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Charlotte Dormon finds a delicious way to detox at the Absolute Sanctuary Retreat in Koh Samui.
After battling through another cold winter and the stress of London life grinding me down, I decided it was time to recharge the body, relax the mind and book in some well-deserved 'me time'.
There are many spa holidays and retreats in the world where you can go to detox, get pampered and do yoga, but unfortunately many of them come with a huge price tag! So the first thing I'd like to say about the yoga holidays at Absolute Sanctuary is - not only is it very affordable, but also it's really worth it!
If you're a fan of yoga, sunshine, delicious healthy food, fresh fruit smoothies and incredible juices that can't do anything but whack a huge smile upon your face - then this is the place for you! In fact, I can honestly say, being healthy has never been so easy for me as it was during my week at this retreat.
Before I tell you anything else, I need to begin with a little 'taster' and share my experience at the Absolute Sanctuary's Love Kitchen restaurant. Firstly, I must admit, I'm a real foodie and really enjoy eating out, but also love to follow a healthy diet along the way. I also happen to be very spoilt for choice with an abundance of good restaurants in London, but I can honestly say that I was more than impressed on a daily basis by the beautifully presented, incredibly nutritious and great-tasting food available at the retreat.
Charlotte enjoyed delicious healthy food and fresh fruit smoothies during her stay
Even if you wanted to be 'good' for the whole week, but have a real sweet tooth and can't imagine living without your favorite treats, let me assure you that you won't miss much when you can choose from the assortment of (almost guilt-free) homemade desserts; including a rather delicious raw chocolate tart, banana and cashew vegan ice cream, yummy gluten-free carrot cake and delightful date brownies - all fit for any yoga detox Queen!
With sweets and treats aside, or if that dessert list hasn't excited you enough to pack your bags and book a flight - you will be happy to know that it will be practically impossible to be bored when dining. The all-inclusive yoga package menu in the restaurant is vast, with many exciting choices for your breakfast, lunch and dinner. As well your meals, you can also choose two freshly made juices or smoothies each day, which I personally liked to enjoy whilst sunning myself by the pool!
Although I found most people at the retreat were on a strict detox holiday, which included fasting and a specialist regime, I was already living with good health in the fast lane back in London (eating well, but guilty of too much stress and not enough sleep!) and wanted lots of energy to swim, do plenty of yoga….. and do some sightseeing whilst I was there, but if it's a cleanse of some sort you are after, these guys cater for all and seem to be experts in taking you through the process (including health checks and colonics) so you can really gain all the benefits.
Charlotte took this photo of one of the local beaches, just a short complimentary shuttle journey away
If this were something you had in mind, then I would certainly come here, as the support from both the staff and the guests is ideal. During the week I met with a lot of interesting single travelers on holiday who were there to cleanse, and as the days went by, I watched those same people change like butterflies in front of my eyes. Forty year old successful business men arrived overweight, frazzled with stress and tired grey looking skin - finished the week looking almost five years younger, with sparkly eyes, a far slender frame, glowing with health and beaming with energy. Whether they had been dragged by their wives or just come alone, they all said that they felt a complete change and seemed so happy to have gone through the experience.
So, from food and detox to fitness - let's talk about the yoga! Absolute Sanctuary retreat is an ideal place for either beginners, or those who have been practicing yoga for a long time.
Whether you want to improve your technique or just try out different styles of yoga, Absolute specialise in all and offer at least four or five daily classes to accommodate those needs. I found all the teachers to be professional, friendly and approachable. They were all very supportive and enjoyed sharing their experience and insight from their teachings over the years, which I found both interesting and helpful towards my development over that week. As well as the morning meditation, I tried out almost all the classes and very much enjoyed both the gentle flow and Yin yoga.
A yoga class in the jungle studio at Absolute Sanctuary
The jungle studio, where all the classes take place, has huge windows, so natural light can flood through, allowing you to appreciate and enjoy a beautiful view of palm trees and pretty flowers whilst you practice. If you are a city dweller like me, you'll be pleased to hear that only peace, quiet and tranquility surround this resort, which is only enhanced by the soothing sounds of tropical birds and a gentle palm tree breeze. It certainly was a nice change and far easier to get myself through even the hardest of classes, than my usual no-view London studio.
As well as the unlimited yoga offered in the package, you also get the luxury of a daily aroma or Thai stretch massage at the spa. This extra bit of pampering really allows your body release even more tension and helps let go of any stress or worries you had when you arrived. Although not included in the package, I did also have a reiki session with one of the practitioners. I was keen to try it and found it extremely relaxing and emotionally cleansing. If you are interested in other treatments or having other complementary therapies, the spa has a good selection, and can advise on the different spa therapies and practitioners available.
Charlotte on her healthy holiday at Absolute Sanctuary
When you are not being pampered or practicing your downward dog, you will love nothing more than lying by (or in) the hotel's infinity pool. It is good size for swimming, so you can really get some lengths in to add to your fitness regime. No matter what time of day, I always managed to get a bed and was very happy to enjoy some 'me time' with a good book and a fresh green coconut juice by my side.
One thing I did like about Absolute Sanctuary is the fact that there is no pretention or arrogance attached to this retreat. Some yoga teachers and their pupils can assume a certain snobbery or competiveness that is unattractive and can be uncomfortable to deal with, especially if you are a beginner. I can assure you that you will not find this here. You can feel totally comfortable wearing whatever you want, just being yourself, surrounded by friendly people and enjoying yourself without a care in the world.
I love to learn new things and if understanding more about the health and wellbeing of your body is something you crave, then take advantage of the free daily lectures by various health gurus that come and offer talks on various topics.
Although the gym studio itself is quite small and only provides quite basic equipment, there is a daily fitness class with Uli, the retreats rather brilliant personal trainer. Although I had come for the yoga, I would recommend trying his class, or booking in a one-to-one session if you are keen to have help with a good gym routine.
If you want to feel the sand in your toes and enjoy a swim in the ocean, then make use of the complimentary shuttle service down to the local beaches.
The retreat has Moroccan décor throughout and offers different standards of bedrooms, from basic to a suite. Overall the rooms are very quiet, clean and comfortable. They provide good basic facilities, and more importantly - a good mattress with nice plump pillows. Housekeeping is provided each day - so you will always come back to a lovely tidy room, freshly made bed, enough clean towels and plenty of sweet scented jasmine toiletries in your bathroom to help you unwind and relax into a great nights sleep.
So, if you are planning on treating yourself to a healthy holiday, I would say do make time to take a trip to Absolute Sanctuary. It is both an enjoyable and very healthy experience on every level. Thailand itself is also a wonderful place to visit, great weather, brilliant food and nice people - ideal if you want to experience easy and enjoyable travel without too much expense.
Charlotte Dorman is a travel writer and reviewed Absolute Sanctuary on behalf of Health and Fitness Travel for OM Yoga & Lifestyle Magazine.
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