Compare Retreats founder Dervla Louli Musgrave checks into The Farm at San Benito, an eco-luxury wellness resort in The Philippines with a treatment menu as impressive as its over 90 international awards.
My stay at The Farm at San Benito has been eagerly anticipated as I’ve been trying to make it to the detox haven in The Philippines since 2017 when I launched Compare Retreats. The Farm is an award-winning wellness icon in Asia that offers an incredible suite of medical and holistic wellness retreats that can go as shallow or as deep as you want your wellness journey to take you. From detecting cancer markers, improving long covid symptoms, and increasing longevity to getting fit, losing weight, detoxing and aesthetics, there’s almost nothing that the team of doctors and therapists can’t help you with.
In recent years the global focus on being well from the inside out has been an area of emphasis for the award-winning spa team. Which means that alongside colemas, enemas, and colonics you can also try Reiki, voice therapy, heavy metal detox, psychotherapy, and much more. The three restaurants on site, ALIVE (vegan), PESCE (pescetarian) and PRANA (Indian vegetarian), offer something for everyone, but I highly recommend following the juice and soup detox programme for impressive results.
After a 90-minute drive from Manila airport in a private car, I’m checking in to do a 72-hour detox that I’m hoping will help bring down the severe inflammatory reaction I had during an medical treatment last week. Before my arrival I have an extremely thorough consultation with the resident doctors, one who has been with the farm for two decades.
I explain that my focus is on reducing inflammation, detoxing, and sleep. I tell them my preferences (I love IV infusions but acupuncture makes me anxious, as an example) and that I want to try their native and state-of-the art beauty treatments. Within moments my retreat programme is edited accordingly which I’m incredibly impressed by. This is just one of many moments where the guest experience team at The Farm blew me away by their speed, friendliness and general ‘can do’ attitude to every request sent their way. The team is all striving for excellence in everything they can do and work together seamlessly with beaming smiles.
There are 60 villas to choose from and 16 room categories that start from the entry category Sulu Terraces and finish at majestic and large Mahogony Luxury Villa. The Lakan Villa is one of the most popular residences that regular guests gravitate towards. My friend and I are staying in a spacious, bright and quiet Bamboo Villa with a small garden and outdoor patio.
The bedroom, bathroom and entryway are generous, light and airy decorated in a simple traditional style in a brown, white and green colour palette echoing the colours of the resort. The large lagoon that is the centre of the property is a picture-perfect spot for social media snaps, and most of the best villas are close to the reception, yoga pavilion, spa, clinic and three restaurants. Walking is encouraged (it is a wellness retreat after all), smoking and vaping are not allowed, phones are on silent, and unless your dining or having a treatment most guests are in bed early.
To date, The Farm is the only place in the Philippines that offers comprehensive personalised programmes designed to address and treat chronic illnesses and lifestyle diseases naturally and holistically. There are 26 retreat types to choose from ranging from diabetes prevention and heart health, to fertility and beauty, and hundreds of treatments to choose from.
Programmes are designed and conducted by internationally-trained doctors and licensed health professionals. My personal plan created by a doctor includes turmeric shots, various juice concoctions and warming soups. I’ll be trying an acupuncture beauty treatment called the ‘Empress Facial’ to help my digestive system, multiple massages to take my mind off any hunger pangs, Purelight to melt away excess fat, some functional fitness, energising yoga, Reiki with master healer Daven Wu, cellular health screening, colema, colonic, and Tres Banyos Lunas (a traditional Filipino spa therapy inspired by the ancient practices of herbalists). Complimentary wellness activities for all guests range from vegan cooking classes with the head chef to educational Reiki workshops, nature walking, Mandala flower arranging and more.
I go to bed around 9pm each night, sleep until 9am, and start my day with a healthy spicy shot before starting a workout or yoga with a trainer. My day is taken up by a gentle rhythm of juicing, treatments, dips in the multiple pools dotted around the estate, peacock spotting, writing, and remembering to relax. The detox is gentle, the treatments brilliant, and my inflammation is noticeably down after just 24 hours, and continues to improve during the 72 hours. By the time I check out I’m glowing from the Myers IV infusion, my stomach is flat from the juices, colema and colonic, my body is relaxed from the scrubs and massages, my mind is clear from the voice therapy, and my soul feels a little brighter from the Reiki and sound healing by resident experts. A perfect result from a perfect retreat.