corfu and based in a large olive grove overlooking the Ionian sea, MarBella’s location would be enough to make an impression alone. But the hotel is more than just a beautiful location. The recently-renovated 388-room property is visually arresting, spacious and modern.
The hotel is informally sectioned into different areas tailored towards couples and solo travellers on a luxury getaway, or families looking for a break in the sun. Despite the large number of rooms, each building and room feels spacious and retains a unique sense of identity that can sometimes get lost in larger resorts. I was led to my room to freshen up before an introduction to the tailor-made programme that was to form the backbone of the trip.
My first stop was the spa. MarBella prides itself on its organic, locally-sourced produce – not only a key element in the food that it serves in the seven restaurants dotted across the property, but which also extends to the spa treatments. I’d booked in for the probiotic facial, which uses honey and apricot, along with other natural ingredients suited to your skin type. Less than five minutes into the treatment, I realised that already I was starting to feel the MarBella effect – the skilled therapist massaged, cleansed and toned my skin, leaving it feeling fresh and full of vitality.
Keen to emphasise that fitness doesn’t start and end in the gym, MarBella offer a wide range of activities for guests to try. My personal highlight was the aerial yoga class. Have you ever experienced feeling nearly-weightless while suspended upside down from a hammock? As someone who has difficulty relaxing into a yoga routine, it was a welcome surprise that the aerial yoga walked the fine line between being challenging but at the same time, helping to focus the mind very much on the present. Our teacher guided us through a series of moves and inversions, each involving wrapping the silk hammock around our arms or legs. It was interesting to see the progress that the group made in the course of an hour, emboldened by the increased support provided by the silks.
While it’s wonderful to spend time having treatments and trying new physical activities, one of the best ways to reset your mind is to spend some time outside. That’s where MarBella’s location really comes into its own. We spent a morning sailing over to the far south-east of the island to the old salt pans and Corfiot wetlands of Alikes Lefkimmis.
Watching the island’s verdant and mountainous scenery glide by felt so far away from the grey skies of London that it was almost impossible to believe I’d been in Corfu for less than a day. Once there, Giannis Gasteratos, our guide walked us through the quiet enclave to the bird-filled wetlands. It was perfectly quiet, there was no-one else around, leaving us free to meander around the wetlands, whilst spotting the large number of birds, including cranes, terns and swifts that call the wetlands their home.
Fresh Ingredients and Wholesome Cuisine
Food is such an important part of life on the island and the food inside and outside of MarBella was memorable to say the least. After the bird-watching tour, we sailed back up the coast to the small fishing village of Petriti for lunch at the traditional seafood restaurant Limnopoula. The restaurant sits on the banks of a perfectly-calm cove, and serves up some of the freshest seafood that I’ve had the pleasure of tasting. Tapas-style starters were followed up by a simply-grilled bream and salad with lemon- each ingredient bursting with flavour and nutrition.
Back at the hotel, each meal toed the balance between healthy, full of flavour with just the right amount of indulgence. Those wishing to follow a stricter diet can do so – either way, you shouldn’t miss the traditional Corfiot menu at Platea, the hotel’s Greek restaurant. The restaurant have resurrected lesser-known traditional dishes such as cod croquettes in fish broth and endive salad with Corfiot graviera cheese and kumquat dressing in a special menu that is then matched with different samplings of the locally-brewed Corfu Beer.
A change of scenery and some time out to reboot can make a world of difference, but sometimes it takes a little bit more to help deal with stress. MarBella’s five-day MASTERMIND2.0 programme with holistic psychotherapist Dirk Stikker has been created to help people deal with the stresses and demands of today’s busy world.
Stikker creates a completely personalised schedule of one-on-one stress management sessions, complemented by tailored versions of MarBella’s existing health, nutrition and wellness offerings to help guests understand their stress triggers and provide them with the coping tools to successfully deal with them in their everyday lives.
It’s easy to feel relaxed when you’re away in the sunshine, but the biggest test is when you come home again. Soon enough, it was time to get back on the plane to the UK but rather than the normal feelings of dread and sadness that a trip had come to an end, for the first time I felt perfectly ready to face the challenges of the weeks and months to come.
MarBella Corfu (www.marbella.gr) offers rooms from €114 per double room per night on a half board basis.
The MASTERMIND2.0 programme is a personalised programme. Prices for the 5-day programme start from £3,950 (accommodation excluded). For inquiries and bookings please contact Dirk Stikker: +email@example.com or visit www.addictions-mastermind.com.
Classic Collection Holidays ( 0800 047 1064; classic-collection.co.uk) offers 5 nights at Marbella Corfu from £1059 per person. Price based on 2 adults sharing a superior sea view room on an all-inclusive basis and includes return flights from London Gatwick ( other UK departure airports available) and private transfers. Departs late September.