By Jennifer Ratcliffe, Top Santé’s art director
To city break or not to city break? That is the first question that crosses my mind after I decide to take a few days away. I love a culture fix and embrace spending my precious annual leave exploring new cities. However, that often goes hand-in-hand with fast-paced holidaying, and whilst I love checking out my high step count after a busy day sightseeing, I sometimes wonder whether I’d rather have a few days relaxing by the sea or recharging my batteries on a retreat.
I have now found the answer to this dilemma, and that is the five-star resort and spa Almar Jesolo. Jesolo, a costal town located 50 mins away from Venice, boasts one of the largest beaches in Italy. Ideally located on that beach is the Almar hotel. It’s perfect for ticking all the boxes: one day you could unwind on the pristine, golden beach, letting the sound of the waves sooth your soul, while the next day you could hop on a water taxi and explore the bustling sights of Venice.
When you are planning your itinerary it’s important to understand Almar is a destination in itself, not just a base from which to explore and I would pencil in plenty of time to enjoy what the hotel has to offer.
A beach break near Venice provides time to unwind
A wellness theme threads through every element at Almar Jesolo. From the second you step through the door you feel a sense of calm. There is a feel of space and light; neutral colour palettes and chic decor are intertwined with textures from nature set against the backdrop of the sea with the sound of waves rolling in the background. It’s the perfect environment for relaxation.
Italy is the best place to remind yourself that healthy eating is a pleasure – the focus on quality, fresh ingredients is key. The benefits of a Mediterranean diet are no secret and this is really embraced at Almar. All fresh ingredients are locally sourced and menus are changed regularly to keep dishes seasonal. The menus are marked with healthy options and chef has a creative flair for serving unusual twists on classic recipes, the healthy choices in no way feel like the poor mans option.
My favourite example of this is the detox tea, which is a fun take on the classic afternoon tea but served without refined sugar. You can relax on the comfy sofas in The River Lounge bar with the water fountain trickling away in the background, while your detox tea is brought to you on a stand. It contains a mix of sandwiches, cakes and nibbles but they are all healthy alternatives. Despite the word ‘detox’ in the title, I very much felt it had been an indulgence yet one with out the heavy sluggish feeling I usually come away with after afternoon tea.
Enjoying the expansive wellness centre and spa at Jesolo
The wellness centre is large enough that you could enjoy multiple visits without it being repetitive; it includes indoor and outdoor pools, a whirlpool area and large selection of saunas and steam rooms. It’s big enough that you have space to relax without it feeling crowded. If you are looking to treat yourself, the Alamablu Spa offers a massive range of treatments. And it’s also worth packing your trainers as the fitness area is in a glass cube overlooking the sea, which is the perfect inspiration to squeeze in a holiday workout.
Jen’s top trip picks…
- Postural training: The postural training class is well worth a try as of all the things I tried at Almar Jesolo, this was the one I took the most from. I will admit I was cautious as I entered the class (stood bolt upright) as I was expecting to have my postural flaws pointed out to me, but this is not how it works.
You are taught a series of moves, starting at the wrists and working your way down through the body, that build strength to support you posture. What really resonated with me was that Marco, our teacher, said you can’t control your own posture, you have to give your body the strength to support itself. This really stuck in my mind as a reminder that fitness isn’t all about how you look.
- Energy massages: The Alamablu energy massages are a selection of treatments based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), aimed at restoring balance by massaging your body’s energy meridians to stimulate the flow of ‘qi’ or energy. I tried the Reflections of the Self, a 50-minute massage starting at my hands and feet and working through the rest of my body. I have never fallen asleep during a massage, but this is the closest I’ve come, which is a sign of complete relaxation. I had the treatment at the start of the stay, too, which was a great way to set the tone for the rest of the weekend.
- Bike hire: I you have time it’s worth hiring a bike from the hotel and cycling towards the village of Lio Piccolo. The journey will take you along the lagoon where you can enjoy getting back to nature. It’s utter escapism as the quiet roads and untouched landscapes offer a tranquil silence. The calmness is such a contrast to a busy day in Venice, which highlights the variety the area has to offer. The route is flat and the pace can be sedate so this is a trip that is accessible for most levels of fitness.