BestsellerMagazine.com - CATEGORY Daily News: TITLE
So I’m standing topless in a windowless, slate grey room while a man in black hoses me down with a high-powered jet of freezing cold water.
‘Turn,’ he commands in clipped Rhineland tones, and I’m duly hosed off from every angle.
No, I’m not investigating the world of torture porn, I’m at Healthouse Las Dunas, a beautiful spa in Malaga designed to help you lose weight – albeit in sometimes surprising ways.
Thankfully it’s not all cold water and paper pants – that was just the second half of my manual aquatic massage, which started off very nicely with a water jet pummelling my tummy fat into submission in a warm bath.
Over the course of the weekend, in which I lose 4.4lb, I also drink supplement-spiked ‘mojitos’, eat four-course gourmet meals garnished with sea foam and relax in a pink, glowing room with Himalayan salt bricks for walls.
Healthouse Las Dunas is a five-star medical spa between Estepona and Marbella, 40 minutes by taxi from Malaga airport.
You can expect beds softer than memory foam (Pikolin in case you were wondering), diet food that amazingly doesn’t make you want to lose the will to live, and a team of experts on hand to tend to your medical, health and fitness needs.
Mornings start with a chat with nutritionist Myriam Lopez Mendez, who asks you about your current eating habits, takes your measurements and prescribes supplements and diet plans.
Guests can have blood tests so their hormone levels can be assessed.
Talking to Myriam wasn’t unlike attending confession, even though she was cheerful and sympathetic – forgive me, madam, for I have gorged.
But I didn’t have time to feel too bad – next on the agenda was a spa circuit which is, frankly, my kind of circuit.
One of the key ideas here is to keep guests (or patients as the staff call them) busy with the business of relaxation so they don’t even realise their calorific intake is being reduced to 1,300 or 900 calories per day.
The spa circuit comprised of a shower, sauna, toddle round a snow cave (in bare feet as I was feeling brave), steam room, exercise pool, the aforementioned pink salt room, reputedly good for skin and lungs, tepidarium (basically a warm room, a bit redundant in summer), pool with all kinds of jets, and hot and cold plunge pools.
As well as this strenuous amount of relaxation, guests receive hot stone massages, flotarium sessions and, of course, the aquatic massage, for which I should add you can wear a bathing suit if you like, but it won’t get to quite as much flab.
Breakfasts are a little unexciting – wafer-thin ham and tomato salsa on the smallest toast known to man and tasteless fibre biscuits with sugar-free jam – but the lunches and dinners I had were exceptional.
Despite having few calories to play with, head chef Tim Van Buchem serves up a starter, fish course, main and dessert and creates 14 different menus every week.
During my favourite meal of the stay I enjoyed clams and courgetti, vegetable broth, tuna with green beans and almond milk, and a raspberry macaroon with fresh fruit and yogurt foam.
Tim said of his ‘diet’ food: ‘It has to be enjoyable, fun.
‘In a lot of other clinics you just get juice – we try a different approach.
‘Losing weight doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy eating.’
As well as weight loss, there are also specific meals for those on detox, anti-stress, anti-tobacco and anti-aging plans.
My plan included liquid weight loss supplements before meals – Levanat Plus – and a diuretic called Drenanat.
Next year they’re also branching out into a programme for obese children which, as well as helping them lose weight, will show families how to cook quick and healthy meals.
Tim's tips for losing weight
1. The main thing is portions – most of us eat far too much meat for example
2. Use fresh veg
3. Cut your carbs, or only have a little
4. Eat different foods every day – variety is key
5. Try to eat five small portions throughout the day
6. Remember to exercise too
Tim said: ‘It’s a world problem, a lot of children are obese. They need to eat a lot because they’re more active but a lot of the right things.
‘The second part is educating the parents – teaching them it doesn’t take a lot to change.’
Exercise is another key part of a stay at the spa, but nothing too strenuous – yoga, pilates or aqua aerobics – although there’s also a gym, personal trainers and, of course, the fantastic pools.
According to the staff, women can expect to lose an average of 5.5lb a week, and men 7.7lb.
Despite the slightly alternative methods I really enjoyed my stay. Yes, there was the weight loss, but it was also good to take a step back and think about my eating habits back home and try some new approaches.
Plus, did I mention I lost 4.4lb?
How much does it cost?
Healthouse Las Dunas offers the Healthy Weekend package from £540 per person based on two nights’ full board accommodation in a Deluxe room with sea view.
The programme includes a consultation with a nutritionist and psychologist, body massage, therapeutic treatment, yoga,pilates or aqua-gym session, a personalised individual plan and access to the Ekilum spa.
Monarch, the scheduled leisure airline, operates flights to Malaga from Birmingham, London Gatwick, London Luton and Manchester airports with fares, including taxes, starting from £32 one way (£59 return). For further information or to book Monarch flights, Monarch Holidays or Monarch Hotels, visit the Monarch homepage.
Where to stay near Gatwick
If you live very far from Gatwick, are arriving back late and have an extra day off to ease yourself back into things, the Mercure Box Hill Burford Bridge Hotel is ideal.
The hotel is a 30-minute taxi ride from the airport and just a five-minute walk from Box Hill & Westhumble train station.
The four-star hotel offers heated outdoor swimming pool (open until the end of the month), a very comfy bar and restaurant and more miniatures in your cosy room than you can fit in your luggage.
The real draw here, though, is the beautiful North Downs surroundings, ideal for cyclists or hikers.
You can order breakfast in bed, privilege rooms feature Nespresso Machines and checkout is at noon. Rooms from £108.