Healthy Options holidays have been offering ‘Yoga and much more’ holidays in the Greek islands for over a decade. The company started out in rather a different way from most Yoga retreats and centres and we thought you might like to know the story behind our unique holidays.
It all started 15 years ago on a plane journey where founder of Healthy Options, Varvara, sat next to her husband to be, Simon Morgan. She was heading out to Greece to surprise her English mum for her birthday, while Simon was going to learn Greek in Athens at an intensive school. To cut a long story short, they fell in love, and married in 2004 in a traditional Greek church wedding.
And having got married they had to find a way of spending time together. While Simon’s sailing holiday company ‘Wildwind’ had been running on the Greek island of Lefkas since 1987, Varvara had a wide range of experience in health and beauty treatments both in London and Athens, and had been practising yoga for years, but sailing...?
It didn’t take long for them to come up with a novel idea – of creating a holiday that was based around Yoga, Pilates and fitness but that was also a real ‘holiday’, rather than a retreat.
In addition to the weekly range of Yoga, Pilates and fitness classes, Healthy Options clients also get the unique opportunity to try sailing under the watchful eyes of qualified sailing instructors. The weekly Healthy Options programme also includes a number of other imaginative ways to explore the beauty of the area. Clients are offered the opportunity to try: Stand Up Paddle-boarding, guided bike rides into the local orange and olive groves, walks to exquisite beaches for a spot of early morning meditation and a boat trip around the local islands which includes a spot of swimming and snorkelling along the way.
To really get a feel of Greek customs and traditions there is even a ‘Herbal Walk’ where local phytotherapist and raconteur, Aris, will explain all about the local herbs and plants and their uses in cooking and traditional medicine.
All the above activities, and more, take place in the beautiful fishing village of Vassiliki, the original Healthy Options location. However, the holiday proved so popular that Varvara and Simon opened up a second centre three years ago, in another beautiful fishing village, this time on an unspoiled area of the mainland and with views over to the nearby islands of Corfu and Paxos. There is still the same high standard and variety of classes, as well as boat trips and Stand up Paddle-boarding, but the sailing has been replaced by an amazing day out deep into the Greek countryside to Acheron river, where guests actually walk through the river to a beautiful gorge, before returning downstream paddling a river raft.
Healthy Options attracts all sorts of clients from groups to solo travellers, with ages from 18 to 80. Classes cater for beginner and intermediate levels, (1 to 1 advanced classes are available too.) While generally the clientele is mainly women, there is a relaxed social feel as events such as the weekly beach BBQ and cocktail nights with live music provide a great opportunity to mix (and dance) with fellow guests and with the sailors on a slightly different holiday.
Healthy Option’s ethic can be summed up by Varvara
“We wanted to give our guests the experience of being really looked after in our professional classes but also give them a chance to really have a holiday and maybe try out something new. There’s so much on offer but equally there’s no pressure to join in anything if you don’t want to – if you’d prefer to simply relax by the pool reading a book and sipping on a cocktail that’s entirely up to you. We are a small company and personal touch is very important to us, you’ll find our staff not only extremely experienced, but immensely approachable, caring and friendly ”