Spa afficionado and founder of queenofretreats.com Caroline Sylger Jones has been reviewing spas, retreats and healthy holidays for the international press for over 15 years – well, someone’s got to do it. This week, how about celebrating your entry into 2014 by being entirely good to yourself? Now there’s a thing… You’ll feel comfy on any of these alone or with a friend.
THE YOGA AND WALKING HOLIDAY
Kaliyoga, Spain, 29 December – 4 January, From £995 pp
Kaliyoga Spain is quirky, bohemian, artistic, relaxed – with a holistic house party vibe. Their holidays are a bridge between your weekly home yoga class and more hardcore yoga retreats, and this one combines twice daily classes in dynamic yoga, as pioneered by Godfrey Devereux, with hill walking in the beautiful landscape of the Alpujarra region. You can also expect gourmet vegetarian meals and decent holistic treatments. Find out more and book here.
THE YOGA RETREAT
Satvada Retreats, Marrakech, 29 December – 3 January from £899 pp
Your base for this yoga retreat is a wonderfully restored and sustainable art deco-style riad oozing style and comfort. Twice daily yoga with flowing hatha yoga teacher Lucia Cockcroft takes place in a marvellous central courtyard, and will include mindfulness meditation. You’ll also have healthy food, a half-day city tour of Marrakech, a New Year Gala dinner, and use of the hammam at the riad’s small spa. Find out more and book here.
THE CREATIVE BREAK
Skyros, Isle of Wight, 30 December – 2 January, from £425 pp
This inventive and fun weekend is run by psychotherapist, playwright and jazz singer Kate Daniels and workshop leader, comedienne and actress Alison Goldie. Enjoy activities tailored to whatever the group fancies, including singing, comedy improvisation, life coaching, country walks and, of course, a big smart get-together for New Year’s Eve. Your base is The Grange by the Sea, a converted Georgian B&B with contemporary rooms and a high ceilinged, wooden-floored sitting room with plenty of books, an open fire and squishy sofas. Find out more and book here.
THE WELLBEING RETREAT
Serenity Retreat, Buckinghamshire, 30 December – 3 January, from £349 pp
Zen Buddhist meditation teacher Kim Bennett is a down-to-earth yet incredibly warm woman with an infectious sense of humour – join her for a Yoga, Meditation and Mindfulness for Wellbeing retreat at St Katherine’s, a country house in Buckinghamshire. Recover from Christmas and be present while you enter New Year. The retreat includes healthy meals, time for quiet reflection, meditation and Zen yoga. A lovely chance to gather and strengthen your resources. Find out more and book here.
THE FITNESS HOLIDAY
in:spa, Morocco, 28 December – 4 January, From £2,195 pp – with £500 off
Based at Dar Liqama, a luxury villa just outside the walls of Marrakech in the Palmerie district, this healthy holiday helps you get fit and detox with a combination of hikes in the neighbouring Atlas Mountains, personal training, yoga, massage, a cleansing diet and nutritional advice. Enjoy four acres of gardens, courtyards, fruit trees, two swimming pools, a hammam and tennis court. You’ll have the chance to explore the nearby medina, and an in:spa chef will create cleansing meals, juices and snacks to energise you and keep hunger at bay. Find out more and book here.
THE SPA BREAK
Grayshott Spa, Surrey, From £435 pp for an all-inclusive 2 night à la Carte stay
This peaceful and civilized health spa an hour’s drive from London is open over new year but quite deliberately not offering anything different – so if you want to escape parties and just relax, this is the place. Enjoy holistic and beauty treatments, group sessions in yoga and pilates, exercise classes, walks in the adjoining 700 acres of National Trust land and use of the indoor pool, sauna and steam. People wander about in white robes – you’ll get into it after an hour or so. There’s a minimum stay of two nights. Find out more and book here.
Queen of Retreats offers honest, independent reviews of spas and healthy holidays by journalists with a critical eye plus a booking service for retreats we would hand-on-heart recommend. You won’t find any retreats on the site we don’t have experience of and no one pays to be on it. More at www.queenofretreats.com