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Paul Joseph is co-founder of Health and Fitness Travel, experts in tailor-made healthy holidays worldwide. He searches for the rare and hidden gems around the world and puts together exclusive and trend-setting holidays for those who would like to improve or maintain their health and fitness whilst on holiday. As well as a love of all things travel, Paul's other love is exercise, cycling and yoga. Paul also contributes to the travel pages of various high-profile newspapers and magazines where he offers his expert advice on wellness holidays.
What are the most recent trends in health and fitness travel?
Healthy-ageing, fitness holidays and wellness holidays are the buzz words. The health and fitness travel trend is being fuelled by aging baby boomers wanting to hold on to their looks and prolong their lifestyle. Travelling for prevention and improving health is why wellness holidays have grown in recent years with a surge of people traveling abroad to stay healthy. Many spa resorts will no longer be positioned as fitness amenities but lifestyle choices offering vegan and gluten-free healthy meal options. The wellness travel industry and consumer needs have evolved from pampered indulgence to personalised, functional health and fitness.
Holidays offering tailor-made healthy programmes where clients can be flexible and choose what they want to do, are most popular which is why we created our Fusion Fitness Holidays to fulfil this need. Combining a healthy holiday with culture is another emerging trend now with us launching our brand new Discover Recover holidays which offer a unique opportunity to unite your perfect travel experience of wellness with culture.
Are you noticing an increase in popularity in the wellness holiday industry?
Yes we have become more aware of the importance of staying fit and healthy and our holidays reflect this trend. People don't want to sit on a beach sunning themselves for 10 hours a day; they want to return home with lasting benefits, long after the tan's faded. Due to our sedentary daily lives which can leave us open to health problems in later life, we want to stay active on holiday and use what time we have to boost our health and well-being.
Do you see a difference between what men and women want from their holidays and travel experience?
Whilst women generally enjoy relaxing on the beach, a Pilates or meditation class, followed by pampering in the spa, men prefer to embrace and enjoy the sport and fitness facilities available, be it the 18 hole golf course, the PADI scuba centre or the chance to learn a new fitness skill in Kickboxing. At Health and Fitness Travel we find that spa, detox, slimming and yoga holidays are most popular with women, whereas fitness and sporty holidays are more popular with men. Our male clients like to have a couple of spa treatments and join the occasional yoga class but their main holiday preference is an active break with a tailor-made fitness programme, making our Fusion Fitness holidays the perfect option.
A breathtaking view of the coastline at Zighy Bay in Oman
Where are people travelling to the most?
During the winter season, people travel mostly to the Far East and Caribbean for winter sun. Destinations such as Morocco, Tenerife and Cyprus are requested too. During the summer months it tends to be Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece with other European destinations that follow.
What are some of your most frequently asked questions?
Our clients want to know all about the weather, the majority want guaranteed sun and good spa facilities. They want to know about the food, the fitness trainers, the spa, types of activities, exercise classes and accommodation. We are often asked about the set up for solo travellers as a lot of our clients travel alone, so are there communal tables, is it safe, will they be looked after. We receive questions about the location, is there a beach, what's the gym like and are there tennis courts. We are also asked about detoxing and weight loss if clients are looking for that type of holiday too.
Who are the people booking these types of breaks?
30+ men and women who lead busy lives and are successful business people. They work hard but have little time to focus on their health and fitness, so seek a holiday to rejuvenate and get back in shape. These people see these types of holidays as a necessary part of their lives and invest in their health and well-being. A high proportion of our clients are single travellers and our holidays are perfect for travelling on your own. Like any machine used on a daily basis, our bodies needs care and attention to ensure they stay in good working order, so these types of healthy holidays are perfect for a body MOT.
Where would you recommend for a chilled week of de-stress?
If you're looking for somewhere spectacular to de-stress, completely unwind and reconnect with nature, I recommend Zighy Bay in Oman, set in its own secluded bay. The contrast of the spectacular mountains and sparkling beaches makes it the perfect location to recharge your batteries and there are a number of activities, holistic classes and spa treatments to choose from. Enjoy a real sense of relaxation for total renewal.
Rooftop yoga at Aguas de Ibiza
Where would you recommend for a hard core work out week?
Our 38° North Fusion Fitness holiday at Aguas de Ibiza is the perfect place to shape up whilst enjoying some renowned Ibiza sunsets. From kickboxing to rooftop yoga classes, hiking to mountain biking, there is a full schedule of group exercise and personalised training for maximum results. If you are someone who is looking for a hard core workout week, then this fitness holiday is for you as it can be tailor-made to suit your preferences. You can also unwind with spa treatments, meditation and enjoy healthy meals.
Where would you go for a detox holiday?
Kamalaya in Thailand is fantastic for a detox holiday. Guest teachers and practitioners fly in from all over the world to this spectacular wellness sanctuary in Koh Samui. The spa therapists are world class and the food is so healthy but delicious. Introductory, basic and comprehensive detox programmes are available to choose from which feature a range of holistic therapies for cleansing to increase energy and vitality. On arrival it's like entering a different world, somewhere truly magical and calming where you end your holiday feeling totally restored in mind and body.
