Every so often I do something really smart, as I did last summer when I spent three days at Lefay Resort & Spa Lago di Garda, on magnificent Lake Garda, Italy.
Lefay is everything that’s wonderful about Italy—spectacular design, breathtaking vistas, and glorious food. But instead of returning home three kilos heavier, you can come here and eat beautiful, fresh, local fare without gaining an ounce. And you’ll discover a part of the country that’s every bit as beautiful as its famous cousin, Lake Como, but not nearly as touristy.
The resort was founded in 2006, in the historic town of Gargnano, in the heart of the “Riviera dei Limoni.” Situated on 27 acres, the hotel is surrounded by beech trees, hornbeams, and elms and overlooks the lake. Farmhouses, olive groves, and lemon trees dot the landscape. It’s simply stunning.
Goodbye Stress & Tiredness, Hello Energy
I opted for the three-night “Discovery” program, which focuses on balancing all aspects of a person’s being. The program, a mixture of eastern and western medicine, includes an initial exam to determine your energy levels. Based on that, they figure out the sort of treatments that will work best for you, among them an “energy” facial, a body massage, a hydro-aromatherapy session with essential oils, and “meridian” stretching.
I learned that I was tired, which I knew. And stressed. What I didn’t know was just how tired and stressed. The energy treatments—among them tui na massages, foot reflexology, and acupuncture—aim at reactivating your energy channels. They’re supposed to stimulate and activate blocked “points and meridians.” I don’t know if they did that exactly, but I do know that I was much more relaxed after my massage and aromatherapy sessions. I especially loved the facial. I don’t remember much about it—I fell fast asleep—but my skin certainly felt energized. And clean.
I learned that I was tired, which I knew. And stressed. What I didn’t know was just how tired and stressed.
The Discovery program includes three meals daily, which can be eaten in any one of the three on-site restaurants. I chose mine off of the Lefay Vital Gourmet menu, which is (slightly) lower in salt and calories. But you’d never know it—everything was delicious and fresh, laden with extra-virgin olive oil, citrus fruits from the lake, and locally grown herbs.
Hiking isn’t a big part of the program, but you can go on nature walks around the property, which I highly recommend. But beware: those hills are steeper than you might think. If you’d rather stay inside, there’s a gym; the resort offers an array of classes, or you can exercise on your own.
By the end of my three days, I felt lighter, leaner, and calmer. But what I mostly discovered is that I didn’t want to leave.
Diana Anderson is a New York City-based writer.