The Portuguese island promising to deliver instant inner karm

12 November 2019 - Irish Examiner

It’s sunrise and my cares seem to float away as I lie on my back on a mountain in Madeira, listening to sticks gently beating on a drum, simulating the noise of rain.

My mind and spirit are being washed by a ‘sound bath’ where – instead of water – vibrations produced on instruments, from gongs and shamanic drums, to chimes and shakers, aim to coax the brain into a relaxed, meditative state.

“Immersion in beautiful sounds and vibrations can clear the chakras [centres of energy within us] and soothe the body, mind and spirit,” promises Emilie Mangoni, an international yoga teacher who’s conducting my yoga session, finishing with the potent auditory healing experience.

The surroundings couldn’t be more peaceful – an idyllic glade in the heart of the Laurissilva Forest whose origins are said to date back 20 million years.

Calm and healing experiences are what I crave and have come for. An overload of work and family problems have left me feeling low mentally and physically, and I’ve escaped to this island to rescue my battered wellbeing.

Unable to spare the time for a long holiday, all I have is three days to reboot my karma, which makes Madeira – a lush, beautiful giant rock in the Atlantic just off the west coast of Africa – the perfect destination.

It’s only a three-and-a-half hour direct flight from London and is rapidly gaining a reputation as being ideal for a wellness break. It was recently named Europe’s leading island destination 2019 by the World Travel Awards.

I’m hoping that its sub-tropical climate, spectacular mountain skylines, crystal clear waters and sandy beaches will instantly plunge me into sun-soaked serenity.

My base is the lively, cosmopolitan capital, Funchal. Facing the sea, it’s flanked by verdant mountains behind, and is in the southern part of the island.

On my first night, I’m enveloped in elegant luxury at the uber-contemporary, Vine Hotel, located in the historic centre close to the marina.

The island’s winemaking history is the inspiration for the interior design. Dark, moody settings feature materials such as volcanic rock, contrasted with rich purple fabrics, while furniture has been crafted to resemble twisted vines.

There are almost too many ways to relax, with an indoor pool, solarium and fitness centre. A spa offers a wide range of treatments, including vinotherapy: a red wine bath with antioxidant wine extracts promising skin and health benefits.

After months of no ‘me time’, it’s blissful to simply laze on the rooftop beside outdoor infinity pool, gazing out at the view over the bay. Wrapped in thick white towels after a long swim, I can feel my muscles relaxing and tension falling away.

Refreshed and more energised the next day, I take a two-and-a-half-hour sea trip by ferry to the tiny neighbouring island of Porto Santo.

It’s dubbed Madeira’s sandy little sister because of its spectacular uninterrupted 9km-long beach, which fringes its south side.

Source: Irish Examiner

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