There was a time when going on holidays meant eating too much and drinking to excess, and the only exercise was a twirl around the disco. Now many of us find that a holiday where we exercise our body or mind is of more benefit. Sedentary lives, and spending too much time at work and on the road, lead to a lethargy that can be dispelled by fun activities.
Families too like the idea of holidays where there is a variety of sports activities for everyone, especially as children get older. There’s nothing like an active day playing sports, swimming, hiking or cycling to give everyone an appetite and things to talk about.
For some people it is not just about healthy activities, but giving your mind a holiday. The daily round of work, home, sleep, work, home, sleep leaves very little time for contemplation or developing thought processes. A holiday for the mind where the daily trivia of life is taken care of by someone else can bring a sense of lightness and positivity.
Mark Warner Holidays
The family that plays together stays together and at Mark Warner resorts, trying to choose what to play is the hardest decision. These resorts are all about activities: tennis, sailing, windsurfing, paddle-boarding, kayaking, water polo, fitness, cycling, mountain-biking, volleyball, swimming; phew. The resorts have been around for many years but this year Sunway has become the agent in Ireland and will have direct flights to three places: Sea Garden in Bodrum in Turkey, from €889pps; Levante Beach Resort in Rhodes from €1,099pps; and Lakitira Beach Resort in Kos, Greece from, €1,299. When you get fed up playing together, there’s always the childcare, kids’ clubs and teenage activities. See sunway.ie/markwarner; tel 01-2311866.
Yoga in the Greek isles
The downward dog in the air: how did yoga turn into a $30 billion industry? It’s amazing to think that more than 10 per cent of Americans practise yoga and Lulumon, the yoga fashion brand, has started a line for men. So take yourself off to Corfu and stay in the gorgeous MarBella Hotel and twice a week you can take part in the latest, gravity-defying, yoga trend – aerial heart yoga.
This allows you to be suspended, weightless, a few feet above the ground in a comfortable yoga hammock. The benefits of aerial yoga are that it helps to align the spine, decompresses the muscular and skeletal systems, and stimulates blood flow. Group sessions are free twice a week and one-to-one sessions are €60 and can be arranged at the hotel. Rates at the MarBella.gr are from €160-€280 per room per night, and the best rates are available through travel agents that can combine the hotel with the Aer Lingus flights. See itaa.ie for your local agent.
LanzaroteIreland’s favourite island destination is also home to one of Europe’s top sports holiday locations. Club La Santa is well away from the busy resorts of Puerto del Carmen and Playa Blanca in the north of the island. Here, really active families can participate in more than 30 sports. So if Dad is planning a triathlon, Mum loves body conditioning and the children are tennis and soccer mad, they can all enjoy their sports. Almost all activities and equipment are included in the cost. Accommodation is in apartments with self-catering facilities or you can pay for half or full board: there are three restaurants and a pool bar. A week self-catering in July in a one-bedroom apartment for two adults and two children will cost from €1,080 to €1,400, flights extra. See clublasanta.co.uk
Dare to Live is a retreat for women to sit back, relax and spend four days in luxury surroundings just talking, contemplating and connecting. Take time to consider your professional and personal life while enjoying the scenery and good food in Co Cork. The brainchild of Ceili Fitzgerald, the retreats take place at Linden House on Dromgarriff Estate in Glengarriff or at the Lake Lodge, Liss Ard Estate in west Cork.
There is a chef to provide five-star meals and some gentle exercise such as walking and boating. There will also be retreats with a focus on healthy living, nutrition, mind, emotions and writing; prices from €1,000-€1,200. See dare-tolive.com.
Walking holidays have taken a big spurt and there is a great selection that can be booked from Ireland. The Camino aside, you could find yourself walking in Galicia, the smaller Canary Islands, across the Alpujarras, up and down every mountain in Austria and clinging to the cliffs of the Cinque Terre. Walking weeks usually fall into the under-€900 price bracket, flights are normally booked separately.
Travel companies doing walking trips from Ireland include onefootabroad.com, Travalue.ie, rusticrambles.com, sunwalkingholidays.com, gomerawalking.com and traveldepartment.ie.
A sports resort for families
La Manga in Spain was one of the first more modern resorts dedicated to sports for entire families. The hundreds of acres by the Mar Menor in Murcia have football pitches, tennis courts, golf courses, putting greens, driving ranges, indoor and outdoor pools, cricket, rugby, cycling, hiking, trekking and more. There is also a Barcelona FC Camp for aspiring international footballers.
There is a wide variety of accommodation at La Manga Club including villas, apartments, and a four and five-star hotel. A two-bedroom apartment or golf bungalow will cost from €1,000 in July, flights and coaching extra. See lamangaclub.com.
Mind your mind
Sometimes it can be just as important to take your mind on holidays as much as your body: after all, mens sana in corpore sano. In October the fishing village of Playa Blanca is the venue for a week of meditation and mindfulness with Carolyn Curtis. Listening to the sound of the sea and the birds will be the background for guided meditations and instructions to incorporate mindfulness in your daily life. A week in the sun, half-board at the Iberostar Lanzarote Park Hotel, costs from €897pps and €1,074 single with flights from Dublin or Cork. Book with Rebecca at Lee Travel: tel 021-422 6113, email Rebecca@leetravel.ie.
Cycle the Adriatic islands
Cycling has grown in popularity in recent years and with Adventure Holidays you can combine it with island hopping in Croatia. Cycle through pine forests, explore the islands of the Adriatic and end each day with a dip in the crystal clear waters. Living on board a small adventure cruise ship moving from Mijet to Hvar to Korcula, you should feel healthy and strong at the end of this trip, from €1,160pps. See adventure-holidays.ie.
A combination of yoga, surfing and spa treatments will restore a body and mind inside and out. The Paradis Plage resort is on a beautiful beach in Morocco, near Agadir but away from the hustle and bustle. The beach is excellent for surfing, and has its own surf school and chill zone. After a yoga session in the sea-facing studio, tackle the waves before enjoying the spa. There is a variety of accommodation – hotel, villas, bungalows, and apartments. A week half-board will cost from €1,030pps through paradisplage.com, Aer Lingus flies to Agadir. Packages can be booked from Ireland with sunway.ie.