Hotel spas are the things dreams are made of—particularly when it comes to The Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon. Touted as one of the best spas in the country—by both tourists and locals alike—a treatment here quickly transports you to an indulgent world where deadlines cease to exist, and to-do lists vanish.
On my recent trip, I opted for the spa’s signature treatment, The Portuguese Retreat—a truly indulgent 2.5 hour treatment inspired by the tale of the Almond Trees in Blossom. A well-known love story from the time of the Moors, the King Ibn Almudium and his wife, the daughter of a great lord from the North, Gilda were very much in love and yet, the princess grew sadder each day. Wise men and magicians from all over the world were consulted, but none could find a cure for her sadness, until one day, an old Nordic man told the king that Gilda was longing for the white snow-covered fields of her homeland. Immediately, the king had thousands of almond trees planted in the gardens of their palace in Silves so that, when they were in blossom, the land would be covered in white petals, bringing joy to the princess. And this is why, since that long-gone spring, the Algarve comes alive with the beauty of thousands of almond blossoms each year.
So how is this transformed into a spa treatment? It all starts with a trip through the decadent pool area of the hotel into the vast and tranquil resting area complete with sauna, spa and locker room. From there, your therapist takes you into a peaceful, treatment room for a foot massage then onto a full-body exfoliation using a mixture of grained almonds and Portuguese honey. This is followed by a massage with the inebriating aroma of roses, which acts as an antioxidant to nourish and relax.
The idea of using roses came from yet another Portuguese legend, that of the Miracle of Roses. The protagonist is Elizabeth of Portugal, married to King Denis of Portugal in 1282. It is said that she would leave the palace disguised to take food to the poor, and one day transformed bread into roses.
The result of The Portuguese Retreat is skin that is luminescent, hydrated and full of life; a psyche that feels prepared to once again take on the many pressures of modern day life. Admittedly, these historic tales can be lost as you succumb to the overwhelming urge to relax, however, when others ask how you spent your morning, at least you’ll be able to tell them you were learning about the culture. FourSeasons.com/Lisbon — ANGELA GILLTRAP