Shanti Som, Spain
Magical rural retreat with rejuvenating yoga, Pilates and wellness programmes
Set in a stunning valley near Marbella and next to Sierra de las Nieves national park, this South East Asian-inspired retreat has a relaxed, family atmosphere and is perfect for people looking for a sanctuary in the sun away from life’s pressures. Come for yoga, Pilates, detox, weight loss, fitness and wellness programmes or curate your own stay in spacious, elegant surroundings with palm tree-lined grounds. Teaching is high quality, and often in one to one classes. There are indoor and outdoor yoga areas, a gym, spa, steam room and sauna too. With a non-judgemental ethos, it welcomes guests who have a variety of wellness needs whether that is spiritual, emotional or fitness-focused
The setting is magical, and there’s a real sense of personal connection and family here. The programmes are well curated and overseen by knowledgeable trainers to make sure they are challenging and varied. There’s access to a Cadillac Reformer and aerial Pilates too. The one-to-one sessions on all the retreats can be transformational, so do embrace them.
The ethos of the retreat is focused on helping guests to disconnect as much as possible, so while good wifi is available in the communal areas, it is not available in the bedrooms – a plus for many, but if you prefer to be somewhere you can watch Netflix in bed to relax, it may not be for you.
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Guests are welcome to come for as long or as little as they want, but on average they come for six nights. You can choose from one of Shanti Som’s retreat packages or work with them to curate something tailored to suit you. They offer a range of activities including yoga, Pilates, meditation, treatments and coaching. Most packages are for six days, and all include complimentary access to the sauna, steam room, gym and outdoor heated swimming pool.
Nathalie and Audrey lead this programme of daily yoga classes in either the indoor studio or the outdoor yoga pavilion. Both teachers offer a variety of practices for all levels including vinyasa and hatha and they are passionate about helping people to realise the emotional and spiritual benefits of yoga. They are warm, friendly and their instructions are clear so even those who are new to yoga feel safe. Group size is limited to ensure that each person gets sufficient individual attention and feedback on their technique. The day usually starts with a class at 830am and there is usually a class at 5pm. A typical retreat would include 10 group yoga classes, three group meditation classes and one yoga consultation.
This retreat is led by personal trainer Javier and involves daily Pilates classes, which are tailored to suit all levels. Javier has put a lot of passion and energy into developing the programme’s unique offering. During our stay we used the Cadillac Reformer which is a piece of resistance equipment that consists of a moving platform with springs, ropes and pulleys. It was a fantastic introduction to a more dynamic and varied style of practice compared to mat based Pilates. Javier also introduced us to aerial Pilates. This type of practice involves suspending parts of the body in a soft aerial silk hammock to provide resistance. Javier gave clear explanations and made sure we felt safe when trying out new postures and techniques. A typical retreat would include five Pilates sessions either with the Cadillac Reformer or in a group mat class; four group yoga classes; a body scrub and a guided hike.
This retreat is aimed at people looking for a kick start towards a healthier way of life, and includes a comprehensive detox to give your body a chance to rebalance. People do this retreat with different aims, whether that is losing weight that is difficult to shift, breaking unhealthy habits or improving long-standing chronic health problems. Guests are guided by Shanti-Som’s in house nutritionist, Vicky. Each day’s meals include delicious, fresh, cleansing juices and broths which use local, fresh ingredients. The retreat usually includes group yoga classes, a detox foot bath, a body scrub, a health check, self-administered colonics and nutritional support during the stay.
This programme has been developed by Shanti Som’s nutrition experts and focuses on understanding guests’ metabolism to optimise healthy weight loss. Their chefs devise a healthy meal plan to suit guest’s needs for the entire week which includes fresh, cleansing juices and broths. A typical retreat includes three group yoga classes, two guided walks, training classes, one nutritional consultation, a body scrub, and a health check.
This retreat aims to help you get back on track and maintain good habits when returning home. It is run by Shanti Som’s personal trainers who are friendly and great at motivating you to push yourself. It focuses on helping you learn how to have a healthier lifestyle through exercise and a proper diet and also how to feel more comfortable about your body. A typical retreat includes five group yoga classes, guided walks, four personal training classes with Power Plate and TRX straps, two Pilates sessions, a body scrub and a massage.
