YOU…BUT BETTER – Day 2: THE BLISS ESCAPE Neal’s Yard Luxury Spa Retreat at Vivenda Miranda 3-10 October 2015

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Sunshine + sea + incredible views = fabulous…but sun, sea, views and Neal’s Yard Remedies spa treatments equals that “I never want to go home!” feeling.  I spent an afternoon at the Vivenda Miranda boutique hotel and spa in Porto de Mos near Lagos in the Algarve and gosh – what a relaxing place…


I took this blue sky pic on the day I visited recently and the sun shines in the Algarve for most of the year – in fact locals say September and October are often the best months, not too hot, but it still feels like summer

Perched high up on the most perfect point in pretty Porto do Mos (if you go, make sure you grab a bite to eat at Antonio’s on the beach a little further along from Vivenda Mirana – best Salade Nicoise, Portuguese-style, I’ve ever had).

The vibe at Vivenda Miranda makes you feel like you’re staying at a friend’s big, beautiful, romantic villa. Norfolk Island Pines (the tree in the pic) grow around here, they thrive on clean salty air, always a good sign health-wise.

When you step out from the reception area (with a lovely showcase of  Neal’s Yard’s indigo beauty bottles…I couldn’t believe they had Neal’s Yard here – extra points!) the view hits you – straight ahead, the velvety mid-blue Med, the pool and gardens to your right and more gardens to your left. In fact it’s like one huge garden with a backdrop of blue sea, blue sky and the odd seagull passing overhead. Bliss.


Sun-drenched blues, greens and pinks

The essence of wellbeing at Vivenda Miranda is its heartbeat. I can’t think of anywhere lovelier to do yoga or take a week off for a nutritional/meditation retreat, for example, with easy flights from the UK to Faro and they do retreats too, as well as weddings. Or even just to take a week off and do nothing except gently recharge the batteries, eat well, take in the scenery, sunshine and “regroup”.

In fact there are two interesting retreats coming up – The Neal’s Yard Remedies Spa Retreat 3-10 October, then a Raw Food Vitality Week from 17th October (there’s more info/booking on the website

Interestingly, although Vivenda Miranda itself is so incredibly pretty and indredibly relaxing, what struck me was a sense of feeling really comfortable, i.e. that you can just be yourself here.  Sometimes I feel a bit conspicuous/self-conscious at certain spas when the whole thing becomes a bit formal. You’re fiddling with your spa slippers knowing there’s a therapist waiting, ready to pounce on you in the nicest possible way (before the next appointment) or the whole experience becomes a bit too “ritualistic” – or, the spa is so steamy and humid it’s like “welcome to Hong Kong on the hottest day of the year!”  Vivenda Miranda is just super-chilled as they say in the States.

Nutrition, cooking workshops, a visit to a local organic farm, Neal’s Yard Spa Treatments, yoga and meditation mornings…just some of the treats in store at Neal’s Yard’s upcoming Luxury Spa Retreat at Vivenda Miranda – to book, visit the special offer page at

At Vivenda Miranda I could happily have wandered around the grounds, read a few chapters of my George Harrison book on the sunlounger, had a spot of lunch – view included! – lazed by the pool for a few afternoon laps, treated my feet to a pedicure…all with plenty of time to spare before sunset drinks and dinner under a canopy of stars.

I think what really struck me was how Miranda Vivenda lets you “be you”, in a beautiful, non-intrusive way…yet gently shows you how to be – and feel – better. Embracing food as your medicine, relaxation and exercise as your therapy (all of which you can do when you get home – minus the up-and-down the coast Algarve views, sadly!)

With the grounds as your own, green chillout zone and the wind-down vibe the Western Algarve does so well, it would be impossible to leave this place not feeling very “you…but better”. (Thanks in part to the Neal’s Yard Spa treatments and a big blue bottle of NYR Geranium and Orange Body Lotion in your suitcase!)

If you’ve never been to this spot, I think you would love it here.  Right now I need a bit of “me…but better”. I haven’t had a holiday yet, work has been ridiculously busy and I’ve been abandoning myself lately. Work first, me second.  So I might just go back for longer this time for a taste of Vivenda Miranda in September, and I cannot wait.

For more information and to book a place at the Neal’s Yard Luxury Spa Retreat in October, email 

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