Azulfit, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands
Pilates and yoga retreats on Fuerteventura for a light-hearted healthy escape
Best for: Beginners and sun seekers with energy
Not for: Those looking for silence or solitude
Takes up to Up to 18 at Surya, up to 12 at Lotus.
For a dose of sunshine and health all year round, Azulfit offers a range of Pilates and yoga retreats and healthy holidays in the Canary Islands on Fuerteventura. Based at two locations on the island, you can choose a retreat-style holiday at Surya Retreat with a mix of yoga, Pilates, meditation and nutrition classes, or go for a fun beach holiday with yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates and watersports at sister venue Lotus Retreat. Surfing, horse-riding and guided walking and more can also be arranged, and there are specialist detox, yoga, fitness and Pilates weeks running throughout the year.
The wide range of activities on offer here at two venues means you can create a retreat year-round that suits your needs – come for a fun holiday, or a more intense retreat. Azulfit’s friendly and helpful staff add a personal and caring touch to your stay.
Not all meals are included in any of the packages and most Villaverde restaurants don’t cater particularly well for vegetarians or vegans. The best veggie options are near the Lotus retreat in Corralejo. For the same reason the signature weeks would not suit those who are looking for a full-on detox, though Azulfit does run special all-inclusive detox weeks from time to time.
Pilates and Nutrition Retreat
21- 28 October 2017: Join Jamie Isaac & Jo Dombernowsky at Azul Fit’s Surya Retreat on Fuerteventura and be energised and rejuvenated with daily classes and workshops in Pilates and sessions on nutrition and ayurveda.
Come to Surya Retreat for more intensive signature weeks which are an ideal opportunity to improve both your Pilates and yoga practice or try them for the very first time. A number of speciality retreats also run here on set dates throughout the year, including Jivamukti yoga with Andrea Everingham and Pilates retreats with co-founder Jamie Isaac. Lotus Retreat is for more fun beachside holidays, especially those who have never had a healthy holiday before. Here you can mix yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi classes with watersports and lots of downtime.
At Surya Retreat on the signature weeks, Jo Dombernowsky, the head Pilates teacher, is a Stott Pilates instructor and leads most of the classes, which 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, which makes her classes 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. Jo is a certified Pilates Reformer Instructor and offers experiences on these Pilates apparatus too.
At Lotus Retreat, there are also two sessions of Pilates during the week lead by Laerke, a Stott trained Pilates teacher in matwork and reformer equipment who teaches all exercises in a progressive way so that every level of practitioner feels comfortable but also challenged.
You’ll have access to yoga classes at both retreats, for which Azulfit uses a number of different resident teachers so you get to try a variety of styles throughout your week including vinyasa flow, hatha, yin, jivamukti and ashtanga. 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. At Surya Retreat, the program is lead by Rachel Blunt (Vinyasa Flow), Valentina Parmigiani (Ashtanga and Jivamukti) and Adan de Miguel (Vinyasa Flow and yoga basics).
At Lotus Retreat, Elena Benedi heads up the programme and teaches energetic flow yoga classes in the mornings and relaxed yin yoga in the evening. Pranayama (breath work) and meditation may also be included. She is complimented by the and inspirational Frauke Behrens, who leads meditations, yoga nidra and Kundalini yoga at both sites. Charlotte Mulvaney also teaches Yin Yoga across both sites. There is 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 aim to leave you feeling thoroughly energised. Once a week there is a volcanic meditation session – you’ll hike up to the local volcano interior and meditate in the lap of the divine.
At Surya retreat you have access to Jo’s weekly nutrition workshops, which focus on your body type and the best ways to eat and live a balanced lifestyle. There are also gentle detox retreats with head Pilates teacher and resident nutritional expert Jo Dombernowsky every four months, which include nutrition and ayurveda workshops, and informal Q&A sessions with Jo over cleansing meals which feature alkalising juices, hearty and nutritional soups and vegetable stews. The team also run occasional cooking workshops weeks.
