Chavvy or chic? A new take on Marbs
If you thought Marbs was all trashy hens and all-day drinking, you’d be right. But there’s another side to this TOWIE haunt that urges you to seek botanical wisdom, nurture yourself and tune into a more holistic you through yoga, Pilates and meditation. See what happened when we sent DOSE co-founder Shara along to experience the chic side of Marbs…
My only memories of Marbs are of very boozy girl holidays and trashy hen do’s in my twenties. A born Essex girl, these trips played out predictably, like an episode of TOWIE. But since relocating to the leafy suburbs of North London, I have put my Marbs days well and truly behind me. Or so I thought…
After receiving an invite to review the new wellness programme at Marbella Club, I find myself packing my yoga gear instead of micro mini’s, and boarding a plane, in search of new kind of hedonism. I bring along my investment banker friend and former Marbs partner in crime, for the ride…
As we pull back the blinds to glaring sunshine, we jump into our athleisure and wander through the sprawling resort, in search of strong coffee, eggs and avo – obviously.
Welcomed at the breakfast buffet, we sit outside, observe the pool view and notice the international, varied guests. Families, couples, old and young. A chic, European crowd with thankfully no luminous fake tan, acrylic nails or hen parties in sight.
This is not Marbs as I know it.
The breakfast buffet is one of the best I have ever laid eyes on. You name it, they have it. Eggs in every style and even a lobster truffle Benedict should you wish to indulge, not to mention Pol Roger champagne if you’re celebrating… or sparking water in our case.
Clemmie and I conform to the stereotype and go for eggs, avo (in the form of a very zesty guac) and smoked salmon that is smoked on site for hours before serving.
We tour the property that consists of four large restaurants, a champagne bar, a stunning yoga studio and outdoor aerial yoga area. Activities on offer include; Yoga, Pilates, HIIT, Core Training and Tai Chi. The hotel has also recently launched a series of new detox and nutrition retreats created and hosted by acclaimed nutritionist, Amanda Hamilton.
I am welcomed by Susan Alexander for my consultation – a qualified nutritional therapist, lifestyle coach and health and wellness specialist, who moved to Marbella from London. She tells me how she adores her newfound work life balance by the sea. I don’t blame her.
I opt for The Mediterranean Lifestyle package. Unlike other programmes like Cleanse & Purify and Bikini Body & Beach Ready, this one is slightly more relaxed.
Susan invites us into her lounge for a cup of tea. I fill in a form and jump on the body fat measuring machine. I usually avoid these type of assessments like the plague. As an educated fitness instructor and co-founder of a wellness magazine, I know all too well what I need to do to shift the pounds. While I would love to lose that extra 5kg, I also love to eat…
The results indicate that I am at the higher end of body fat percentage for my BMI. Oh dear. These are the words you never want to hear. I take Susan’s advice and sign myself up for intermittent fasting to help with fat loss and overall energy levels.
Excited by the new challenge, I decide to put it into practice on returning back to London, and dive head first into the Mediterranean buffet to feast on grilled swordfish and padron peppers. At least my spinach came steamed instead of creamed. Baby steps…
Next to the spa for a plunge in the thalassotherapy pool and a vichy salt and oil exfoliation. My skin feels as smooth as a baby’s bottom on leaving the spa.
That evening we dine on lobster, prawn and avocado salad and a meaty cod main with chilled white wine selected by a sommelier to compliment our meals. We sleep soundly.
We start the day with a Hatha yoga class with Anna. I am a fussy yogi and practice Jivamukti yoga weekly with Melody Hekmat at Triyoga. To my surprise, this class leaves me feeling very awake. Perhaps I don’t need my morning coffee?
Back at the breakfast buffet, I try a freshly made smoothie with carrot, orange and ginger and once again order the cliché, eggs, avo & salmon but this time with a side of tomatoes.
Back in the spa, I enjoy a Hydrotherapy facial as Clemmie chooses a more personal one with full extraction. Afterwards we meet Alejandra from the hotel for a cycle ride into Marbella Old Town. Less than 15 minutes along the coast, we park our hotel bikes and head into the cobbled beautiful streets for Tapas.
Alejandra takes us to one of her favourite restaurants – Taberna La Nina De El Pisto. A tiny, intimate space, we ask our host to order for us. Always trust a local. We enjoy Gazpacho, not as we know it, with bread, aubergines, salad, prawns. While i’m trying to avoid red meat, in typical flexitarian fashion, I figure it would be rude not to try the Jamón Ibérico – especially the black footed kind.
After cycling back to the hotel in the rain, we spend the afternoon on the balcony hammering our laptops before making time for a quick run along the coastline before dinner. I have to somehow make room for the feast of sea bream, sea bass and sashimi that awaits at the MC restaurant.
Clemmie starts her day with a HIIT workout in the gym, while I role out my in-room yoga mat (another great touch), log on to YouTube and take a 40 minute fit flow session with my friend Ida May. You have to love technology. Never the person that works out at home, I really do enjoy doing this when on holiday, especially when the equipment is supplied in your room.
After breakfast, I head to the spa for my final treatment in my wellness package, a 90 minute personalised massage. After working through deep knots in my shoulders, my therapist Alexandra urges me to stretch more. Not just yoga once a week, but simple stretches on a daily basis to open my chest and shoulder to combat the tech neck and laptop hunching. I add it to my list along with intermittent fasting…
I may have visited Marbella five times, but this visit was by far the most memorable. For a start, I can actually remember it. I took time to appreciate the beautiful Mediterranean surroundings, taste the local food and wine, and nurture my mind and body. I came away feeling healthier and happier than when I arrived. A new kind of pleasure seeking that seems fitting for my thirties. I am already planning my return visit…