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Spa Business
2013 issue 3

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Leisure Management - Running on juice

Spa Retreat

Running on juice

Juice Master retreats promise weight loss, detox and disease prevention on only four daily juices. Kate Cracknell tries one out and talks to founder Jason Vale

Kate Cracknell
founder Jason Vale
The juice retreats aren’t just about weight loss. They give the body everything it needs to feel better and recharged
The juice retreats aren’t just about weight loss. They give the body everything it needs to feel better and recharged
The juice retreats aren’t just about weight loss. They give the body everything it needs to feel better and recharged
The juice retreats aren’t just about weight loss. They give the body everything it needs to feel better and recharged

Seven days up a mountain in Turkey, exercising for five hours a day fuelled on nothing but four daily juices and plenty of water. Many thought me mad; and even I had my doubts. So why on earth was I doing this?

‘7lbs in 7 days’ would be a compelling reason – the amount of weight the average person loses over the week. And that’s how the Juice Master retreat is marketed based on the bestselling book of the same name written by Juice Master founder and director Jason Vale. But there’s much more to it.

Hitting re-set
“The publisher wanted to call the book 7lbs in 7 days – Super Juice Diet,” explains Vale. “I didn’t even want the word ‘diet’ in the title. Weight loss is a by-product of what we do – I think of the programme, and the retreats that we’ve set up based on that programme, as the most effective one-week recharge you can give your mind and body.”

Interestingly, that sentiment was echoed by most people attending the retreat with me. Many had been at least two times before; one was attending for the seventh time.

“I come every year for a reset and a re-balance – to get my body back to feeling good,” one guest told me. “It’s not about losing weight. It’s about energy and health.”

“You feel so energised at the end,” agreed another. “Your taste buds change too – you go home wanting totally different foods.”

So far, so intrigued. So what was is the retreat all about? And could juice alone really sustain me for a week?

Nutrient-rich diet
“If you tell people you’re just going to have juice for a week, they’ll tell you it’s dangerous – yet they don’t bat an eyelid if someone’s living off junk food,” says Vale.

The focus of Juice Master is therefore on explaining why to juice, not just how. “Ultimately people want to feel good, and when you juice you’re getting everything your body needs. You feel recharged, rebooted, full of energy. Your skin becomes clearer, your hair and nails better, you lose weight. It also has huge health benefits: the two biggest causes of all disease are toxicity and nutrient deficiency, and our programme addresses both.

“When you explain it that way, people find it very logical, very tangible. It isn’t about going on a diet; it’s about changing your diet.”

On our first morning up the mountain, retreat manager Becky Lennox explains: “You get more good nutrients in one juice than most people get in a day.” You might feel a bit hungry, although in my experience not as much as you’d expect. You might even get a headache for a day or two – withdrawal symptoms from the likes of sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol. But while our stomachs might be used to more volume, inevitably our normal daily diet will include a good smattering of junk food – food with little nutritional value. Give it a week of freshly extracted, live juice (none of this tetra-packed, pasteurised, longlife stuff) and you’ve replenished the live enzymes, vitamins and minerals it needs to remain healthy, while simultaneously removing all the toxins.

“We often eat the wrong things – things that make our body acidic, which is the cause of a number of diseases,” continues Lennox. “The body works best in an alkaline state, and juices – especially green juices – help put your body into this state. Sugar is the worst offender. It’s the number one ingredient that contributes to acidity, and it’s very addictive. Our retreats help break that cycle.

“People ask why not just eat the vegetables, but one of the benefits of juicing is that it gives your body a break from having to digest food; digestion takes up a huge amount of energy. When you juice, the nutrients go straight into your system, your body can preserve its energy to heal itself. Not only that, but if you look at everything that goes into one glass of juice, would you really sit and eat your way through all that?”

She continues: “Juicing also retains a much higher percentage of the nutrients in fruit and vegetables than if you just eat them. And you can get everything your body needs. People often ask about protein or fibre, but we use superfoods in our juices – avocado and spirulina, which is a very complete plant-based protein including all the amino acids. Apples are in most of our juices too and they include pectin, which is a fibre.”

