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I’ve always been curious about the health and wellness practices of other cultures, particularly those that predate Western ideas by many millennia. So my interest was certainly piqued when I heard that Switzerland’s Giardino Group, which manages a portfolio of resorts and restaurants, has introduced Ayurveda by Giardino, a comprehensive program built around customized, all-inclusive retreats ranging from three to 21 days.
There are plenty of wellness-centric hotels and resorts across Europe and North America that, at least in part, subscribe to the principles of Ayurveda — a holistic practice with origins in the Indian subcontinent that aims to bring balance to the body and mind through Ayurvedic nutrition, yoga and meditation, among other activities. But it’s much less common to find entire hotel groups committed to integrating Ayurveda as a primary brand pillar.
Ayurveda by Giardino can now be found at three of the group’s four properties across Switzerland: Atlantis by Giardino in Zurich; Giardino Ascona in Ticino; and Giardino Mountain in St. Moritz. All Giardino spas now offer more than a dozen Ayurvedic treatments, and Hide & Seek — one of the on-site eateries at each property — features Ayurvedic cuisine at every meal. (The two-Michelin-starred Ecco is another on-site restaurant.)
You’ll still find cheeses, cold cuts and viennoiserie (sweet pastries) typical of European hotels at the breakfast buffet, but you’ll also find items such as ginger and turmeric smoothies, warm quinoa salad and various porridges (try the coconut milk porridge; spices are a foundational element of Ayurvedic cooking, and this dish features notes of cardamom and cinnamon).
Additionally, hotel guests can book one-on-one consultations with Giardino’s Ayurveda practitioners and specialists, as well as join scheduled wellness activities and book private sessions with instructors. So even if your clients aren’t quite ready to commit to an all-inclusive Ayurvedic program, they’ll still be able to take advantage of the many wellness offerings that fall under the umbrella of Ayurveda by Giardino during their stay.
For a deeper dive into Ayurveda, the five primary focuses of Giardino’s retreats include alleviating stress, weight loss, detox, back pain and pregnancy/fertility. As all are major topics with a fair amount of gravitas, how much can clients really expect to accomplish in as little as three days?
Luise Pfluger, the resident Ayurveda practitioner for Giardino, readily admits that the Ayurveda Compact program — the shortest all-inclusive offering available — is primarily about discovery.
“Three days is only for seeing how it works,” Pfluger said. “It’s not really therapy; it’s just a little fun to see what might be good for you. You try it, and if you like it, you bring some of the ideas into in your life, and it’s doing good.”
So, have my eating and cooking habits or daily routines changed since spending a few days with Giardino this fall? The short answer is: Yes.
I mainly came away from the retreat knowing infinitely more about the principles of cooking in an Ayurvedic kitchen and having a better understanding of Ayurvedic cuisine, which I found to be delicious and restorative. And although I haven’t swapped out the butter in my fridge for ghee, I do have a newfound affinity for coconut oil and herbal tea.
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