This retreat is perfect for people experiencing burnout. It focuses on calming the mind and learning to listen to the voice within. It aims to help you rediscover the things that truly matter to you through yoga, ayurvedic practices and meditation. A typical retreat includes four group yoga classes, four group meditation classes, a guided hike in silence, a reiki session, a coaching session and guidance throughout your stay.
This retreat is best for people who need a little extra time and space to overcome burnout or who might be looking to make a big change in their life and need support. Each morning starts with yoga or meditation. On hand are yoga teachers Nathalie and Audrey who give kind and clear guidance for all levels and will be on hand to provide coaching throughout the week. Included is five yoga sessions, five group meditation sessions, a guided hike, a reiki session (60 min), a holistic treatment (60 min) and two coaching sessions.
Digital detoxing is actively encouraged. Good quality wifi is available in the main reception and lounge but is not available in bedrooms to encourage guests to disconnect from emails and unwind.
You can fill your day with therapies and beauty treatments, picking from the extensive a la carte menu. The spa offers an array of body treatments, facials, kinesiology, nutritional consultations and beauty treatments. During our stay we tried the reiki session and a body massage which were relaxing. Alternatively just hang round the pool, sauna and steam room which guests can use as much as they like for free. Shanti Som also offer spa and yoga packages for people who want to come for the day to pamper themselves which start at 150 Euros per person (for a half day).
Shanti Som is about 15 km north of Marbella and is next to Sierra de las Nieves national park. This means that there are plenty of options for hikes in the surrounding hills or, if you feel like a trip to sample the tapas in the old town, it is a short taxi ride away. During our stay we did the 5 mile circular hike on the land adjacent to Shanti Som which was moderately challenging and, when you reach the top, gives you a stunning view of the valley and sight of the coast.
Bedrooms: There are 15 bedrooms, with a choice of twin, double or junior suite rooms, all decorated simply but stylishly and with ensuite bathrooms. There are three junior suites, which have a shower and separate bath – one suite has a double bed, and one suite has a twin. Rooms generally have a balcony or private terrace with day beds looking out towards the Spanish hills surrounding the retreat which is a glorious way to start the day. Wardrobes are generous and there is a kettle and selection of teas in each room.
Other spaces to be: As there are only 15 rooms on site it feels very spacious even when fully booked. If you want to be alone to collect your thoughts the grounds are large and beautiful. You can easily find a quiet space in the peace garden which has benches and private spaces among the wild flowers and palm trees.
If you fancy getting out of the retreat for a few hours Marbella is a ten-minute taxi ride away. Visit the charming old town’s tapas restaurants. Do the circular hike around the hills surrounding Shanti Som. The views are stunning. Bring a long sleeved top for the evening because it can get chilly. The retreat can organise a driver for the airport for 70 euros each way.
When to Go
The retreat is open all year round but peak times are from March to October. It is also open during Christmas and New Year. During the spring the weather is usually about 20 degrees. During the summer months temperatures can reach 39 degrees. During the winter day time temperatures are around 12 degrees and the evenings can be chilly.
You will eat well at Shanti Som, in a dining room area or, if the weather is good, outside in the central courtyard under umbrellas. There is a shared table which solo people can join for company should they wish to. The Asia-inspired food is locally grown and organic where possible. There are plenty of healthy options and they are flexible about dietary preferences. They can cater to vegans and vegetarians. Meat and fresh fish is available on the menu.
Breakfast boasts a wide array of fresh fruit, yoghurt, granola, cheese, smoothies and eggs cooked to order.
Lunch is usually a la carte. The salads and curries are super fresh and tasty.
For dinner it’s usually a set menu. During our stay, particular highlights were tom kha soup, chicken tikka masala and udon noodles. One drink is included in the full board package.
Coffee and alcohol are both available. Each meal comes with one free soft drink or wine/beer. The a la carte menu also offers a range of smoothies and juices.
The retreat tries to employ local people where possible. They use recycled water for the gardens and filtered water in the dining room. They do not wash towels every day to reduce water usage. During our visit they provided one single-use plastic bottle of water in the bedroom each day. We are told there’s a drive towards reducing the use of plastics ongoing.
Llanos de Purla, Km 22, 29110 Monda, Malaga, Spain
Transfer time: 45 min by taxi