25 Sep 2022 World leisure: news, training & property
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Spa Business
2022 issue 2

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Leisure Management - Growth & vitality

News report

Growth & vitality

After four years of research, the spa at Daios Cove has reopened as Kepos by GOCO, with a holistic wellness vision. Jane and Christian Kitchen went to Crete to find out more

Sweeping views from the spa are dominated by the blue of the Sea of Crete Photo: Kepos by GOCO
Daios Cove Photo: Kepos by GOCO
Science is combined with holistic therapies at the spa Photo: Kepos by GOC
The name Kepos comes from the Athenian garden created by Epicurus Photo: Kepos by GOCO
Jane and Christian try a hyperbaric oxygen session Photo: Jane Kitchen
The spa has pools and a thermal circuit Photo: Kepos by GOCO
Guests can try a range of activities, from aerial yoga to boxing Photo: Kepos by GOCO
Boxing brand BXR has partnered with the resort Photo: Kepos by GOCO/BXR

With an enviable position in a sheltered cove on Crete’s northeast coast, Daios Cove could get by on its setting alone; the resort’s 300 rooms, suites and villas look out over a sea rich in hues of deep blues and aquamarine so stunning it’s difficult to feel anything but blissful and utterly relaxed.

However, the resort – which has long been popular with couples and families – has also now launched a wellness vision for its spa that provides a bespoke approach to healing.

A collaboration between founder Dimitris Daios and GOCO Hospitality CEO, Ingo Schweder, Kepos by GOCO opened its doors in April after a complete remodel and four years of research and focus groups.

The name Kepos comes from the real-life garden created in ancient Athens by the Greek philosopher Epicurus, as a safe haven for dialogue and open discussion and a place of growth and vitality. Following this philosophy, the spa takes its inspiration from Epicurean teachings on happiness and wellbeing.

A layered combination of treatments, movement, nourishment, rest and bathing form the core of the wellness menu, but it’s the high-tech approach that sets the spa apart. Signature offerings include regenerative treatments such as cryotherapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy and colon hydrotherapy – all of which require specialised equipment and come with oversight from on-site doctor, Dr Masoud Fawzi.

High-tech treatments
The spa’s Insight to Wellness programmes last from two to five days and begin with a consultation with Dr Fawzi, in order to understand guests’ physical state and discuss their individual needs and objectives. Before I arrive, I fill out a detailed consultation form, so when I first meet Dr Fawzi he already knows what vitamins and supplements I take, and that I suffer from headaches and less-than-perfect sleep. He suggests cryotherapy, infrared sauna and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, checking my ears to make sure they’re clear, for the hyperbaric pressure and my blood pressure, to make sure it’s not too high for cryotherapy.

I also meet with George Fokas, Kepos’s resident dietician, for a Styku 3D Assessment – a bodyscanner that spins you around on a pedestal and creates a 3D representation of your body that can be viewed on screen.

Styku provides measurements of the circumference of limbs, waist and hips, as well as body composition, including body fat percentage and fat-free mass. Seeing your lumps and bumps represented in 3D on the screen could either be motivating or depressing, but it’s very definitely real; for customers who stay for longer retreats – or come back at a later date – it provides a tangible representation of results achieved (or not), as you can look at past and present 3D representations side-by-side on the screen to see how diet or exercise regimens have paid off.

The next morning, I start my day with a Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) test from PNOĒ Fitness and Movement. It required little preparation other than a four-hour fast and your RMR is calculated by analysing your breath as you lie for 10 minutes wearing a heart rate monitor and face mask that fits over your nose and mouth and connects to a computer.

A detailed report is then analysed remotely and a virtual consultation with one of PNOĒ’s metabolic experts gives details of how to interpret the results, with everything from metabolic fitness to fat-burn efficiency and heart and lung fitness covered – all from calculating the ratio of oxygen consumed to carbon dioxide expelled, breathing rate, forced exhale volume and heart rate variability.

There’s science I don’t fully understand and a lot of data, but it’s fascinating to learn how much can be measured through the breath.

The Kepos team emails me my full report, as well as my Styku 3D report, so I have time to look through the details, and encourage me to get in touch with any questions I may have.

