The best healthy breaks and holidays
How’s that New Year’s fitness regime? Here are some options to get you back on track
How’s the diet going for you? Right. And the fitness regime? Thought so.
If your New Year’s health and fitness regime has run out of puff, never fear. Sometimes all you need is the encouragement of a restorative health break, the camaraderie of a bootcamp or the enthusiasm of a fun run to get yourself back on track. Okay, maybe not the athletics track.
There are loads to choose from. Ready, set go:
1. Wellness Weekend
Recharge both body and mind at swanky Castlemartyr’s very first Wellness Weekend. The three-day retreat has been designed as part of the launch of a new series of health and wellbeing packages at the five-star resort’s spa and includes a motivational talk with broadcaster and former All-Ireland camogie star Anna Geary, a sunrise swim on Garryvoe Beach and a morning pilates class with Milena Byrne, founder of Platinum Pilates.
The Wellness Weekend package costs €309 per person sharing and includes two nights B&B in a deluxe room, two evening meals and as many healthy snacks as you can justify.
Of course you should stay over – any excuse – but readers based in Cork can purchase a day pass to the event on Saturday for €45, which includes a welcome pack and refreshments on arrival – before you’ve even done a tap! – a pilates session, lunch and a motivational talk from Geary.
The retreat takes place at the east Cork property from Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd of February, so you might want to work on your speed.
2. Mummy Bootcamp
It’s sod’s law that when you could most do with toning up, after having a baby, you’re least likely to be able to get out for a class. Let’s face it, it’s hard to get to the loo. Gorgeous as it is to be all loved up with your little one, it can be isolating too. For all these reasons a Mummy Bootcamp can be just the ticket.
It’s a great outlet for new mums because you bring your baby and buggy too – no ringing around frantically for a sitter. It won’t put your life back into its pre-baby shape, but it will help put some manners on your body. You’re outdoors, with other mums and babies, swapping tips and tales and restoring your energy levels.
Mummy Bootcamps take place in public parks such as Cabinteely, the Phoenix Park and Raheny. All sessions are six weeks, with two mornings a week plus a bonus Saturday class – sans buggy – for those looking to take it up a level. Burn off the baby fat, polish that pelvic floor and have a laugh while you’re doing it. At €99 for up to three 60 minute classes a week for six weeks, it’s great value, too.
3. Burren Yoga
If the only yoga pose you’re any good at is your savasana – AKA corpse pose – shake up your chakras with a trip to Burren Yoga in Clare. It runs yoga and meditation retreats every weekend which cost Euro 320 sharing or Euro 380 for a single room. The price includes accommodation, food, yoga and meditation tuition plus guided outings into the beautiful Burren hills and by the sea with an experienced guide. The centre has been running yoga retreats now for 18 years, winning a Tripadvisor Award of Excellence for the past eight years in a row. It only takes 15 people on each retreat, ensuring everyone gets good individual attention, which may explain why.
4. Ashford Castle
As long as you’re not the kind of person for whose blood pressure spikes at the mere thought of wandering around a hotel in a bathrobe, then book yourself a spa break.
Check out The Lodge at Ashford Castle for some luxury R&R. Management here can organise a chauffeur transfer for treatments at the estate’s award winning Spa at Ashford Castle, including the geographically puzzling B Africa B Together Swedish massage. With this, rose quartz crystals are used to help release tense muscles and promote circulation.
Take some time in the relaxation pool and the essence infused steam room before getting deposited back to your lodgings where you’ll sleep like a baby amid plump pillows and the absolute silence of the Ashford Estate. Finish up with breakfast in bed the next day and you’ll be hard pressed to find a more restorative 24 hours anywhere, from €450 per room, available until March.
5. Shock to the system
Sometimes what you really need to restore your senses is a shock to the system, the kind that comes in an adrenaline rush. It’s the only kind of rush hour you’ll find at Delphi Resort, near Killary Fjord. The four star adventure resort has two-night stays, including breakfast, a full day of outdoor activities and a three-course meal, as well as a complimentary hour in its thermal suite jacuzzi, steam room and sauna.
There are zip lines and high ropes, mountain biking and orienteering as well as water-based activities such as kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding and nothing gives the mind a rest as moving your body. The per room price per night starts at €197, the endorphins are on the house.
