12 January 2016
Tatyana Leonov learns to breathe deeply and nourish mind and body in a serene oasis of wellbeing on the Turkish coast.
Some of the finest destinations are hidden in secret places that only savvy travellers know about. These havens may be hard to get to, but that’s a big part of the attraction.
D-Hotel Maris, in the Turkish oasis of Marmaris, a pocket of serenity on the Datça Peninsula lying at the intersection of the Mediterranean and Aegean seas, is one of those sorts of places. For Australians the voyage involves a flight to Istanbul, a domestic flight to Bodrum, and finally a helicopter flight or luxury car transfer to the resort. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m exhausted after all the travel when I arrive, but the location seems even more mesmerising than the photos I’ve drooled over in preparation.
A wellbeing holiday (not a health retreat, that’s too dedicated for me) is my kind of getaway. I enjoy focusing on my body and mind but I struggle with strict regimes where I’m told to cut out foods I enjoy and pushed to work out so hard that sweat beads become a permanent fixture on my forehead.
Enter Bodyism – a holistic approach to wellness founded by celebrity trainer (and super nice guy) James Duigan. “Our sole purpose is to change people’s lives,” he tells me over an almond milk coffee (which he drinks with pure coconut butter). “A long time ago we identified that any change that happens in the body has to happen in the mind first. Although physical health is part of this, so is emotional, mental and spiritual health.”
Bodyism is a program that specialises in creating lean bodies and overall health through customized exercise programs and a range of supplements and health drinks with ongoing program support to its worldwide members. It’s provided at outlets in London, Maldives, Capri and Turkey.
When he puts it like this I decide I’m ready for change. I’ve come to D-Hotel Maris wanting to soak up the surrounds while learning about how to improve my health. Now that I’m here I want to change my life – the backdrop sure helps – which is why Bodyism is offered here.
James explains that although there are a number of city flagships that offer Bodyism year-round, when it comes to satellite locations it’s very much about choosing the right fit. “The collaboration with D-Hotel Maris was a no-brainer,” he explains. “Just look at this place!”
At the resort, there is no need to leave the choices are hardly onerous. Which of the five idyllic white-sand beaches (yes, the hotel has five private beaches and the white powdery sand has been imported from Egypt) should I lie on? Italian or Japanese for dinner (the hotel houses six restaurants including the award-winning Zuma)? Cycling or waterskiing in the afternoon? Or should I just relax in my room?
I’m not usually a stay-in-my-room kind of person but my suite commands spectacular vistas of the bay below and I find I thoroughly enjoy spending my afternoons lounging on my private balcony just taking in the views.
Those opting for a complete Bodyism holiday wear a special wristband so that when dining they’re presented with a Clean and Lean menu incorporating natural and unprocessed proteins, fats and vegetables. But James is also flexible and realistic, which works with his nourish-the-mind ethos. I relish my desserts and he tells me to own it. No troubles there at all.
In my suite the mini bar contains only water and the replenished snacks are nutritious (nuts, seeds and fruits). I find that although I’m eating fewer carbs (and more good fats and protein as well as drinking Bodyism shakes) I’m not hungry enough to need to snack.
I start my days with morning outdoor yoga taught by Bodyism yoga expert Shona Vertue. All Bodyism classes at D-Hotel Maris are customised and can be held in settings such as this one so as to take full advantage of the locale. We breathe deeply and strengthen our bodies and minds as the rising sun’s rays salsa over the cove below signaling the start of a new day.
Depending on daily agendas I work out with James or Jamie Wendt, Bodyism’s director, sometime during the day (the indoor gym is fit out with all the latest equipment and an outdoor gym was added at James’ request in 2014) and I use the rest of the day to explore the hotel and its many offerings.
One afternoon a few of us head out to sightsee the nearby villages and atolls on one of the hotel yachts. We cruise around lolling on the luxurious vessel while snacking on Clean and Lean desserts and drinking chilled lemon water. It’s a far cry from cheese and wine, but tastes as good (if not better) – and my body and mind thank me for it.
I also take a mountainous cycle which rewards me with views beyond the hotel vicinity; and indulge in a therapeutic ESPA treatment that leaves me feeling more rejuvenated than I thought possible.
At the end of a week I want more, but who doesn’t when it comes to a perfect holiday? Just like I’ve learnt to say no to some things, I’ve also learnt to say yes to many more. One phrase that James proclaims often is “be kind to yourself” and I appreciate that being kind to myself means applying Bodyism to my lifestyle at home. I also believe that being kind to myself means returning to D-Hotel Maris, perhaps with my husband in tow.