Just south of Manila lies one of the Philippines top luxury wellness resorts and one of the most renowned detox centres in the world. The Farm at San Benito has cemented its reputation in the wellness world with stellar international-standard service and award-winning medi-spa and creative plant-based cuisine. Compare Retreats wellness expert and yoga instructor Natalie Soderstrom checked into The Farm at San Benito to try out its famous cleanse and detox programme…
The Farm is located in San Benito in Lipa is about 90 minutes from the international airport in Manila. It’s pretty much highway all the way to the resort before hitting the closest village and getting into smaller roads reaching the remote property. The Farm arranged airport transfers for us, and the car wifi was a nice perk that kept us entertained on the journey.
In the Philippines, the rainy season is from June to October, and the dry season is November to April, though even during our rainy season stay we barely saw any wet weather, so don’t let that be a deterrent.
The Farm has been around for 17 years and is one of the leading holistic clinics in Asia. The property includes three main sanctuaries: the Holistic Sanctuary, the Healing Sanctuary Spa and the Aqua Sanctuary, with enough spa treatments on the menu to keep you busy for weeks.
Guests begin their stay in the Holistic Sanctuary, for a consultation with the on-site doctor who recommends treatments and detox programmes suited specifically to your needs. The Healing Sanctuary Spa is an intimate, earthy space with treatment rooms that feel like a little villa by itself with a shower and bathtub. Located close to the resorts’ main infinity pool, the spa is connected to the Aqua Sanctuary which includes different pools and treatments like water acupressure, flotation pods, infrared sauna, cold bucket showers and thermal therapies. You’ll find yourself dipping in and out of these three sanctuaries throughout your stay.
The other main areas include two on-site restaurants, Alive and Pesce, where meals are served detox programme participants and a la carte guests. The resort offers a variety of activities for guests, including yoga, power walks and functional fitness classes. Visitors here range from cancer patients seeking alternative treatments to people with weight management issues to holiday goers in need of a weekend away submerged in a peaceful place with spa treatments and pampering so regardless of your motivations, you’ll find something to meet your needs here.
There are nine different villa types offered at The Farm, ranging from single-room villas to multi-room options. The luxury accommodation is all designed in earthy, soothing tones using traditional Filippino architectural techniques: the Sulu Terraces are modelled after the traditional Philippine rice barns and give a feeling of a modern-day treehouse with quaint thatched roofs and interior wooden beams. For larger groups and families, the Master Villa and Lankan Villa both have their own private pools along with large living areas and a kitchenette.
The property is spread out across 48-hectares of lush jungle grounds, so there are lots of corners to explore: walking from the restaurant to the spa to your private villa, you really get to know the property and immerse yourself in this jungle paradise.
Guests at The Farm can eat at one of the two on-site restaurants, which cater to both retreat programmes and a la carte guests.
Renowned internally, the award-winning vegan and raw cuisine at Alive is what has brought The Farm so much of its notoriety as a detox haven. The restaurant plays a huge role in The Farm’s nutritional philosophy, and whether guests are on a detox programme or not, there’s an option for nutritious juices or a la carte dining throughout the day.
Pesce is the resort’s latest addition, offering pescetarian dining options alongside plant-based dishes. Based on Dan Buettner’s philosophies of nutrition in ‘Blue Zones’—the zones around the world with the highest longevity—the restaurant incorporates healthy animal proteins into the menu. It’s a great option for non-vegans who might feel their regular or required diet is too different from the raw vegan-based cuisine served at Alive.
While on the detox programme, guests will be served a menu designed for your personal needs, which typically includes juices throughout the day with more solid food at breakfast and dinner. Ingredients for the on-site restaurants are supplied by the retreat’s own farm so it’s organic, handled and harvested with love.
The Farm offers a huge range of medical and alternative naturopathic retreat programmes, such as weight management, heart health, mental health, pain management, cellular health, aesthetics, and spa programmes. While at The Farm, I participated in its renowned detox cleanse, for a three-day, two-night detox programme. It almost felt too short—I could easily have stayed much longer.
One of my main health concerns before arriving was the level of heavy metals in my body. Before arriving, I had completed the pre-retreat questionnaire, and the retreat began with a private consultation session with the doctor: my personalised retreat programme was designed around this consultation and the pre-retreat questionnaire, to ensure that I met both my own goals and what my body needed.
The detox programme contained a mix of treatments, juices and nutrition to help eliminate the heavy metals in my body—a side-effect of pollution and urban living. One of The Farms latest addition is the beauty salon, which offers elaborate facials and scalp treatments as well as manicures, pedicures and a wash with a blowout. It’s a lengthy treatment list—I highly recommend trying out a few of your familiar favourites along with experimenting with some of the more unusual treatments.
While everything felt fresh and healthy and there was plenty of juices alongside the meals, I found my stomach would still growl from time to time—if you’re doing the detox programme for reasons other than weight loss, the easy solution to this problem is to order from the a la carte menu in addition to your programme, because at least it’s all healthy, toxin-free food.
The retreat lived up to my expectations and then some. With these surroundings it’s hard not to leave feeling relaxed and zen. It’s a cliche, but with so much variety in the wellness offerings, there really is something for everyone. The Farm balance a feeling of a laidback holiday resort with cutting-edge medical assistance, and avoid making health checkups feel clinical. It’s as far from a hopsital environment as you could get, which makes it ideal for health-conscious travellers looking to still kick-back on holiday while maintaining and improving their mental and physical health. After my detox, I feel that coming back annually to rest, reset and recharge my body is something I have to add into my calendar.
The staff made the detox as easy and comfortable as they could. They timed everything to a tee, and whenever I was coming out of a massage or spa treatment, there was always a juice or cleansing tonic waiting for me which made the whole experience so wonderful. The staff is amazing and will go above and beyond to satisfy you.
There’s a strong focus on the individual so everything from treatments to nutrition can be tailor-made just for you and your needs: even if you’re travelling with a friend or partner, it’s likely you will have totally different programmes.
It’s called The Farm for a reason: you’re really going to be reconnecting with nature here, though for some it may be a little too close for comfort… Be prepared for bugs, spiders, toads, frogs, snails and other creepy crawlies. Bring bug spray and carry a flashlight with you at night to avoid surprises in the dark.
The huge 200-year-old mango tree is said to be located within positive energy vortex with lots of tales about its powerful energy. Hug the tree, touch it or just sit under it meditating, set intentions and see what happens.