Spa Guide: Yeotown Detox Retreat | The Times
THE TIMES | JUNE 2014
An optimal health retreat
that’s good enough for Victoria Pendleton
USP: A small, boutique detox retreat set up by husband and wife Simon Sieff and Mercedes Ngoh, of the hip London studio Triyoga, this really delivers. Neither a juice fast nor a boot camp, the focus is on nutrition and optimal health, giving you the most up-to-date advice on living well. Glowing with health and vitality themselves, Mercedes takes the twice-daily yoga classes and Simon the clifftop hikes, and they have a hand-picked team of local experts to lead, assist, cook, give nutrition talks and nightly deep-tissue massages. If the Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton went recently, you know it’s bang on the money.
Ambience: Rooms, with linen from The White Company and the softest pillows, are upstairs in the main farmhouse or in the converted barn with its toasty underfloor heating. A tonic for urbanites, you are surrounded by green. When the sun’s out, take your herbal tea into the courtyard or the garden and enjoy the countryside that run down to a stream. Real fires, piles of books, paintings and sculptures (Simon runs sieffgallery.com) dot the cosy rooms and everyone eats at a big farmhouse table while the legendary chef Julia Waghorn cooks flavoursome fresh healthy cuisine at the Aga.
Quality of experience: All levels of fitness and ability are catered for in a small group (around nine, max) and there’s plenty of encouragement, although the fitter you are the better, as you’re worked hard. Among our group of six, there was a resounding thumbs up for the way the course is structured, with variety being the name of the game. A typical day will start at 7.15 with yoga, followed by breakfast, a morning’s hike across the North Devon Coastal path with views of the wide surfing beaches, and trails into the woodlands; then lunch, followed by a cooking demo, then core work in the studio, concluding with the evening’s yoga session, supper and a deep-tissue massage. There’s enough time in-between so that you never feel rushed. The exact itinerary is secret so that you go with the flow and can let yourself be open minded. It’s a digital detox, too – avoid arriving with unfinished business as you are unlikely to get phone reception, and the wifi in the house can be slow.
It’s a chance to let go of daily pressures and decision-making and embrace quiet and calm.
Food and drink: A week or two before you go, you start detoxing your diet. Once you are there, some meals are vegan, some encompass fish and seafood, but the overall menu is fresh, organic, and free of meat, dairy, gluten, caffeine, refined sugar and alcohol. Meals are calorie-restricted so that if you have weight to lose you should see a difference, but if you are slim already you may just fit more comfortably into your favourite jeans. Portions are small but loaded with nutrients and you have small snacks and juices at regular intervals to keep blood-sugar levels stable. You may take a physical dip at some point, but as you go on you should feel on an even keel and energised.
In-crowd: Groups are varied, but the price attracts the “successful self-driven person”. My group were me and five professional women in their thirties, two with growing families. The previous week was a mixed group of men and women who had flown in from overseas. Pendleton isn’t the only Olympian to have stayed; and anyone who wants to pause and take stock of their health will find it a fabulous tonic.
Wallet watch: Yeotox costs £1,780 per person, including all meals, activities, massages and transfers.
Need to know: Yeotown, Snapper, Devon (01271 343803/yeotown.com). Yeotox usually runs Wednesday to Sunday. Visit yeotown.com for info on Yeotox holidays in the sun. First Great Western trains run London Paddington to Tiverton Parkway - advance singles from £23.90 (03457 000125, firstgreatwestern.co.uk).