Checking in to Chenot Palace in Gabala, Azerbaijan, feels a bit like entering a whole different world — one where tiny portions of food are served in multiple courses, everyone pads around in robes and slippers and where luxury drips from every corner of the resort. It’s surreal in a Wes Anderson style; serene, and as far as detoxing goes, seriously intense.
Rooms are high-end with massive balconies overlooking mountains and a nearby lake. There’s an infinity pool for sunset swims and manicured grounds for leisurely strolls.
The food is similar to what you’d find at a Michelin-starred restaurant, straight down to the delicate presentation on pretty plates. But here everything is portioned out precisely to 850 calories. There’s no salt in anything, and spices are limited. Expect a tiny bowl of (sugar-free, milk-free) porridge served beside blended fruit in the morning; then, soup, salad and some type of vegetable dish in the afternoon and evening. It’s all creative — with offerings including spicy tempeh served on a bed of stewed vegetables and tofu burger on spiced eggplant. But it’s all small. Drinks are limited to barley coffee (a caffeine-free alternative), detox tea and infused waters. As for the mini-bar? It holds one thing: water.
When not slowly savoring every bite at mealtime, guests shuffle in white slippers between the pool, their rooms and Chenot Palace’s extensive treatment facility. It’s here that the resort really shines. The therapies are creative and sometimes downright unusual. The electric massage features prongs that zap your muscles into movement and there’s a cupping machine that supposedly draws out toxins. Meanwhile, a mud wrap involves being painted in mud, covered in plastic and blankets and then being lowered into a pulsing waterbed. There are treatments for hair loss, water retention, fat storage, stress, lymphatic swelling and pretty much everything else. If it sounds overwhelming, it can be — but that’s where Chenot Palace’s team of aestheticians and professionals come in. At the start, guests sit down with various experts to talk through goals and concerns. Then, a detailed program is drawn up suggesting various daily activities.
The extreme calorie deprivation makes the whole experience pretty difficult. But it gets results: all six guests in our group lost weight. However, it must be said that there is a risk of binge behavior afterwards. The retreat doesn’t offer any class on what to do after leaving, in terms of meal planning or easing back into the “real world,” so the potential for post-retreat weight regain is very real.
Chenot Palace has one of the best gyms we’ve visited. It’s spacious and airy, stocked with anti-gravity treadmills, vacuum treadmills with infrared lights attached, a high-altitude chamber, a Cryotherapy room for deep freezing and all the rest of your standard equipment. You’ll probably be too fatigued for anything very arduous, but the gym is a masterpiece.
FlyDubai has just launched a direct flight to Gabala, Azerbaijan. You’ll whizz through this tiny airport in minutes and a hotel representative will collect you on the other side.
Three nights start at Dhs6,750 per person.