LipHe: A Holistic Wellness Experience
Today, more and more people are looking for alternative ways to unwind and detox from the rigors of their stressful modern life. As a result, they are seeking to have ‘healthy’ vacations where they can be surrounded by nature, eat healthily and engage in activities that are good for the mind, body and soul. So, this is where wellness resorts and retreats come in, allowing guests to have an immersive experience that is both relaxing and health-oriented. Wellness tourism is on the rise globally with stellar wellness breaks that are highly sought after in countries like Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia and Costa Rica (to name a few of the popular destinations). At The Wellness Project, we didn’t have to look far from home; we discovered a unique destination in Lebanon that is dedicated to all things wellness.
LipHe (pronounced as life) is a family run eco wellness retreat committed to providing guests with a holistic wellness experience. It focuses on relaxation, health and education (yup, all rolled into one!). LipHe is perched on a hill (with uninterrupted mountain views from all sides) in Kfarhata (Koura), a lush pristine village in the North of Lebanon. It was founded by two sisters: Samar and Amal Saba. A few years ago they both left their day jobs and fully dedicated themselves to setting up their own wellness resort in their ancestral village.
Samar explains that the ethos of lipHe is about life in balance: “We have pH in the middle of our resort’s name as we focus on achieving an alkaline balance.” (You can read further on how to balance the pH in your body in this article by mindbodygreen).
When Samar was still working full time (she worked in the corporate sector for nineteen years), she would often go to wellness resorts to unwind and detox. She explained that during those travels she got exposed to healthy living habits, which prompted her to study them further. She went on to become a certified integrative health coach and a plant-based nutrition coach. Today, her focus at lipHe is to educate others: “I wanted to really spread what I had learned during my travels and my further studies on healthy living.” LipHe has a video library where guests can choose from a large selection of wellness topics. Guests typically sit and watch these educational documentaries in the common lounge area (the guest rooms do not have TVs).
Food is also an integral part of lipHe. The menu is 100% vegan and focused on whole food plant-based dishes. A typical breakfast can be: a banana oat muffin or a zaatar manousheh made of spelt and sweet potato dough (with no yeast). Lunch or dinner can be zucchini noodles and pesto sauce, walnut and lentil balls with mashed potato or a quinoa salad with cashew dressing. Throughout the day guests can munch on healthy snacks, such as homemade muffins, oats with fruits, seasonal fruit salads and banana with almond butter. Guests can also have unlimited fresh green juices, Kangen water (http://thewellnessproject.me/kangen-water-the-solution-to-all-your-water-needs-in-one-device/) and herbal teas (coffee is available but not encouraged at lipHe).
Everything is prepared and cooked fresh at lipHe from organically sourced ingredients. “We don’t allow processed food or any animal protein,” says Samar. Her sister Amal is the health food chef at lipHe who personally cooks all the meals. Amal is also the nutritional microscopist who offers live blood consultations at the resort (I’ll explain what this feature is further on).
LipHe also has a lovely 20-meter long outdoor bio pool that blends nicely with the surrounding nature. Instead of chlorine, they use UV and salt chlorination to keep the water clean and chemical free. The guest cabins are made of eco friendly materials featuring comfortable and minimalist style rooms. LipHe also has an infrared sauna, which Samar points out, “has plenty of benefits.” So how different is it from a regular sauna? “A regular sauna operates on water vapor reaching up to 120 °C, while a infrared sauna uses light to create heat. The temperature doesn’t exceed 65 °C and I keep ours at 55-60°C, so you are very comfortable sitting there for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, while you sweat. You can even keep on your jewelry. You can read a book too and not damage it. As you are staying for a longer period, it penetrates deeper into the pores, which promotes detoxification. It’s also good for reducing muscle and joint pain as it fights inflammation.”
For health and fitness activities, lipHe offers yoga, pilates and aqua gym classes. Hiking excursions are also arranged thanks to plenty of suitable tracks in the vicinity, mostly during the spring and autumn months when the climate is ideal. LipHe has an in-house physiotherapist who offers both relaxing and deep tissue massages. Amal also gives regular cooking lessons on healthy dishes, while Samar provides daily talks on various health topics – giving guests plenty of ‘food for thought!’
LipHe has a total of four guest cabins, which can accommodate up to eight guests. Normally however, they have no more than 5-6 guests at any one time. Guests also all dine together in the common area on one large dining table. Owners Samar and Amal are very hands on managing most aspects of running the resort, while spending time with the guests during the day. “We become like a family, hanging out together, sharing stories, educating each other and so on,” shares Samar.
Now let me get back to nutritional microscopy, which I mentioned earlier. The reason this service is offered was explained by Samar in this way:
“This goes back to the same philosophy of the pH balance in our bodies, where the pH of our blood is designed to be slightly alkaline with a pH of 7.365. However, by function, our bodies are naturally acidic too, as we release acid when our bodies digest our food and as we move around. However, unfortunately, with our current lifestyle, where generally we are overly stressed, we eat too much processed food, take medicines, breathe polluted air, eat produce from polluted soil, drink unclean water and so forth, the acidity and toxicity is increased in our bodies. Our bodies are not designed to deal with this much acidity. Over time, this leads to illnesses. To reverse this ‘damage’ we need to clean and detoxify our bodies from time to time. Nutritional microscopy allows us to look at the quality of the blood cells, which gives you an idea of the overall health of a person.”
To conduct nutritional microscopy, first, a tiny drop of blood is extracted with a quick finger prick. It is then viewed under a microscope that is linked to a laptop. The guests can immediately see their ‘live blood’ sample on a screen. “You can see the blood cells moving, the white blood cells cleaning, and how the environment is generally, through this tiny sample,” explains Samar. “Too much acidity changes the shape and pollutes the environment of the cells, so with this test you can see the condition of your red and white blood cells, crystal formations, bacteria, fungus and other toxins floating around. Indication of stress and yeast accumulation can also be seen,” continues Samar.
Commonly used by chiropractors, naturopaths and other holistic healthcare practitioners, nutritional microscopy is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any diseases. It is a screening tool that can assist individuals in the following ways: (http://www.personalizedwellnesssolutions.org/What-is-Nutritional-Microscopy-.html)
- Provide an early warning of possible future health challenges
- Detecting patterns of cellular disorganization
- Alerting the need for a medical referral
- Monitoring a health challenge before and after adopting an approach to restore health and balance
- Determining the effectiveness of various approaches to restoring health and balance
At lipHe, the nutritional microscopy is followed by a consultation for guests on how to clean their bodies, explains Samar. “A few weeks later, we will also send the guest a written report on the live blood cell analysis with dietary and lifestyle recommendations.”
As you may have noticed by now, Amal and Samar are very much directly involved with the services and operations at lipHe. As a result, there is a strong rapport between them and the guests. “It becomes like hanging out with friends. The spirit of the place is Amal and I,” says Samar. “As we are always present with the guests and we want them to leave feeling better.” Clearly, lipHe is a unique wellness destination that is designed to give guests a holistic experience, so that they feel healthier and may even leave wanting to make better health related choices in their everyday lives. You can check their website if you wish to know more or want get in touch: www.liphe.me
Well, we hope you enjoyed reading about this particular wellness retreat and perhaps it has inspired you to seek your next vacation at a place that focuses on healthy mind, body and soul! If you have been to an amazing wellness destination, please tell us about it. We always love to hear from you!
All pictures are of lipHe that have been provided by Samar Saba