Juicemaster Retreats

»7 Pounds in 7 Days with Jason Vale, The Juice Master«

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Jason Vale is an evangelist for the healing power of juice. So strong is his commitment, that every meal for the entire week of this retreat is a liquid one. Fair warning - the liquid diet is not optional, so participating in the excellent yoga sessions means packing a straw. The power-packed activity schedule makes this retreat an investment in overall health rather than an indulgent holiday, although the deluxe surroundings more than make up for the absence of rich foods.

For seven months of the year, in an isolated spot in the mountains of western Turkey, a small group gathers to salute the sun. Taking advantage of the 270-degree view that sweeps the eye for miles across this relatively untouched part of the world, the 20 or so people begin their day with yoga. This is the week-long retreat that emphasises detox and a relaxed route to good health, also known as 7 Pounds in 7 Days.

The Juicemaster is Jason Vale. Vale has made a name for himself as a motivational speaker on healthy living and nutrition, specifically the power of juicing. Occasionally described as the Jamie Oliver of the health world, his seminars and retreats are big business. Our focus is not on the benefits of juicing, although they play a significant role in the 7 Pounds in 7 Days retreat. Our passion is, as always, the yoga sessions, which are led by a small number of guest teachers who alternate throughout the year. These teachers are well-established, well-known and very, very good indeed.

There's not really an average day at the retreat. All activities are optional, so if a day spent sleeping is more attractive than an early start, there are no drill-masters standing over your bed with a whistle. Nonetheless, most participants surprise themselves by actually wanting to take part. The cunning retreat leaders have a knack of making all that exertion actually seem fun – even down to the cleverly named ‘Rambles’ that are mountain hikes disguised as leisurely strolls.

The sauna is open for 90 minutes every morning and afternoon, which is invaluable for soothing sore muscles and sweating out impurities. Massages are available at an additional cost, which is often money well-spent for helping shocked and stunned muscles realize that yes, they are expected to be used.

In between sessions of circuit-training, rebounder workouts, and mountain hikes, the 'meals' are served. These are all liquid. For the whole week. Nothing but juices, smoothies, and soups (only standard during selected weeks). Despite not needing cutlery for an entire week, hunger is surprisingly non-existent here. It makes sense in a way - it may be impossible to eat an entire bag of carrots, but drinking them is easy. Wherever possible, only local produce is used, and a range of ingredients are crammed into every drink to ensure the broadest possible nutrition. The theory goes that when the body is highly nourished, the cravings for junk food disappear as cravings are purported to be Nature's way of demanding whatever is lacking. For instance, a craving for sweets is often an indication that you are lacking in Vitamin C as fruit was the only available sweet for thousands of years and is usually high in this antioxidant vitamin. Anecdotally speaking, it seems that this approach works. Retreat guests who continue juicing at home often report that their desire for junk food has gone.

Whether it all really works that way is not up to us to say. However, committing to this retreat means committing to this diet as the resort is very isolated and there is zero chance of sneaking out to the corner shop for a meat pie and bag of chips.

The resort itself was once a four star hotel. These days it is used exclusively by the Juicemaster Retreats, which makes participating in the 7 Pounds in 7 Days the only possible way to stay here. Private rooms are available, at around twice the cost of the standard triple-share. Twin-share is not much more expensive than triple. Many retreat guests come alone, and are allocated room-mates during the booking process. This almost always works out well, although if there is a personality clash the retreat leaders are very accommodating about changing rooms. The rooms are comfortable and well-appointed although the beds are very firm. This is a delight for some, and an unwelcome surprise for others, so be aware of it if you need to arrange a softer place to lay your weary body.

The grounds have a swimming pool as well as a table-tennis area and volleyball court. The covered exercise platform shelters exercisers from the sometimes-brutal midday Turkish sun, and the infinity platform is an idyllic place for a morning yoga session. It is the view that really makes the Montenegro Hotel. A full 270 degrees of mountain and ocean vistas, barely touched by hand of man. This is a sleepy and traditional part of Turkey, inhabited mostly by farmers and orchardists, while that distant stretch of ocean is studded with millionaire's yachts on the Turkish Riviera. The isolation of the resort contributes well to the focus of the retreat: Setting aside the temptations and trappings of everyday life and spending a full week giving yourself the gift of health. Not to mention spending a week in the sun-drenched Turkish hills with new friends and a glass of chilled juice.

About the area: Gocek

Gocek is a small town of around 4,500 people. Nestled on the south-west of Turkey, its ideal Mediterranean positioning makes it a major port for Blue Cruises. The influx of day-tripping tourists in summer, as well as the individual yachties, boosts the local numbers to well over 7,000 at any given time during the height of the season. Winters are mild in Gocek, dropping to 14 degrees C (57F), and the summers are hot, often reaching 38 degrees C (100F). The sea breezes are welcome on summer evenings, cooling the many visitors that can be found sipping cold drinks on the terraces of the cafes and bars that line the shore.

Image credit: Juicemaster Retreats

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