Wellness travel is one of the hottest trends in tourism today and there are countless options of destinations and packages for ‘healing holidays’  available globally.

The closer to the wrong side of 35 I get, the more anything promising weight-loss, self-confidence, psychological healing, detoxification, rejuvenation, inspiration and transformation sound particularly appealing to me.

I recently completed a 7 day fitness and wellness retreat with Bahia Mar Retreats at the Bahia Mar Boutique Hotel in Mozambique and afterwards spoke to Susana Vidal, general manager and founder of the experience about their extensive resources, continued support and the beautiful location of the Bazaruto Archipelago.

You have a very personal approach to the Bahia Mar Retreats, both to the visitor and you as a host. What touched me the most – and what really stood out – was that the retreat was genuinely designed and custom made to me, according to my needs and matching my expectations that you so carefully guided me through prior to arrival. What was your vision when you started it?

“One thing that touches me when we organise these wellness and fitness retreats, is the transformation I see in the guests. It is so rewarding and gives me such gratification to be able to offer that. I love seeing how people are affected, inspired and changed in some way. They leave happier and that journey is amazing to witness. Each journey is unique and rewarding.”

It is not possible to make a whole physical transformation in just a week, but if you look at me, what are the things that you noticed and were most thankful for?

“Definitely the happiness with yourself, the self consciousness disappearing, the inner awareness growing, the consciousness that was created in your body and how that helped you face the defined issues you clearly laid out as obstacles, both mentally and physically …”


“Physically I saw that you got stronger. Off course it is not possible to have a total physical transformation in one week, but to bring that awareness to you, to the guest, is like a kind of kick-start, for when you go home. You want to carry on, and you experienced that, you didn’t want to stop, because as soon as you get into that loop, you just don’t want to continue the journey to mindfulness and happiness.”

Sure, but it is hard when you leave and you just don’t have that kind of support, and you are not right in the middle of the program, how do you support guests when they leave? 

“Well, I give the program to them, so they leave with a personalised program, but they can also find a personal trainer back home, because for personal training you need to have a person with you. This is more like a kick start and hoping that the guest will continue on the journey, but unfortunately it is not only up to us. The guest needs the will-power. It is not a 100% feasible that I will carry their journeys for them.”

What made this retreat so amazing for me was that it was a combination of fitness and spa. Do you design the spa program according to the muscles that were worked that day? Some days it felt to me like I deserved the massage more, as if I was pampering and caring for a part of my body that was tired specifically. 

“The spa part of the retreat is designed for the special issues of the guest that we want to hit. When you arrive we want to detox your body and in the middle of the week we want to hydrate your body as much as we can. At the end of the week the aim is to pamper you and make you feel beautiful and great about yourself – like with the anti ageing facials and body wraps. Those three types of treatments hit the entire body.

It is always a bespoke program. A guest says, ‘listen, yesterday I really worked out my back’, so we can design the relevant spa treatment for that day specifically around a guest’s needs. Any specific day of the spa treatment, the therapist, Anna, asks the guest if there are specific parts of the body that they want me to focus on. Some guests ask for relaxation and not more re-energising treatments, and then we do exactly that for them. Nothing is more important to me than a very personal relationship with each of my guests.

Let’s just quickly go through the days. So the first day that you arrive you have an assessment with you’re welcoming. You are very hands-on in the process, you check the guest in personally, unlike normal hotel guests only arriving for a holiday or a honeymoon … 

“So basically there are two big things that we analyse with those questionnaires the guests fill out online before arrival. The first is your lifestyle, just to understand what kind of person you are, what are your daily routines: What kind of food you eat; how you move, what is your stress levels … and then the second thing is pretty much orientated to the physical fitness level. Do you have any diseases, do you have any issues, muscle problems, injuries. So with those two analyses we can understand what kind of client we have and what their personal goals are (and should be). For instance, if you really want to loose weight, we attack the diet side of things more and we also adapt the fitness and spa program accordingly. But if you are somebody like you were, that just wanted to address your general fitness level, approach to healthier living and overall mental and physical wellness, then we target that specifically. As I said before: Nothing is more important to me than a very personal relationship with each of my guests.

On the other hand, some people are definitely here for pleasure in this beautiful place. Maybe they already have a strict exercise routine at home, or maybe they have none, it doesn’t matter, in this case we don’t restrict their diets at all. If they want to eat some of our daily desserts or baked goods, we don’t stand in their way. We then definitely are not so rigid and don’t give the impression of a guest being on a ‘boot camp’.

It really depends what each specific individual wants to get out of the program.”

I think that is definitely the most important thing here, you need to know exactly what you want to get out of this week, and you need to make your goals realistic. 

“We try to achieve the goals that the guest wants to achieve, but for that, we go through the online questionnaire again and try to get to know them better face to face. This happens when they arrive, enjoy their welcome drinks and the team takes their luggage to the room. We find that we are constantly tailoring the individual programs accruing to what we are seeing.

We structure two sessions of exercise routines per day. One, first thing in the morning – preferably before breakfast – and the other at the end of the day – preferably before dinner. The first is more personalised, one on one with one of our trainers – including warm up, cardio and weight training, and the other is more general, allowing the guest to also enjoy the various group classes, such as yoga and aerobics classes, we have on offer at the hotel’s gymnasium and wellness centre on a daily basis.

Guests who prefer not to join in on group classes can also have the second class in complete privacy. We tailor make everything to suit the guest’s needs. After the second day we bring a lot more stretch work into the program – really focussing on lengthening the muscles of their body. As for spa treatments, you have a full day of spa treatments every second day and then free days in-between those, where you have the option to explore the oceans of the Archipelago underwater or by boat. You can go fishing, horse riding, scuba diving, kite surfing or simply enjoying your book next to our infinity pool.

We really encourage guests to also explore the beauty of this place. There is really so much to do here between all five of the surrounding island across from us.

So you do everything when you visit here, and this is important to us. We want guests to feel like they really experienced the culture, nature and heritage of this place. We encourage working your body and your soul, benefiting both form the program, but also the unforgettable travel experience to be had here in Bazaruto. You touch paradise, basically, isn’t it?

People go on retreats for many reasons. I went because I don’t feel comfortable in my own body always, really need to detox, suffer from depression,  and simply just want to get fitter. I can honestly say that this program was like a ‘kickstart’ as Susana calls it. It bought awareness about a lot of things, and for me, an experience like this actually altered my lookout on my lifestyle completely and propelled me into a whole new direction of overall wellness and inherent self love.

I’ll be sharing more of my experiences of the retreat and my journey to wellness on Rooi Rose and Media24 soon.

Here’s to peace and self-love!


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Adventure Love

We love to travel and everything that goes with it. From wine to a health retreat and all the marvelous things this world has to offer in between.

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