Azulfit review | Pilates & yoga holidays, Fuerteventura
Friendly, affordable retreats with activities on tap
The Quick Read: Azulfit offers healthy holidays on the sunny island of Fuerteventura at two locations. Villa Azul, located inland in the village of Villaverde, provides more of a retreat-style holiday with a mix of Pilates, meditation, yoga, tai chi and nutrition classes to help you relax, let go and improve your strength and wellbeing, while Lotus Yoga Lodge, near the beach at busy Corralejo, is for those who want a beach holiday with yoga classes and hearty, healthy brunches. Surfing, other watersports, biking, horse-riding and guided walking can be arranged, treatments are available at both venues and specialist detox, cooking and yoga weeks run throughout the year.
More on holidays at Villa Azul: Azulfit group weeks at Villa Azul are an ideal opportunity to improve your Pilates and yoga practice or try it for the very first time, to meet likeminded people and recharge – read a word from the queen on a week long retreat. Set in the small village of Villaverde but only 15 minutes from the beach at Corralejo (two free return transfers are included in your week), they’re aimed at people wanting a quiet haven away from the busy resorts on the island and offer yoga, Pilates, tai chi and meditation classes on a purpose-built covered wooden deck next to the house.
More on the Pilates at Villa Azul: Jo Dombernowsky, the head Pilates teacher, is a Stott Pilates instructor and leads most of the classes at Villa Azul. These focus on strengthening the core and doing exercises with precision and control. She demonstrates and explains thoroughly and offers a variety of levels for all exercises, making her classes perfectly suited for both beginners and advanced practitioners. As the week progresses, her classes include more challenging exercises, as well as a session with the Swiss Ball and an equipment ‘circuits’ session, which will give a thorough workout for the whole body.
More on the Tai Chi at Villa Azul: A week at Villa Azul includes one Tai Chi class led by Paco Borges, who has been teaching Tai Chi Chuan for 10 years and is passionate about his discipline. His classes are a mental and physical challenge which will leave you feeling as if you’ve had a thorough mind and body workout.
More on Villa Azul’s specialist retreats: Azulfit also runs a number of speciality weeks throughout the year based at Villa Azul. These include: Jivamukti yoga with Andrea Everingham, a Pilates retreat with Jamie Isaac, a Kundalini Yoga retreat with Maestro Kartar and Devi Dyal Kaur, and various Ayurvedic Detox, yoga, nutrition and cooking weeks with Jo, who as well as teaching Pilates is the resident nutritionist. For full details see here.
More on the space at Villa Azul: There are plenty of communal spaces, where pictures, inspiring quotes (“The highest form of human intelligence is to observe yourself without judgment”), lamps and small ornaments give a personal touch. Indoors you’ll find a huge open plan room with separate dining and sitting areas, large ceilings and plenty of light, plus kitchen facilities where you can easily make your lunches. Outside there’s a peaceful garden area with sun loungers, a sofa and a plunge pool. It’s a quiet and pleasant space, with herb and fruit trees dotted around.
Bedrooms cater to all budgets, and are cutely (rather than naffly) decorated by theme with ornaments and furniture to match – the California room has a surfboard on the wall, wave themed artwork and surfing prints, while the Tibet room has dark red pillows and curtains and embroidered wall hangings. For those who want to splash out, the Moroccan Suite is great for couples or friends and has its own kitchen area, ensuite bathroom and roof terrace. The Little India apartment has its own lounge, eating area and kitchen and its own bathroom. Most of the other rooms share a bathroom (usually with one or two other rooms) and can be booked for single occupancy. For those on a tight budget, the Sahara tent in the garden is a basic, comfortable space. Light sleepers should avoid the Sante Fe or Tibet rooms as they are just off the main communal areas.
More on holidays at Lotus Lodge: Beach yoga holidays at Lotus Lodge in Corralejo are aimed at solo travellers or groups of friends wanting a fun holiday with added yoga and hearty healthy brunches. They’re great for people who’ve never tried a ‘healthy holiday’ before, and many who come return to stay at Villa Azul for a more retreat-style experience at another time. Yoga classes are held on the beach each morning, and afternoon yoga and meditation sessions run at the Lodge.
Lotus Lodge has two open air terraces, a fully equipped kitchen and two indoor communal areas which feel very spanish, with rustic colours, tiled floors and some cushions and fabrics to add softness. There are three rooms – Bamboo, Shanti and Buddha – when these are full, Azulfit uses a nearby bungalow with a pool, treatment room and tennis court, and guests take breakfast at the Lodge.
A busy beach resort, Corralejo has a lively vibe with many restaurants, shops and bars. There’s plenty to do and see along the coastline and lots of additional activities for those who want a more active holiday.
More on the yoga at both venues: Azulfit uses a number of different yoga teachers, so you’ll get to try a variety of styles throughout your week whether you stay at Villa Azul or Lotus Lodge, including hatha, sivananda, and ashtanga yoga. Each teacher is experienced in teaching mixed ability classes, able to give modifications for beginners while encouraging advanced students to work to their own level. Federico is the head yoga instructor who teaches at both locations – his hatha and sivananda-inspired classes include some pranayama with full yogic breathing encouraged throughout. Frauke Behrens leads the kundalini classes at Villa Azul. She’s an enthusiastic teacher who believes strongly in the power of Kundalini and whose classes encourage students to connect deeply.
