If you’ve read any of my content coming out of Lebanon, you’ll know that this country has blown me, and continues to blow me, away!
It is the very land of surprises, and perhaps there’s never been a bigger one for me, or the Lebanese friend I was travelling with, than heading to lipHe Wellness Retreat in the mountains north of Beirut, the capital.
And this, as you can imagine, is quite a claim.
For when I describe a country as a land of surprises, it really takes something to earn the title of the biggest surprise of them all.
And never is this more true than when you’re travelling with a local who knows their country even better!
So prepare to be surprised too folks as I attempt to convey to you a slice mere snippet of the wonderful haven that is lipHe!
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My stay was kindly sponsored by lipHe, but, as always, all views are my own.
Part of the Family
lipHe, pronounced life, is the mastermind of Lebanese wellness guru, Samar Saba.
Hatched when she abandoned her corporate life in search of a more wholesome, healing way of living, lipHe is both a personal dream, a personal story and, as such, has a very personal feeling attached to it.
Indeed, stepping through the door here is like coming home and receiving a warm metaphorical hug from your mum – you instantly feel the stresses of the journey, the day, the everyday, slipping away from you.
And that’s nothing compared to when you finally leave this place – being released back into the big wild world, as it were, feels like leaving the nest for the first time, for the kindness and warmth shown by both Samar and her sister, Amal, during your stay at lipHe will have you feeling like part of the family in no time.
The Life of lipHe
Situated about an hour north of Beirut (dependent on traffic), lipHe Wellness Retreat lies snuggled in the quaint mountainous village of Kfarhata – roughly inland from the coastal town of Batroun.
It’s the family village where Samar and Amal hail from and is the perfect personal setting to complement their very personal project.
It’s also the perfect setting for a wellness retreat – quiet, calm, cool and quaint, the village feels very traditional and, sat above it, guests at lipHe are treated to incredible views across the dramatic mountain landscape that is one of Lebanon’s greatest assets.
Started just over 1 year ago, lipHe is also a new project, a fledging haven yet to become part of the overly discovered tourist trail.
And while the small number of bungalows and very intimate feel mean this place will never become crowded, overrated or noisy, it feels even more special to have stumbled upon this delightful secret so early on in its no doubt highly successful and long lifespan… or should I say lipHe span!
Putting the pH back in Life
For lipHe is the sort of place that will have a long lifespan exactly because of its dedication to helping us increase ours!
Working with the principles of an alkaline lifestyle, designed to restore balance, health and happiness, it’s an approach that works thanks to its simplicity, rationality and practicality.
There’s no place here for esoteric practices or off the wall rituals, what lipHe is all about is classic good sense – relaxation, rejuvenation, wellbeing, healing and happiness – done in a very stylish and authentic way.
For the last thing lipHe is, is pretentious.
Yes it’s beautifully polished and protected – one might even say it’s pretty perfect – but it’s got no snobbish airs and graces, no sense of entitlement or fakery about it whatsoever.
Instead, a stay at lipHe is given over to the simple and straightforward acts of wellness – from yoga classes, pilates classes, massages, bio pool swims, infra-red saunas, reading in chilled spaces and a complete ambience of calm, this is the place to get away – and get back to – what is really important and much needed in our crazy modern lives.
So Why the Surprise?
But perhaps all this doesn’t sound that surprising, perhaps it sounds quite ordinary for a wellness retreat.
Well that’s because the beauty of lipHe is how it puts the extra in the ordinary – it’s extraordinary.
Maybe it’s the fact that this is the first wellness centre in Lebanon – a country more usually connected internationally with images of violence and struggle than tranquillity and peace.
Maybe it’s the fact that lipHe boasts 5-star luxury in a totally down to earth setting.
Maybe it’s the fact that the last thing you expect in the rural villages of the Middle East is be served organic vegan food, enjoy meditation and sunbathe on loungers in your bikini.
Maybe it’s the fact that such comfort (from king-sized beds to ionised water) can be found in a small centre comprised of a number of wooden chalets etched out of the mountains.
Or maybe it’s the mix of western and Arabic influences that lends lipHe its extra-ordinary feel, from the hospitality, the services and the setting to the homeliness.
Whatever it is, Samar and Amal have nailed it.
They built their dream and they have executed it to perfection.
Do Yourself a Favour
Offering everything from day visits through to long-term stays, lipHe wellness retreat is the ideal place to breath and come back to yourself; come back to that sense of peace we all misplace in our hectic schedules too easily.
Honestly, the mere 26 hours I spent here felt like a lifetime, but also left me wishing it was so much longer!
Arriving slightly frazzled from a long week of too much work, too much screen time and too much Lebanese partying, I left feeling totally and utterly rejuvenated in just 1 night here.
It’s amazing how little time it takes actually.
A yoga class, a superb massage, 2 saunas, 4 delicious home-cooked vegan meals, a walk in the mountains, 2 swims in the pool, a good sleep in a comfy bed, a day of quietness, a cleared work schedule and plenty of time relaxing to a view of the mountains was all I needed.
Well, I say all.
I mean everything.
It was everything I needed.
The extra in the ordinary.
Holiday from a Holiday
So if you’re planning on visiting Lebanon on a holiday, then do yourself a favour and make sure you get a holiday.
Aside from all the history, hiking, sightseeing and cities this delightful country offers, ensure you also get the time to really relax and unwind.
After all, I know the perfect place for it!