I woke up in paradise, to the soft buzz of my phone alarm. Alarms and Antigua wouldn’t normally go together but this time, my second time on the island, I was there for a yoga retreat, courtesy of Fat Buddha Yoga and Elite Island Resorts.
And every day, at 7am, the first 90-minute session began.
And so I peeled myself from my bed, thankful for the slight jet lag and early night that made this time achievable.
My room was one of the biggest I’ve ever stayed in – right on the beach at Galley Bay Resort. I had a huge king size bed, which definitely felt bigger than that with just me in it. It was positioned a step higher than the rest of the room, as if I were sleeping up on some sort of ceremonial bed.
– Picture from Elite Island Resorts website
The rest of the room featured a lounge area with two sofas, a mini kitchen with a fridge stocked full – including a bottle of complimentary Prosecco. I fought the urge to pop it open for a taste.
I *was* on a health retreat after all.
The absolute best part of the room, was the double sliding door leading out onto the balcony, leading out onto the beach.
Just look at my view…
I slept with just the fly screen shut every night so I could go to sleep to and wake up to, the waves lapping the shore.
The Fat Buddha yoga style
Our early 7am sunrise start was absolutely the best time for the yoga. Antigua was hawt, any later would not have been a good idea. Most days we did it in the breakfast pavilion, safe from the heat under the beams but still, on the beach and looking out to the sea.
The group of us – a few Fat Buddha clients, some fitness journalists, TV presenters, and me – had come to Antigua for Jessica Skye’s first Caribbean Fat Buddha Yoga retreat.
Jessica runs yoga classes all over London on brewery rooftops, in gardens and atop of factories. She’s also a DJ and so uses her mixes in her classes.
She’s put on retreats in France and Fuerteventura, but this was the first of (hopefully) many with Elite Island Resorts at the beautiful Galley Bay Resort in Antigua.
Most of the yoga was what my local yoga studio would call ‘flow’. Moving between the poses with strength and relative speed. We had two yoga classes a day, morning and evening.
On one morning we hiked up a hill before the yoga class, which we then did on top of the mountain looking out over the amazing views.
And just to spice the week up a bit we also spent one morning at the Galley Bay Manager’s luxury villa, doing the yoga class around his pool.
And then we had a huge breakfast to take in the view.
Our sunset yoga class was done in the tree house on the beach. We were surrounded by bamboo looking out to the sea – doing the warrior pose was pretty special.
Video of the Fat Buddha Yoga Retreat
READ MORE: I would love to do a yoga retreat somewhere else, how about you? Check out Amelie’s list of the best international yoga retreats for next year on her blog. I’m totally sold on the one in the Algarve!
Extra touches for the retreat
One of the best days was taking the catamaran out. Our group of 14 went out for a few hours – with the inflatables, swimming in the water and enjoying the local rum on board. After the 10 yoga classes I ended up doing that week, I deserved it.
They played the music loud and we took off over the seas with it blasting out. It was a lot of fun.
One of the other special touches for the Fat Buddha Yoga Retreat was the hour-long massage included. You could choose whether to have it indoors or out, obviously out for me, and I enjoyed a Swedish style pummelling in this bamboo treehouse with the sounds of nature filling my ears.
Yep, fell asleep, as is standard for me.
I don’t want to spoil all the little surprises if you’re going, as they’re part of what makes the week so fun. All I’ll say is that teh goody bag is super special, and the timing and presentation of the coconuts could not be better.
Food on the retreat
There were SO many options for food. With a bunch of health journalists you can imagine there was all kinds of nutritional requirements around the table. I felt sorry for the kitchen.
The Galley Bay chefs coped with it all brilliantly though and there was always plenty of healthy food on the table, to everyone’s needs.
We’d order breakfast before the class at Ismay’s and then it’d be more or less ready for the end. Honestly, anything you could possibly imagine was available. I stuck with some sort of variety of eggs, bacon and hot sauce for most of the week.
That smoked salmon though…
Lunch on the retreat
We were free to roam the all inclusive resort for lunch. I actually ended up skipping a few as I was so full from breakfast.
I did go to the stunning Gaugin Restaurant for lunch with two of the other ladies one day. It’s located on the beach, under permanent bamboo umbrellas and we had fish and chips while admiring the exclusive feel to the surroundings.
Other lunches I spent at the Barefoot Grill bar, where you could order fries and a whole selection of meaty and veggie bbq sandwiches and wraps on the beach.
Every night was a different treat for dinner on the Fat Buddha Yoga Retreat. We tried all four restaurants on site and one night even had dinner on the beach, with a screen up for a beach lounger cinema sesh.
READ MORE: The Best Restaurants in Antigua
Galley Bay Resort
Galley Bay Resort and Spa is an all-inclusive hotel and I stayed in a Premium Beachfront suite. Click the pic below to take a look at my Galley Bay Resort review on IGTV. The only video I’ve ever made for IGTV so you know I was impressed!
The resort is located in St John’s in Antigua, right on the beach. It is lush, as is the Elite Island Resorts way. Four restaurants, tennis courts, bars and lounges, a coffee shop, WiFi, the fully equipped spa, water sports (loved going out on the jet ski), a fitness centre, a swimming pool, and a rum bar, all for your entertainment.
No complaints from me!
How to get to Antigua
We flew with British Airways who fly every week from London Gatwick, direct. It takes 8 hours and we flew premium with that sweet extra leg room. My flights to and from Antigua were among the most relaxing and chilled of my life. By the time I’d eaten and watched a film or two I barely noticed.
Love flying with BA.
4 months later…
I enjoyed the week, of course I did. The biggest thing I got out of it was the encouragement and confidence that I could do yoga every day, twice. And, that I could see a definite improvement in my fitness and flexibility in just a week.
Since coming back I’ve done an introductory month at my local yoga studio and I’ve just signed up to an unlimited package to go as much as I like in a month.
I knew I liked yoga but doing it so intensively has started something in me. I don’t live in London so cant go to Jessica’s classes, but I will carry on what I’ve learned here at home in Southsea.
If you want a boost to your yoga practice, or you want a holiday in the Caribbean but to do more than just sit on the beach sipping cocktails – totally still did that btw – then the Fat Buddha Yoga Retreat is a great idea.
How to book on the next retreat
For more information check out the Elite Island Resorts website.
In June I was invited away on a week of all inclusive yoga and healthy living on the Caribbean island of Antigua, courtesy of Elite Island Resorts and Fat Buddha Yoga. I went along in return for a review on my blog. All thoughts my own.
Wednesday 17th of October 2018
What an incredible setting for a yoga retreat - I remember that beach so fondly and would def felt less guilty about all the indulging if 2 classes a day were part of the programme. Glad you experienced the outside spa treatment too - nothing beats a massage to the sound of the waves.
Thursday 18th of October 2018
Oh that massage was amazing. I never wanted it to end!
Galley Bay was great. Chatted to a few honeymooners while I was there – definitely a lux accommodation for a special holiday. And that room with its balcony was just perfect.