Being the health conscious and fitness fanatic I am, my idea of a perfect holiday abroad would not be to lounge around on the hotel’s resort reading a book poolside soaking up the sun, but to explore that country and culture I was visiting together with partaking in health and fitness activities as quite frankly, I get serious withdrawals if I haven’t trained for a few days! With Fitness holidays on the rise this year, I thought it would be a great idea to interview Paul Joesph, Co-founder of Health and Fitness Travel, to give you fellow health and fitness enthusiasts an insight into the types of health and fitness holidays available from an experts point of view, which I hope, will act as an aid for choosing the perfect health and fitness holiday / retreat for you.
For those of you who are not familiar, Paul Joseph is co-founder of Health and Fitness Travel, the leading 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.
Last week, Paul very kindly took some time out of his busy schedule running Health and Fitness travel to answer some probing questions I had drafted for him. The interview was conducted by a Q & A over email and began by asking the most obvious question.
What was the inspiration behind starting 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.
What would you say are the 3 best places you´ve ever stayed?
Kamalaya in Thailand is fantastic for a detox and fitness 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. 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.
My favorite place in the Caribbean is The Body Holiday in St Lucia, the all-inclusive 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. The upmarket property has recently undergone an extensive renovation and offers everything from archery to Scuba, spinning to Pilates, and Ayurvedic treatments to reiki. You will leave feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and recharged.
I’m a big fan of Ibiza and love the Island for its energy and beauty.38 Degrees North at Aguas de Ibiza is the perfect place for a detox and fitness break based in Santa Eulalia, a beautiful coastal town. This superb health and fitness retreat is made up of experts who range from a gold medalist personal trainer and adventure enthusiasts to an osteopath and chiropractic doctor along with yoga and Pilates teachers.
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.
What is the fastest growing type of fitness holiday?
Fitness holidays offering tailor-made healthy packages where clients can be flexible and choose exactly what they want are most popular which is why we created our Fusion Fitness™ holidays to fulfil this need. Clients can choose daily activities, lessons or spa treatments from a blend of four fusion elements that include; Cardio, Strength & Sport, Mind & Body and Renewal. These healthy holidays have been extremely popular to date because you can have the holiday designed for your preferences whether yoga, adventure, cycling, bootcamp training or hiking.
Is there a particular demographic booking fitness based holidays?
Our holidays packages and retreats are very popular with Men and Women aged 30+ 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, our male clients look for more fitness based breaks. 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.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I enjoy hearing all the positive feedback we receive every week from our clients who return from our holidays feeling totally rejuvenated. It’s so satisfying to have them call and email us to tell us what a fantastic holiday experience they have and how they can’t wait to book the next trip with us. This shows everything we do and all our hard work is worthwhile.
What healthy habits do you take with you and maintain on your holidays?
I stick to a healthy diet and take advantage of the local fresh food on holiday, eating a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables. I drink plenty of water so I don’t dehydrate and keep up my exercise regime, taking advantage of the great outdoors.
When on holiday I have more time to focus on my health and well-being so I’ll pack in more swimming, yoga, the gym, massages, walks, runs and fine food. Most importantly I’ll relax.
What has been your most memorable healthy dining experience to date?
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!
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 destination have you yet to visit that forms part your bucket list?
I do have a long travel wish list and India ranks high on my places to go right now. Our exclusive Discover Recover™ holidays offer a unique opportunity to unite your perfect travel experience of wellness with culture. Our India trip is ideal if you are short on time but want to visit the icons including the capital New Delhi, the stunning Taj Mahal in Agra and the fabled pink city of Jaipur.
Then I would recover at Ananda in the Himalayas, a well-being retreat and leading destination spa I’m really looking forward to visiting.
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.
It is clear having had the pleasure of interviewing Paul, his deep passion for all things health and fitness. I commend Paul for having the courage to start up his own travel company in order to cater for budding health and fitness enthusiasts seeking to maintain optimal health whilst on holiday aboard.
He went to great lengths to ensure people like you and I experience their ideal holiday via Health and Fitness Travel and from the reviews I have read online far from everyone that has had to pleasure of using Health and Fitness Travel, has only positive things to say about their experience, thus reassuring me I won’t be left disappointed when booking via Health and Fitness Travel.
I myself have visited Paul’ site numerous times since discovering them on Twitter a month or so ago, with the view to book myself onto on of these holidays at some point next year please god. There is a package for absolutely everyone and would recommend heading over to their website to check out the packages and destinations currently available if you too are seeking a holiday of this nature.
For advice, guidance and bookings Paul’s company can be found online by visiting Health and Fitness Travel, Health and Fitness Travel Facebook or by simply following them on Twitter.