Travel: Active Travel: Health Retreats

Bikini Bootcamp Tulum

On the main drag of Tulum


On the main drag of Tulum, Bikini Bootcamp takes place at Amansala and its more upscale sister hotel Chica (#UJloves). This is where you come to get away from it all (we didn’t turn our mobiles on once!), and focus on yourself. Seven days of fitness, spa treatments, healthy food, and lots of laughs.

Who Goes

Yes, we were worried about this. A quick trip past the reception last Christmas almost put us off – there were yogis everywhere. It was heaving with hippie. But not this time. Our group consisted of nine amazing women (from Russia and Iceland, NY, ATL, Wisconsin and Mexico City), and all but two came alone. Ages ranged between 30 and 50 and as the bikini in the name would suggest, this is largely a retreat for ladies, though men are welcome. Don’t be surprised if there’s an A-lister or two in your group either – the benefits of BBC are definitely not a secret.

The Hotel

If you’re going to work hard, we say you should luxe hard too. Book into the newer rooms at Chica and luxuriate in your walk-in closet and king size bed with mosquito net, private terrace with hammock and sunbeds, and serious ocean view. This is Tulum, so you’re still in an eco retreat in the jungle (we had a furry visitor in our room one night – supposedly a good luck charm), but here you have 24-hour security, electricity and hot showers. No room service though… we jest.

The Ethos

This isn’t No. 1 Bootcamp, this is Bikini Bootcamp, and that’s why we chose it. We quickly scanned the schedule for anything familiar – ah, cocktails on the terrace, and breathe. Have a margarita, skip a class, do extra training: this is all about what you need. There’s also just the right amount of zen and introspection – more feel good than fromage – which is a very hard thing to get right.


Think of this as adult camp. Days started with recommended journal writing (stop it) – we did it; it was a great reminder of how good it is to scribe. Next up a beach run followed by power flow yoga and breakfast. Mid morning (that’s what 10 AM is here!) was spent in a class like zumba or circuit training and/or an excursion like bike rides to the Mayan ruins or cenotes; you are in Mexico after all. Afternoons were largely free time, where you could book in for a massage, try one of their more healing/shaman style treatments, or just relax on the beach. Late afternoon was another class (barre, pilates, cardio) and then the day usually ended with restorative yoga. This seems like a lot, but it wasn’t, it was perfectly balanced. And by trying things you usually wouldn’t – yoga, eek! , zumba, rather NOT! – it opened your eyes to some of the benefits, or confirmed why you don’t like it. Always good to try. The open-air workout spaces were pretty special too.


Spicy eggs for breakfast with smoothies, soba noodle salad with sesame chicken for lunch, carrot ginger soup with fish tacos in lettuce tortillas for dinner. There are even desserts like wholegrain apple crisp. Healthy, hearty, flavourful and upscale. This was no canteen. Fresh, interesting juices with every meal made the absence of spirits on holiday almost go unmissed and the staff were always around to whip you up a snack. Or give you a spoonful of peanut butter.


The attendees, obviously, but the staff also made our trip. Our fearless trainer Kate motivated us daily. Not only was she eternally optimistic, but if she looks that good in a bikini, we’ll have what she’s having! Our front of house at Chica, Moncho, monitored if we were going to class or not (teasingly), which was a good thing! The ocean front location is hard to beat too; there’s definitely something to waking up to views of turquoise water and sunshine every day. And the clay. Buy the clay. It will take years off.

Top Tips

Try everything. Don’t like yoga? You might like this one. Not into journal writing; give it a go. And go alone. Definitely. This is a great place to clear your head. We’d also suggest staying a couple of extra days after. Get a suite at Ahau, have dinner at Hartwood (queue from five), drinks at Casa Jaguar, and maybe even a disco with the trendies at Papaya Playa (less cringe than we thought – the actual outdoor space is amazing) and you’ll leave a very happy camper. Make sure to get a direct flight with BA or Virgin to Cancun, too.

What to pack

Don’t pack much. There are no locks on your doors and you really don’t need it (we had seven pairs of trainers; ridiculous but typical). Do bring shorts to run in and multiples of all fitness gear as the shop here doesn’t really sell top tier athletic wear. Do pack a couple of nice things to wear. UJ was impressed with the threads the ladies donned for the night out and cocktails receptions (there were two!). Do exercise before you go, you’ll enjoy it more.

When to go

Our group had nine people in it. We hear groups at Christmas are much larger, as expected. People laughed that we went in the summer, but August heat means less people. We’ll take heat (and it wasn’t that hot!) over crowds any day. The rainy season starts now (September) though, so avoid that. Fall, spring or summer, that’s our pick.


From $1975- $3550 for a six night stay, two spa treatments and all meals, flights and gratuities

Originally published on
24th September 2014


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