More on the watersports: Fuerteventura’s wind makes it an ideal location for wind-based watersports such as kite and windsurfing, and Azulfit can help arrange courses and lessons (prices start at €110 (approx £90) for a day’s starter course, up to €390 (approx £320) for a four day power course. Private lessons are €75 (£62) per hour including all equipment). Surfing is also very popular on Fuerteventura – some people choose a yoga and surf package, which has three days of surfing including all equipment and expert tuition (A weekly package costs €625 (£515) in a shared room at Lotus Lodge or €725 (£598) in a shared room at Villa Azul).
More on other wellbeing activities: Resident nutritionist Jo Dombernowsky (who is also the Pilates teacher at Villa Azul) offers a two hour workshop on good nutrition for €15/£12. When you’re not in a class or on the water, there are also lots of sporty extras you can do at both locations. Bikes are available to hire (for about €10 or £8.25 per day) and are well maintained. There are a number of cycle routes on the island, which completely separate bikes from the road, and the mild weather makes cycling an ideal activity for a day out. There’s also a volcano walk once a week from Villa Azul led by meditation teacher and therapist Wendi Miller, who takes you on a mindful journey in the hills (€10 extra – approx £8.25), and you can go horse riding with teachers at Finca Julie – choose a short supervised ride in the hills, or for more experienced riders, half day coastal treks.
More on the treatments: A massage is included with all weeks, whichever location you choose. There are additional holistic and pampering treatments on offer which can be booked and paid for on site. The managers will help and advise on which is best for you at the time of your visit. At Villa Azul, treatments take place in two small but comfortable rooms in a house used exclusively for treatments. At Lotus Lodge, treatments take place in a cosy, dedicated three sided treatment space.
Choose from a variety of massages including ayurvedic, Thai (€40/approx £33) and ‘5 Elements’ (€35/approx £28 for an hour), as well as standard beauty treatments such as facials, pedicures and manicures (from €35/approx £28). Wendi offers reiki (€35/approx £28 per hour), touch therapy (€35/approx £28 for 75 minutes), counselling and hopi ear candles (both are €45/approx £37 for an hour), while Alejandra offers reflexology and massage. Wendi is primarily a healer, while Alejandra is a better choice for those who really want their muscles worked on. Those staying at Lotus Lodge can also have Ayurvedic treatments and consultations with Ginerva.
Food and drink: Menus are devised by resident nutritionist Jo Dombernowsky, whose healthy approach to cooking and eating uses plenty of fresh vegetables and a variety of different healthy proteins and grains. Decent brunches are on offer every day at both venues to set you up for the day and help you feel cleansed and nourished, and might include yoghurt, fruit salad, home-made granola and muesli, freshly made herb teas, home-made bread, spreads and pancakes. Lunches are not included at either location. There are kitchen facilities at both venues and local shops can supply all you need, though vegans might struggle a little.
Evening meals are buffet style and usually include a number of different vegan dishes such as salad with bean sprouts and avocado, lentil dahl or millet risotto. Five suppers are included at Villa Azul, and just one at Lotus Lodge. The Lodge has plenty of restaurants within walking distance, and there are restaurants in Villaverde near Villa Azul. No alcohol is served at Villa Azul, and but if you don’t want to go a week without, you can buy something from the local shops. Only instant coffee is available, so bring your own decent stuff, or better still, don’t drink caffeine during your week.
Fellow guests: Villa Azul tends to attract professional men and women from UK and mainland Europe who want to come for a break and to refresh and recharge. Many come alone and have not done yoga or Pilates before and want a bit of a taster of each. The different room options means that it attracts people on lower budgets as well as those who want a bit more comfort. Both venues get lots of repeat visitors – many who have tried their first ‘healthy holiday’ at Lotus Lode come back for a more retreat-style holiday at Villa Azul (return guests get a 5% discount).
What’s queenly: The mix of teaching styles and approaches will give you a holistic approach to your Pilates or Yoga practice, and Azulfit’s friendly and helpful staff add a personal and caring touch to your stay.
What’s lowly: Not all meals are included, and local restaurants don’t cater particularly well for vegetarians or vegans. As neither package is all-inclusive, Azulfit would not suit those who are looking for more of a full-on detox or retreat experience.
Getting there: Fly to Fuerteventura airport, from where Azulfit can organise a taxi to transfer from the airport, which takes around 40 minutes and costs from €10 to €35 per person (£8 – £28) depending on numbers sharing the taxis. For UK readers, there are direct flights to Fuerteventura from many UK airports. Try Thomas Cook or Monarch for cheap deals.
Costs at Villa Azul: Yoga and Pilates weeks cost from €595 (approx £490) per person sharing or €700 (approx £577) per person staying alone. Or, for the most cost effective option there’s the Sahara tent at €595 (approx £490) per person.
The more comfortable Moroccan Suite and India apartment cost €770 (approx £635) to €805 (approx £664) per person sharing. Factor in a single supplement if you stay in one of these rooms alone. Return guests receive a 5% discount. Prices include brunch every day, five evening meals, all Pilates, yoga, meditation and Tai Chi classes, use of equipment, two beach transfers and one hour’s full body massage.
Costs at Lotus Lodge: From €490 (approx £404) per person sharing a room, with an additional €154 (approx £127) for single occupancy.
Reviewed by Ruth Rosselson
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