Where is the best place to lose weight?
Longevity Wellness Resort nestled in the green mountains of Monchique has a structured weight management programme that is designed to guide you towards achieving and maintaining your ideal weight. They are also a pioneer in preventative anti-ageing medicine with an extensive timetable of wellness workshops and group activities from yoga and boxing, to nature hiking. The Longevity team will give you the tools and help to aid weight loss, helping you to manage your weight with a healthy diet.
Where would you go for a yoga holiday?
If you're a fan of yoga, sunshine, delicious healthy food, fresh fruit smoothies and incredible juices then try Absolute Sanctuary, in Koh Samui, Thailand. This stunning Moroccan-inspired boutique resort offers five yoga classes a day including pranayama, meditation, Yoga flow, hatha, Ashtanga, yin, detox and hot yoga. The jungle studio, where all the classes take place has huge windows, so natural light can flood through, allowing you to enjoy a beautiful view. As well as the unlimited yoga offered in their yoga holiday programme, you also get the luxury of a daily aroma or Thai stretch massage at the spa.
The award-winning Wellness Centre at The BodyHoliday in St Lucia
Where has the best spa?
My favourite spa holiday is The BodyHolidayliday in St Lucia, the all-inclusive wellness resort at the northern end of this beautiful island has an impressive amount of holistic, fitness and sports activities with one daily spa treatment included. Having been voted Best Destination Spa in the world by Conde Nast Traveller readers, they offer a vast menu of spa treatments from Ayurvedic to reiki and extensive body and facial treatments with a specialised skin clinic. You will end your holiday feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and recharged.
Where have you been that has exceeded all your expectations?
Ananda in the Himalayas, 3,000 feet above sea-level and surrounded by vibrant green flora and valleys, brisk mountain air, and stunning scenery promotes a holistic approach to healing the mind, body, and spirit through its philosophy of combining Ayurveda and yoga. Bordered by the River Ganges, this chic destination spa nurtures a serene atmosphere and is a beautiful property with friendly staff, great rooms and fabulous food. Spa treatments, yoga, and meditation sessions stimulate spiritual well-being with adventure activities to invigorate physical health.
Is there anywhere new you would suggest people go?
The Chateau Spa and Organic Wellness Resort is a new destination spa in Malaysia offering a daily schedule of activities including tennis, golf, yoga, mountain biking, horse riding, hiking and jungle trekking to archery, exercise and dance classes, meditation and organic farming.
Paradis Plage in Morocco offers a good mix of yoga, surfing, spa and hiking. It's not luxurious but offers good value and a relaxed atmosphere with spacious accommodation. The yoga studio on the beach is a perfect space to enjoy classes every day and the spa has two hammams.
Buccament Bay, located on the stunning Caribbean island of St Vincent surrounded by lush green mountains, and a beautiful white sand beach offers sporty holidays with a tennis, football and cricket academy to hone your skills or enjoy healthy lifestyle retreats to enhance your well-being.
Why did you start up Health and Fitness Travel?
I've always loved to travel and had an interest in the health and fitness industry. I was never one for fly and flop holidays and always wanted an active and healthy break whilst away. When I used to search on the internet for these types of breaks I'd always find hippy-style yoga retreats and fitness holidays run from someone's villa which didn't appeal to me. I'd also find lots of spa holiday websites which would list many general spa resorts. I created Health and Fitness Travel for someone like myself who wants a bit of luxury and the right type of healthy holiday with a bespoke tailor-made experience. I always wanted to create a travel company which would appeal to both women and men, as men don't want just a spa holiday.
Yoga on the terrace at Ananda in India
What do you never travel without?
Probiotics, my music and good reading material, along with lose fitting clothes for exercise, yoga and hiking. I always carry copies of my passport and holiday insurance, and leave the originals in my hotel safe as trying to get a passport replacement is not fun.
What's your top tip for long haul flights?
Keep hydrated as the air inside a plane cabin is very dry, so make sure to drink plenty of water. The one bottle of water supplied by the flight attendants won't be enough for a long haul flight, so to avoid the hassle of constantly having to ask for water, bring along your own filtered water bottle and refill it with tap water on the plane. Although it might be tempting to indulge in a glass of wine or cocktail to relax your nerves, try to avoid alcoholic or carbonated drinks, as they will only add to dehydration.
What´s been your most memorable dining experience when travelling?
Tough question as I've been lucky to have lots of memorable dining experiences when travelling. If I had to choose I do remember dining in St Lucia a few years ago at the Rainforest Hideaway, a family owned restaurant in Marigot Bay which serves a fusion of European and Caribbean cuisine. There was no road to the restaurant so you take a two minute boat trip which is a lovely way to start your evening and very romantic too. The grilled beef tenderloin with potato-cakes was delicious and for dessert I had a mouth-watering white chocolate Crème Brulee.
If money was no object what would you do for the rest of your life?
I would look to have a more spiritual lifestyle and train to be a yoga teacher. I'd build my own home overlooking the sea in a warm destination and practice yoga daily. I'd grow all my own healthy food, spend more time with my family, friends and give back to other people.
Paul Joseph is co-founder of Health and Fitness Travel