I am at a yoga camp lying on a beautifully manicured lawn in the Canary Islands, bathed in warm morning sunshine as incense and calming mood music relaxes my mind. My lycra-clad colleagues look like sculptures as their toned legs point skywards. I, on the other hand, keep losing my balance and toppling over. Trouble is I just don’t know my downward dog from my cobra.
But it’s my first attempt and I am reassured by the soothing voice of yoga guru Caroline Mason. It is not a yoga competition and is about ‘you do you’. I steady myself for another attempt and refocus. Miraculously, I manage to morph myself into what could very loosely be described as a wild thing pose – and a small cheer goes up from my colleagues.
The reason I am here in Tenerife, the “Island of eternal Spring”, is to visit the five star Abama resort for the launch of its “Wellness Week” – a relaxing, immersive retreat to feed the soul, refocus the mind and return to the UK invigorated and recharged. After two years of pandemic-related travelling restrictions and the new challenges of working from home, what could be more welcome than an escape to a health camp in warmer climes?
Classes start before breakfast at 7am and are held two and three times a day alongside meditation, philosophy, psychology, sound therapy and even astrology sessions.
As a travel writer more used to hurtling down a black run in the French Alps, this is all rather new to me but I can see why the philosophy of “wellness” has such appeal in our troubled times. Aged in my 50s, I could also benefit from better flexibility, which is known to reduce the risk of injury on the pistes.
Caroline, an ambassador of eco-conscious fitness brand Yogi Bare, as well as a qualified personal trainer says: “I have a deep passion for the holistic benefits of yoga. I try and help people transform their lives through the physical practice of yoga but also through the power of yogic philosophy.
“This week was about escaping from the stress of the outside world and a rest for your mind, your body and your soul. It’s about reconnecting you to your inner paradise. Think energising flows as the sun rises, meditations by the ocean and playful movement and reflective practices.”
But the whole point about being at a high-end wellness retreat is that it’s about kicking back, too. And with golf, tennis, swimming and massages available at the plush, palmed-fringed Abama Golf and Spa resort, it promises to offer all of that.
With average temperatures of 21C and 3,000 hours of sunshine, Tenerife is one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations.
Abama Resort Tenerife is a beautiful 400-acre haven, nestled in the southwest of the island, with stunning views of the isle of La Gomera. It is sufficiently far away from the nightclub-and-lager resort of Playa de Las Americas (30 minutes’ drive away) and is surrounded on three sides by two protected nature reserves. It offers spectacular views out over the Atlantic and is a perfect blend of understated luxury, complete with Michelin star dining.
Abama’s award-winning par 72 golf course is one of the best in Spain and was created by top designer Dave Thomas. The immaculate 18 hole course has over 300 species of subtropical plant life, including over 20,000 palm trees. Almost all of the holes offer spectacular views of the ocean. There are also 22 lakes, waterfalls and white sand bunkers offering a challenge to even the best scratch player.
For any would-be Emma Raducanu, seven tennis courts are available, and they host both the ATP and ITF tours. If you need to cool down you can choose one of the three infinity pools dotted across the 400-hectare site or take the complimentary transfer down to the beach, which is set in a small rocky cove (covered with imported white sand), with ladders to access two natural pools. There is a fully equipped gym and kids’ clubs to keep the little ones occupied too.
The properties have been designed to blend in with the natural surroundings and the accommodation – apartments, suites or villas – are simple, modern and flooded with natural light. Produce in the resort is sourced locally wherever possible; regional organic food, handmade furnishings and toiletries come from the local community of Santa Cruz.
Guests can choose between the one, two, three or four bed suites, each with an en suite and all the trimmings. They offer views of the subtropical gardens which surround the resort, the golf course or the Atlantic. My two-bedroom is huge and has a large balcony with views of the ocean, and guests can upgrade to a suite with a jacuzzi on the spacious terrace.
On days when you would prefer to relax and let someone else do the cooking, you can visit the Melvin restaurant for a beautiful, themed breakfast or an a la carte dinner, Tuesday to Saturday, while watching the sun set over the island of La Gomera. The menu has been designed by the Spanish Michelin star chef Martin Berasategui. There’s also a pool bar, serving lunch and snacks in the afternoon and I discover that the barman does an excellent Negroni cocktail while I am waiting for my colleagues to arrive for dinner.
Although the infinity pools are tempting, I opt to head for the beach for something a bit more natural. A free, on-demand shuttle service ferries me down to the cove where the beachside staff look after my valuables and offer me a towel. My driver assures me that a swim in the sea is far healthier than a chlorinated pool – and better for the soul.
The rocky inlet is a swimmer’s paradise as it is totally sheltered from the stronger ocean currents. And to my delight there’s plenty of opportunity for fish-bothering with a snorkel and mask borrowed from the hotel reception.
On another day, we visited La Calabacera ecological farm, the largest organic and sustainable banana plantation in the Canary Islands, run by a doctor and his pharmacist wife who switched from standard intensive farming to organic farming back in 2006. An organic cookery demonstration using vegetables grown on the farm served up with their home-grown bio wine gives me a taste for this healthier lifestyle.
Although it is tempting to visit the hotel’s Michelin-star restaurant every night, we also eat out one night at the delightful El Mirador restaurant at the Abama Ritz Carlton, 10 minutes’ walk away.
The fish restaurant is a must and is set on the cliff top with a huge terrace with patio heaters. There’s superb fried calamari, salmon tartar, sea bream in rock salt and mouth-watering turbot.
With all this luxury, nature on your doorstep and a will to embrace the resort’s health-loving ethos it’s only a matter of time before you could be doing the wild thing too – and being cheered on for your efforts.
Like it here? Make it permanent
As well as the fine dining, award-winning golf course and its focus on wellness, Abama also offers a mix of residential properties and serviced holiday accommodation.
Adjacent to the resort’s tennis centre, Las Villas del Tenis is a collection of 23 detached homes which have panoramic views of the ocean and access to the area’s lifestyle facilities. Residents gain membership to the Abama Prestige Owners’ Club, which offers a range of curated events and cultural excursions. Villas at Las Villas del Tenis are priced from €1.54m (£1.31m) to €1.875m (£1.59m). Las Atalayas de Abama is an exclusive community of just ten luxury villas, each of which have a different layout and design (from €1.035m).
The fully furnished apartments of Los Jardines (from €550,000) range from one to three bedrooms and boast a south-facing aspect, providing beautiful ocean views. Abama also offers custom villas that come in two sizes and allow buyers to design their own home. Ready-built, custom villas start from €5.75m (£4.9m).
NEED TO KNOW
Residences at Abama start from €550,000 (£468,624) to buy and from €1,500 (£1,275) per week to rent. See abamahotelresort.com