Costa Calida Spanish Holidays
Relaxed holidays with Pilates, yoga, Spanish lessons & leisurely meals
Best for: Older solo travellers, couples or friends looking for a relaxing holiday with Pilates and yoga.
Not for: Those seeking an immersive retreat. There are no sun salutations at dawn and no restrictive food or drink regimes.
Takes up to a maximum of 10 people per group. guests
Created by experienced Pilates and fitness teacher Fran Brown, these relaxed holidays in the sun-soaked Murcia region combine beginner to intermediate Pilates and yoga teaching with informal Spanish lessons, cultural excursions and long leisurely meals with regional food and drink. With accommodation in comfortable, modern self catering apartments in the lively sea town of Puerto Mazarron, they are for those who take their holidays as seriously as their fitness regime. Feel free to opt in or out of organised activities, from the 4-course Menu del Dia with a chilled vino rosado to trips to a historical fortress or little-known beach. Book on set dates or arrange a bespoke trip for you and your friends.
Apart from the (usually) gorgeous weather, the freedom to take the week at your own pace, opting in and out of classes, meals and other activities.
The effect of that extra glass of wine at dinner on your downward dog in class the following morning. But hey, you’re on holiday!
Combine Pilates and yoga classes with cultural excursions, relaxation time and leisurely restaurant meals featuring local fare. There are active and less active options on offer – the choice is yours. There’s one rest day during the week when no classes are held.
There’s a daily 60 minute morning Pilates class at 9am with your host and highly experienced teacher Fran Brown whose regular classes and courses run in Berkamstead, UK. Fran has been teaching fitness for 26 years and Pilates for over 15 years, and is also a qualified Clinical Personal Fitness Trainer, as well as dance instructor, with experience in all aspects of exercise, health and wellbeing. Expect to focus on perfecting the foundations of your practice and the link between core movements and posture. Fran specialises in post-operative and post-injury remedial Pilates and keeps a watchful eye to adapt exercises accordingly – her own Pilates journey began after experiencing back pain and, having undergone a hip replacement, she has personal experience of Pilates in rehabilitation and recovery. If you’re ready for more of a challenge, she’ll make sure you work harder. All levels of Pilates, including beginners, are welcome.
You can also choose a daily 90 minute morning yoga class following your Pilates class (and a refreshment break) with Lisa Gibbs, whose beautiful yoga studio and terrace, a five minute drive or 15 minute cycle from the accommodation, overlook the sea in the village of Isla Plana. Expect a mix of workshop classes to perfect particular poses and ashtanga-based aerobic flow sessions – Lisa will adapt based on what students are looking for and is skilled at adapting classes to suit different abilities and any injuries. Lisa was certified to teach ashtanga yoga in 2001 from the Lay Buddhist monk Kisen (who has third lineage to Sri T Krishnamacharya). She has also studied with Laura Henderson, who teaches hatha yoga with Alexander technique, with Earnest Coates of Living Yoga, and with Doug Keller, renowned for his therapeutic approach to yoga and biomechanics of the body.
Five excursions are prearranged for the week. These might include a guided walking tour of the village of Isla Plana and the surrounding area, where you will learn about its history from Phoenician and Roman to more recent times; a visit to the historically rich Cartagena to learn about its Punic, Roman, military and art nouveau legacies, and enjoy its panoramic views before making time for a coffee Asiatico, a local coffee liqueur speciality; a visit to the iconic Guns of Mazarron at La Azohia, where the military Battery has been built into the mountainside in the style of a castle using local stone; and a visit to Experiencia 43, which is an opportunity to tour the Liquor 43 factory and taste this famous Spanish liquor whose 43 ingredients are kept a secret to this day. If you have a specific request for a cultural visit, you can put this to Fran Brown in advance of the holiday.
All apartments are a short walking distance from the beach, which leads up to the main port and marina of Mazarron. The beach is usually quiet out of main holiday season when these retreats run, particularly in the mornings, and is ideal for a pre-Pilates walk, run, swim or meditation. It is safe to swim, though still very chilly in April (it is warmer in September and October). The beach is populated by tourists and locals, particularly near the marina in Puerto Mazarron, but you can find quieter stretches a few minutes walk in the other direction. Seaside activities including boat trips, scuba diving and kayaking can also be arranged at extra cost.
One of the pre-arranged afternoon excursions includes a visit to Puntas del Calnegre, where you will enjoy a relaxing Menu del Dia lunch on the beach, followed by a stop-off at the stunning Perchelles beach, which is famous for its use as a filming location. The self catering apartments have access to a shared swimming pool of 15m which is chlorinated, unheated, cleaned three times a week and can (just about) be used for lengths.
Massage and acupressure with excellent local practitioner Carlos Eleno, is also offered at a cost of €40 per hour. Carlos is a Bioenergetic Therapist with over ten years of experience and whose international studies have included modalities from deep tissue, ayurvedic and shiatsu to reflexology and acupuncture. His specialism is regulating energy flows through soft tissue and fascia manipulation, but he will adapt his treatment depending on individual needs. All clients who tried his treatments at the yoga studio in Isla Plana rated them highly (particularly those with niggling injuries).
Hire bikes and helmets to give you extra freedom and an extra pre/post Pilates work out. Consider in advance and discuss with retreat organiser Fran Brown what you are looking for from this holiday – there is the flexibility to enjoy doing lots or indeed not much at all and she will help you to plan accordingly.
When to Go
The Bay of Mazarron in Murcia has its own micro climate. April temperatures reach 23°C but nights are a much cooler 10°C while the sea temperature is a bracing 16°C. October promises warmer conditions for the retreat, with daytime temperatures up to 26°C, mild nights (18°C), and a comfortable sea temperature for swimming at around 21°C. July and August are the busy season for tourism, and the most expensive months for accommodation, so this period is best avoided for bespoke retreats.
Breakfasts are taken in your apartment and you will be accompanied to the local Sunday market which has a wide range of fruit and vegetables (with tomatoes – for which Murcia region is well known – in particular abundance) and supermarkets (which include a well-stocked Lidl and local supermarkets Mercadona and Consum with a dedicated isle of British foodstuffs) to stock up on supplies for the week. Bring your own snacks and tea bags of choice from home, just in case, especially if you want to eat healthily.
Lunches and most dinners, generally eaten out at restaurants, are included (based on the price of a typical Menu del Dia with half a bottle of wine). You’re encouraged to enjoy the regional food, wine and coffee specialities, and there are no rules.
You may wish to choose leaner options, particularly by selecting a la carte seafood, meat or vegetarian choices and finishing with fresh fruit. Equally you may wish to kick back and enjoy a fixed price Menu del Dia which might include an appetiser of Murcian salad or gazpacho; a starter of croquetas or fish stew, a main course of squid or steak with patatas fritas and vegetables, and a range of desserts or the local liqueur-based coffee Asiatico.
Retreat guests have the option of hiring bikes at a cost of €10 a day to reduce travel by car. All kitchen and household waste from the apartments goes to recycling bins. Towels are retained and not renewed during the one week stay.
Camino a Las Colonias, 18, 30868 Isla Plana, Murcia, Spain
Murcia (San Javier)
Transfer Time: 45-50 minutes