I am thrilled to be offering my upcoming wellness packages to the clients of Aracari Luxury Travel, with both London and Lima offices, this has been a long time dream. I was recently interviewed by Marcella at Aracari and thought I would share the interview here.

Why did you choose Perú and why Kichic for this program?

I lived in Lima from 2006 until 2014. In 2011 I went to India to study the Ayurvedic system of Panchakarma, the oldest known system of detoxification. When I returned to Peru I created a 7-day home detox programme with this new knowledge and all the amazing healing ingredients I had been working with and learning about from the Peruvian Amazon and all over the country.  I then created the brand Amaveda as the fusion between Amazonia and Ayurveda. I started running my at-home detox programmes in Lima with groups of 10-20 people every month and they result from my clients were far beyond my wildest expectations. I wanted to host the programme in real-time with my clients so I could be there adding in workshops and treatments throughout. I went to Mánorca to scout for a location. I saw dozens of villas and hotels but noting felt aligned with my programme and brand. On the last day I stumbled upon KiChic hotel, I saw it from the beach and thought, ‘oh, wait one minute, what’s this?’ When I walked around the hotel I thought, ‘yes, this is it!’ The hotel has such an understated elegance and laid back vibe that I know it would be the perfect venue. We held the first Amaveda Detox at KiChic in 2015 and this November will be the fifth.

Have you explored Ayahuasca?

I first drank ayahuasca in 2006 when I moved to Peru. I had heard about this mystical medicine from the Peruvian Amazon and was so curious, I just had to try it. Since then I have drunk it many times. It’s not an easy experience but it’s been incredibly helpful to me over and over again. I believe one of the great powers of ayahuasca is that it’s truly a medicine for opening the heart, showing us the way to forgiveness of self and of others, shedding light and love in some of the darker crevasses of the psyche.

Peruvian superfoods and Andean ingredients are the basis of your brand. Can you tell us how is the process to incorporate new ingredients into the line?

I have a culinary background so my knowledge of ingredients is pretty good. So when I come across something I have never seen before, I buy it and the investigation begins! I used to move around Peru quite a lot and no matter where I went, I would start at the local market exploring unknown foods and medicine. In every market in Peru, you can find a medicinal plant vendor. I have bought some very strange looking plants over the years. I also love to discover regional plants and their benefits for the people within that region. For example, when I first started spending time in the jungle I would always see the people eating this bright orange, almost neon coloured fruit. I then learned that this is Agauje, a palm fruit that hosts an extremely high amount of beta-carotene and produces a very rare and remarkable cosmetic oil. Beta-carotene and its breakdown Retinol (Vitamin A) are two of the most important antioxidants known to modern dermatology for protecting the skin against the damaging effect of sunlight. So it makes sense that this fruit is so widely eaten in an area where the sun is so strong. Agauje oil is the hero ingredient in the Amaveda facial oil.

How do you see wellness travelling now and into the future?

I think that wellness travel is here to stay and only growing stronger. Gone are the days where you ‘need a vacation from your vacation’. Time is such a valuable commodity these days and I believe people now view travel as an opportunity to increase their physical and emotional health, returning home enriched and rejuvenated with more enthusiasm and focus. Time is precious, and so are our holidays so we need to make them count. I also believe we are all waking up to the necessity of self-care in a far greater way than ever before in history, we don’t really have a choice anymore. Burn out, adrenal fatigue and other stress-related conditions are rampant so this creates an almost unavoidable need for wellness travel to grow.

You speak about sustainability as related to sourcing for your brand. What about sustainability and tourism? Any practices you include within the program?

That’s a good question. The issue of sustainability is fully-loaded. People assume as a buyer, you simply choose the sustainable choice vs. the non-sustainable choice yet It’s much more complicated than that. Every provider needs investigating. If you say you’re only willing to buy sustainable, they’ll just stick a “sustainably-harvested” sticker on it, or website etc. You need to go to the source, spend time there and see with your own eyes, which isn’t always easy or convenient. For ingredient sourcing, there are socio-economic issues that most people choose to look the other way. I have so much respect for the international organisations, individuals and charities that spend years establishing initiatives for indigenous communities, helping to educate and protect them, seeing the whole process through. For my retreats, it’s tricky because I am not a hotel owner, I come and go. That said, I am insistent that we have zero single-use plastic and minimize plastic use as much as possible.

Do you use coca leaves in your treatments?

Yes, I love coca, one of Peru’s most powerful, medicinal and sacred plants! Since it’s illegal to export, I only get to really enjoy the incredible benefits of coca leaf while I’m in Peru so I definitely incorporate it into the Peruvian retreats. Many of the liquid infusions we consume are made with Coca.  It is naturally energetic and off-the-charts in almost all major nutrients. I also like to use the Coca powder in our body scrubs and polishes.

Thanks, Aracari!