Here at Spa In Spain we always visit the hotels we work with, before offering the programs in our website. We do this to make sure that all hotels and programs pass the Spa in Spain quality test. This time it was my turn to visit the Epic Sana Hotel in the Algarve and put the hotel and myself to the test!
After a comfortable flight I arrived in Faro where the whole journey started with a very enthusiastic driver who took me in just 30 minutes to the Hotel. He was extremely friendly and after I told him I was going on a Bootcamp, he went crazy telling me all about the sports possibilities in the Algarve, including a guy who took a 32 meter high wave with his surfboard. ¨Only possible in Portugal…¨ 🙂
After arriving at the hotel I was really taken aback by the sheer beauty of the place. The hotel only opened in 2013, so is brand new, it is stunning and more than meets all standards of a 5* luxury hotel. However it is the location which made me eager to start the program. Epic Sana is located on a cliff with some 150 steps (I counted them more than once), giving you direct access to a truly magnificent beach. Contrastingly, just before the cliff starts there is a beautiful pine forest which expands several kilometres towards Villamoera on one side and another few kilometres to Albufeira on the other side. Add to that, that the resort has some great gardens with lots of grass and terraces, this is what makes Epic Sana a great destination for a sport related program.
After the welcome dinner, where I met my fellow ¨Bootcamper¨ Simon and the team of professionals who would guide the program, I went for an early night, excited about what was ahead…
There were only 2 of us in the group, which was good. They only allow a max of 6 guests at the same time, but prefer to work with 2 or 3 at the same time. That makes it much easier for the personal trainers to adapt the level of training to the group. I was lucky (or may be not so) that my Bootcamp buddy for the next following days was a man who runs to his job every day, after work he spends time in the gym and oh yes… he conquered some mountains in Singapore….running…. What am I doing here???!!!
Before I arrived I had to complete a health questionnaire, and in there I called myself “relatively fit”, but now next to Simon I feel like a complete amateur. Anyway, ¨No pain, No gain¨ that was the motto according to André, our personal trainer. Simon joked ¨no train, no pain¨, to which I could only laugh a bit uncomfortably… realising that this last quote was probably more applicable to me…
Anyway, I do not give up that easily so decided that standing next to my super fit buddy Simon, I had to take it as an opportunity and really try to get the most out my stay.
Sunday morning we started with a quick evaluation on the scale, my metabolic age 26! Bearing in mind that I just turned 38, that´s a great start, especially as the only thing I have done so far is put on my sport clothes… 🙂 But then the Bootcamp began with what they refer to as the “Epic circuit”, a running circuit around the resort with exercises in between, jumping jacks, spiderman walks, push-ups, abs, tri-ceps, skipping, lunges, squads, more squads, etc. 2 hours long, 6 laps, 2 more than the average group does….That´s some start!
In the afternoon there was a mini circuit in the gym, because unfortunately it was raining cats and dogs; 3 exercises, 12 each going in rounds, as many as possible in 1 hour. I managed to do 26 rounds, which is a new record! Great, now I am feeling good!
The program includes 2,5 hours of sports in the morning and 2,5 hours in the afternoon for 6 days, quite intense I must say. The following days, we did more circuits, climbing stairs, cycling, exercises on the beach, functional training, aqua fitness and we went for a run through the beautiful Falésia, a pine forest on top of the cliffs, what fantastic ocean views! This trail run was hard, unfortunately I could not keep up the pace, so I stopped half way and continued in a powerwalk. Luckily the advantage of being in a small group is that the activities can easily be adapted to the level of each participant.
The Epic bootcamp is guided by a team of professionals. Two trainers André and Patricia, are both great personal trainers and know exactly how to motivate you and make you give that little extra. And then the food… WOW! Because you are so active, you have to eat a lot, 5 meals a day, a special Bootcamp meal plan; breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner. The meals are put together by a nutritionist and all prepared by a wonderful chef. The food was of a very high standard, and tasted wonderful!
During my stay, I was quite sore, I had quite a lot of achy muscles, and I also had moments when I thought, ¨Please, NO more¨, but hey that is part of the deal. André had warned us at the beginning of the program ¨No pain, No gain!¨ Well that is definitely true. This program makes you feel every single muscle in your body. Maybe now I know I am not quite as fit as I thought I was, but being so active and really being aware of your body is a great feeling.
The daily access to the Spa and the massage to relax the muscles are a very welcome extra and the wellness workshop in which you learn about a healthy lifestyle makes the program complete.
I would not recommend this program to people who have a low level of fitness, some basic level is definitely required, so if you enjoy doing sports, but in your daily life you find it difficult to find the time, then this is a great program to make a new start. It will activate all your senses and your muscles, give you a new energy boost and really enthuse you to continue doing the exercises at home.
Epic Sana was a pleasant surprise to me in many ways, its beautiful location perhaps the most. But what I also enjoyed seeing was such an enthusiastic team of staff. We were at the end of the season, the hotel is closing for a month this weekend, but the staff was always upbeat, enthusiastic, friendly and smiling as if it was their first day of the season. I loved to see that. It is a great hotel to spend your healthy holiday, especially in spring and autumn I would say, because at this time the weather is not too hot and you can fully enjoy all of the lovely outdoor sports activities!
For more information about the EPIC Bootcamp or any other of the program they offer at EPIC Sana Algarve Hotel, please click here.