I Went to the Party Capital of Europe to Learn How to Live Forever

six senses ibiza
I Went to Ibiza to Learn How to Live ForeverJohn Athimaritis

The party started the minute I stepped off the plane. Sandwiched between some tattooed dudes in shades who looked like off-duty DJs and a very tan woman with a dog in a stroller, I made my way through the baggage claim of the Ibiza airport where non-aggressive techno was already blasting. You know, in case I needed a reminder that I had landed on an island known for its all-night ragers and “sleep it off on the beach” culture. Only I wasn’t in Ibiza to party; I was there to learn how to live forever.

I was whisked past billboards for all-star DJ residencies and bottle service to the north part of the island, which I would later find out has a very different history than the party strip of the south. The area is less oontz oontz and more woo woo—where European hippies migrated in the 1960s to meditate and form communes. Think of Southern Ibiza as Cancun and Northern as Tulum (or maybe Ojai). This part of the island is now home to Six Senses Ibiza, a luxury resort opened in 2021 that draws visitors who would rather detox than retox (though, let’s get real, many are looking for both). Ibiza, thanks to places like Six Senses, is rapidly becoming a major destination in the rapidly ballooning global wellness tourism market.

Six Senses Ibiza is a case study in modern wellness travel and not unlike something out of The White Lotus. The entire resort is built out of sustainable materials to blend into the rocky hillside that slopes down to the Balearic Sea. There is no single-use plastic used on site—even the key cards are made from wood and the coffee pods for the in-room espresso machines are compostable. But, of course, it’s also the most expensive—and luxurious—resort on the island. The crown jewel is the newly developed RoseBar, an on-site “longevity club” that’s so many lightyears ahead of the typical hotel spa that it might as well be its own planet.

six senses ibiza
Six Senses IbizaRobert Michael Poole

I am not a partier or an EDM fan, so I must admit I never really pictured myself visiting Ibiza. But I am a fan of Extreme Wellness, which is how I found myself attending the inaugural Young Forever Retreat, along with a group that included several UK expats by way of Dubai, multiple cancer survivors, an Israeli creative director and competitive cyclist, a mother of three from San Francsico who had moved her family to Spain in search of a slower lifestyle, and a handful of medical professionals. What brought them all together, apart from paying the 15,000 euro price tag for the communal retreat experience, was one common thread: a superfan-like devotion to Dr. Mark Hyman.

Unless you regularly google things like “mitochondrial function” and “effects of ozone therapy,” you may not have heard of the functional medicine pioneer, best-selling author, certified FOG (Friend of Gwyneth), and chief medical officer of RoseBar. In the field of longevity research, Dr. Hyman is basically LeBron James. By far one of the most well-known functional medicine doctors, he has been instrumental in the mainstream understanding of what functional medicine is—and can be. Basically, the idea is this: Unlike traditional medical practices which treat symptoms in an attempt to mitigate illness, functional medicine seeks to improve and optimize the body’s base functions in order to prevent illness, improve overall quality of life, and extend lifespan. Current trendy buzzwords like “epigenetics,” “biological age” and “metabolic health”? They all come from functional medicine. As Dr. Hyman put it on during the retreat’s welcome seminar, “functional medicine is about creating health.”

Much of Dr. Hyman’s work comes from his research into Blue Zones, the areas of the world where inhabitants regularly live to be over 100 years old. He’s visited these areas, like Sardinia, Italy, and delved into what exactly these people do that not only allows them to live so long but how these habits fundamentally change their bodies. Then he’s taken these ideas back into the lab to quantify them and in the process developed a longevity plan focused on ten pillars of aging like inflammation, senescence (when cells stop working but don’t die), epigenetic functions (how our genes are expressed), microbiome imbalance, and mitochondrial dysfunction (when our cells’ energy centers stop functioning properly). Those guideposts formed the basis of everything we would do on the retreat, from what we ate to the treatments we got to the group activities we were encouraged to participate in—all of which, Dr. Hyamn claimed, would help to reverse our biological age.

Each morning started the same: a workout followed by a light breakfast of Hyman-approved superfood-packed smoothies, bone broth, and a fistful of supplements that included plant-derived nutrients called polyphenols, omega 3s, magnesium, NAC (N-acetyl cysteine), and Vitamin C, all of which were designed to optimize our body’s baseline functions. Then we gathered for a Dr. Hyman-led seminar breaking down themes like diet, exercise, and aging. Copious notes were taken, hundreds of questions were asked,and infinite references to his books were made (the books, however, were not provided; I’m assuming because everyone had already read them).

