Palasiet, 3, Plana Alta, Valencia Community, Spain
"In our quest to find something between a boot camp (5am mountain runs don’t appeal) and a spiritual retreat (neither does chanting ‘om’ all day), we decided upon Thalasso Hotel El Palasiet in Benicassim. It seemed to offer the perfect mix of a structured exercise timetable, dietician-supervised meals and seafront Spa relaxation. On that front, we were not disappointed. As there were so few, let me get the niggly negatives out the way first. Having been asked to complete a medical questionnaire pre-stay, I wasn’t so happy to receive a generic ‘welcome to your weight loss retreat’ letter upon arrival. At no point had I mentioned I wanted to lose weight. As time went by it became clear weight loss was what most people were there for – so I guess that letter was accurate on most occasions. Our nutritionist appointment wasn’t until the next day and the medical appointment was almost forgotten until we re-read our joining instructions and requested one two days later. These appointments should ideally be done on arrival so you can start the nutrition on the right track and get the best ‘before’ and ‘after’ interpretation. I could also gripe that the fitness sessions (gym, aqua gym) were far too light but, again, they did suit the majority. Here’s where it’s reasonable to point out that the average El Palasiet guest is to the senior end of the age spectrum. The Spa is also open to external clients and they too are retiree-plus. It’s wonderful to see their commitment to improving their health and wellbeing but, if you’re lucky enough to be more youthful, expect to have to put in your own gym time and fitness programme to supplement the timetabled sessions – if you want the best results. Finally, the ‘silent’ gym was awkward to say the least. I have never been in a gym where you feel self-conscious if you let out a grunt of exertion or jump too loud on the laminate wood floor (which undoubtedly should be rubberised or some such). The positives were plentiful. The staff were by and large utterly charming (especially reception, Spa, nutritionist, doctor) and while some have been disappointed at their lack of English, we both are fortunate enough to speak relatively good Spanish, so no problem. The room, albeit a standard, was huge, spotlessly clean, well-equipped, bright, quiet, and with a comfortable two-metre bed – heaven. The food was beautifully prepared and presented – fresh and healthy. The location is unparalleled, overlooking the sea, and on the doorstep of the Via Verde, an easy-to-follow coastal 5.7km walking/cycling route from Benicassim to Oropesa full of gorgeous views and pretty watchtowers – take a bicycle from reception and off you go. Finally, the building is classical, tasteful and elegant, and the Spa and grounds immaculately maintained – with an almost sub-tropical feel. We both stuck rigidly to the programmed menus and activities and lost weight/centimetres and toned up – impressive for just four nig"
"Loved this hotel! Beautifully maintained old building on a well treed property. Clean bright and very spacious room. King bed, good pillows (I’m a pillow stickler!), big clean bathroom and elevated sitting area with chairs overlooking beautiful rooftop greenery. Excellent breakfast in gorgeous bright restaurant with incredible garden views. Breakfast had cereals, bread, toast, yogurt, outstanding cheeses, plus wonderful Spanish tomatoes in oil, fish in oil, eggs to order with friendly service. During our stay a fabulous wedding reception was being geld in the ball room with the who’s who of Benicassim dressed to the nines, gorgeous! Highlight: the wonderful thermal and jet baths, steam room, hammam. You must wear a bathing cap there, they will sell you one if you don’t have one. "
"Had the good fortune to be given a gift voucher for the above and spent a blissful few hours at Palasiet yesterday. A playful hour in the pool. Enjoyed trying the various water jets. Then a delightful cocktail served on a tranquil and beautiful outdoor terrace. Our meal superb. All the staff courteous and efficient. If you’re looking for an unusual and delightful gift try a voucher for Palasiet."