Health & Grooming | Chronicles of a Spa Junkie

Spa Junkie at… Villa Paradiso in Italy

Coffee and cigarettes at a health spa? Welcome to Villa Paradiso

Spa Junkie at… Villa Paradiso in Italy

Image: Jay Yeo

September 06 2011
Spa Junkie

Part: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Spa Junkie is experiencing a four-day stay at Villa Paradiso, the Italian medical spa on the edge of Lake Garda.

DAY TWO: 7.20am

“Buongiorno, buongiorno!” Breakfast, like all the meals here, is a quite jovial occasion. It’s a buffet of fruits, cereals and yoghurt, and yes, you can order coffee in all its guises. So I do.


Dr Loreto is seated at his desk as we start working through the results of the tests.

“OK, there are four key areas I want to focus on during your stay. The first is your diet. It’s clear from your tests you are not eating correctly for your body. The results show a very high acidic level. And the organ exhaustion is not caused by a couple of glasses of rosé at lunch. It is more than that; your diet is wrong for your blood and body type. I’m quite serious when I say you need to start making changes or you will have problems in the future. You have too much protein; your system cannot handle it. You are blood type A Negative and should be on a mainly vegetarian-based diet.

“Then we will do some functional therapy. I am going to cleanse your system with a mixture of medicines given to you intravenously; this will support the pancreas, liver and kidney. And then, I would like to do some intestinal symbiosis therapy. This is for the virus in your intestines. It’s an angry and stubborn one, so I insist for the next 40 days you have no sugar, yeast or alcohol.

“And lastly there is something going on in your postural bite – your jaw.” He is right; I went to see someone years ago but never followed up, thinking it was nothing serious. “Well, the machine says it is serious; please look into it when you get home.”

He ushers me back to the bed, and within moments my arm is pierced by a syringe. I watch as the unidentified contents of the sachet hanging above my head empty into my bloodstream. He does not know what the ingredients are in English, apart from one that comes from the skin of the toad, called Bufo, and is used in homeopathic medicine. It could be anything; but I let him continue anyway. (Later, I feel a bit of a sucker not to have done more research about what exactly he was pumping into me.)

“Tomorrow we’ll talk again, and I’ll explain more to you, OK?” A man of few words; but I am warming to him. He used to look after the Milan football stars, so I imagine what’s good enough for Ronaldinho is surely good enough for me.


Between appointments I head out to the pool. I can’t help but giggle, as it’s a scene that would not be out of place in a Carry On… film. I count 16 middle-aged to 80-year-old men and women in a variety of positions – some in deckchairs, others in hammocks, some standing and some (men) pacing as if in a boardroom. All their faces are covered in various green- and white-coloured face masks; some have silver foil around their heads. All are on their mobile phones, many of them smoking cigarettes. It’s pure comedy, a sight for sore eyes, and it cheers me up no end. To put things into perspective, this is the spa frequented by Berlusconi. Enough said.


Antonella hands me a white-netted bodysuit as we prepare for the Endermologie LPG treatment on my prone-to-water-retentive legs and tummy. It’s like a giant condom; I squeeze my body inch by inch into the tighter-than-skin suit and lie down on my tummy, feeling as ridiculous as I look.

The machine gently rolls and sucks as it sends mechanical stimulations deep into the fat cells, breaking down stubborn deposits and supposedly boosting collagen production. The sensation mimics a deep tissue massage coupled with some pinching. I have three sessions booked, so I should lose a couple of inches around my thighs by the end of the week, says Antonella.


Lunch is uneventful, as I sit alone at my table. I’ve had no more than a slight nod since arriving; not even the owner has made an effort to say hello. So I’m especially pleased I have commissioned a new playlist for this trip. I’ve channelled my inner punk, and The Clash, Violent Femmes and The Cure are keeping me company through the afternoons of cardio. A really good, consistent beat can be a lifesaver, so order from iPod Genius or get a family member to load you up – everything from classic rock to house to some feel-good perennials from the Bridget Jones films. Just make sure when you start belting out the lyrics mid-workout that you don’t have a troop of fellow spa-goers in the vicinity – it could be perceived (rightly, in my case) as noise pollution.


A 30-minute shiatsu massage in the garden cabana. One of the gripes I have with Villa Paradiso is this 30-minute daily massage. I have always felt that even 60 minutes isn’t long enough, and since my time at the Four Seasons in the Maldives, where the standard massage is 90 minutes, it feels like short-changing to offer half-hour treatments. Giacomo, the in-house masseur, explains: “Some people never have massage, so half an hour each day is enough for them. If you need more, we are here to help. Obviously, it is just a matter of money.”


An aqua-massage in a private bath of jet sprays, a Power Plate class in the gym followed by a glorious run along the lake gets me through to supper promptly at 8pm.


I’m in my room reading, but the restaurant is alive; all the guests are outside and the pianist is crooning away, singing a vast range from It’s Raining Men to hits by Italian superstar Eros Ramazzotti and everything chart-busting in between. I’m a little jealous as I look out from my terrace; they all seem to be having a great time, singing and dancing as if we were at a holiday resort.


The shenanigans quieten down, so that I – the youngest guest by a good 20 years – can get some sleep.

Spa Junkie pays for all her own travel, treatments and accommodation.