Perhaps the only thing more inviting than a spa break is a spa break with guaranteed sun thrown in – so OK! didn’t need to be asked twice to spend a week at an in:spa retreat in Spain. On arrival at Hotel Monasterio, a beautiful former monastery an hour’s drive from Malaga, we were given our schedule for the week, which included some group activities (circuit training, yoga and hikes) and some one-to-one sessions (massages, an appointment with a nutritionist and a session with a personal trainer), as well as plenty of free time. We were also assured that none of the sessions were compulsory and we could do as much or as little as we wanted – this is no boot camp!

We might have had the odd sleepless night beforehand, in case all we’d be allowed to eat was lettuce and celery, but we needn’t have worried – the week’s cooking was done without any red meat, wheat, dairy, or added sugar, but our inventive chef Michael worked miracles and made sure no one went hungry. The buffet breakfast set us up for the day ahead, while lunch was another help yourself affair, with dishes including salads, bean stew, spelt cous cous, fish cakes, chicken skewers and vegetable curry. Nutritionist Melanie was on hand to offer guidance about portion sizes, but didn’t wag a disapproving finger when anyone went up for second helpings! The two-course dinners (don’t get your hopes up – it was starter and main, not main and dessert!) always consisted of a soup or salad to start (OK! loved the white bean soup and preserved lemon soup, and the incredible gazpacho), followed by a substantial main course – the Moroccan tagine was a big hit, as was the celebratory Thai green curry on our last night. We didn’t hear a rumbling tum all week!

Personal trainers Dan and Stan put us through our paces with circuit training, dancing and boxing, and offered plenty of encouragement whenever it looked like we were struggling. We enjoyed two hikes through the Spanish countryside – the first one took three hours, and was mostly flat, while the second one, a four-hour mountain trek, was considerably more challenging; it might have left us sweaty, red-faced and breathless, but the views – and the sense of satisfaction we felt on reaching the summit – were definitely worth it. Any aches and pains were eased by massage therapists Jo and Jon, and yoga teacher Amy, who ensured we ended the day fully stretched and relaxed.

We came home six pounds lighter and with a renewed determination to hit the gym. We’ve taken on board some nutrition tips and – while we can’t promise never to return to Snickersville – the week was definitely a step in the right direction.

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