One disease, one solution
There will still be some who question the science, but the testimonials speak for themselves – including, on our retreat alone, a diabetes sufferer who almost halved his insulin dose just in the space of the week, and a regular juicer whose husband has seen his MS symptoms improve dramatically since she got him onto juicing every day.

Meanwhile a number of studies link juicing to a range of health benefits, from apple juice to alleviate asthma in kids (National Heart and Lung Institute, UK) through to three-times weekly juicing leading to a 76 per cent lower chance of developing Alzheimer’s (Vanderbilt School of Medicine, US).

The Juice Master team is also a living, breathing case study. Lennox uses juicing as a way to manage her arthritic condition, while Vale originally came to juicing in his late 20s in a bid to cure his head-to-toe psoriasis. “At the time I smoked 50 cigarettes a day, I was overweight, unfit, drank too much, had asthma and eczema and various other allergies – and then there was the psoriasis.”

Discovering a book by Norman Walker, considered a pioneer of juicing, Vale read that psoriasis could be treated with a juice of celery, cucumber and spinach. “But I hated vegetables and I just couldn’t drink that combination, so I tried carrot juice instead – I’d read that a man used it to cure himself of bladder cancer. I spent months just drinking carrot juice. It didn’t work for my psoriasis though – I just turned orange!

“So I went back to the original recipe but added other ingredients to make it more palatable, including fruit. It cured my psoriasis – and all my other conditions too.”

This holistic approach is echoed by a number of experts. Charlotte Gerson – daughter of Max Gerson, who devised Gerson Therapy, the controversial nutritional regime that’s said to cure cancer (see SB08/2 p62) –famously said: “You can’t heal selectively...When the body heals itself, it heals everything.”

This is what Vale calls ‘one disease, one solution’. He explains: “Juicing can help all illnesses. Never underestimate the power of the body to heal itself when given the right nutrients and opportunity to do so.”

He reasons: “I accept that there are times when medical intervention is necessary, for short-term, acute conditions. But for long-term chronic disease, it’s nonsensical to only treat the symptoms and not the causes.”

He’s certainly not advocating that people do nothing but juice forever. “Yes, you’ll eat again – who would want to live on juice alone? Out of sheer desperation to rid my body completely of psoriasis, I once did a juice-only programme for three months – not even any smoothies or superfoods. Would I recommend it? Not in a million years. I lost too much weight – excess fat, but also healthy fat and lots of lean muscle.”

The recommendation is to wean yourself back onto food carefully, starting with raw foods – salad and so on. The idea is that you then progress to, as far as possible, a diet of what Vale calls Low HI (human intervention) foods – those that “don’t need a label to explain what they are”. Around 50 per cent should be high water content foods such as fruit, veg and juices, with the rest being lean proteins and wholegrain carbs. For it to be sustainable, up to 10 per cent can be what Vale calls ‘party foods’… the naughty stuff.

Juicing the world
Speaking to Vale it’s clear that, in spite of the weight loss successes of his programmes, it’s the health aspect that most interests him.

“We’re currently filming a documentary – Super Juice Me: One Disease, One Solution – focused on eight people with conditions ranging from fibromyalgia and arthritis, to eczema and high cholesterol. We already know we can reverse type 2 diabetes in four to six weeks, but now we’re setting out to prove that, in just one month of juicing – with exactly the same treatment – the vast majority of those conditions will get better. This will have the biggest impact of anything we’ve ever done.”

So what else is new? “We’ve just opened our second retreat in Portugal, which I’m really excited about. It’s stunning, and includes a gym and spa [see p72].

“We have a 5lbs in 5 days programme coming out in January 2014, as people were telling us they found it hard to maintain a juice-only diet at weekends. It aims to give the same results but in a shorter timeframe, incorporating high intensity training.

