MALLORCA, MARRAKECH AND SOUTH OF FRANCE
BEST FOR: EXERCISE JUNKIES AND THOSE WHO WANT TO GET IN SHAPE
NOT FOR: A RELAXING HOLIDAY. THIS IS ABOUT GETTING OFF YOUR BACKSIDE AND JUMPING TO IT
An all-singing, all-dancing retreat, which kicks even the most stubborn of bodies into shape. The schedules are action-packed and the workouts vigorous but that doesn’t matter when the results are this good. This is a programme which has fitness nailed, where you can sort yourself out, learn to eat properly and embrace exercise like never before (plus still have time for lolling beside the pool).
There are three delicious destinations to choose from: South of France, Mallorca and Marrakech. And it’s a tricky decision. The Moroccan outpost, Le Palais Paysan, at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains has a view so stunning you almost don’t want to move. Collapse into your mountain-facing bed surrounded by splashes of colours from the Moroccan handicraft. Mallorca also scores highly in the beauty stakes with a lush garden, heady with colours and smells (and a beautiful pool). The spacious, airy bedrooms sing of calm and it’s so peaceful here that you wonder at how such quietness exists. Or for true Provençal living, there’s the South of France. A beautifully restored chateau, there’s a pretty courtyard at the ready for meals and a saltwater swimming pool, lined with lavender – flop, flop and flop again (just do your exercises first).
There are two trainers on hand to put you through your paces. But the clever thing is that they make exercising feel like fun and you stop groaning. It’s a smashing mix of group circuits and fitness training with two daily yoga sessions plus one-to-ones with a personal trainer. It’s a bit of a shock for first-timers however it doesn’t take long to get stuck in. And no need to worry if you’re a beginner, groups are based on general level of expertise so that everyone can have the most attention. Hikes are also on the agenda. Find yourself armed with a snack pack of an apple and homemade protein ball before pounding up a mountain. The views are incredible (pack your phone or camera) and the camaraderie that takes shape can forge relationships that last beyond the week.
There are 10 yoga classes – ask for teacher, Allan Kelly, who has a magnificent mellifluous Irish-accented Radio Four voice that works wonders in calming the mind. The restorative yoga to stretch out tired muscles every evening provides the perfect antidote to any aches and pains, while the group classes allow your hunched-over-a-desk body to stretch in ways that you could never imagine.
Life is a daily feast here. The food is all very ‘clean’ (no red meat, gluten, dairy, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol) but, wow, is it delicious. Breakfast is an extravaganza of fruits and gluten-free grains (don’t miss the homemade granola) and the scrambled eggs with parsley and mushrooms or boiled eggs with capers are too good to be true. Lunch is buffet-style while, in the evening, meals are a two-course affair served at candlelit tables – tuck into red pepper and tomato soup, followed by John Dory on asparagus and spinach. Other delights include: melt-in-your-hands beetroot muffins, pea, avocado and mint soup, fish cakes and Turkey curry and vegetable Nori rolls. There is no dessert but don’t worry, the flavours are so varied and portions abundant that you don’t feel the need for a sweet hit (just give up coffee and sugar beforehand to prevent cravings and headachy hell).
There are nutrition talks, too, throughout the week – get wised up on blood sugar, insulin resistance and storage, stress, how to drink fruit juice, the merits of flax seeds, visceral fat, leptin resistance, over-eating and the importance of proteins at every meal. It’s so fascinating (and, in some cases, a scary reality check) that it doesn’t take long for you to start eating mindfully. Ask for a one-to-one with nutritionist Alli whose nutritional nuggets of wisdom know no bounds.
For those who want added adventure – plump for in:spa’s Moroccon retreat and get way too excited for the mid-week afternoon trip into Marrakech (it’s like being let out of school but better). Wander through the souks and snap up lamps, cushion covers and Berber carpets – just make sure you barter hard. Stop for a drink at one of the rooftop restaurants but, beware, don’t succumb to the mint tea which is like drinking liquid sugar.
After seven days of eating a toxin-free diet and a colossal amount of jumping up and down, you find yourself beaming with energy and glowing with happiness, not to mention, a few solid pounds lighter. On your return, you are likely to find that the tan fades faster than the body reboot but you’re so inspired about your new slim self that you don’t care. Many guests make it their annual retreat and it’s hard to get better than that.
CONTACT: Tel: 020 3235 0120, web: www.inspa-retreats.com
NEAREST AIRPORT: Palma (Mallorca); Marrakech;Toulouse (South of France)
PRICE: From £1,795 for the week (all-inclusive except for flights)
Written By: Niki Natarajan