6. Walking festivals
Spring is the time for walking festivals, a great way to get moving and make friends. Still in Leenane, the Connemara Mountain Walking Festival is now in its 11th year. It’s a stunning place to walk, with the fjord giving you a sea that’s surrounded by mountains.
The programme is designed to suit walkers of all levels, from casual low level walks to serious and strenuous ones. The 2019 schedule includes Mweelrea, Derryclare, Ben Gorm and Glenawough. The easier walks include the Maunmean and the Killary Fjord Famine Trail.
The festival takes place on the May bank holiday, which gives you plenty of time to break in those boots and get yourself fit. Transport to and from starting and finishing points is provided as well as tea, coffee and scones at various local businesses at the end of each day. Evenings are full of great free entertainment, all based at the Leenane Hotel.
Enjoy the ancient Indian health benefits of Ayurveda – it’s from the Sanskrit meaning “life and knowledge”, so it’s definitely tried and tested – at the Courtyard in Coolattin, Co Wicklow. It’s running a yoga and ayurveda retreat from 12th to 14th April. The all inclusive event, which costs from €430, features special guest Donn Brennan, a leading Ayurveda doctor, to talk about health, lifestyle and diet, as well as the health benefits of yoga and meditation, and how to determine your dominant dosha – don’t worry, you’ll find out when you get there. The yoga sessions will be Hatha-Vinyasa style, and all levels of practitioner are welcome. Guests get vegan and vegetarian meals, walks the countryside and free time to put their feet up (in non yoga fashion) in front of the fire.
There’s a range of treats in store at a Creacon Wellness Retreat in neighbouring Wexford too. Set in rolling green hills it’s an award winning destination for yoga and meditation breaks as well as general self-care, relaxation and rejuvenation. It offers all sorts of services to revitalize mind, body and spirit, from facials to massage, acupuncture, psychotherapy or daily yoga and mindfulness classes.
If you’re in the area, drop in; the café is open daily, offering cold-pressed juices and healthy meals. But ideally stay longer. There are a variety of packages to choose from, including a three-day juice cleanse, a weekend getaway and a yoga and meditation retreat. It’s perfect for solo travellers looking for a little “me time” too. The Overnight Escape package includes meals from its Food is Medicine menu, a full body Swedish massage, and a yoga and meditation class, for €225. A three-day Juice Cleanse detox costs from €350.
9. Full schedule of wellbeing
Make yours a mineral at the swish Johnstown Estate in Meath, which has put together a full schedule of fitness, fatigue, relaxation and healthy eating programmes from €165 per person. They include a one-to-one with a personal fitness trainer, to provide you with a tailored fitness programme and escort you around the gym as you get to grips with it. After that, it’s off to the hotel spa, where options include an Elemis Thousand Flower Detox Wrap and an Elemis Poultice-Powered Muscle Release, a tension-taming treatment which targets tight muscles and knots with a unique Amber and Quartz poultice.
Finish up with a restorative facial massage. Alternatively, opt for the Elemis Hot Mineral Body Boost, a conditioning and reinvigorating body treatment which stimulates cells and helps alleviate muscular pain. It’s followed up with a mineral filled Elemis Superfood Pro Radiance Facial good enough to eat. You don’t have to though, because the package includes a healthy lunch too.
Spring clean yourself with LifeCleanse, urban retreats in Dublin and weekend retreats by the sea at Brittas Bay. The weekend ones are a mix of yoga, mindfulness, vegan wholefood meals and beach walks – less than an hour from Dublin. It includes a hands-on demonstration of founder Maria Donlon’s LifeCleanse recipes, including how to make your own guilt-free treats and take-home tips to help you carry on the benefits of the weekend well into the future. The next beach retreat takes place 5th to 7th April, and costs €365 per person for a private room. The urban retreats are a day of yoga, mindfulness, detox and nutrition talks, plus healthy lunch, which take place in Rathmines and cost €99 per person.
Of course, you don’t have to spent a cent to get active. Just check out your nearest Parkrun. These are free, weekly, 5km timed runs that are open to everyone and are safe and easy to take part in. They’ve been running, ahem, in Ireland since 2012 – the first one was in Malahide. Now they take place all over the country (they’re already all over the world). They take place in parks, are run by volunteers, and are welcoming of people of all ages and all ability levels, from Olympians to I-never-rans. There are additional junior parkruns especially for those aged 4 to 14, too. Just check out the website to find the run nearest you.