The last few years have seen a rise in the UK’s awareness of SAD – or Seasonal Affective Disorder. For a long time dismissed as simply feeling a bit low when the clocks go back and the nights get longer, now it has been recognised by the NHS as a condition that one in 15 of us suffers from. Symptoms include low energy, trouble concentrating, feelings of fatigue, increased appetite, low self-esteem, weight gain and anxiety. Bearing this in mind, a winter holiday seems even more vital than a summer one!
The question is – where to go? Many of the obvious places either include a long haul flight (the West Indies, South America, southern Africa, the Far East) or sun that is far from guaranteed. But a mere four hour flight away in the Canaries, Lanzarote offers a climate that seems almost desert like with just 20 days a year of rain and year-round sun with temperatures that rarely drop below 17C (63F) and, even in winter, are often quite a bit higher.
Down on the south coast of the island is Playa Blanca, a pretty spot with (as you’ll guess from the name) a white beach – unlike the black sand you tend to find around most of the island. This all dates back to the 1730s when a series of volcanic eruptions occurred over the course of six years, leaving the island covered in volcanic ash and lava which is here to this day. There are the very first signs of lichen growth on the mountains – and the Timanfaya National Park is well worth a visit to see an almost lunar landscape – but little has changed in almost 300 years given the low rainfall and consequent lack of erosion.
At Playa Blanca, you’ll also find the Princesa Yaiza Suite Resort Hotel where you can soak up that winter sun on plenty of loungers both on the beach and around numerous pools. (I actually lost count of them!) There are eight restaurants to choose from including Asian, Spanish and Italian and a superb fine dining restaurant, Villa de Lobos, named after the tiny nearby island you can see from the terrace.
While you’re beating SAD in the sun and building up your Vitamin D reserves, you can at the same time enhance your mood and general well-being in the hotel’s Thalasso Spa. Thalasso treatments mean quite literally sea water treatments and it is the minerals in the sea that are used here to boost the deficiencies many people have. So, magnesium deficiencies are present in more than 70% of the UK population and feature prominently in treatments that include mineral wraps and massage baths as well as hands-on massages. Magnesium deficiencies can result in insomnia, stress, headaches, muscle spasms and cramps and even palpitations. Calcium, another part of the treatments here, is important if you want to avoid osteoporosis, dental cavities and skin problems like eczema.
While you can simply arrive at the Princesa Yaiza and choose the treatments you like the look of, there is also a five-day Mineral Therapies course available with three treatments daily. My experience started with a calcium body wrap applied all over after which I was steamed (a bit like a haddock) in a large capsule with only my head outside. The steam gets pretty hot to encourage absorption for around 15 minutes. Then there’s an internal shower while you’re still inside your pod that’s even hotter. Even so it doesn’t all come off and you shower (in a real shower) before going on to the next treatment.
This features new equipment – a hydro-bath – and a new mineral, magnesium, added to the bath water for a very pleasant half-hour underwater massage. There’s a rhythm that works up your body, so the jets start at your feet and end with the shoulders. The final treatment of the day is a lovely magnesium massage – as the oil touches the skin, it all seems to tingle. So, that’s the mineral top-up, then it’s back out in to the sun for a spot more Vitamin D.
For further details or to book your escape, visit www.princesayaiza.com or call 0034 928 519 300.
For more of Anna’s travels, visit www.annaselby.co.uk