Much of Dr. Hyman’s method comes down to food. He advocates for eating polyphenol-rich fruits and vegetables, along with nutrient-dense protein sources like fish, goat, and organ meats. He also recommends avoiding sugar, processed foods, alcohol, and caffeine. Everything you eat, he told us, should be considered “regenerative agriculture for the body,” meaning it should support multiple systems, not just satiate hunger. The three keystones of the diet are to eat for insulin control (to help prevent diabetes, one of the most common chronic diseases in the world), eat for muscle mass (we naturally lose muscle as we age), and eat for the microbiome, especially the gut (which houses 70 percent of the body’s immune system).

Anyone who has been paying attention to health trends over the last decade will find these ideas familiar. And truthfully, it didn’t have much of an effect on my body, because I tend to already eat that way. But a few retreat participants went through a few days of side effects, like low energy, constipation, and brain fog, which lent a more typical “detox” aspect to the early days. The locally sourced food, provided by the Six Senses restaurants, was delicious. While it was served on an intermittent fasting schedule and we were encouraged to not eat outside the scheduled meal times, it never felt like diet food. Fasting, especially overnight, is another cornerstone of Dr. Hyman’s longevity plan.

The big draw of the retreat—apart from Hyman, of course—was RoseBar and its treatments, which were included in the price and chosen by a team of RoseBar experts including the endlessly interesting Medical Director Dr. Tamsin Lewis. My days were tightly scheduled with a variety of activities to help kickstart my body into high gear through optimizing mitochondrial health, reducing inflammation, and “biohacking” my biological age. I jumped from massages to vitamin drips to cryotherapy to infrared saunas and compression boots.

I’m going to level with you here: I am a millennial man living in New York City, where you can’t throw a stone without hitting a cold plunge, so most of these treatments were not new to me. I can (and do) get a vitamin drip at my doctor’s office now. I regularly visit an infrared sauna. And I own my own pair of compression boots that see near-constant use. What I found most exciting were the less common options, like hormone and epigenetic testing, energy healing, and ozone therapy. Ozone therapy was particularly cool, in which around 200 ccs of my blood were drawn, infused with oxygen and ozone, and then put back into my body through an IV drip. The ozone, Dr. Hyman says, helps to facilitate an immune response within your body and improve mitochondrial health. The immediate effects, I found, were like mainlining a couple shots of espresso, but lasted way longer.

Outside of a retreat setting, it’s next to impossible to replicate the same immersion into longevity I experienced during the retreat. Would I love to spend every day getting poked, prodded, massaged, compressed, sweated, and chilled in an endless rotation of high-level treatments interspersed with chef-created, locally-sourced meals that are optimized for my metabolic and gut health? Of course—but I have a job. That really is the draw of a retreat like this: a complete commitment to nothing else but your wellness, the opportunity to nerd out on the science of longevity with one of the world’s top experts, and to be surrounded by like-minded people who are all there for the same reason. But what happens when you go back to your real life, especially one that is stressful and busy and comes with responsibilities that make a daily cryotherapy session impossible?

When asked what the three best practices he wanted retreat participants to take away from the experience, Dr. Hyman laid it out: a longevity-focused diet that included regular fasting, plenty of leafy greens and high protein, exercise that incorporates lots of resistance training (to create longevity-supporting muscle mass), and community connection. That last one surprised me. “Loneliness and isolation are the biggest killers, but we don’t address that,” he said. “Community is medicine just like diet and exercise are medicine.” Positive relationships, at any age, can improve quality of life exponentially.

Between all the treatments, diets, seminars, yoga classes, and group sharing sessions, Dr. Hyman still doesn’t expect the participants to try to replicate it exactly at home. The point, he said, was to “help them understand how close they are to feeling good” by immersing themselves in wellness for a few days and taking those lessons back home with them. That could mean changes to your diet, adopting a new training program, and finding similar treatments you have access to locally. Wellness is not one-size-fits-all and neither is longevity; the most important part is finding something you can stick with. And honestly, that’s all anyone can ask for.

I would love to incorporate regular visits to Six Senses Ibiza into my wellness plan. But apart from the fact that I'm definitely not in the right tax bracket to justify it, just a week here and there of immersion into longevity probably isn't enough to reverse my biological age all that much (even if I'd like to think it would be). It's all about what you do regularly, every day. Really making changes to your longevity requires daily commitment, so for now I’ll have to stick with some leafy salads, muscle-building workouts, and the occasional cold plunge and vitamin drip. I think Dr. Hyman would be okay with that.

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