Looking out over the impossibly turquoise waters of northern Zakynthos, a 15-minute walk from the idyllic fishing village of Agios Nikolaos (and a far cry from anything you’ve ever previously associated with party destination ‘Zante’, as the island is also known), The Peligoni Club is a members-only family-run beach club that’s popular with young families.
New for 2022, this summer Peligoni launched its inaugural wellness series, Pace. It’s a five-day retreat packed with yoga classes, breathwork sessions, cold water therapy, crystal sound healing, tennis tournaments and just about every watersport under the sun. That might sound a little intense, but it’s all interspersed with sociable brunches to refuel over and long balmy evening feasts hosted by foodies, with the likes of The Kitchen Club and Açaí Girls joining this year, as well as deeply restorative massages by the pros at Masaj. Pace now sits in tandem with its existing food and music retreat The House Party which takes place later this month (September 20-23).
Wellbeing is a central theme for the club year-round, with the team from Oyogo London hosting a roster of fitness classes throughout the season — from HIIT to strength training — and green juices are on tap at Tasi restaurant. Pace is simply a supercharged version, though as the name suggests, the idea is that you find your own rhythm and enjoy plenty of long lunches with a chilled glass of rose or two while you’re at it. Balance, right?
The iconic multi-level white decking area, with crisp sunbeds and parasols and turquoise steps leading down to the sparkling Ionian Sea feels very St Tropez — and the vintage diving board and floating pontoon are prime Instagram territory.
Rustic stone walls and festoon lights give a boho feel to the club, where there are plenty of shady nooks and crannies to curl up on a daybed with a book or pina colada (we recommend both).
Accommodation is done a little differently here. Guests can purchase week-long passes which provide access to the club and its facilities, then book into one of the villas, cottages, farmhouses or B&Bs in the surrounding Zakynthos hills.
We stayed in Meraki, a sprawling five-bedroom, 10-person villa with sweeping sea views best enjoyed from the gorgeous infinity pool or hot tub. With a large outdoor kitchen, BBQ and dining area, it’s an ideal space for entertaining a gang of friends and a prime venue for big celebrations. Inside, there’s a big open-plan kitchen, dining and living space equipped with retro mid-century furniture and cute little touches like a vintage record player.
The dual-floored villa has ultra-high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows in each double bedroom opening out onto a terrace — all with their own en-suite, with rainshower and/or freestanding tub. Minimal white walls and pristine polished concrete floors are complemented with woven fabrics, low-hanging rattan light fixtures and pretty colourful tiles, giving chilled-out beach vibes.
What does a day at Pace wellness week look like?
Each retreat will feature different wellness practitioners, but here’s a little taster of what you can expect...
With classes, workshops and feasts laid on from 8am until late, the idea is you can dip in and out of as much wellness to suit your vibe. Want to go full pelt and take on an early morning 70km cycle ride with Sir Chris Hoy through the Zakynthos hills? Go for it. Prefer to spend most of the day on a sunlounger and dip in mostly for the sociable side? Also welcome.
A typical day for us kicked off with sunrise water mandala yoga at 8am, followed by a very sweaty HIIT strength class in the semi-open-air gym (the fans were a godsend) and a healthy refuelling brunch courtesy of wellness guru and nutritionist Rosemary Ferguson. The fitness trainers from Oyogo alternate their stints on the island throughout the summer so the classes feel fresh and high-energy.
Then, as some head off for a three-hour cold exposure and mindset workshop with Wim Hof instructor Aodhnait Lombard, it’s onto the decking for some downtime and a well-needed dip to cool off for the rest of us. After a speedy group paddleboard to the neighbouring island, it’s time for a transformational breathwork and movement class with Richie Norton, which immediately rids us of any lingering fuzziness from last night’s punchy margaritas.
We head back to Meraki for a chill by the pool before freshening up and heading back to the club for a phenomenal vegan feast prepared by twin brothers Steve and Dave, aka The Happy Pear. Guests break bread over long banquet tables in the courtyard, with sharing-style plates that are a great excuse to get to know your neighbour and discuss the day’s activities.
Another standout highlight of the week was an evening candlelit gong and crystal bowl healing session led by Emma Lucy Knowles and Dj Goldie Rocks of the IO project, with what must have been most of the 150 Pace guests lying under blankets on the floor in the courtyard under the stars — group therapy at its finest.
Peligoni draws many of the same loyal guests year after year because it has everything you could ever need to keep you entertained (and nicely fed and watered) for a week. Weary parents in need of a break can leave little ones with qualified nannies at the on-site crèche, while the watersports offering is enough to keep even the most active types amused, with paddleboarding, sailing, waterskiing and wakeboarding all on offer. After a quick induction, guests can take to the water in groups or alone.
The Peligoni Club’s main restaurant, Tasi overlooks the glistening sea and serves up fantastic coffee and brunch options, as well as tasty fresh fish and seafood dishes, like ceviche and Thai-style mussels, for a light lunch. Need something heartier after a long day of activities? Over on The Terraces you can tuck into wood-fired pizzas oozing with mozzarella, under a shaded canopy of pine trees. You don’t need to leave the club at all, but should you fancy a slice of authentic Greece, the gyros down at the Agios Nikolaos harbour is worth the short walk and a perfect people-watching spot as the boats come in.
The next Pace by Peligoni wellness retreat takes place May 22-26, 2023. Club membership for the week is £400. Meraki villa costs from £4,500 per week and sleeps up to 10 guests