Even travellers need time off occasionally, and that’s exactly what we had during our week at Azul Fit on the Canary Island of Fuerteventura.
We’d had a cold and stressful winter and it was obvious that we needed to do something completely different — so when we were offered a chance to stay at Azul, a yoga/Pilates retreat, we jumped at it. We decided to make our time “screen free”: we weren’t going to use any laptops, phones or iPods during our stay. Azul made this easier by not having any TVs or computers around, and although wifi was available at a small extra charge we didn’t give into temptation.
In fact, there wasn’t any temptation. We relaxed into the calm atmosphere of the villa without any symptoms of withdrawal. There were 16 people there in total (all very nice people), spread out among the nine rooms of the villa. We were in the Santa Fe room, off the main living space and with great views out the picture window; the Moroccan room upstairs had even better views and a kitchen.I also liked the look of the casita in the garden, and the Sahara tent was absolutely gorgeous — though apparently it was cold at night. None of us spent much time in our rooms though, as the central living space with its sofa pit and long dining table was a great place to socialise when we weren’t at class. Plus it was equipped with a kettle and a selection of teas and a couple of jars of instant coffee (though this last option wasn’t exactly encouraged).
The day started at 8.30 or 9am with either a yoga or Pilates class (and once, tai chi) in the large yoga room downstairs, which was semi-open to allow air flow. Then we all bounded upstairs for a delicious brunch of fruit salad, cereal, home-made yogurt, wholegrain bread and something else: the coconut porridge was particularly good. All the food was vegetarian, mostly vegan and gluten free, and universally delicious. I found myself eating more than usual, perhaps because it was so good or maybe because I’d been doing so much exercise.
After brunch there was free time until our next class at 4.30pm, which was followed by dinner at 6.30 most nights. Dinner wasn’t provided on two nights, which meant we had the chance to try out the local restaurants — where the food was good but not as nice as at the villa. On the second dinner-free night Craig and I made use of the outdoor kitchen and cooked our own meal.During the free time we relaxed by the pool or headed out to explore the island: transfers to the beach were provided on two days, and an optional volcano walk was organised for another. We did it all. Some of the other guests said they’d have liked more classes or excursions, but I was happy with the schedule as it meant I could do everything on offer but still have plenty of time to relax, which was why I was there in the first place.
One thing that certainly helped me relax was the massage. One is included in the package but you could get extras if you wanted. I just had the one, on the last day of our stay, and it was excellent — I spent the rest of the day in a happy buzz.
Duration: One week, usually Saturday-Saturday
Location: Villaverde, Fuerteventura, Spain
More info: azulfit.com
The only problem I had was with water; sometimes the filtered water provided ran out in the evenings — tap water on the island isn’t drinkable. However, bottled water was provided for purchase (and kept cold in a mini-fridge) so that we didn’t go thirsty. I also would have liked another tai chi class with Paco — everyone who did the class was buzzing about it afterwards.
In terms of value for money, I think Azul finds a nice balance. The variety of rooms on offer mean that guests can choose to pay for luxury and stay in the Moroccan suite, or share a room with another guest if they don’t want to splurge too much. Brunch and dinner are provided most days, so you don’t have to organise your own meals, and you have a choice of a great bakery, local restaurants, or cooking for yourself to fill the gaps.
On the whole we had an excellent week. We slept well, ate well, played well, and ended our time at Azul Fit feeling weller than ever.