The Canary Islands have, by far, one of the world´s healthiest climates. Sub-tropical temperatures, deep blue skies, pure air to breathe and the clear ocean waters: the perfect ingredients for that feel-good factor. This is reflected in the smiles of its inhabitants, as well as those who visit this beautiful archipelago. The energy is contagious.
Once in a while, we all deserve some “me-time” to rejuvenate and recharge our batteries. I decided it was my turn for a little pampering, and following a recommendation from a friend, I called Stilo Vitae, who have several Wellness Centres in Lanzarote. Despite wanting to try all of the treatments on offer, including hydrotherapy or facials and body massages using anything from chocolate and argan oil to coconut, my mind was made up: I booked the “Lanzarote Ritual” with Aloe vera for the coming Friday afternoon, as an end-of-week treat.
Amazing Aloe vera
Aloe vera is one of the Canary Islands´ 78 native medicinal plants and is well-known for its benefits for the skin: the main reason for my choice. Living in the sun – and being constantly bathed in the salty breeze – is a wonderful way of life, though it does take its toll on our skin.
Aloe´s secrets have been passed down through generations of Canarians, people who have relied on medicinal plants for centuries. Apart from its skin healing and anti-ageing properties, if ingested it also improves oral health, treats digestive disorders, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels, among many other magical effects.
Made in Lanzarote
With my “ritual” only a few days away, my quest for Aloe vera knowledge took me to Órzola, in the far north of the island. Here lies a 100% ecological Aloe vera plantation, covering ten hectares. The plant takes up to four years to become productive, after which the gel is gathered from inside its thick leaves, through a meticulously careful process and destined for a range of beauty and health products as well as medicinal uses.
Many of these products can be found at the plantation´s shop. The farm belongs to Lanzaloe, the island´s only producer with EU ecological certification. It´s free to visit and multilingual guides are on hand if you have any questions.
Caletón Blanco – an obligatory stop
As you drive down along the coast after visiting the Aloe plantation, your eyes are inevitably drawn to the ocean by your side. White sands contrast with black lava rocks, the spectrum of blue, green and turquoise of the Atlantic waters over the shallow reefs and pools. The sands then open up into the bay that is Caletón Blanco, and its lure makes it an obligatory stop for all who pass. Don´t forget your swimming gear and a towel!
La Gruta de las Flores
“Me time” has finally arrived and I make my way to La Gruta de las Flores (The Flower Cavern) a wellness centre located in the Isla y el Mar Hotel in Puerto del Carmen. This four-star boutique hotel oozes harmony and relaxation, and has received awards for its sustainable design and renewable energy efficiency. The hotel boasts a constant internal temperature of 20°C thanks to geothermal and solar energy installations. You don´t have to stay there to enjoy the wellness centre or it´s magnificent terrace and pool bar.
Prepare to be pampered
The centre is tucked away in an idyllic corner of the hotel, surrounded by vegetation and accompanied by the sound of fountain trickling into a pond. Yurena, my therapist welcomes me into in extremely peaceful room, with soothing background music playing and an abundance of natural light, I feel relaxed already. She presents me with a bathrobe, some slippers and guides me to a private cubicle to prepare.
As I settle down on the massage bed, I am covered in fresh towels and lightly massaged, warming and relaxing the body. I smile to myself as I look forward to ninety whole minutes of pampering, a luxury in itself!
An even better suntan!
The first of the three stages is a neutral peeling based on Aloe vera gel, spread over the entire body and face to remove dead skin cells and oils from the skin. I am told that this treatment is ideally performed several times a year: before a holiday to prepare the skin for sunbathing and to enhance the suntan, or even at the end, to rejuvenate the skin and repair the sun´s damage.
The refreshing sensation of the exfoliating body scrub that followed was particularly welcome on rather a hot day. I had assumed that the purpose of the plastic covering was to protect the massage bed from the various creams, but I now realised that I was, in fact, to be wrapped in it for around fifteen minutes. The heavenly cranial massage I was given in the meantime sent me into a slumber, relieving tensions that I didn’t even know existed.
This was followed by a warm shower, using the gorgeous gels and soaps provided to rinse away the body scrub. Then back to the massage bed for the final stage: an all-over body massage with a luxurious cream made from Aloe, cinnamon and cocoa. I was swept by such a deep sense of relaxation that I drifted off. My skin felt like silk and radiated a glow of freshness. The change in my state of wellbeing in such a short period of time was incredible, a perfect way to end the week.
Aloe cocktail: the perfect ending
Time flies and unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. As I thank Yurena and leave the centre, she suggests I relax with a drink at the hotel’s Chill Out zone before driving – a great idea!
A spectacular terrace with white relaxing loungers on a wooden deck. I glance at the drinks menu and the non-alcoholic cocktail with Aloe vera seems the obvious healthy choice, for feeling good inside and out! I sipped the deliciously refreshing mixture of Aloe, fresh orange and lime juices, pomegranate syrup and frost ice while enjoying the stunning sea views. Rejuvenated and relaxed, I was ready for an amazing weekend.