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Catherine Beattie visits the Kempinski San Lawrenz Resort & Spa on Gozo - Malta's pretty little sister island

Gozo Pampering – The Kempinski San Lawrenz Resort and Spa

The Kempinski San Lawrenz Resort & Spa enjoys an idyllic location on the unspoiled island of Gozo, surrounded by palm trees and colourful gardens and close to a spectacular coastline. Built and furnished in the style of a traditional Gozo farmhouse with stone floors, burnished woods and palms, the rustic ambience is elegant and welcoming. Service comes with a smile, and everything needed for a pleasant stay is thoughtfully provided in spacious rooms that overlook the gardens and outdoor pool. 

The Marine Care Centre 

Guests at the 106-roomed resort have a choice of two different spas in which to relax and unwind. The Marine Care Centre offers marine treatments like algae baths, seaweed wraps, refreshing Vichy showers, herbal and freshwater treatments and traditional beauty treatments – hot stone therapy, facials, manicures and pedicures. Hairdressing is also available. The Marine Care Centre’s facilities include an indoor pool with Jacuzzi, a warm oxygen-rich hydro-pool, hammam and solarium. You can book a single treatment, a Top-to-Toe day or a six-day Thalgo package with 24 treatments. Because Gozo is one of the top dive spots in the Meditarranean, the spa offers a ‘Divers Special’ package that includes a body peel, blitz shower, body massage and a cold marine mask. 

I booked a relaxing seaweed wrap, anticipating a pleasant doze while the heat and marine extracts worked their magic. But nodding off was impossible, not only was the treatment room too light, but I could hear animated voices talking outside. A darker, quieter room, some scented candles and a relaxing tape would have made such a difference. It is these little thoughtful touches make for a memorable spa experience. Afterwards, showering off the seaweed wrap (which took ages!) my tummy and hips definitely felt tauter and toned. 

The Ayurveda Centre 

My next treatment was in the Ayurveda Centre, where the ambience is warmer and the treatment rooms are furnished in authentic Indian style with wooden treatment tables. Now in its sixth year of operation, the Ayurveda Centre is one of best and largest authentic ayurvedic centres in Europe and has many regular clients. Ayurveda means ‘science of life’ and is one of the oldest healthcare systems in the world, aiming ‘to restore purity and health to mind and body. ’ The Ayurveda Centre offers healthcare advice and a wide range of ayurvedic treatments, packages and specialist Kerala oil therapies. These alternative treatments are used for health/lifestyle-related conditions such as stress, weight loss, pre and postnatal care, aphrodisiacs, ageing and beauty care. You can have a single treatment or a longer package for specific conditions that lasts days or weeks. Because the ayurvedic system of healthcare is strictly personal, all treatments, diets and internal herbal teas are decided only after a consultation with one of the Ayurveda Centre’s doctors. 

I was prescribed an abhyanga massage with warm herbal oils ‘to aid circulation and relax the mind.’ I would have preferred a female therapist, but my slight misgivings and stress soon melted away once the treatment started. Warm oil was poured onto my back and expertly massaged into my skin, softening muscles and easing out knots of tension in my shoulders and neck. Deft fingers worked in turn on my scalp, ears, backs of knees, fingers, thumbs and each of my toes. At the end of the treatment, I was almost too relaxed to move off the treatment table and forgot about my oily feet, skidding into the shower cubicle. Tip – after a treatment with oils, ask for a towel to rub down your feet! 

Later on, I had a longer consultation with Dr Vijayakumar to assess my body type. According to ayurvedic practice, our bodies are made up of three doshas or life forces, which control all our physical and mental processes and must be in balance for health. The doshas are kapha (moon), pitta (sun) and vata (wind). After taking my pulse, the good doctor announced my dosha to be a combination of vata and pitta with a vata imbalance. He painstakingly wrote out three pages of personalised health tips for me to take away. I was surprised to find these reflected many of my food preferences and lifestyle habits, like not eating yoghurt, not sleeping too much and keeping fit by swimming (my favourite exercise). 

After our pampering in the spa, it was time for some sightseeing. Just like big sister Malta, Gozo has a wealth of culture, history and amazing seascapes. We started at the nearby Inland Sea at Dwejra – a huge pond of shallow water hiding behind towering cliffs and linked to the sea through a narrow tunnel in the cliff. We travelled down the tunnel in a rowing boat and out into the open sea, where we were rewarded with close-up views of the strange Fungus Rock and Azure Window. 

“You must see the megalithic temples of Ggantija.” our guide insisted, as we piled back into the tour bus. Built almost 7000 years ago, the temples are considered to be the oldest freestanding structures in the world. Where these massive stones came from, no one knows. The magnificent Basilica of Ta’ Pinu was my favourite tour. Standing in solitary splendour in open countryside, it is a national shrine and centre of pilgrimage. Inside a small adjoining chapel, gifts and letters of thanks to the Blessed Virgin for favours granted are displayed in glass cabinets and provide a unique insight into the character and faith of the Gozo people. 

We stopped for lunch at a seaside café before peeking into Calypso’s Cave and marvelling at the sands of Ramla Bay. Here, according to legend, the beautiful Calypso charmed the shipwrecked Ulysses into staying with her on Gozo for seven years. We pondered Calypso’s fate, as we sampled cheese and wine in the local market and admired the delicate Gozo lace and hand-knitted woollens on sale at bargain prices. Then it was back to our resort via Victoria, Gozo’s tiny capital, renamed after the British queen and a reminder of the island’s links with home. 

All too soon it was time to leave. A short helicopter flight took us back to Malta for our early morning flight. It was still dark when we lifted off so we missed the splendid views. A valid reason surely, for another visit to these sunny Mediterranean islands and their indulgent spas? 

Kempinski San Lawrence Resort & Spa Gozo – Malta
Tel +356 21 558 649

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