My husband Christian was travelling with me and I was glad to share the two-person hyperbaric oxygen tank with him; Dr Fawzi had asked if either of us suffered from claustrophobia, but the space is actually quite roomy and the glass door allowed us a visual of Fokas, who supervises the 30-minute sessions, staying in the room the entire time.

It felt a bit like sitting on an aeroplane (even down to the seats), with a slight pressure in the ears and a TV playing videos about the effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for everything from wound healing to SCUBA diving injuries.

The 30 minutes passed quickly. The masks are loose enough to be comfortable and I learn from the videos that breathing 100 per cent oxygen in a pressurised environment increases your body’s uptake of oxygen and enhances bloodflow and circulation, helping the body create new white blood cells and triggering collagen growth – all of which leads to increased healing and contributes to longevity. It’s also said to improve brain function, memory and mood and to reduce fatigue and improve sleep – and can be good for headaches or migraines.

Into the big chill
Next we were whisked off to a cryotherapy session. The chamber is -85 Celsius, and Christian goes in first, disappearing in a cloud of condensation before we see him through the glass door – geared up in hat, gloves, socks and Crocs. It’s suggested you move and stretch during the two minutes and Fokas has hooked us up with a thermal headband playing ‘Ice Ice, Baby,’ which inspires some dancing during my session.

We emerge energised and clear-headed and I understand why people want to come back to this again and again. Cryotherapy is said to stimulate healing, as blood vessels constrict in the cold and dilate afterwards. It’s also believed to boost the immune system, enhance athletic performance, reduce inflammation and stress, improve sleep, help with pain relief and muscle healing and provide anti-ageing benefits.

But the programme at Kepos is more than high-tech – personalised programmes also include massage and facials using 111SKIN and Comfort Zone, while an extensive thermal bathing suite and vitality pool provide additional contrast bathing and hydrotherapy.

A mind and body studio includes equipment for aerial yoga with views across the Cove, while Aqua Reax rafts provide an opportunity to enhance balance by taking yoga moves to the water. The modern fitness area includes the latest equipment from Technogym and Life Fitness, as well as an impressive outdoor BXR Gym area for functional fitness.

BXR Partnership
BXR – the boxing gym operator which is backed by world heavyweight champion boxer, Anthony Joshua – has partnered with Daios Cove to open an outpost of its operation on-site as part of its growing portfolio.

The BXR session we had booked with PT, Aristidis Barouxakis, was one of the best I’ve had. Barouxakis is clearly a man who loves his profession and his enthusiasm is infectious; he worked with me on running technique and gave tips for alleviating plantar fasciitis pain. I’m sure if we hadn’t had a breakfast booking, he could have continued until lunchtime.

Because Christian has had surgery recently, he was under doctor’s orders not to lift anything, so Barouxakis tailored our session to his needs, working on fascia release using foam rollers, assisted stretching and pressure point massage in the neck and face – particularly the jaw.

Both our spa therapists were incredibly talented; I had a Vitality Experience massage using 111SKIN, and a Molecular Hydration Facial the following day. My massage therapist, Liberty, worked wonders on my shoulders and as I had her for the facial, she could continue her therapeutic work.

Christian said simply his massage was one of the best he’s had. Director of wellness Eleni Papadopoulou has clearly assembled an excellent team, which is of course key to any spa experience.

This combination of quality therapists, high-tech diagnostics, regenerative treatments, fitness activities, mind/body offerings, and hydrotherapy means Kepos feels truly holistic. With the sea air, sunshine and Mediterranean food, a three-night visit left me feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. Christian’s surgery scars looked markedly improved and the lingering soreness he’d had for weeks had all but disappeared – whether from the cryotherapy or hyperbaric treatment, it’s hard to know. Likewise, maybe it was the facial or the cryotherapy that left my skin looking and feeling hydrated and healthy.

I guess that’s the beauty of a truly holistic offer: it’s the mix of it all together – including that deep blue sea – that leaves you feeling well in both body and mind.

photo: Jane Kitchen

"The high-tech approach set the spa apart, with hyperbaric oxygen therapy and colon hydrotherapy, plus oversight from the resort’s on-site doctor" – Jane Kitchen

Originally published in Spa Business 2022 issue 2

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