“Juice Master Delivered is a relatively new service where we deliver frozen juices directly to your door – if you freeze them immediately, it maintains the goodness. It’s only for really busy or really lazy people, but it’s already taken off to the point that we’ve had to bring someone in to take it over for us.

“Similarly, we have a franchise concept for Juice Master juice bars in shopping centres. We currently have seven sites, with a few more in the pipeline – in Dubai, Canada, Ireland, Scotland and Belgium.

There’s also an online shop selling carefully selected Juice Master products and merchandise such as ‘Running on Juice’ t-shirts and ‘Juice Junkie’ flasks. Vale says: “It helps create a community and spread the word. It’s my mission to ‘juice the world’.”

Collaborative ventures
So are there any opportunities for spa operators to join forces with Juice Master?

“We ran a three-day detox at Champneys in the UK for four years but our guests kept having to walk past the café. At our retreats there’s not even a village shop nearby – nothing to tempt you. So, if we were to do something like that again, we’d want to take over the whole place for five days, with the operator taking it back for weekend trade.”

The health angle of juicing also fits very nicely with the spa industry’s shift towards wellness and prevention. “With our new Super Juice Me documentary, which we’ll also roll out into a book and a programme, we want to coin the phrase and put it into everyone’s psyche,” says Vale. “Instead of people’s first reaction being ‘you should go to the doctor for medication’, we want them to think: ‘you need to be super juiced’.

“After all, if you don’t look after your body, you will have nowhere to live.”



“We ran our first retreat in Turkey 10 years ago – the 7lbs in 7 days book had done incredibly well, and we contacted our database to see if anyone would like to go,” says Juice Master founder Jason Vale. “It was such a success that we found a location we could rent throughout the summer.”

Located in the mountains outside the village of Gocek, the rustic Juicy Mountain retreat offers 11 rooms and four luxury tents. There’s a pool with mountain water, a covered space for exercise in the heat of the day, a platform for yoga and rebounding – high-energy classes using mini-trampolines – and beautiful surroundings for the daily walks.

Nothing is compulsory, and there are a few hours in the middle of the day for relaxation, but guests are encouraged to participate in as much as they can, with around eight hours of activities scheduled daily. One-to-one yoga or fitness training is also available at £40 (US$62, €46) for an hour, as well as 50-minute massages for £50 (US$78, €58).

Meanwhile, Juicy Oasis launched in Portugal in June 2013. The new retreat – this time wholly owned by Vale – is bigger and more luxurious, but again offers ‘stylish camping’ options. As it’s open all year, it also includes a small gym and the Eden Spa. “There’s a beautiful relaxation room with suspended cocoons, a hot pool, five treatment rooms and an outdoor loft sauna overlooking the lake,” says Vale. “There’s also a yoga dome and a huge exercise platform overlooking the lake.”

And Vale has plans for more Juicy Oases. “I’d like two in the States – one on the east coast and one on the west. I’d also like one in Australia and one in England, in Cornwall. But if, on my travels, I came across a spot on the beach in Thailand that I could buy and make a rustic retreat with wooden tree huts, I’d consider that too!”

Prices for the week, excluding flights and transfer, range from £450–£1,150 (US$698-US$1,800, €526-€1,350) for Turkey, or £645–£2,150 (US$1,000-US$3,350, €754-€2,500) for Portugal. The Eden Spa treatment menu includes colonics, starting at €65 (US$101, €76) for 45 minutes; and a range of massage-based therapies starting at the same price and going up to €140 (US$217, £164) for a 100-minute Vichy shower massage treatment.

Details: www.juicemaster.com


Juicy Oasis in Portugal opened in June. Bigger than the Turkey site, it has a five-treatment room spa

Juicy Oasis in Portugal opened in June. Bigger than the Turkey site, it has a five-treatment room spa

Juicy Oasis in Portugal opened in June. Bigger than the Turkey site, it has a five-treatment room spa

Originally published in Spa Business 2013 issue 3

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