Looking for a health kick? All-inclusive holidays are a good start, finds Aby Dunsby.
It’s official: beer is out, carrot juice is in. While the newspapers tell us that 29 UK boozers now close every week, smoothie bars and organic cafes continue to pop up, and it seems our appetite for spiralising, juicing and detoxing just can’t be sated.
It’s affecting decisions about how to holiday, too. The Global Wellness Institute reports the worldwide wellness market has grown 74% in the past four years, and it’s now worth more than $439 billion, which makes it one of the fastest-growing sectors in travel.
While an all-inclusive escape might once have meant all-you-can-eat buffets and beer on tap, resorts are adapting their product to reflect clients’ increasingly healthy habits. Tui’s latest concept Tui Blue is a prime example: its Bluefit programme offers sports and activities alongside relaxation exercises, spas and a complimentary diet plan created by a Blue Guide (see review, page 58).
Stella Photi, founder of specialist operator Wellbeing Escapes, says: “An all-inclusive health programme is a great way to immerse yourself in health and wellness, as clients will receive expert advice personalised to their own needs and goals. The different elements of the programme, from spa treatments to exercise to nutrition, are designed to complement each other and provide a comprehensive and integrated wellbeing experience.”
Clients needn’t be put off by the thoughts of press-ups, shouting personal trainers and aching limbs that might be associated with the idea of a weight-loss holiday. Many hotels offer gentler options that combine healthy eating with fitness in an idyllic setting, allowing much-needed downtime as well as plenty of toning and fat-burning.
The Intensive Alkalizing Slimming Programme at Bagni di Pisa Resort & Medical Spa in Tuscany might sound scary, but it’s actually a relaxing yet effective seven-night bespoke weight loss programme that incorporates multiple spa treatments and fitness classes. Think sessions of gymnastics and underwater massages in thermal water, specialist seaweed treatments, lymphatic drainage massages and diet consultations from medical experts. An all-inclusive package with spa treatments starts from £2,535 a week.
Clients don’t need to be gym freaks to book onto the Basic Optimal Fitness Programme in luxury retreat Kamalaya Thailand. It can be adapted depending on a client’s level of fitness, and pairs personal instruction with plenty of indulgent spa therapies to melt the pain away. The hotel offers full-board meals and non-alcoholic drinks plus complimentary classes and activities.
In the Maldives, the ‘clean living’ ethos is embraced wholeheartedly at Amilla Fushi, which has partnered with Bodyism to come up with a wellness plus weight loss programme. Clients will start by meeting a Body Oracle to set out their goals in a personal training programme, and choose from classes such as Clean and Lean, a fusion of ballet and yoga, or Clean and Lean Warrior, a revved up high-intensity version. After a workout, clients can refuel courtesy of Clean and Lean cafe, which offers gluten-free, organic and unprocessed dishes. Prices start from £3,600 in a Lagoon House, including flights.
An apple a day
There’ll be no settling down to bangers and mash on a wellness retreat, but it’s not just about kale juice and celery sticks, either. Plenty of resorts offer balanced, wholesome menus to encourage healthy eating alongside an active lifestyle, such as Curtain Bluff in Antigua, where new healthy menus are on offer at all restaurants.
Wellbeing Escapes also recommends serene resort SwaSwara, south of Goa, whose resident Ayurvedic Doctor will devise a personalised eating plan based on a client’s individual ‘dosha’ (constitution). The resort also offers unlimited interactive cooking sessions with the chef to help end bad eating habits.
Healthy eating is also on the menu at all-inclusive chain Lux Resorts’ Indian Ocean retreats, where clients who sign up to the Me Wellness Concierge Service can pick light meals from the menu, including veggie and vegan dishes, and choose from buffet options based on healthy principles such as using olive oil or natural sweeteners, and food that has been baked rather than fried.
Clients who get bored lounging by the pool or devoting their days to tanning can dive into a whole range of health-boosting activities on an all-inclusive break instead.
Activity holiday specialist Neilson recommends its summer Beachclubs in Turkey and Greece as destinations for couples and families looking to get stuck into a wide range of activities, from stand-up paddle-boarding to wake-boarding, all on a complimentary basis.
Biking options at Retreat Beachclub in Sivota, on the western coast of mainland Greece, and at Messini Beachclub, Analipsi, on the Peloponnese peninsula, have been upgraded to include new expert tours in mountain biking and road cycling. Tennis fans can also try out its new tennis coaching programme, devised by Andy Murray's former coach Mark Petchey, available at all Beachclubs except Cosmos.
The fitness activity schedule is just as jam-packed at AMA Andalusia, which offers everything from bootcamp sessions on the beach to pilates and yoga, and is about to launch a healthy all-inclusive eating option with Wellbeing Escapes that includes wine, beer and also fresh juices.
Yoga bunnies looking to practise their sun salutations in appropriately sunny climes are spoilt for choice, with Moroccan all-inclusive hotel Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort boasting its own hot yoga studio, offering daily classes dedicated to various forms of yoga; and Jewel Paradise Cove Beach Resort & Spa in Runaway Bay, Jamaica, launching of yoga retreats this year that cater to everyone from beginners to experts.
Other resorts muscling in on the trend include luxury Caribbean chain Elite Island Resorts, which offers daily yoga classes at most of its properties; and Zoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya in Mexico, which runs personalised yoga classes alongside ‘pranayama’, or breath control classes, and meditation.
Those craving a faster pace can look to Ikos resorts in Greece, which have a fully equipped sports centre and fitness studio, tennis and squash courts, a biking centre, and a range of water sports.
Clients happy to travel further afield could consider Club Med resort Sandpiper Bay in Florida, which offers water skiing through July and August alongside sports such as tennis, golf, beach volleyball, sailing, and its signature flying trapeze academy.
Sandals resorts are also famously big on fitness, with everything from scuba diving to basketball on its all-inclusive activity menu, plus get-fit sessions at its Red Lane Fitness Centres, which include pilates, zumba and bracing morning walks.
If swimming’s more their thing, operator Health and Fitness Travel suggests a trip to The BodyHoliday in Saint Lucia, which has collaborated with British Olympic champion swimmer Keri-Anne Payne to come up with an intensive two-week WellFit bootcamp dedicated to getting fit (runs from October 30-November 13). Keri-Anne will also be on hand to coach a five-day SwimFit course to help guests improve technique, efficiency and speed, and share some stories from Rio, where she is competing this year, too. Rooms start from $550 per night during WellFit.
Tui Blue, Palm Gardens, Turkey
Tui ‘s latest all-inclusive hotel concept Tui Blue combines healthy eating and fitness.
“The idea is to have a healthier attitude towards holidays and we found there is a demand for it across Europe,” says Artur Gerber, managing director for Tui Blue.
Palm Garden opened on the Turkish Riviera in May, following Sarigerme Park on Turkey’s Aegean coast.
Further openings are planned for Schladming, Austria and Fleesensee, Germany by the end of the year, and Castelfalfi in Italy for next spring.
The brand’s Bluefit programme combines wellness, fitness and nutrition: spinning classes, yoga on the beach and group fitness sessions are part of the all-inclusive package, along with vegan and vegetarian options at the buffet.
“At this resort you can eat at the à la carte restaurant, experience the beach breakfast, and take part in the beach barbecue,” says Gerber.
Guests can also pay extra for a personal trainer, who can even accompany them to the buffet to advise on nutrition.
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