Bypass the passport and indulge in the best kind of (healthy) staycation at Alma Retreat, Ras Al Khaimah.
Still haven’t found that new year, new me fitness motivation? Thwart a lousy diet and a dwindling exercise regimen at this remote haven of health and wellness, designed to press refresh on your body, mind and soul.
Just an hours drive north of Dubai to the northernmost emirate (next to the new Ritz Carlton hotel) lies Alma Retreat. Designed for those wanting to press pause on their busy lives, and spend a weekend detoxing instead of brunching, this UAE-based health and wellness treat is the epicentre of relaxation. The staff are beyond friendly and inspirational (you will want to steal Katrina, the retreat manager, and take her home with you; she is the loveliest person you’ll ever meet!), the venue is completely unpretentious, the food is wholesome and nutritious, and the activities will make the time fly by – perhaps even a little too quick!
If you’re heading for the weekend, check-in is at 1pm. You’ll be shown to your accommodation, a quaint little room with white linen bedding, a fluffy bathrobe and all the toiletries you could need – a cut above your average desert retreat and all the tools for a deep unwind. The outdoor shower and toilet were definitely the highlight of the room for me, though!
There were 13 girls checked in for the weekend -myself and Victoria included -, so our first activity of the day was a group game to get to know each other. We played naughts and crosses, dodgeball and other silly exercises before moving onto a circuit training using your bodyweight.
After a quick shower and a snack, our afternoon was spent painting shade. This may sound slightly daunting, however there were plenty of girls who were in no way artistically inclined that inadvertently found themselves totally relaxing and having fun.
The sun eventually started to set, which is when we sat down for our first yoga session with teacher Eva, who lead a gentle Hatha flow. After working up quite an appetite, we all wrapped up in snuggly blankets and piled into the seating area, where we were served a delicious supper of broccoli soup, lentil soup, salads, rice, white fish and chicken. Our final activity before hitting the hay was a guided meditation in the ‘sweat tent’.
Mornings start early, a 6.30am wake up followed by a turmeric, coconut oil and chilli powder shot before heading off on a sunrise walk over the sand dunes at 7am. Eva is back to guide you through a morning yoga flow before sitting down to a healthy, dairy-free, gluten-free brekkie.
Later, when your chia seed pudding and fresh fruit has gone down, the retreat’s PT will put you through your paces with another team game followed by a partner workout (make sure you wear SPF – I definitely caught the sun on my cheeks!). Once you’ve worked up a sweat, the last port of call before checking out was the ice bath. I forgot a swimming costume, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise when I saw the rest (well, most) of the girls squirming beneath the frosty waters.
Alma have a ‘home away from home’ kind of vibe. You can help yourself to snacks (peanut butter on rice cakes, vegan protein shakes or fresh fruit) whenever you want, there’s a bookshelf to get stuck into and all of the activities are optional, so if you’d rather steal a couple of hours alone in your room, no one will bat an eyelid.
The only downside? It’s pretty hard to go back to the churn of modern living after a trip like this…
For more information, bookings and the full price list click here