Pictures: Julien Fernandez
Active holidays are on the rise so capitalise with these sporty all-inclusives, writes Laura French.
Fitness this, fitness that. The world seems to be having something of a fitness fling right now, and it’s not just about sweating it out at the local gym.The love affair is seeping into our holidays too, with active breaks on the up, according to research company Technavio, which recently predicted a 46% growth in the number of activity and adventure sports holidays by 2020.
Clare Tobin, chief executive of Olympic Holidays, also reports a rise in demand. “Activities and wellbeing are an increasing consideration for those who book with us year after year,” she says.
And nowhere makes getting active quite so easy as an all-inclusive resort. Throwing in everything from family football academies and amateur tennis lessons to full-on retreats with gold-medal-winning Olympians, the new wave of fully-inclusive resorts certainly pack it in.
We’ve rounded up some of the best for those wanting to burn off as many calories as they consume with activities that cater to everyone from couch potato to future Olympian.
Serious sports resorts
Leading the trend on the active, all-inclusive front is the renowned BodyHoliday, set on the northwest coast of Saint Lucia. Offering Olympian-led programmes throughout the year alongside yoga retreats, water sports and adventure experiences – from rock climbing to waterfall abseiling – it excels in all things active. Not only that, but everything is included in the initial price tag, meaning ample commission for you.
This year, look out for the Sailing Club, a one-week programme taking place in March and hosted by medal-winning sailors Saskia Clark and Nick Thompson. Direct parents with the brood in tow to the WellFit Families retreat, taking place in week-long stretches from July 1 to August 26 with beach boot camps, bike rides and races designed to develop cardio fitness and strength.
Over in Jamaica, there’s the adult-only Jewel Resorts’ Paradise Cove. Specialising in health, fitness and spa treatments, it offers everything from spinning and yoga classes to a fitness trail, tennis courts, basketball and beachfront water sports, all wrapped up in the all-inclusive deal. Guests also get complimentary green fees (and free transport) for the nearby Runaway Bay Golf Club, home to a 72-par, 18-hole championship course, and there’s an intensive yoga retreat offered at no extra charge at certain times of the year. The best part though is its surroundings – all picture-perfect scenes of aquamarine water lapping on to sugar-sand shores.
For those even more serious about golf, look to Turkey’s 442-room Sirene Belek. Part of the PGA National Turkey Antalya Golf Club, the luxury resort boasts two 18-hole courses, including the PGA Sultan – where Tiger Woods and Rory Mcllroy have played – alongside a 300-metrre driving range, Olympic-sized swimming pool, tennis and football facilities, water park, kids’ club and spa. Guests get two complimentary rounds of golf on each course as part of the all-inclusive package, and there’s a generous choice of restaurants on hand for those wanting to refuel afterwards.
“BodyHoliday excels at all things active, and everything is included in the price, meaning more commission.”
Not far from there is the Gloria Golf Resort. Surrounded by thick pine forest, the stylish hotel boasts two 18-hole and one nine-hole course (at extra cost) alongside a kids’ club, gym, play area, water slides and plenty more. The Gloria Sports Arena is just around the corner, offering a football stadium, hockey pitch, running track and climbing area.
It’s not all about the golf, though. If it’s more tennis that piques your clients’ interest, suggest Antigua’s Curtain Bluff.
Known for its exceptional tennis centre, the elegant five-star resort features four championship hard courts with three resident professionals (lessons cost $70 per hour). It hosts various events including Antigua Tennis Week every spring and the Tennis Challenge Week, held in November, which offers guests the chance to learn from former Davis Cup player Dick Stockton during seven days of play, parties and chill-out time.
For ultra family-friendly resorts, look to big-name brands such as Robinson, which offers WellFit programmes, tennis, football and other classes alongside a ‘sportstainment’ programme covering team games such as squash and volleyball.
Suggest clients seeking a mid-haul getaway head to its Agadir property, sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and Morocco’s dramatic Atlas mountains. It offers surfing, bodyboarding and other water sports alongside five tennis courts on site, with five golf clubs in the vicinity. There’s also a spa for those wanting to wind down at the end of an active day, and an evening entertainment programme offering the likes of Moroccan folklore and dance shows.
There’s more where that came from, not least Club Med. Recommend the brand’s Opio en Provence outpost for programmes spanning archery, fitness, golf, tennis and pilates, alongside its crowning glory, Creactive by Cirque du Soleil, which specialises in acrobatic activities – think everything from the flying trapeze to tightrope-walking.
The brand’s all-inclusive properties also host a range of themed weeks throughout the year including a yoga retreat at Sandpiper Bay, Florida, and a wellness week at Bintan Island, Indonesia.
Over in the Bahamas, kids will find plenty to please, with the sprawling Atlantis Paradise Island offering a decent tennis centre and beach water sports programme (the latter during summer holidays only) as well as sailing lessons from the marina. You’ll also find diving, snorkelling, yoga, pilates and 18 holes at the Ocean Club Golf Course, set on the island’s verdant peninsula – and that’s before we even get on to the extensive kids’ club facilities, dolphin experiences and array of other activities that have earned this place a name.
Beaches resorts also have something to say here. For an especially strong sports offering, suggest Beaches Turks & Caicos, which reopened in December following a refurb after Hurricane Irma. Unlimited land sports such as basketball, beach volleyball and football, as well as a wealth of activities on the water – snorkelling, kayaking, sailing, paddleboarding and more – are included in the package price, meaning kids can see where their interests lie without breaking the parents’ bank. Guests also get two free dives a day, giving them the chance to discover some of the Caribbean’s most renowned dive spots, while there’s a large water park on the complex for those content to stick to the slides.
For an option closer to home, Prestige Holidays recommends Sandos San Blas Nature Resort & Golf in Tenerife. “This resort offers a packed and varied sports programme,” says Nicky Shafe, marketing manager. “There’s a strong aquatic focus with eight swimming pools, two of which are freshwater and heated, alongside a boating lake for kayaking and classes including pilates and salsa.”
You’ll also find tennis courts and a gym on site with two golf courses close by, while guided tours take guests out to explore the picturesque San Blas Nature Reserve.
Meanwhile, in the Peloponnese there’s the Grecotel Olympia Oasis & Aqua Park. Offering paintball and ‘paramotors’ (powered paragliders) alongside biking, tennis and horse riding, it’s a wise suggestion for those after something a little different. In the summer holidays, a soccer school and dance lessons are also available.
But for families wanting to really up the adventure levels, suggest travelling that bit further to Hard Rock Riviera Maya in Mexico, where the new Woodward sports centre lays claim to the Caribbean’s first indoor ski slope and offers skateboarding, BMX, trampolining, free running and other adventure sports on its sprawling complex.
There’s even a ‘ninja obstacle challenge’ designed to improve agility, and an interactive digital media area where GoPros record guests’ times.
Guests can use their resort credit, totalling $1,800 per room per week, at the centre, and spend the leftovers on the various other activities available across the resort, which include golf, snorkelling, paddleboarding, kayaking, fitness classes and indoor climbing. And with money no issue, the only challenge is fitting it all in.
Thomas Cook offers seven nights’ all-inclusive at the five-star Hard Rock Riviera Maya Hacienda from £4,236 for a family of two adults and two children (up to 12), based on two children staying and eating free. The price includes up to $1,800 in resort credit and flights from Gatwick, and is based on selected dates in May, June and October.
Travel 2 has a week’s all-inclusive in a Luxury Room at BodyHoliday from £2,369 per person, based on departures from April 23-June 29, including Virgin Atlantic flights from Gatwick.
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