04 Jul Bird visits Club La Santa
Before even landing in Lanzarote I’d learnt two new things about the island. It’s in the same time zone as the UK and, although a Spanish island, it’s considered outside the EU for duty-free purposes like all the Canary Islands, so you can buy cheap booze and cigarettes if so inclined.
I usually read up on any new destination and would know these facts but I didn’t this time, and this is because I was heading to Club La Santa, one of the world’s top sports and fitness resorts. It’s very much a destination in itself. It’s one of Bird’s clients so I had a group of journalists with me, all keen to make the most of their weekend away.
Being located in Lanzarote is really a happy accident. The resort, on the North West coast, was originally built as your typical holiday complex but the weather in this part of the island tends to be cloudier and more windy, so not ideal if you want to lie in the sun all day but perfect if you want to do sport. So, in 1983, a Danish company turned it into a sports resort and I arrived on its 34th birthday.
About 10,000 Brits visit Club La Santa every year, which makes up 30% of guests only beaten by the Danes who have their own chartered flights. Everyone tells me that once you have visited Club La Santa chances are you return, with 80% of guests having visited before, on average an incredible seven times. So a weekend at the resort was a chance to find out what makes people keep coming back.
Once checked in our merry troupe were off to get our apps registered and then we began manically booking a range of fitness sessions from Kettlebells to Pilates.
Every morning starts with ‘gymnastics’ by the pool which is basically stretching, and not as strenuous as you might think, but a lovely way to wake up, with gentle tunes like Louis Armstrong’s What A Wonderful World bursting out of the speakers. At 8am guests magically appear from all corners of the complex, clad in lycra to join in, and it’s all really quite charming. After the 15 minute class the temptation is to go next door for breakfast but the majority head in the opposite direction to the stadium where everyone gathers to do a run. I choose the 3k as it was already quite warm and humid but there are options from 2k to 5k at varying paces.
After a hearty breakfast, a dip in the pool was very welcome. Club La Santa is the only resort in the world to have three 50m pools so they can cater from serious swimmers training for triathlons to the likes of me who prefer little more than a paddle to cool off.
I enjoyed a huge salad at the pool bar for lunch and wondered where I’d find room for dinner that had been booked for us at the chic Lago restaurant that overlooks the lagoon. There’s also a couple of other restaurants on the site, and as all the accommodation is apartment-style you can of course shop at the well-stocked supermarket and eat ‘at home’ on the terrace.
Despite the 30 degree heat we signed up for the weekly three-hour volcano walk. It isn’t for the faint-hearted as there’s no shade so the sun beats down as you make your way over the pathless rocky terrain. The moonscape views across to the ocean from the top were worth it and after climbing down a rather treacherous steep slope, the last leg by the coast offered a welcome breeze.
It only took a couple of days to appreciate the appeal of the place. The staff are all incredibly friendly from the receptionists’ welcome smile to the Green Team, who escort the runs and walks and offer all kinds of expert instruction in many of the 40 free activities on offer. No matter what your ability, they are happy to help and offer encouragement without the ‘boot camp’ pressure you might expect.
I love to keep fit and this was a great way to try something new whether Stand Up Paddleboarding in the lagoon or padel tennis on the courts. If only I could have squeezed some windsurfing and kayaking into my weekend, but this gives me the perfect excuse to return.