With two million visitors arriving in 2015, Azerbaijan is on pace to break visitor records in 2016 with a ten percent increase in visitor arrivals, largely as a result of increased airlift, eased visa requirements and a continuing investment in infrastructure aimed at luring upmarket travelers from the GCC, Russia, and Europe. The Middle East is Azerbaijan's fastest-growing market, increasing tourist arrivals over the past year by 34 percent, with arrivals from Iran growing nearly 63 per cent.
The capital of Baku is top of the list for international visitors with its mix of Russian, European and Muslim influences and is reaping the tourism benefits of hosting successful high-profile events such as the 2015 European Games and the 2016 Formula One street circuit, both which showcased the city’s mix of ultra-modern architecture enveloped by the pristinely-preserved UNESCO World Heritage Site of Baku’s Old City, as well as the city’s vibrant cultural scene and other attractions.
Beyond Baku is the mountain retreat town of Gabala, located in the heart of the Caucasian range and once the geographic middle point of the Silk Route. Today the area serves as a getaway destination for upmarket travelers and family vacationers. Gabala is home to the Tufandag Mountain Resort, a world-class downhill skiing facility that opened in 2015, the country’s largest amusement park, stunning forests and valleys, as well as the highly-anticipated Chenot Palace, a five-star luxury health wellness hotel.
Checking into Chenot Palace on behalf of TTN, I am forewarned by Dr George Gaitanos, Chenot Group Scientific Director, that despite my luxurious contemporary surroundings, 'Chenot Palace is not a pampering spa.' In fact, the Chenot therapeutic approach focuses on a holistic detox and revitalisation method that utilises the most advanced diagnostic techniques and state of the art, non-invasive equipment to provide a completely individualised approach to individual wellness.
The Chenot approach developed by Dr Henri Chenot, who has been dedicated to individual wellness for more than 45 years to provide guests with a holistic view of their body, mind, and emotional life, explains, 'People are living longer, and there is the need to maintain performance as in youth. Our quest, our constant commitment, is to provide the means to invest in wellness so that our body cells will be harmonious and rich in vital energy and functionality.'
My first morning at Chenot Palace includes a full battery of medical and nutritional diagnostics and check-ups. This includes a discussion with one of the several on-site medical doctors about my family health history, followed by a completely non-invasive series of tests to check my body composition, metabolic age, and a full bio-energetic scan using onboarding diagnostic equipment developed by NASA to check my organ function.
From there, I undergo a postural scan, where a slight abnormality is found in my lumbar region, followed by an impromptu knee exam when I mention pain following activities such as tennis and running. From there I do a session of Neurac treatment, where everyday movements such as walking, sitting and body mobility are assessed and I undergo a neuromuscular re-activation session with a trained therapist using Redcord® technology. While skeptical, I witness surprisingly quick and significantly measurable success and leave the one-hour session feeling as if my musculoskeletal system has been reset, walking lighter and with more mobility in my upper torso and head.
As I break for a ‘bio-light’ lunch that consists of a thinly-sliced plate of pineapple carpaccio, a robust cabbage salad and a main course that is a healthy spin on eggplant parmigiana, a personalised treatment of hydro-therapeutic and energetic massages are coordinated on my behalf. The food offerings at Chenot Palace, while restrictive in calories, do not leave me feeling undernourished or hungry (though I admit I am craving bread and caffeine). The two meal plans at Chenot Palace focus on different outcomes, I am on the ‘detox’ plan that allows animal protein but does not exceed 1200 calories per day; the other, focused on weight loss, is vegetarian/vegan and more calorie stringent.
I begin my massage treatments with a one-hour Hydro PhytoMud therapy session. Through variations in water temperature and pressure along with a tailored mixture of essential oils added, the treatment aims to improve my circulation and eliminate toxins and fat deposits. Then, a special application of Chenot ‘mud’ is applied and I am wrapped and submerged into what feels like a waterbed and topped with a blanket-sized heating pad to help my body further rid itself of toxins.
After being sprayed down with a hydro-jet, I am taken to a two-hour session of Biontology massage, that incorporates deep tissue massage and electronic ‘cupping’ that leaves no marks and which focuses on activating my energy channels and stimulating my bodily functions. The next day I go through another round of Hydro PhytoMud therapy and an even more strenuous Biontology massage that focuses on my problem points. Talking me through my treatment, my therapist points out that he is working to realign my shoulder blades, then explains his work on my diaphragm and rib cage to open my lungs. Later, he works on my organs to stimulate further function and detoxification.
Over the course of my stay, I can feel the effects almost immediately. The first days aren’t easy, I feel nauseous and have a headache but I can tell something significant within my body is taking place, confirmed when I step on the scale on day two and weighing two kilos lighter. By my third evening, I’ve turned a corner. I feel a new sense of energy and my mind feels clear.
Throughout my visit I’m given insights into the Chenot wellness philosophy that includes information about diet, cooking, overall wellness and recommendations for everything from exercise to herbal medications to consider in maintaining my overall health and wellbeing. I find that all of the information is easy to incorporate into my lifestyle and I look forward to the lasting effects that some of the changes I will make will benefit my short and long-term wellness.
By Christine Hinz
Chenot Palace Health Wellness Hotel
The Chenot Palace Health Wellness Hotel features 72 guest rooms and suites. Suites offer private balconies; all rooms enjoy lake views and complimentary wi-fi. Three private villas include complete spa facilities (hydro-tubs, massage rooms, steam, and sauna) and private outdoor pool.
The 6,000 sq m facility includes medical and treatment wings, cryotherapy centre, fitness center with anti-gravity and oxygen-reduced training capabilities, indoor/outdoor pool, squash, as well as a yoga and Pilates studio. A childcare centre, game room and a small galleria of upscale boutiques are also on site, along with a dedicated meeting room where evening lectures on the Chenot diet and wellness approach are held.
Chenot programmes: The seven-night Fundamental Detox Henri Chenot Programme starts at Dh12,000 (). Three-day Active Detox programs are also available starting at Dh4,500 (). Other packages include seven-night Advance Detox; Prevention and Aging Well; and Stress and Re-Energising programmes, as well as a 14-night Metabolic Optimising for Weight Loss program.
Getting There: Azerbaijan Airlines, FlyDubai and Qatar Airways offer direct flights to Baku. Air Arabia will launch flights from Sharjah to Baku in March 2017. Flights to Gabala are available via Baku on Azerbaijan Airlines. Pegasus Airlines launched service to Gabala from Istanbul in March.
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