Have you ever come back from a holiday, just to feel like you need another one to recover? If you’ve only got time for a short holiday, city breaks are a popular choice but all the walking and touring can be just as exhausting as your normal non-holiday life. Relaxing beach holidays are normally long-haul destinations which require 10 days, or they come with a noisy, tourist hub which are more about drinking & dancing than rest & relaxation.
So where can we go for a REAL holiday? Enter the spa-cation, a holiday purely centered on relaxation and calm.
With more people focusing on health and wellness, there’s a rising trend in spa-cations but what actually is a spa-cation other than some new made up word? Many of us will have enjoyed a spa day before but a spa-cation takes that relaxing feeling and amplifies it over a number of days, with a focus on beauty treatments, healthy food and fresh air. Think of it as a wellness weekend, without the boot camp element.
With hundreds of spa locations dotted around the UK, your spa-cation doesn’t even have to be international. You could try 4 days of treatments and pampering time within the confines of a country retreat but, desperate for a few rays of sun, we took a trip to Sardinia in the heart of the Mediterranean.
As an infamous Blue Zone, Sardinia is a region of the world where people are known to live better and longer. Even Chanel know about this, having just tried to bottle the benefits of the Blue Zone in their latest facial serum. We figured, if it’s good enough for Chanel, we’d definitely give it a go.
We stayed at the Valle dell’Erica Resort – a sprawling beachfront hotel set across 28 hectares of local plants and wildlife. With over a kilometre of secluded bays and white sand beaches to explore, we actually found ourselves raring to go for long walk (for once!) This oasis of calm is more than enough to trigger full relaxation mode but, the defining marker of this spa-cation was the central spa & wellness centre. What is a spa-cation without a spa after all?
Many of the Delphina hotels in North Sardinia specialise in thalassotherapy – a unique water treatment which uses the healing benefits of seawater to revitalise and rejuvenate your body. It literally means “sea treatment” in Greek.
We enjoyed an hour of hydrotherapy, trying out multiple jets and bubble massages in 4 baths of different temperatures. Starting with the hottest and finishing with the coolest, this form of thalassotherapy is essentially a form of vascular gymnastics, dilating and contracting your blood vessels in order to improve micro-circulation and energy levels.
It wouldn’t be a spa-cation without a treatment of course and, with our faces a bit burnt from the sun, we enjoyed a soothing facial using natural Sardinian beauty products (but without the Chanel price tag)
Treatments and outdoor activities are only one part of the wellness package. Eating well is equally as important and Sardinian cuisine is proof that healthy food can still be delicious.
The Delphina restaurants focused on a range of nutritious food – plenty of fresh fish from the local ports, alongside home made Sardinian flatbread (we’re officially obsessed with the bread).
It’s said that Sardinian people live for so long due to their diet and we’re in no doubt as to why. Normally you might associate a half board catering option with chicken, chips and various processed foods but at the Li Ciusoni restaurant, we sampled traditional Sardinian favourites like suckling pig, hand-made Sardinian desserts & local cheese – all accompanied with lashings of local Extra Virgin Olive Oil, packed with antioxidants. It was definitely an upgrade on the usual pizza/pasta option.
Even the wine is good for you! (Well, at least better than your average.) The local Cannonau grapes are said to have higher levels of polyphenols than any other wine, rich in antioxidants and anthocyanins that are linked to good cardio health. The locals recommend a moderate amount as part of a healthy and balanced diet. Obviously, we were very keen to abide by these recommendations. When in Rome, right?
Well-fed at night, we spent our days dozing on floating platforms moored on the water and practicing some secluded yoga, in the shade of the trees. With the occasional dip in the water to cool you down, full relaxation is inevitable. Even the most wired of individuals would struggle not to relax here.
For those of you who yearn to be very slightly more active than this, there are several day trips by boat available. We spent a day visiting scattered ports like the beautiful marina at La Maddalena and the traditional town of Aggius, a maze of peaceful cobbled streets amongst colourful architecture.
Top Tips For Your Spa-cation
Pick somewhere with good weather, especially if you don’t normally spend a lot of time outdoors.
Try switching off your phone and going off-grid.
Don’t fill your time with day trips, give yourself time to do nothing.
Catch up on your beauty sleep – we found post-massage snoozes were inevitable.
Don’t focus just on treatments, feed your body from the inside out.
Our trip reminded us of the importance of having a moment to ourselves, enjoying the nature around us rather than feeling rushed to see everything, all the time. We don’t often allow ourselves to focus on our wellbeing for a day let alone a full weekend of it.
The glorious weather helped to set the slower pace and we came out of the holiday feeling refreshed and ready to face the week. If you’re low on me-time and looking for a luxurious break, then a spa-cation should definitely be on your agenda. Turns out it’s not just a made up word after all.
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