Unwind this Christmas and escape all the stress (Grayshott Spa Break)
List 14 November

8 ways to de-stress this Christmas

Healthy travel journalist and editor of www.queenofretreats.com Caroline Sylger Jones reveals the most relaxing ways to escape Christmas and New Year

Is getting together with extended family not quite your thing at Christmas? Sick of all those endless pairs of socks? Feeling stressed over Christmas presents, trees and feasts?

Do something a little different this year and spend the time on yourself instead – chill out on one of these relaxing trips, either alone or with a friend.

1. London Buddhist Centre, Oxfordshire

22 Dec 2012–1 Jan 2013

The London Buddhist Centre runs an annual Winter retreat in Sibford, Oxfordshire. Choose your length of time on how frazzled you feel: go for the full ten days, the first five days (22 Dec–27 Dec) or the second five days (27 Dec–1 Jan). It’s open to everyone, including those new to meditation and to Buddhism, and is a chance to take stock, leave the hum-drum behind, learn mediation, and escape the busy, Christmas stress that sometimes simply gets too much. 

Visitors can expect proper meditation instruction, inspiring talks on aspects of Buddhism, discussion groups, countryside walks, (optional) pujas (devotional rituals) and a few days of silence in the middle of the retreat. 

Get me out of here!

Prices for five days from £250 per person, ten days from £450 per person; spaces fill up fast, details from www.lbc.org.uk

2. Destination Yoga, Andalucia, Spain

22–27 Dec 2012

Enjoy a week of yoga with American yoga teacher Vidya Heisel at her renovated olive farm deep in the heart of the Andalucian countryside. Surrounded by mountains, with views of lakes and fields, it’s a calm and peaceful retreat in which to spend this time of the year. Vidya will lead two classes a day teaching a creative and fun combination of Iyengar, ashtanga, kundalini and hatha yoga styles drawn from her 35 years of experience.

A stay includes delicious organic vegetarian meals using olive oil, fresh eggs and fruit and vegetables produced at the farm. The weather is usually sunny in Andalucia at this time of year – they tend to eat lunch outside, and dinners inside beside log fires. 

Get me out of here!

From £995 per person; more details from www.destinationyoga.co.uk

3. Skyros Christmas celebration, Isle of Wight

23–26 Dec 2012

If you’re in the mood for socialising but want something a little different this one’s for you. The four day group retreat takes place at The Grange, an elegant 19th century house set down a remote, quiet lane on the Isle of Wight. It’s run by two vivacious women skilled at bringing people together – theatre maker and comedy improvisation teacher Alison Goldie, and singer and teacher Jo Wood.

This trip is perfect for walks, singing, games, good food and company. Bedrooms are painted in calming colours with contemporary art on the walls, and many have sea views. There’s also a sauna in the large, mature garden and a wooden-floored sitting room with an open fire and shelves of interesting books.

Get me out of here!

This four day stop is from £425 per person all inclusive; details from www.skyros.com

4. in:spa, Morocco

28 Dec 2012–4 Jan 2013

in:spa have years of experience putting together soothing trips with hand-picked teams, helping you get fit and detox in a hot climate with a combination of hikes, personal training, yoga, massage, a cleansing diet and nutritional advice. Based at Dar Liqama, a luxury villa located just outside the walls of Marrakech in the Palmerie district, hiking in the neighbouring Atlas Mountains is also on offer. Those looking for a bit of chaos can explore the nearby medina, Marrakech’s bustling market square

Get me out of here!

Seven days from £2,195 per person, details from www.inspa-retreats.com

5. Yeotown Vinyasas and Vino weekend, Devon

29 Dec 2012–2 Jan 2013

See in the New Year over a long weekend at this gorgeous contemporary health retreat tucked away in the countryside of North Devon. This yoga and wine holiday (yes, wine!) is led by wine expert James Macmillan and Vinyasa Flow yoga teacher Mercedes Ngoh.

James will share his wealth of knowledge on the grape, its health benefits and how to choose wisely, while Mercedes’ yoga sessions will range from the dynamic to the restorative over the course of the four days.

Expect lush interiors, power showers, underfloor heating, decent beds, a sauna, good treatments with local therapists and delicious food.

Get me out of here!

From £695 per person, details from www.yeotown.com

6. Fitscape fitness holiday, Spain

29 Dec 2012–5 Jan 2013

Spend the New Year actually getting fit (rather than just adding it to your resolution list) with this fitness trip in rural Cadiz, Spain. The base is Hotel Monasterio de San Martin, a boutique hotel in a renovated 18th century monastery, surrounded by fields, hills and orange groves.

Slog it out on group hikes, runs, mountain biking, fitness classes such as strength and cardio circuits, core workouts and boxercise as well as personal training sessions. All bedrooms are nicely decorated with en suite bathrooms and those on the ground floor have a private terrace, for those moments when you NEED to relax.

Get me out of here!

From £1,695 per person, details from www.fitscape.co.uk

7. Philosophy & pampering, Gloucestershire

6–8 January 2013

Yoga and sound teacher Judith Seelig leads retreats to focus on themes that make being human difficult or challenging. Open to everyone, they combine powerful group sessions of talking and listening with bodywork classes featuring Judith’s distinctive take on yoga.

This two night retreat takes place at Ellenborough Park, a gorgeous historic country house hotel on the edge of Cheltenham. Enjoy meditation, philosophising, yoga, swimming at night in the outdoor heated pool, top notch comfort and service.

Get me out of here!

For more details contact Madeleine Cemm on 020 7639 3575/07837 312129 email madeleine.cemm@ntlworld.com

8. Grayshott recuperation spa break in Surrey

Anytime in 2012/2013

Treat yourself to a proper rest and some pampering time at this civilised spa in Surrey. The Recuperation Spa Break comes especially recommended – a four night retreat designed to help you replenish your energy supplies with a personalised and structured programme.

Before arriving, a qualified health consultant will contact you to understand which nutritional plan and treatments will benefit you most. You’ll have a full dietary evaluation, meals designed to promote healing and recovery and daily health consultations. Group walks and exercise classes including yoga, tai chi, and pilates are also included.

Get me out of here!

From £1200 per person, details from www.grayshottspa.com

Caroline Sylger JonesAuthor and journalist Caroline Sylger Jones is the founder and editor of www.queenofretreats.com, which offers independent reviews and advice on spa breaks, retreats and healthy holidays. Caroline writes regularly about spas, retreats, and healthy holidays and is the author of Body & Soul Escapes and Body & Soul Escapes: Britain & Ireland (Footprint Books).