Monday 22 December 2014

Escape the gloom - notes from our November Pilates Retreat in Spain


The local town square

One dark, windy, wet, November morning 6 of us took flight from Newcastle airport, in the north east of England heading for Malaga, in southern Spain for our Pilates Retreat.  Malaga is reputed to have the best climate in Europe, being that it is just about as close to Africa that you can get whilst still being on European soil.  We left a dreary Newcastle in a howling gale, and landed in Malaga to a bit cloudy but warm breeze (about 18 C) - we swiftly started ditching the several layers of clothing that we had on.  It was just lovely to see the sun again!

We were picked up straight from the airport by our friendly taxi driver Paul and headed off to our final destination, Torrox, a small town in the foothills of the Sierra de Almijara in Anadalucia.

As the streets were too narrow to get the taxi right to the hotel door, we had to drag our suitcases the short distance to the hotel.  After a swift check in and checking out of each others' rooms (all very nice!), we had a bit of a walk around Torrox to get our bearings.  The town square formed the main area of the town, with the restaurants and cafe's based around the square.  A special mention must be made to the AMAZING cake shop, which incidentally also sold wine (€2 a bottle!?!?) and just about any other food supplies that were necessary.
The best cake shop ever!

So after stopping and having coffee and snacks in the square we headed to the cake shop  - after arming ourselves with cake, we headed back to the hotel to unpack and maybe think about unpacking our Pilates mats.

We had the use of the hotel's terrace for our Pilates sessions (and as we were the only guests of the hotel, we had the run of the hotel - the owners went out of the way to accommodate our requests (mainly for kettles and tea - being British after all!!).

The views from the terrace were amazing, and we enjoyed a lovely Pilates session and stretch in the open air with the sky above and the beautiful view of the mountains.  It was  so peaceful up there, only the sounds of the breeze and birds to disturb us.

View from the terrace
After a lovely stretch and relaxation, we headed back to our rooms to properly unpack and get ready for supper.  Supper for the first night was in the hotel, and I must say the food in the hotel was very good indeed, freshly prepared and extremely tasty.  As it was Marie's 'special' birthday we all enjoyed a bottle of fizzy stuff, compliments of the hotel.  After supper we all retired to our rooms as it had been quite a long day.


We all woke up refreshed after a good nights sleep bright and early, and ready for another Pilates session.  As it was a bit too cold on the terrace first thing on a morning, we went into one of the suites and had our session there.

After breakfast we decided to go and visit some famous caves nearby at Nerja.  We arrived there and were surprised to find a Scottish piper in full regalia playing the bagpipes - we think he was practicing for Rememberance Sunday.  There was almost no-one at the caves when we got there (and it had one of the best gift shops, in which we all managed to buy something), so we got our tickets and headed inside.

There were a lot of steps and uneven surfaces, but it was well worth it, as the views inside the caves were spectacular, some of the best rock formations that we'd ever seen, the caves had been in use since pre-historic times and they had an amazing atmosphere.  We even managed a few side planks in there!  After a quick coffee stop, we caught the bus from the caves into the town centre of Nerja.

The 'Church Organ' at Nerja caves
Nerja is a beautiful town, right beside the sea, with some beautiful gift shops.  We spent some time exploring the alleyways and browsing the shops - as we were out of season the place wasn't crowded and the temperature was just right for walking around in. We stopped just off the town centre for tapas and drinks, we could not believe how cheap the food was in Spain (€30 between 6 of us for lunch, and that included drinks!).

Beautiful Nerja
After lunch we found a fabulous ice-cream shop and headed down to the beach, dipping our feet into the sea in November felt really good!  We could have stayed there all day, it was a really beautiful place and it was very much authentic Spain.

After a good look around and a bit more shopping we headed back to Torrox, and another Pilates session on the terrace.  It was really nice after walking around for much of the day to have a good stretch out, and just to be mindful of how lucky we were to be able to teach and practice in such a beautiful location.

Supper that night was in one of the local restaurants in the town square, and after another busy day we headed to bed.


A beautiful morning and we managed to have our morning Pilates session on the terrace, which was so peaceful and relaxing.  After breakfast, we decided to head off into Malaga.  Lots of folks fly into Malaga, and from the drive from the airport, it looks quite uninspiring.  But the guidebooks told us not to look on first impressions, so we decided to give it a try.  We caught the local bus (which were always on time and very cheap), and set off down the mountain.  It took us an hour to get to Malaga, taking in the sights of Andalucia whilst we travelled.  The bus dropped us right in the centre, next to the harbour and a short walk from the old town.

First stop was the coffee shop (obviously - are you seeing a pattern emerge here?), and then we headed up to the old castle and fortress - The Alcazabar!  This turned out to be huge and an absolute haven of peacefulness and calm.  Every corner we turned there were beautiful gardens or water features and gorgeous terraces.  The views from here were wonderful too.

