What’s not to love about an active holiday? Who wouldn’t want to return from a two week trip or a weekend getaway, with abs that could slice limes AND a tan? Not to mention glowing skin, radiating wellbeing and a bubbling sense of joie de vivre? Exercising on holiday doesn’t feel like a chore, but pure delight. There’s no dragging of heels, no conjuring of excuses. Nothing but the promise of delicious meals – cooked by someone else – a comfortable, pillowy bed at the end of a day, gorgeous views, fresh air, glorious nature and, with any luck, a few massages thrown in.
The Scarlet , in Cornwall, is a rather nifty affair. Perched on a bluff above a wide scoop of sand, this eco hotel is all glass and sun-bleached timber, with hot tubs, grass roofs, and a natural swimming pool. The exercise opportunities are all around you, including cliff walks, daily complimentary yoga sessions and – best of all – surfing, with instruction offered by hotel surf gurus. (There is no more effective way to get a flat stomach and killer arms.)
Think of mountains as one, large, air-conditioned, outdoor gym. At Vigilius Mountain Resort in Italy’s South Tyrol, you can spend days hiking to alpine lakes, Nordic walking (amazing for whittling legs into shape), mountain-biking through forests, and swimming in glacial streams. It’s like the Sound of Music, but with defined biceps. (Sort of.) The hotel itself is all wood-panelled, chalet chic deliciousness.
For those who want to get really high (in the healthiest way possible) why not head to the wondrous kingdom of Bhutan, tucked into the Himalayas. At Uma by Como , the hotel inhabits luxurious but comfortable, traditional stone and wood buildings that reflect the local architecture. The location is staggering, with mountains forming a crown of peaks above a patchwork valley of green fields. There’s daily yoga sessions offered, and the opportunity to strike out with a guide, hiking mountain paths past mule trains, up to temples that cling, implausibly, to the cliff face. Good for the body and the soul.
Australia is the home of the body beautiful – the image of a Bondi lifeguard, hewn and handsome in budgie smugglers and swimming cap, is practically the national emblem. At eco-retreat Paperbark Camp , Jervis Bay, luxurious tents are located in thick bush behind Jervis Bay. Take the Paperbark Challenge and canoe to the nearby town of Huskisson and stop off for a picnic and swim on the banks of Currambene Creek. There’s walking trails in Booderee National Park, and nearby Caves Bay for surfing, and absolutely no excuse not to make like an Aussie and get stuck in.
Stand-up paddle boarding must be good for you, considering that every celebrity worth their hair campaign seems to be at it, not least Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston and Alessandra Ambrosio – owners of the world’s hottest bods. On the lush jungle island of Domenica, Secret Bay hotel perches on a rocky outcrop by the Caribbean sea, its pretty, eco-villas poking up between the trees. It’s all about adventure here. Commandeer a paddle-board to explore sea caves, Prince Rupert Bay and Indian River for a core-challenge that feels all pleasure and no pain. Then take an afternoon’s yoga session stretches out stiff muscles, and swig fresh passionfruit juice with impunity.
Now tell me if you’d rather spend two weeks glued to a sun lounger?