Costa Calida Spanish Holidays
Relaxed Bespoke Holidays with Pilates, yoga, Spanish lessons, excursions & leisurely meals
Small groups, friends, families and businesses from five to 10 people looking for a break together.
Those seeking an immersive retreat. There are no sun salutations at dawn and no restrictive food or drink regimes.
Created by experienced Pilates and fitness teacher Fran Brown, these relaxed holidays in the sun-soaked Murcia region combine beginner to intermediate Pilates and optional 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.
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!
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Combine Pilates and optional 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 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 the 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.
Improve your conversational ‘holiday Spanish’ during informal daily lessons over lunch. Teacher and guide Antonio will bring you up to speed with local customs and the most useful phrases for getting around this region of Spain.
Five excursions are prearranged for the week (fewer for the long weekend breaks). 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.
Pilates instructor Fran is a keen cyclist and will assist you to hire bikes and even lead cycle excursions. There are options for walking excursions in the area which can be arranged on request.
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).
You stay in comfortable and spacious self-catered apartments (some of which enjoy a sea view) in Puerto Mazarron, set in quiet residential roads in the El Alamillo district, a few minute’s walk from the beach and a 15-minute walk along the beach and promenade to Puerto Mazarron’s marina and restaurants. Apartments vary between one bedroom with open plan kitchen and sitting room, to three bedrooms with separate kitchen and sitting room, depending on requirements. Décor varies between apartments but is mostly contemporary and neutral. All have access to a shared swimming pool and many have at least one balcony.
Bathrooms tend to have showers rather than baths. Towels and serviceable, non-organic shower gel (but no shampoo or conditioner) are provided as well as hairdryers. Apartments all have washing machines, irons and ironing boards. A thoughtful ‘welcome pack’ of breakfast items including bread, butter, jam, yoghurt, milk and regular black tea bags (and local wine) awaits you on arrival. You are free to buy your breakfast foods of choice from the local supermarket, and are recommended to bring your own snacks and tea bags of choice from home, just in case.
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.
Puerto de Mazarron, Mazarron, Murcia, Spain
Airport: Murcia International (RMU)
Transfer time: 40 minutes