Review by Spa & Wellness MexiCaribe
Arriving in the small town of Gramado in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, I was pleasantly surprised to find a Bavarian Alpine-like setting with evident European influences. Originally settled by Portuguese immigrants from the Azores, Gramado was then discovered by Germans and Italians. The European settlers’ influence can be seen in the picturesque architecture and the frequent offerings of fondue selections and gourmet chocolate in the town’s numerous restaurants and boutique stores.
Tucked away on a hillside on the edge of town, Kurotel Medical Longevity Center & Spa spans an impressive 25000 square metres of hydrangea decked lawns. Neatly kept grounds and blooming flowers provide an invigorating setting for a week of health, wellness, activity, spa and relaxation.
Luis Carlos Silveira and his wife, Neusa Silveira, founded Kurotel in 1982 after pursuing knowledge from Europe and integrating skills learned in Singapore. Luis Carlos and Neusa set out to develop a place where the guests’ health status was approached by a multidisciplinary team involving medicine, food, physical activity and the creation of positive emotions. “We dreamed of going beyond medicine that was learned at the time, based on the American model aimed at curing diseases,” recalls the doctor Luís Carlos.
Offering an array of health and longevity programs, Kurotel caters to those looking to lose weight, effectively manage stress, quit smoking, recover from cancer or other disease, prepare for surgery, improve brain health and maintain healthy longevity. The ‘Healthy Longevity’ program encompasses weight maintenance, managing stress, eating a healthy diet and generally embracing wellness at all levels, and this certainly seemed the best choice for me.
With a fully packed agenda from morning to evening, there only seemed time for relaxation when scheduled! The hike each morning started off the day. This was followed by a group fitness class such as yoga or dance and then by some form of aquatic fitness in the central pool. Personal training sessions or activities such as Pilates are also scheduled in the morning; one-on-one with a qualified instructor. During the first few days, the agenda was interspersed with many tests: medical, physiological, postural, psychological, blood, saliva and so on. The afternoons at Kurotel are a time for relaxation, with frequent massages, hydrotherapy baths, fango mud treatments, chair massages, sauna and steam.
Kurotel has 35 beautifully appointed guest suites, and my partner and I were lucky enough to have one of the most well positioned suites. We had a spectacular view of the landscape from one side, where a window and balcony terrace spanned the length of the suite. From the other side, a view of the picturesque courtyard featuring a charming fountain and the Kniepp walk pool – used daily after the morning walk to revive tired and hot feet. Our suite was more than spacious with a separate bedroom and living area, a walk-in wardrobe and not one, but two full bathrooms. Heaven!
The staff at Kurotel are always on hand with information and answers to any questions as it can take a few days to get into the swing of things, and by mid week we felt like part of a family. With multiple lounge areas filled with plush sofas, fireplaces and communal TVs, Kurotel soon started to feel like home. Although I don’t speak Portuguese, having a good basis of Spanish certainly helped communication with many of the staff. I learned quickly after the first couple of days; if in doubt – speak in Spanish as, more often than not, it was perfectly understood by the Brazilian staff. For international guests who generally speak English whether from North America or Europe, a staff member is assigned to assist with translation during the appointments with therapists or consultants who are not English speakers.
One of my most notable experiences at Kurotel was the osteopathy appointment with Jacqueline, a physiotherapist and osteopath who performed an exceptional consultation, analysis and treatment. She not only managed to identify the areas where my body was out of balance and out of alignment but she also identified injuries from many years ago. During the first yoga class I had noticed, while looking in the mirror, that my shoulders were out of alignment and one was higher than the other, I stretched and twisted my spine, rolled down and up a few times but there was no change. After one session with Jacqueline, everything was aligned. At the next yoga class it was clear that my shoulders were now level. She increased the mobility of both ankles and questioned if I had a fallen on my spine in the past, the answer was ‘yes’ as, about 13 years ago, I had decided to take up rollerblading. It did not go well and the outcome was a severely bruised tailbone that I felt for over a week. She also ‘rearranged’ my internal organs, a strange but not painful feeling after which I did feel some discomfort during the evening – which I was warned could happen.
Another interesting test was the Thermography exam. Thermography equipment detects infrared heat energy emitted from the body and and displays a thermal image of temperature distribution. Thermography is useful in detecting many imbalances in the body and identifying precursors to a multitude of diseases. Standing in a variety of poses unclothed was a little daunting; however looking over the results was tremendously interesting to me.
After a meeting with the nutritionist on day 1, I was advised to continue with an unrestricted diet during my stay at Kurotel, this meant seven small meals a day totaling around 2500 calories with no restriction of dairy or wheat. Unfortunately, once my results for the food intolerance test came back a few days later, it showed several food intolerances. The most severe intolerance was to dairy – in particular casein protein from cow’s milk. I also had a moderate intolerance to both gluten and oats. From then on my diet at Kurotel was amended to remove all dairy, gluten and oats while maintaining the calorie count. Fortunately this did not affect my favorite components of the diet; a variety of flavorful soups and fresh healthy salads. A team of nutritionists and nutrologists together with renowned French Chef, Jean Paul Bondoux, have created the Kurotel nutrition program. It is based on the diet of the longest living population in the world, helping to avoid diseases and boost health. Dishes are made with organic ingredients, grown in harmony with nature with no pesticides or additives.
An on-site organic garden provides many vegetables, fruits and herbs, and only wild fish is served in Kurotel’s meals. Chicken, milk, eggs and other products are sourced from the Silveira’s family farm.
With a barrage of information, and more yet to come, I left Kurotel with an abundance of useful knowledge about my health, wellness, body composition, requirements for relaxation, the necessity of a routine, nutritional guidelines and; by and large, a clean bill of health. Unquestionably, it was an enlightening and life enhancing week.