‘Try as many of the activities that we offer as you can’
That’s the sort of brief that I like, particularly when it means I get to go stand up paddle boarding, play tennis, go running, try windsurfing etc. But that’s what Anna and I were asked to do on our Neilson activities trip to Baia del Mori in Sardinia.
This is the newest of the Neilson beachclub, set on the Costa Smeralda, it opened in May 2017 (they also have locations in Greece and Croatia). If you haven’t heard of Neilson before, they are an activities holiday company, providing top of the range equipment, awesome staff in great locations for skiing, sailing and beach club holidays. I used to go on similar-ish sailing holidays when I was younger so I thought I knew what to expect, but this was so much better, mostly due to the incredible staff (but also helped by Espresso Martinis and Aqua Zumba…)
Tuesday morning, my alarm rudely woke me up at 6.45am, not uncommon for my usual day but a little earlier than normal on a holiday. However, we were keen to try the Neilson run club and needed to beat the 30+ heat by getting out early. We covered just under 5K with Josie along the rugged Sardinian coastline before being tempted back to breakfast and the promise of fresh orange juice and ice-cold water.
One of my favourite activities of the week was SUP Fit on Tuesday morning, which entailed a mixture of HIIT moves and yoga poses performed on stand up paddle boards about 100m from shore. I was doing pretty well, until I wasn’t and ended up in the water, taking two other people down with me… The main thing was that it was a lot of fun, and I proved that I could do a burpee on a paddle board…
Later that afternoon we had our first experience on the boats, taking a Dart 16 Cat out for a spin. I’ve sailed on previous holidays, however I haven;’t been out for years and during that time (and thanks to being forced out onto the water in a Pico no matter the weather and capsizing a LOT) I have a bit of a fear of being in control of the boat. I let Anna and Erica take the helm while I enjoyed the speed and sunshine. Plus the crystal clear, warm water meant that getting wet wasn’t too daunting a prospect. Neilson has a range of top notch equipment and sailing/windsurfing instruction offering week long courses for beginners through to Ben Ainslie level for those interested. Sadly/luckily we arrived two days too late to join any of the courses but loved trying our hand at a number of activities on available.
Wednesday morning was another early one for a group run that saw us tackle the enormous hill outside the resort at an 8 min mile, something that neither Anna or I were prepared for. However we stuck with it as the others in our group literally ran circles around us, but encouraged us and didn’t make us feel like the slow coaches we were. Another thing I would say about the trip was how friendly the other holidaymakers were. We made friends at SUP Fit, on bike rides, on the run or just lounging by the pool.
Before we were fully recovered from the run, we saw two of the other runners on the beach about to take part in Bootcamp. Given that they were about 20 years our senior, we felt like we couldn’t let the side down and so joined in for a 30 min hardcore bootcamp session too – talk about full body workout! The range of fitness activities on the timetable is vast, with everything from HIIT and circuits, to yoga and Pilates to sailing/tennis/cycling specific fitness training sessions.
Exhausted we retreated to what became our favourite sun loungers by the pool before taking to the water again, but this time in Kayaks. A group of us kayaked from our beach to the next door public beach for coffees and ice-creams which felt like the holiday version of my morning coffee runs with Emma! Having just planked and press up’d and burped during Bootcamp, my arms were on fire during the 1KM kayak but the sweet iced coffee slushie rejuvenated me and after a little technical tuition from instructor Jonny, I found the return leg less hard work.
As a newer resort, Baia del Mori is trying to set itself as a holiday for cyclists. They boast state of the art Trek bikes for all levels (you can even upgrade to a super duper snazzy professional bike for the really keen – my friends Anna S, Nick and Phil would have LOVED it).
Our first ride of the trip was part mountain bike ride for ice-cream. The idea that we cycled about 7 miles roundtrip for gelato really sits well with the Neilson ethos of ‘Relax as hard as you like’. And the ice-cream was insane. The ride itself wasn’t tough (aside from the aforementioned steep hill leading out of the resort) and I did really enjoy being back on a bike. Especially one with so much bounce. The equipment and the instructor, Alex, were awesome – I love the idea that you can come on holiday as a total beginner and increase your confidence and ability throughout the week. Or you can arrive as a keen bean cyclist and leave having cycled 200KM every day and some epic tan lines.
To be continued…..
All photos taken by the amazing Anna Jackson