To experience a little adventure, be sure to try some watersports at Lotus or Surya Retreat. SUP, stand up paddle boarding is a fun way to experience the ocean and its beauty – a true in the moment experience to see the sun glistening on the ocean and the stunning coastlines of the biosphere island. Fuerteventura’s wind makes it an ideal location for wind-based watersports such as kite and windsurfing, and Azulfit can help you arrange courses and lessons. Surfing is also extremely popular here – some people choose a yoga and surf package, which has three days of surfing including all equipment and expert tuition with some of the islands most experienced and inspirational coaches.
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 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 are also many good hikes, including beautiful and dramatic volcano hikes easily accessible from Surya Retreat and, from Lotus Retreat, easy walking access to the wild and stunning North Shore track and the endless sand dunes of the Natural Park.
A massage is included with all weeks at both locations, and you can book additional holistic and pampering treatments and pay for them on site. Surya has two treatment rooms, Lotus has one. Choose from a variety of massages including Ayurvedic, Thai and 5-Elements as well as beauty treatments such as Japanese cosmo lift facials, pedicures and manicures.
If a 10am breakfast is a little late for you then pack some nuts or snacks to give you boost before the first morning activity. Winters at the Surya retreat can have chilled evenings, so pack a sweater, and if you enjoy walking, take a good pair of shoes and a light jacket. On both retreats yoga clothes are for sale, so you can travel light.
When to Go
Azulfit makes a great place for a fun and healthy Christmas or New Year escape. There is surfing all year round, but the best months to catch waves is from September through to March. Spring is sunny and breezy with the wildflowers in bloom after the winter rain, summers are nice and hot with cool breezes off the ocean, and autumn is lovely, with light winds and warm temperatures.
Winters are cooler, especially at night but with sunshine most days even if there is rainfall. In both winter and spring the volcanic wildflowers bloom. Summer and fall, the island is more of an exotic, volcanic landscape with beautiful sweeping views of the coasts.
There are mosquitos, which tend to increase in numbers in the summer. You can buy a natural product made with essential oils at the retreats, and there are mosquito nets in all the bedrooms. In the months where there is light wind, which is usually eight months of the year, mosquitos are rare.
Breakfast boasts a wide array of fresh fruit: papayas, kiwis, cantaloupes, bananas and more, home-made yoghurt, granola, muesli (gluten-free and regular), ghee, home-made jams, cinnamon porridge, whole-wheat pancakes and many more incredibly yummy dishes. Dinner usually offers salads, cooked vegetables, veggie burgers, tofu chili con carne, dhal, vegetarian curries, and other dishes that make you wonder why we aren’t just all vegetarians yet.
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. Delicious and plentiful 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.
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 Surya Retreat, with an optional sixth, the cost of which goes to charity. There are two evening meals at Lotus Retreat, which has plenty of restaurants within walking distance, and there are many restaurants in Villaverde near Surya Retreat, including the award winning tapas eateries Casa Marcos, which is in the Michelin guide.
The isn’t a place to detox – rather, you come and you do as you please. Lunches are not included at either location, so you eat out, though there are kitchen facilities at Lotus Retreat and local shops can supply all you need. Brunch can carry you through to the evening meal with a light snack in the late afternoon. No alcohol is served at Surya or Lotus Retreat, but if you don’t want to go a week without, you can buy something from the local shops. Teas, coffees and freshly prepared daily herbal tea are all available daily.
Surya Retreat has solar panels that heat a large part of the water. Both sites also recycle their waste water and use it to water the lush gardens. Herbs are grown in the Surya gardens and they source produce from a local suppliers who work with farmers from other islands and mainland Spain. Eggs also come from a local farmer who delivers them every other day, fresh from his happy hens.
There are some young fruit trees growing around the properties, and veggie gardens are in planned. The team is a mix of islanders and expats who all share the a passion for healthy living and spending their free time in the ocean. Natural cleaning products are used where possible (mats are cleaned with essential oils, the kitchens cleaned with essential oils and vinegar). and you’ll find a complimentary natural hand soap made with essential oils in your bathroom.
Corralejo and Villaverde
Transfer Time: Around 40 minutes