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In a nutshell

The Gut Makeover Retreat is a five-night break led by the London-based nutritionist Jeannette Hyde, which is held several times a year at Cugo Gran in Minorca. A stylish and spacious fully serviced luxury villa on a private 250-acre estate in the countryside just outside Mahon, it has a serene pool, flower-filled grounds and tip-top navy-clad staff with a can-do attitude.

Cugo Gran, the luxury villa where the retreat is held, has a pool and flower-filled grounds

Nutrition workshops and consultations are combined with Pilates classes, spa treatments and gut-friendly healthy meals to tease back into shape your gut’s microbiome. Known as the “second brain”, this is the bacteria we carry around inside us that has been scientifically proven to affect our weight, physical health and emotional and mental wellbeing.

Three abundant, gut-friendly meals are served daily

What’s it like?

Rather gloriously, considering you’re set to lose weight, eating takes up a large part of your day: you’ll have three divine, abundant, gut-friendly meals daily with four-hour gaps between (no snacks allowed), and you’re encouraged to eat well and chew everything thoroughly. There’s a pre-retreat consultation, so Jeannette can get to grips with your personal health issues and what it is you need, then during the retreat you’ll have two one-to-one nutrition consultations as well as a few easy-to-understand group sessions explaining gut-friendly ways of eating and health issues such as “leaky gut”.

Pilates sessions taught by Bernadette Phillips are fun and effective, and there’s lots of time to lounge by the serene pool, amble around the grounds or to borrow a driver and go shopping or walking in the local area. I left feeling totally rejuvenated.

Pilates classes taught by Bernadette Phillips are enjoyable and effective

The treatments

Li’Tya, Rosalena Skincare and bespoke Cugo Gran beauty treatments and massages are available with the capable Kim Holland, who trained at Champneys beauty school in Hertfordshire, but who now lives on the island. Two massages are included in the price of the retreat and you can book extra if wanted.

I particularly loved the facial massage with the gorgeous and pure Rosalena hydrating oils, and there’s a good range of rituals and therapies using Li’Tya skin, hair and body products. After five days I felt my stomach was tauter and my clothes looser and resolve to use the retreat to kick-start Jeannette’s four-week eating plan outlined in her book The Gut Makeover.

This should help you to lose any weight you need to, rebalance your physical, emotional and mental health, and deal with health issues that have been bugging you for years — from immunity problems, anxiety and bad skin to IBS.

Who goes?

The retreat is ideal for stressed professionals short on time and energy, and those who live on what Jeannette calls “a western beige diet”.

The stylish bedrooms come with L’Occitane toiletries and White Company candles

What are the rooms like?

There are 11 spacious, stylish slate-grey and white bedrooms with power showers, White Company candles, thick white bath mats, Verveine toiletries by L’Occitane and little wooden hand fans should you get too hot.

Of those in the main house, Romero has a splendid and large private balcony that gets the morning sunshine and has great views of the estate and sea, while Poligalia has a lovely private terrace with views over the estate and pool, from which you can enjoy beautiful sunsets.

An in-house chef creates healthy, Mediterranean-inspired dishes

What’s the food like?

This is a diet of abundance rather than deprivation. Cugo Gran employs an in-house chef who works closely with Jeannette to create delightful gut-friendly meals inspired by Mediterranean cuisine, from spag bol on courgette spaghetti to extravagant, mind-glowingly tasty salads with barbecued prawns. All dishes use locally sourced ingredients wherever possible, including some of the herbs, vegetables and fruits from their own kitchen garden and eggs from the estate’s free-range hens. For drinks there’s kombucha, ginger tea, herbal teas and delicious evening mocktails.

The lowdown

The next retreat runs from April 27 to May 2 and costs from €2,500pp sharing a room or €3,000pp in a solo room for a five-night Gut Makeover Retreat, including all meals, activities and airport transfers, but not flights (

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