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Eco Hotel El Agua: A paradigm of design, wellness and sustainability in Tenerife

From epigenetic tests upon arrival to Wim Hoff exercises before breakfast, Eco Hotel El Agua is redesigning luxury tourism in Tenerife

The balmy Canarian sunshine paints dreamy shadows on the palm-dappled subtropical valley of Arico, on Tenerife’s south-eastern coast. A warm breeze caresses the verdant lavender, rosemary and cyprus bushes, releasing a tantalizing aroma into the air. There is not a soul in sight. Only a sinuous row of traditional houses line the perimeters of Eco Hotel El Agua, yet their existence becomes insignificant next to the endless views that welcome guests once they step inside the hotel’s grounds.

Amidst expansive olive groves, Eco Hotel El Agua, the most ambitious project of NAOKŌ Healing Hotels, stands as a testament to the convergence of design, integrative medicine and sustainability. This hilltop hideaway in the cultural town of interest, Arico El Nuevo, is turning Tenerife’s tourism scene on its head. The boozed-up Brits and the bucket-and-spade brigade have moved on and now the Canary Islands are a haven for those seeking a sanctuary of peace and wellness.

“It is not a hotel, it is a search for a holistic way of life”. This has been the philosophy of Anthony Picq, owner and founder of Eco Hotel El Agua, since the birth of this ever-evolving, polyhedral project back in 2022. Anthony’s idea to meticulously restore a 200-year-old abandoned stone farm building and revitalize the arid landscape into an area overflowing with olive, lemon, banana and palm trees is no small feat but it doesn’t stop there. Anthony is dedicated to developing his passion for Hippocratic medicine, phytotherapy and naturopathy and in doing so has created a holistic spa, a lavender and rosemary plantation for making essential oils and has developed an extensive menu of treatments and programmes for guests to enjoy during their stay. But, “it is all work in progress,” he says with a smile.

Eco Hotel El Agua’s centrepiece is undoubtedly Villa Olivo, a sanctuary for two that epitomizes minimalist luxury and eco-conscious living. With his 25 years of experience in the sustainable tourism sector in addition to working as an interior stylist and garden designer, Anthony has converted what once was a refuge for peasants who worked the land cultivating vines, into an oasis of peace and serenity. Decorated by ZIRĀ studio the interiors pay homage to the surrounding landscapes by blending the styles of Feng Shui and Wabi-sabi. Yet aside from designer interiors, what sets this intimate dwelling apart from your standard self-catering villa is the eclectic selection of shoppable works of art that adorn its shelves and niches - all created with a philanthropic element in mind.

Anthony’s razor-sharp attention to detail extends into every aspect of Villa Olivo’s design. From full workout equipment discreetly placed inside the wardrobe to the natural selection of toiletries available including toothpaste made from honey, the villa invites you to let go and embrace a holistic lifestyle. There is even a library of design magazines for curious minds to peruse at leisure. Yet the true magic of Villa Olivo lies in the enchanting private courtyard which provides an intimate haven for relaxation. Salute the sunrise while sipping a freshly brewed organic coffee or climb the steps up to the heated saltwater infinity pool complete with a Balinese bed and enjoy a refreshing dip surrounded by greenery.

It may be hard to leave the serenity of Villa Olivo but the grounds, cocooned in nature offer guests a secluded retreat within a retreat. While you can explore at your own leisure, be sure to track down Anthony during your stay and get ready to be schooled on the holistic properties of the plants growing in the borders and the benefits of the therapies offered such as Wim Hoff ice baths, yoga and the daily watsu sessions. Those intrigued by the night sky cannot leave without admiring Tenerife’s Dark Sky award-winning star-studded heavens that bathe the valley in a revitalizing glow night after night.

Looking out across the serene grounds of Eco Hotel El Agua, it is easy to believe that it has always existed, but no. It is all the creation of Anthony and is inseparable from his way of thinking and living. “I want guests to understand that we live in harmony with nature and that each villa is a country house. This brings about its own challenges and opportunities” states Anthony. “You won’t see air conditioning or heaters inside the villas as the stone walls act as thermoregulators, keeping the house cool in the summer and insulating the interiors in the winter. Water is also a precious commodity and more so in today’s age. I want guests to understand that the water used in the bathrooms is recycled using a traditional method of storing and cleansing the supply. Here luxury isn’t about taking hour-long hot showers, instead, the value is placed in preserving what nature has gifted us”.

The same philosophy extends to the gastronomic offering at Eco Hotel El Agua. Inspired by Hipócrates’ famous adage “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food” the hotel’s chef, Kalo is on hand to prepare a healthy menu with high bioavailability. “Nourishing our bodies with “Live Food” provides us with the necessary micro and macronutrients that fulfil a pre and probiotic function within the body” explains Anthony. Guests can opt for one of three culinary paths: vegan, raw vegan or vegetarian. But don’t expect any run-of-the-mill dining experience. Oh no! All meals are served inside a mystic cave only accessible by crossing a stone pathway that traverses a topaz pool of water. Once inside, guests can browse the hotel’s luxury lifestyle boutique before settling down, to the sound of Tibetan singing bowls, to an interactive show cooking experience. To make the moment even more memorable, opt for a classical musician to serenade you while you eat. The option for self-catering is also available for those wanting to keep plans fluid and go with the flow.

Eco Hotel El Agua is not for those looking for the ordinary. The recently inaugurated spa is a collage of cultures that seamlessly blend together to offer guests restorative treatments for the mind and body. While away the day rejuvenating tired muscles in the warm comfort of the Hammam, or calm racing thoughts with an Ayurvedic Shirodhara massage. The outdoor jacuzzi and cold plunge pool provide a delightful spot to admire the distant rolling hills and rugged terrain.

Those inspired to further integrate holistic well-being into their stay can opt for one of the four transformative treatment programmes devised by Anthony. Be guided through the ins and outs of intermittent fasting, wake up to a complete menu of freshly prepared green juices and discover the benefits of detoxification. Stretch out tired muscles with guided yoga sessions followed by pranayama breathing exercises. Receive daily massages to aid lymphatic drainage and tonification of the body in between Wim Hoff breathing exercises and cold baths or Watsu hydro pressure treatments. Or, opt for a personal trainer to guide you through daily workouts, fitness routines and provide personalized nutritional advice. Each programme begins with an in-depth epigenetic test for optimum insights into health and wellness.

“It is my dream to create a hotel that harmoniously blends into the landscape, leaving little impact on the environment” states Anthony. Rewarding the well-being of its guests over capacity, Eco Hotel El Agua’s plans for expansion extend to the refurbishment of new villas and suites to house a total of 25 guests. Just like Villa Olivo, each new dwelling will exist within its own ecosystem providing guests a personalized escape maintaining the delicate balance between modern comfort and environmental harmony.

As the great Laurence Durrell once said “Journeys like artists are born and not made [...] They flower spontaneously out of the demands of our natures - and the best of them lead us not only outwards in space but inwards as well”. As the sun begins to set across the dusty hillside, it is hard not to reflect on these words and the Eden that Anthony Picq has created within the seemingly inhospitable, volcanic island setting. A stay at Eco Hotel El Agua is not only a chance to explore the lesser-known corners of Tenerife but also a journey of introspection that invites us to embrace holistic well-being within our day-to-day lives.



Grace Molan