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Our little black book of enchanting places


Retreats for health and wellbeing by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in HEALTH + WELLBEING By Maggie O' Sullivan

About this time of year we start fretting about our waistlines and our general wellbeing – something to do with having to appear in skimpy swimwear, no doubt. We know that all it really requires is some self control, but nothing kick-starts a new resolve like a retreat – especially if that retreat is combined with a stay in a luxury hotel. Here are five currently on our wellness radar.

Lime Wood, Hampshire

One of our favourite hotels has joined with one of the UK’s favourite personal trainers, Matt Roberts, to offer two days of hell – er, training – designed, they say, to ‘really push you to the outside edge of your personal comfort zone and provide the biggest physical response’, using many exercise styles and formats, including the surrounding New Forest. Thankfully the retreat also includes a daily massage and heat treatments, and when it’s all over on day one, you’ll get dinner at the Chef’s Table hosted by chef Luke Holder and Matt Roberts followed by a night in a lovely Lime Wood bed. From £750 per person; 4-5 October 2015.Daios Cove, Crete

Daios Cove is offering a five-day retreat in late September, with two Jivamukti yoga sessions a day run by the hotel’s professional yoga specialists. Wellness at Daios Cove does not end on the yoga mat: guests have free access to the spa’s wet area and there is a vast array of healthy meals and smoothies available, with an emphasis on the best-quality fresh and local ingredients. The views over the beautiful cove are pretty heart-lifting, too. A basic knowledge of yoga is recommended. £282 per person, plus from £176 per room, per night; 28 November-3 October 2015.Healthouse Las Dunas Health & Beach Spa, Spain

If you’re after something a little more ‘scientific’, Healthouse Las Dunas is a serious health and wellbeing retreat 15 minutes’ drive from Marbella. Specialising in weight loss, anti-ageing, de-stress and general detox programmes, the retreat also prides itself on its gastronomy (its nutritional menus are overseen by a two Michelin-starred chef). For best results, you probably need to spend more than a couple of days at Las Dunas, but for those not quite ready to commit, there’s a Healthy Weekend retreat which includes a consultation with a nutritionist and psychologist, body massage, therapeutic treatment, yoga/Pilates/Acquagym session, and access to the spa. From £540 including two nights’ full board.Ashford Castle, Ireland

This luxurious three-night retreat has been designed to help you slow down and find serenity through different forms of yoga and meditation. Taking the retreat is Ata Baechler, who trained in New York, California and India. Baechler is also an expert in Thai massage and has developed his own blend of treatments. The programme includes Hatha yoga, chanting and Yoga Nidra, pranayama and meditation, and can be combined with other packages for non-participating partners. Food is healthy but you certainly won’t go hungry. Around £832 single room/£1,202 double room; 19-22 November 2015.Forte Village, Sardinia 

It seems a shame to go somewhere gorgeous only to shut yourself away in a darkened spa. That’s why we love the Acquaforte Thalasso Spa at Forte Village where so many of the treatments take place in the sunlit thalassotherapy pools. It’s not just sloshing about in warm water: there are programmes aimed at physical and psychophysical recovery from stress, osteoarticular conditions and weight issues, as well as the less serious notions of age prevention and detox. This is also the place to go if you've got back problems: the spa has recently partnered with Prof Pier Franceso Parra, who has treated most of the world's top sportsmen and women. On offer is a three-day Backacke Laser Therapy retreat which includes an indepth assessment, a daily treatment from Prof Parra and daily thalassotherapy. From £2,090, excluding accommodation.

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