Cyprus Mail
Life & Style

Sailing with twice the benefits

By Alix Norman

Climbed the Eiffel Tower? Yes. Swum in the Caribbean? Done that. Hiked the Himalayas? Well, who hasn’t? Even my Grandmother’s seen Uluru more than once, has travelled New Zealand in a camper van and flown down the Loire Valley in a hot air balloon. The point being that, these days, there are very few non-mainstream vacation spots left in the world. Nowadays we seem to require a bit more of our holidays than a week in Waikiki or a Jamaican jaunt, and the discerning traveller is demanding that their time off really goes the distance. Which is why, when it comes to holidaying, Sailing Therapy could easily be the next big thing.

Sailing Therapy is a unique way of holidaying, emphasising both physical and mental welfare. If you’ve ever been out on a boat of any sort, you’ll know what a great feeling you get from the freedom of the seas, the wind in your hair and the watery world before you. Combine that physical rush with the chance to experience any number of psychologically beneficial activities and you’ve got a holiday that caters to every part of your wellbeing.

It’s a scheme that aims to integrate psychotherapy, counselling, self-awareness, yoga, Pilates, dance-therapy and healthy nutrition into a really great holiday, all while sailing the high seas. And while the sailing itself gives voyagers an opportunity to really experience the thrill of being afloat, the various therapies are a means to reconnect with one’s deeper self and rediscover true relaxation.

An innovation created by three friends and colleagues, Marianna Kyriakidis (who specialises in shipping), George Liassides (a tourism and travel agent) and Katerina Terzopoulou (an expert in mental health), sailing therapy is the marriage of their respective spheres. And while the idea originated in Greece, it’s now been brought to Cyprus by a local travel agency, Travel Pass.

“Sailing therapy started in the summer of 2013,” says Marcella Loucaidou, Managing Director of TravelPass. “The three founders are all sailors themselves, and at some stage they realised that seafaring could be a lot more than just travelling round in a boat. They thought about the amazing feeling you get just from being out at sea – that sense of freedom, the sun, the waves – and how they could further increase those benefits by adding wellness therapies to the voyage.

“All three know the Greek seas extremely well,” Marcella continues, “and part of the idea was the ability to offer Greek hospitality and the beauty of their country to travellers. With each trip stopping off at a number of destinations, you get to discover the secrets of each place, the hidden beauty, the experiences and the knowledge that enable travellers to get closer to Greece and its wonderful lifestyle.”

Marcella speaks from personal experience: one of the first travellers to try sailing therapy, she’s a true believer in the power of the activity. “My involvement started as I had personally known one of the founders for many years,” she explains. “And I was invited to go on the launch trip from Athens to Hydra in February.” A three-day voyage with eight passengers – only one of whom was previously known to Marcella – it was a real adventure, she declares.

“Upon leaving the marina we were given instructions by the skipper and soon felt that we had become a crew,” she says. “From the first, we were all made to feel very comfortable on the boat, aware of the safety measures and how to act when on board. We had an amazing time, despite the fact that it was early spring and the weather was freezing; we all spent a lot of time on deck getting to know each other, drinking wine and singing! And of course, the communication therapy we did as a group really helped us to bond,” she adds, showing me photos of the group practising various exercises.

With a short tour of Hydra – including a treasure hunt – thrown in, Marcella says she felt “extremely fulfilled. Doing the treasure hunt was like going back to my childhood, and I became very close to the people I was travelling with. When you’re on a boat, and it’s only the sea and the wind and you, by default you cooperate, you become friends,” she smiles.
But it’s not just the nautical aspect that makes Sailing Therapy such a great holiday – it’s the therapies that ensure this a trip with a difference. From yoga to team building, communication to counselling, the team behind Sailing Therapy have put together a week-long experience which is all about recharging and reenergising both the body and the mind.

Yoga, for instance, encourages relaxation not only during the daily courses but also throughout the whole trip, while Pilates offers increased physical prowess in conjunction with stress release. There’s even a special diet programme available, D-Feed, a pioneering method of weight loss and maintenance which emphasises Mediterranean nutritional patterns and psychological fulfilment.

And, on top of all this, there’s always the chance to appreciate nature while anchored at the various ports, with a selection of hiking, snorkelling, canoeing and swimming activities all on offer. “All the therapies are an enhancement of what sailing actually does for you,” says Marcella. “In effect, you’re doubling the benefits, while getting the holiday of a lifetime surrounded by some of the loveliest sights in the world. And, when you’re out there on the open seas, you’re more receptive to new ideas, a different and improved way of life.”

It all sounds ideal, and Sailing Therapy is bound to catch on as the next great holiday idea. And with fully customisable experiences for any age or ability, I’m pretty sure it won’t be long before even my grandmother’s booking her place for a spot of Aegean adventure. What’s not to like about the full mind, body and spirit advantages on the high seas? Sounds like an ideal summer vacation to me.

Sailing Therapy currently runs out of Athens, with plans to start from Cyprus in the near future. Travel Pass organise a comprehensive package (including air tickets, airport transfers, a week’s sailing holiday and various onboardtherapies) starting from €900 per person per week. For further details, visit www.sailing-therapy.com or www.travel-pass.net, or call Travel Pass directly on 22 262 222

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