Where: Shanti-Som, Marbella, Spain
Who: Anuska Vidal, travel lover, muay thai aficionado and wellbeing specialist at Wellbeing Escapes
I have to start this off by saying I’m not the world’s biggest yoga fan – give me energy pumping Muay Thai kickboxing any day of the week. So it was with some trepidation that I approached my weekend away at Shanti-Som in Spain, a retreat renowned for its yoga. The Spain part, and its promise of sun however was very appealing indeed.
When I arrived I thought ‘wow – this is like Bali, but in Spain!’. There were Balinese statues scattered around the pools and the gardens, dark wood beams and shelves, palm trees and this amazing feeling of peace. It was a perfect mix of East meets Western wellbeing. All of this plus we were sat right in the lush green Sierra de Las Nieves Nature reserve, with trees, mountains and blue skies as far as the eye could see. I could tell this was a little haven of peace and tranquillity and that I’d feel really at home here.
After a delicious welcome drink – a refreshing mixture of pineapple – mint lemon and sparkling water that (really hit the spot after being on an airplane) I was sat down and talked through my programme, which was to include some yoga and massages. Looking out of the glass windows over the greenery it was a real treat to not be surrounded by buildings and cars. I could finally relax away from the stresses and bustle of London. As the sun went down on my first night, they lit the fire place in the lounge. Set up with a big curved plush sofa it became a very cosy spot, and as it was the only area with wifi, guests gravitated towards it to catch up on the events of the day. It was a real highlight for me not having wifi in my bedroom as I’m usually so plugged in, it made me switch off at night, when I really needed to.
The next day bought the dreaded yoga class. It was Vinyassa flow and I must admit I thought it was a bit hard and I could certainly feel my thighs burning! But I’m not really the best judge. The yoga bunnies that I got chatting to told me they thought the yoga was really good – and they do it all the time. I was surprised at how the fairly simple exercise could really work the muscles and build new strength and stamina.
Thankfully I had my Thai massage to look forward to afterwards to sort out my stuff muscles. I can’t believe how impressed I was. I’ve had a fair few Thai massages in my time as they’re my favourite treatment, and this one was definitely a contender for the best. As is often the case with the small ladies who perform these, I’m always blown away by their super-human strength. She even tried out a few techniques I hadn’t experienced before!
Another highlight for me was talking to their resident nutritionist and reiki master, Marisol. She was such a wonderful lady who had a great warmth about her. We could have talked for hours! You can tell that she really believes in what she does and honestly wants to help people. She gave me some great advice about all the healthy lifestyle changes we talked about – and she still emails me!
Speaking of nutrition, I have to mention the food, which continued with the East meets West theme. I ate delicious Asian fusion dishes like spring rolls and crispy chicken all beautifully seasoned. Other guests were eating dishes like grilled fish and vegetables. Everything is healthy and mostly organic. There was plenty of choice and I loved the fact that they are starting to grow a lot of their ingredients are grown on the chef’s farm – you can’t get fresher than that! Their smoothies and juices were also great for recharging and replenishing between activities. It’s worth bringing your hiking boots as you’re surrounded by all that stunning national park for roaming in when you want to leave the Shanti-Som bubble!
This is a great place to come if you’re interested in yoga, a light detox, want to lose weight and experience nature, peace and calm. Everyone is warm and friendly so it was easy to have a laugh too, and I could sit at the sharing tables when I wanted to chat with other people over meals. There were both single travellers and friends staying whilst I was there. It’s so easy to get to – it only took me about 3 hours and from May to October the weather is amazing.
WOW factor: You’re in the middle of nature but you’re not far from Marbella for exploring (read shopping). It’s a great place to go if you want to get away from it all, relax, rejuvenate, restore.
Special H&H Offer: Prices start at £335 per person, which includes all treatments and breakfast each morning, based on two people sharing a room. Single occupancy rates available. Hip & Healthy readers can benefit from a complimentary Lemon & Ginger Body Scrub using the code “HIPHEALTHYSCRUB”. Email [email protected], or call 0207 644 6111 to book.