Lanzarote: island in the sun

by Ruth.Rosselson

Known for its package holidays, Lanzarote might not be the first place you think of for a healthy retreat, but a peaceful week at Villa Isis will leave you revived and rejuvenated

I’d gone to Lanzarote for a complete break, wanting some peace and a chance to leave my stressful life behind. So, right in the middle of a cold and miserable winter, I found myself on the sunshine island of Lanzarote, booked into a single room at Villa Isis on a holistic holiday break. The package I’d booked came complete with a range of spa treatments, including full body massage, shiatsu and reiki sessions, as well as daily morning yoga classes.
I’d done yoga before, but it wasn’t, and still isn’t, part of my weekly exercise routine and so I arrived a little nervous about the yoga, and about early morning exercise before breakfast. I needn’t have worried. The classes were led by Lynne Oliver, a friendly and down-to-earth woman and an excellent teacher. She demonstrated every posture first and helped our group out whenever we needed more guidance. Her instructions were clear and she was able to create a relaxed and non-competitive environment for our yoga practice. I felt so stretched, alive and awake every morning after each session, and the fresh air and beautiful surroundings only added to my sense of wellbeing. Lynn made the classes harder throughout the stay so that it felt as if we were making some progress during the week.
A lush breakfast buffet followed each morning’s session, leaving a full day of relaxing and pampering ahead. Holistic Holidays is based at Lynne’s villa, which she established and shares with her partner Stuart Forster. The ambience is relaxed and because it’s also a full-time home to Lynn and Stuart, the villa has a homely and welcoming feel, with sofas, books and DVDsstacked up on shelves in the lounge. It’s ideal for sitting and reading, or chatting to one of the couple’s many cats.
The size of the villa also means that the retreat is shared by only small groups of people, and it’s a world away from the nearby package holiday resorts. This made being on my own really easy, and I was able to seek out company when I wanted or be alone whenever I chose to. The beautiful landscaped garden made an ideal location to sit and read, to contemplate life or just to gaze at the beautiful view. Thus I found myself in a home-away-from-home, instead of a sterile hotel, and it was just what I needed in my quest for some peace and quiet.
Although yoga, solitude and therapies were the main reasons for my stay, I couldn’t spend a whole week on Lanzarote without seeing some of the island so I hired a car with a couple of other guests and spent a wonderful couple of days exploring the island. There’s quite a lot to see and I was pleasantly surprised with the variety of the landscape in this unique biosphere. Lanzarote is a volcanic island, creating rocks and landscapes of shimmering colours. A trip to the Timanfaya Volcano is a must, though it felt extremely touristic compared to the other places that I visited during the week. A solitary walk above the beautiful Fumera beach helped give me some mental clarity as I walked with the beach and sea below, the cliffs on the other side, seeing barely a handful of people for hours.
Also worth seeing are the eco buildings of the artist Cesar Manrique, especially Mirador Del Rio, the lookout point at the north of the island and his house, built in 1968. All his buildings are inspired by, and make use of, the island’s landscape. Seeing how he worked with the island’s environment, instead of against it, served to complement the therapies and yoga that we’d been partaking in back at the villa. Finally, a trip into the biosphere with Stuart, with emphasis on the island’s beautiful volcanoes and rock formations, completed the week’s activities.
Lanzarote is the ideal, sunny location for a bog-standard, package, Spanish-island, hotel-based holiday. But nonetheless, it shouldn’t be overlooked. For me it provided peace, tranquillity and inspirational landscapes, and sent me back home rested and rejuvenated, ready, once again, to face my life head-on