'The Alcazabar' - Malaga Old Town
Again, we could have spent all day there, but we wanted to see more of Malaga.  So after a food stop, we headed the short distance to the cathedral.  Which, as with most cathedrals' in Europe was truly stunning, with amazing architecture.

We then moved onto the Picasso museum, who was born in Malaga.  The museum was housed in a beautiful building, and it was extremely well organised, but I think the majority of the group decided that we were not fans of Picasso!  Maybe we just didn't 'get it', so the jury is still out on that one... :)

Malaga Cathedral

After another quick coffee stop we headed back for our bus, which again, was spot on time and set back off for our hotel.
We had a quick rest and then anyone who wanted too, joined in for another Pilates session on the terrace.

Supper was in another local cafe, and off to bed for an early start the next day.


We had decided that we all wanted to make the effort to get to the 'Alhambra Palace' in Granada, which was not too far from where we were staying.  So we had booked Paul (from our airport taxi), to get us there (as it was about an hour and half drive away).  We were recommended to get there early - so we had an early morning start, so no Pilates :(.    Paul turned up on time in his brand new mini-bus, and after driving down the motorway for about half and hour, the brand spanking new mini-bus promptly broke down!  So we were stuck in the mountains, with no phone signal, not knowing quite what to do!  Luckily the hotel had provided us with a packed lunch, so we weren't going to starve!  The Spainish Guardia turned up to move the bus off the motorway, and eventually Paul managed to call one of his friends to come and pick us up and take us to our destination.

Upon arrival that the 'Alhambra Palace' which is a World Heritage site, we managed to get in with no problems (even with the later than planned arrival).  The Alhambra Palace is basically another huge fortress and collection of palaces.  It is an amazing place, and the architecture is beautiful.
Taking time out in the 'Alhambra Palace'

We spent a good few hours exploring the palaces and the beautiful gardens.   We had lunch at the local 'pub' within the Palace grounds - where the waiter enjoyed our attempts to speak Spanish.  Marie almost got left in the grounds, as she had lost her ticket, which she needed to get out!

Another good gift shop was explored and then we headed back in our taxi.

Back at the hotel, it was time for our penultimate Pilates session, which we held on the terrace as the sunset over the mountains.  This was followed by a bit of wine on the terrace too!  Supper was in the hotel again, which was by far the best place to eat in Torrox.


We started with a final gorgeous chill-out Pilates and meditation session followed by breakfast.  A local masseur arrived and a couple of people had a massage.  We then spent the remainder of the morning packing our bags and getting ready for our departure.  We just had time for lunch in the square and then Paul arrived to take us to the airport.  Malaga airport has to be one of the nicest airports with some great shops.  So some final presents were bought, before we headed back to a cold, dark and wet Newcastle.

All in all, everyone agreed that they'd had a great time.  We had some good laughs and saw some beautiful sights; and of course, enjoyed some amazing Pilates sessions.  There was no pressure to join in two Pilates sessions a day, you choose. All levels are catered for, so don't worry if you've never done Pilates before.  You just need to bring your yoga mat - everything else will be provided. 

There will be another retreat, heading to exactly the same hotel planned for 9th-13th October 2015. If you would be interested in joining us, then let us know as there are limited spaces. 

Prices from £680 per person based on Half-Board for 4 nights. 
  • Group Transfers (if arriving on the same flight as your retreat host)
  • Accommodation at Hotel La Casa, Torrox for 4 nights on a Half-Board basis
  • A minimum of 8 Pilates classes across 4 days
Friends and partners often wish to travel and not participate in the activities. Non participating group members are more than welcome and we offer a reduced price for them. Please contact us for full details.
In order to keep costs as low as possible, we do not include your flights as it is cheaper to book low cost flights direct with the airlines concerned, for those departing from Newcastle airport - we will advise which flight to book.

A deposit of just 15% of the retreat cost is payable to secure your place. Minimum numbers are applicable.  Please do not worry if you are travelling on your own, the groups are kept small and you'll soon make friends. 

If you are booking within 12 weeks of departure, full payment is required.
Booking conditions apply once deposit is paid. 

For more information on your instructors visit their website

*****VERY SPECIAL OFFER, we are pleased to be able to offer you this retreat at the amazing price of £600, for a limited time only - until end February 2015. ****** 
(after Feb it will revert to it's actual price of £680).

We can also offer a monthly savings scheme - so if started saving in Feb 2015 that would be 8 x £75 per month (not including flights, based on the offer price).

Get in touch to book, and take advantage of this amazing price, only 7 spaces available!


The stunning architecture at Alhambra Palace

Pilates on the terrace

Anchovies in the square

Side Planking - Nerja Caves

Nerja main street

Sunrise Pilates on the terrace

Nerja sea front

The food was amazing!