Group participating in a kettlebell work out in the sunshine in morocco

I booked my in:spa wellness retreat at the last minute and on somewhat of a whim. A boost of sunshine and endorphins seemed to be exactly the right tonic for January. I was in need of a wellness reboot after Christmas and had searched for a fitness and detox retreat and wanted a real kick start and something more nurturing than a bootcamp. I was reassured that I wouldn’t go hungry but would be likely to lose some weight.

A first time visitor to Morocco I was pleasantly surprised by how quick and easy it was to get there. A fuss-free three and a half hour flight from London and I was off the plane to be greeted by smiling, reassuring in;spa team members. The transfers took just under 45 minutes and offer the first opportunity to get chatting to the fellow guests.

Pool in Marrakech with loungers and trees

Hike day and it was up bright and early for breakfast to fuel the walk. I knew food would be a huge part of the retreat but didn’t know the specifics. I must say I was delighted with the food. Each meal is a wonderfully colourful buffet spread and in no way are you limited or restricted. If you want seconds that’s fine, although the nutritionist is on hand to guide and advise based on your individual goals. And that’s the excellent thing about in:spa compared to checking into a hotel with a health programme. The wellness experts are with you all the time. You’re unlimited stream of advice through chats during hikes and over meal times is all included!

I opted for the harder hike (you’re given the option of two) and it certainly got the blood pumping. It is a fitness retreat after all. The hike is guided with two guides at the front and two remaining at the back so even on the harder hike you can go at your own pace, you’re under no obligation to keep up with the speedy folks at the front. A quick pit-stop at the stop to marvel at the view and it was time to head back down. Those who had opted for the gentler walk had a gorgeous morning out too.

A group hiking in the Atlas mountains, Morocco

After lunch, which was a stunning colourful buffet there was the opportunity for some R&R in the sunshine and my legs were thankful. After a couple of hours of sunbathing on my private terrace (yes, sunbathing in January – bliss!) then came the time for a boxing session. A great introduction to a new way of exercising and the snow-capped mountains for a backdrop really do help when you’re tiring. The in:spa team keep you motivated and encouraged throughout the day. They’re a really wonderful collection of people chosen not just for their expertise, but for their engaging personalities. You feel truly supported and cared for.

A restorative yoga class to finish. Yoga is never my usual choice of workout but I was thankful to dedicate an hour to stretching out those legs. Anna was an excellent teacher, recognising the needs of the group completely and adjusting accordingly. We all floated out of the class, stretched appropriately after the fitness sessions we had had today. I was really getting into the grove of my wellness retreat!

Following a blissfully deep, uninterrupted sleep it was up and out for a sunrise stroll before breakfast. A lovely way to kick start the morning and opportunity to chat to fellow guests. All of whom I found as friendly as I did fascinating.  in:spa has been running for over 19 years now and has an exceptionally loyal following of guests, some have been on over 15 retreats! Many go at least once a year and swear that having tried many other similar holidays they finally return to the best wellness retreat. It’s the choice of the team and the beautiful venues combined which really make in:spa the perfect combination for a health retreat. And it’s the return of so many lovely guests who return as they know the team well from previous retreats that really sets the very positive tone for the rest of us ‘newbie’ first time retreat attendees.

You might think a whole day at the hotel could become a little samey but with the group activities plus private sessions there was more than enough to keep me entertained. The couple of hours I had in the afternoon provided a welcome opportunity to read my book by the pool.

Perhaps the most challenging fitness class of the retreat was the kettlebell class. Although challenging, it was excellently guided by our trainer Chris, with clear instructions and individual pointers and correcting as we did the activities. Chris has a real gift of getting the most out of everyone, but with the biggest smile.

Another incredibly deliciously and wonderfully colourful lunch devoured on the terrace and time for yoga. Now I’m no yogi, but the gentle pace and excellent, calm guidance of Anna the yoga teacher I found myself struggling less (flexibility is not something I was gifted with) and letting in the calm. Of all the activities on an in:spa I’ve come back determined to pursue yoga. So far so good – although still terribly wobbly.

And finally the cooking demonstration. After eating so many delicious dishes, with pairings I wouldn’t have ever thought of, it was great to have the in:spa chef Miranda walk us through how we could recreate them. Many were reassuringly simple and I’ve already tried a few since returning. We were also guided through some other simple changes we can make to our everyday cooking to add some extra health-boosting elements. All felt simple, effective and very achievable and I hadn’t anticipated that my wellness retreat would lead me to really want to try to create new healthy dishes at home.

I expected to return from an in:spa feeling fitter and healthier, and indeed I did. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the positive effect it had on my outlook. Turns out five days away from life’s rush, around wonderful people, putting your well being first, really can leave you feeling recharged, re-energised and ready to face what the rest of the year has in store. I start scrolling through the in:spa website to see when I can head back for more.

Book it: 7 day retreats cost from £2,195 per person full board, including all activities.