In August I visited Amchara Detox Retreat on Malta’s sister island, Gozo for a review in Health & Fitness magazine. I stayed for five sunny days, three of which I spent on a juice detox and two were spent on a raw food diet. After a summer of festivals, holidays and fun it was a welcome break but the no-food-only-juice days were a shock to the system, mainly mentally because I hate going hungry! But after day two I started to settle into the process and after a few treatments a more positive feeling took over. Amchara is a laid-back, down to earth, nurturing and the people (staff and guests) really make the stay extra special. If you’re a first-timer to detoxing or fancy a relaxed retreat this is a great place to start. Here are the highlights with snapshots of my stay…
About Amchara Detox Retreat
Guests come to detox and fast at Amchara for a variety of reasons: to inspire a healthier lifestyle; learn about detoxing and nutrition; lose or manage weight; address health issues such as irritable bowel syndrome; or simply to rest and recharge. The Amchara team includes naturopaths, a colonic therapist, a health director, a raw food chef, massage therapists and a yoga and fitness instructor – all are invaluable at guiding and inspiring guests through the process, and always on hand for advice.
The juice detox programme
An initial health screening with the naturopath identifies which of the two programmes you should choose: a classic juice fast aimed to stimulate the body’s natural healing processes or a raw food diet. I chose a three-day juice fast and two days of raw food. Based on the philosophy of functional health, Amchara aims to tackle the underlying cause of health conditions, not just the symptoms. Your relationship with food as well as your lifestyle, genetics and environment are all considered. You can stay from three days to a month or more and there are no fixed start dates.
A typical day at Amchara
The vibe here is relaxed and laid back. Juices and superfood shots are delivered with nameplates daily at 9am, midday and 3pm, with an evening broth at 6:30pm. The juices are based on a mixture of beetroot, cucumber, fennel, courgette, apple, carrot, celery, ginger and lemon to support your digestion, cleanse the liver and feed your body with essential nutrients and vitamins.
The shots of nutritional super supplements can include chlorella, wheatgrass, spirulina, turmeric, maca and bitter aloe, selected by the naturopaths to suit your health needs. Headaches, fatigue or nausea can be experienced before you feel better – I felt grumpy, hungry and had headaches on the first day, but this cleared by the end of day two. To stave off hunger, we had unlimited herbal teas and psyllium husks with water– as well as lemon and Himalayan salt with water to aid hydration and the detox.
Gentle activities such as yoga, Pilates, a walk, a health talk or aqua aerobics punctuate the days but there’s no pressure to join in. The mellow evening activities might involve a local guest such as a Tibetan sound healer or a group sunset walk. Bikes are available for a coastal ride or you can go for a gentle jog. Other activities include visiting the local town, Victoria or going to Comino island.
An important part of the detox process at Amchara is intestinal cleansing, so colonic hydrotherapy and enemas are encouraged. Sally Jobes, a registered colon hydrotherapist, is a wealth of information. I chose an enema (once with water and once with coffee, which stimulates liver detoxification) and felt brighter with a burst of energy after. You can also have massages, facials, lymphatic drainage and food intolerance tests. All treatments cost extra. I also had a health mentoring session with health director Kirstie Chisholm (€180 for 90 minutes). After discussing daily nutrition, emotional concerns, stress management and work-life balance, I walked away with a manageable plan.
With only 26 apartments at the retreat, you can enjoy a peaceful atmosphere but still be sociable. Each apartment has air con, a spacious double bedroom, living area, fully equipped kitchen, bathroom and a balcony or veranda overlooking the central pool.
In a nutshell, is Amchara for you?
If you’re looking for a relaxed and gentle detox experience, Amchara is perfect. There are no bootcamp vibes and ideal for first time detoxers. If you’ve had enough of the juice cleanse you can go onto the raw food programme, no quibbles. I left feeling mentally and physically revived. There is also Amchara Somerset for those looking for a UK detox.
Visit: amchara.com for prices and more info