Longevity Cegonha Country Club is fast establishing itself as one of the top Wellness Retreat locations in the Algarve. And is it any wonder, with a Manager like Sonia Castro at the helm, carefully taking care of every detail to ensure they uphold their tradition of quality, luxury and excellence in wellbeing. Sonia is such an expert in her field i asked her to share her Wellness Guru Guide on how she stays at the top in one of the best jobs in the business.
1. Tell us about yourself, and how you got to be where you are today?
I am a senior hotel professional with 15 years of experience in the luxury travel industry. I was previously focused in the leisure and luxury segment working in a property in the Algarve with a strong focus on sport. This was my first contact with sports science/ stress management and the understanding of what wellness tour operators are looking for.
I am self-motivated and results driven, I have a clear and in-depth knowledge of all elements of the sales and marketing function. My particular skill set lies in customer acquisition, client loyalty, team management and the creation and implementation of successful sales & marketing strategies.
Combining my passion for luxury hospitality with attention to detail, excellent interpersonal communication skills and strategic commercial instinct, I have developed a comprehensive understanding of hotel operations and value the achievement of doing a job well.
I chose to move deeper into the wellness segment to focus on personalised health and wellness programmes, to give back to our customers. As I have progressed in my career I have realised that numbers are obviously important but they only mean so much. At Longevity seeing the positive results and educating clients to take away their tools to create a better life for themselves is a powerful motivation.
2. How do you spend your average working day?
As a young mum, organisation is really important to allow me to balance my life and also have some time for myself. I start my day with my little one and take her to nursery, from there to the coffee shop next door where I eat my breakfast and check the news of the day.
I start work at around 09:30 and I work through until lunch. Due to the fact Longevity is focused on healthy options, there are always healthy choices for lunch, so I can keep a well-balanced diet. As a recent mum this is very important to me to stay fit and healthy.
Sonia is lucky to be able to dine at Longevity and sample their in-house healthy recipes
I finish work around 6pm and pick my little up one for nursery (yes, it is also a working day for her there) so the next two hours are exclusive mum and daughter time. I also have a personal training session twice a week to focus my mind, including HITT & Core Classes.
Normally I try not to look at emails from 9 pm until 8 am, as I have learnt over the years that taking time to unwind is very important.
3. What inspires you?
Mostly adventure and travelling, I definitely got that from my husband, he is a wild spirit. Also my little Emma, my daughter is a blessing in my life, after some misfortune with my own health she came out as miracle proving everything is possible. Basically, everything that makes me smile inspires me!
In work I find I am inspired from the results of the work we do with our clients, which sounds cliché but seeing the joy in people’s faces after they have experienced the programmes and they have achieved personal goals, is a great motivating force and one of the main reasons I choose to work in the wellness sector.
4. What’s your goal in life?
Other than to win the lottery? I have always completed my career goals as I have a clear belief in where I want to go. The next step in that area would be to work towards a General Manager position. I believe my experience in a Sales & Marketing background has allowed me to understand the guests from a different angle and obtain a deeper understanding as to what attention to detail really means. My personal goals include climbing Kilimanjaro with my husband as we discussed this early on in our relationship as a joint personal goal. My mother was born in Mozambique and hasn’t been back since, so I would also like to take her back and explore together.
Sonia's workplace is the stunning wellness retreat at Longevity Ceghona Country Club
5. What does Wellness mean to you?
For me wellness is a philosophy of living. It means something different to every individual. It is the balance between work and personal life. I strongly believe wellness is a state of understanding yourself and your needs and looking for the best way of nourishing those needs within yourself. Wellness is such a focus point these days however it can become overwhelming with keeping to what we should and shouldn’t do. I believe wellness is striking that healthy balance and understanding what works for you, I may enjoy a glass of wine in the evening, however I still make healthy choices and can still achieve my version of personal wellness
6. What advice would you give to a person looking to change their lifestyle to a happier healthier one?
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
We live our lives for years believing in paradigms and then make a life changing decision we want to implement overnight. Just don’t… take one step at time, start with little things and when those became a part of you go to the next level.
7. Tell us about your business?
We have an expression that I just love to use which is Longevity is your source to wellness. We don’t sell a miracle but we provide the right tools, education and therapists to support everyone who is willing to change.
Each of Longevity’s impact driven programmes have been carefully researched to provide a targeted focus on each individuals’ wellness needs, putting this knowledge at the centre of its properties.
Longevity promotes a deep understanding of the causes of imbalances and offers individualised strategies to improve health and wellbeing. Through a synergy of diagnostics and assessments including anti-ageing therapies, postural realignment, monitoring of the physical condition, nutraceutical supplementation, detoxification and nutrition, the talented wellness professionals behind Longevity are dedicated to rebalancing body and mind.
Every guest on a Longevity Ceghona Country Club Nutrition Programme gets a consultation with their in-house Nutritionist
To give an example, one of our clients signed up for a Longevity programme, in 2 months he lost 14 Kg, when he arrived he lacked self-confidence, 2 months later his health had improved, his self-belief had improved and his life had improved, that is what our business is all about. When you look at yourself and you love yourself, our job is done.
Longevity offers its guests personalised Nutrition Consultations and Meal Plans
8. Tell us your Top 3 Tips for Wellness?
1) Don’t try and do everything at once. 2) Look for the right expert, don’t look to take the cheap option, take the best option for your needs 3) Believe in yourself always, no matter no what the circumstances – change starts inside of us
9. So what’s next in your career/life?
Career wise, General Manager is definitely my next step, to take more time to speak with the guests and understand their experiences. I learnt the most through speaking with our guests to build a deeper understanding. In my personal life I would like to put down roots and buy a home, having always rented this is important for me to buy a family home for my daughter to grow up in.