Me, do a triathlon on hol­i­day? Oh go on, then...

Our bril­liant writer demon­strates the con­cept be­hind her new col­umn ‘Bry­ony Gor­don is un­well’ with some ac­tive in­ac­tiv­ity in Sar­dinia

The Daily Telegraph - Travel - - FRONT PAGE -

At what point did I be­come the kind of per­son who goes on hol­i­day to do a triathlon? It t must have hap­pened ened within the past three years: be­tween ween des­per­ately ship­ping my­self f off to a boot camp just be­fore my first rst marathon and com­ing to the e as­ton­ish­ing re­al­i­sa­tion that not ev­ery­one who does these things ings is com­pletely hate­ful and that, in fact, some of them are re­ally y rather nice; and giv­ing up booze 15 months ago, my sober state forc­ing me to rede­fine my re­la­tion­ship hip with hol­i­days.

Be­fore, the only cri­te­ria for r go­ing away was a) will I get a nice all-over tan and b) is there a good babysit­ting ser­vice so that the he hus­band and I can prop our­selves elves up at the bar after din­ner ev­ery ery night? If a friend told me about out a great place that had a bril­liant nt ar­ray of water­sports and daily group ex­er­cise classes, my eyes would be­gin to glaze over. I have never re­ally un­der­stood peo­ple who go on hol­i­day to be ac­tive, and not for the buf­fet. I did once go stand-up pad­dle­board­ing while in Lan­zarote, but I ended up fall­ing on some rocks and gash­ing open my right thigh. I thought it was prob­a­bly the uni­verse’s way of telling me to lie down on a sun­lounger with a good book, so that’s ex­actly what I did.

I was scarred, per­haps, by the “ac­tiv­ity” hol­i­days I had been sent on as a child: freez­ing in a damp tent in Stafford­shire, be­ing made to ab­seil down a rock as if this might some­how con­sti­tute fun; be­ing taken ski­ing by my best friend’s fam­ily, who seemed in­tent on con­vinc­ing me that hurl­ing your­self down an icy moun­tain while strapped to two planks was a con­struc­tive use of down­time. But as I have got older, and per­haps even a tiny bit wiser, my idea of down­time has changed; I have dis­cov­ered a sense of joy in push­ing my­self out of my com­fort zone, and the re­wards that come from that. Sun is still ap­peal­ing, but a tan, less so; I am in­creas­ingly ner­vous about skin health and can­cer and mor­tal­ity. I have also re­alised that my in­abil­ity to switch off means that I tend to come back from hol­i­day feel­ing as if I need an­other hol­i­day.

I was vaguely aware that the well­ness in­dus­try was be­com­ing a big thing, not just in clean eat­ing cook­books and foul-tast­ing ke­fir and barmy ex­er­cise fads, but in the travel sec­tor, too. Each week, my in-box seemed to be filled with more and more emails from PRs try­ing to hawk “ex­pe­ri­ences” (not hol­i­days) that promised to re­vi­talise your body and nour­ish your mind and soul: goat yoga teamed with ve­gan cui­sine and “cleans­ing” colonics. I wasn’t sure that hav­ing a tube of wa­ter stuck up my bum sounded like my kind of week­end away. Fur­ther­more, these “ex­pe­ri­ences” seemed to be aimed at peo­ple who were al­ready very, very healthy, or else at peo­ple who wanted to com­pletely trans­form their lives in a week. But I just wanted to travel, have fun, and feel good. Was it too much to ask that there might be re­al­ness in well­ness?

Like most peo­ple, I am a seething mass of con­tra­dic­tions. I do not drink al­co­hol, but do still like the odd fag. I like to eat healthily, but love a take­away burger once a week. I love ex­er­cis­ing and run­ning, but I also re­ally love sit­ting on the sofa watch­ing Net­flix. And I won­dered if there was some sort of happy medium for peo­ple like me. You know, nor­mal peo­ple. Peo­ple who wanted to be well while also some­times en­joy­ing be­ing a bit un­well. For it is one thing read­ing a re­view of a fab­u­lous med­i­cal spa that

I love ex­er­cis­ing and run­ning, but I also re­ally love sit­ting on the sofa watch­ing Net­flix

of­fers state-of-the-art treat­ments that will ap­par­ently ban­ish cel­lulite, but quite an­other when you re­alise that the re­viewer has never ac­tu­ally had any cel­lulite, and fur­ther­more that they ac­tively en­joy wak­ing at 5am ev­ery morn­ing to gulp back a green juice and do an hour of yoga be­fore the kids wake up and start beg­ging for quinoa por­ridge.

And so we came up with this col­umn. An un­well­ness col­umn, if you like. A col­umn that aims to de­liver re­al­ness: “ex­pe­ri­ences” that nour­ish your soul but also your stom­ach’s de­sire for a buf­fet; trips where you can work out your body but not feel judged when you de­cide to lie it down on the beach with the lat­est must-read pot­boiler. Which brings me to go­ing on hol­i­day to do a triathlon. I had dis­cov­ered a fam­ily re­sort in Sar­dinia with a stel­lar rep­u­ta­tion, which hap­pened to put on a swim­ming, cy­cling and run­ning race at the same time as Oc­to­ber half term, and it seemed to tick all the boxes for a hol­i­day that both took me out of my com­fort zone and then trans­ported me safely back into it. Forte Vil­lage is sit­u­ated in the south of the is­land, 55 acres on a stretch of beach that is only a half-hour drive from Cagliari air­port. There’s a Tha­lasso spa, a wa­ter park, 21 restau­rants, ap­prox­i­mately one tril­lion ten­nis courts and, cru­cially, the kind of kids’ club that your chil­dren refuse to leave at the end of the day.

The triathlon, now in its sixth year, fits the re­sort’s ethos of healthy hol­i­day­ing; Forte Vil­lage is a hot­bed of

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