Savour a delightful slice of a South-East Asian sanctuary from the hillsides of Southern Spain, you can realign your chakras only 20 minutes north of Marbella.
Peaceful, remote and very boutiquey, Shanti-Som is the perfect spot for completely unwinding. Nestled amongst the pine forests of Sierra de la Nieves Natural Park, a world away from nearby Marbella, Shanti-Som offers a variety of retreat options including yoga, pilates, detox and fitness programmes.
Shanti-Som is the fruition of a long-held personal ambition of its founder, Kezia Jacobsen, who has more than 25 years’ experience in health, beauty and holistic therapies. After her son was involved in a serious accident, she decided on a path of creating a haven of peace, harmony and balance. Consequently, her heart and soul has gone into making this a special place.
Shanti-Som is a majestic, Balinese-inspired resort with holistic wellbeing at its core. If I had to sum up Shanti-Som in one word, it would be ‘tranquil’. It almost felt like a silent retreat. The staff go out of their way to make you feel at home and guests are invited to relax anywhere and everywhere! Curling up in front of the lobby’s open-fire, chilling out on sun terraces, meandering through the gardens or lounging by the pool, the communal areas still feel quite private – more home than hotel.
With only 14 rooms, Shanti-Som has an intimate atmosphere, enhanced further by the friendliness of the staff. The rooms are located outside, arranged around a large patio area with a covered walkway. All the rooms have ensuite bathrooms and they offer compact but comfortable sleeping with natural light, opening out onto a terrace or balcony. Digital detox is encouraged but not enforced: wi-fi doesn’t extend to the rooms, and my advise? Make the most of that! No instagram, no phones, no laptops. Perhaps a book or two! But each room does have a TV with a few basic channels.
For a more spacious, regal option there are a couple of larger suites with four-poster beds, more storage and bigger bathrooms.
The retreats continuously roll throughout the year so you’re not tied to specific dates. I did the yoga package, which included two classes per day. The yoga was calming, very gentle and restorative. The style didn’t suit my personal preference for a more challenging and stronger flow and if you are looking for an immersive yoga experience, this isn’t it. It’s more like turning up for drop-in classes twice a day. That said, the yoga teachers were enthusiastic and experienced so it really just comes down to personal taste. Weather-permitting, there is a beautiful outdoor shala with views of landscaped gardens and hills, which is an inspiring spot to develop your asana practice. For cooler days, they have a peaceful studio, which also has garden-views.
If relaxation is your main objective then head to the on-site spa. I had a head, neck and back massage, which was excellent but they also offer an extensive treatment list of alternative therapies inspired by Eastern influences so it’s worth really exploring what is available. Outside of paid treatments, guests can also use the spa’s sauna and steam room.
For a more active break, there is a small (unheated) outdoor pool, a sparsely but adequately equipped fitness room and of-course the surrounding hills provide great hiking routes. Personal training and 1-2-1 pilates instruction are also available if booked ahead.
There is no need to sign up to a retreat package, you can relax at your own pace and just enjoy the boutique hotel vibe on a B&B basis. All yoga classes are available for drop-in at an additional cost.
Whilst you can opt for a detox package, it would be such a waste – the food is exceptional! It’s healthy, nutritious and tastes superb. The breakfast buffet has lots of options whilst lunch and dinner are more limited with only a choice from two starters, two main courses and just a single dessert. However, each day was different, all dietary restrictions are catered for and the portions are generous. Juices are available at an extra charge but two drinks, including beer or wine, is included at mealtimes.
Shanti-Som struck me as the kind of place to choose for recovery, it was like being wrapped in a 360° wellness blanket. It’s a luxurious retreat with a price tag to match but it does offer choice and flexibility – you can really make it into whatever you wish. It’s a great option for a mini-escape and would suit any type of traveller. I went on my own but it is the perfect spot to go with anyone who would appreciate the gentle but indulgent approach to wellbeing. And if you are heading to that part of the world but don’t have the time or budget to stay over, you can always stop by for lunch and a spa day treat.
With thanks to www.theyogalust.com