Escaping the city

Alternative holidays

Escaping the city

A passionate traveller, Laiqa Shah did something wanderers only dream of — she made travelling her job. The fitness and lifestyle professional curates and organises luxury fitness holidays under the banner of ‘Oomph Escapes’, which was launched in October 2015. A relatively new concept, she takes small groups of people on what she calls ‘alternative holidays’; instead of lazing by the pool with a pina colada, people get to discover trek trails, swim with the fish and taste the best food a country can make.

Explaining the concept, Laiqa says, “Life in a city is stressful and many people have a sedentary lifestyle, which is a cause for various health problems. These are active holidays where one gets at least two to three hours of exercise. But this isn’t a bootcamp holiday; it’s not like going to a gym and working out. Instead, we go hiking, diving, kayaking, canoeing or trekking, depending on where we are. And every evening we have a Michelin star meal with good food and wine.”

Depending on the speciality of the region, she makes an itinerary. “But people can deviate from the plan, they are most welcome to relax by the pool and join the rest of the group for dinner. However, most people, I’ve noticed, don’t bunk because there’s a group dynamics and people tend to get friendlier.”

If a city is known for its art scene, Laiqa will take them on an art walk and so on.
One of the highlights of ‘Oomph Escapes’ is that a person doesn’t need to watch what they eat; they get the best of wherever they are, in a healthy form.

“When on holidays, people tend to sit by the pool and eat fatty food that makes them put on weight. Here you are eating healthy, organic food from Michelin star restaurants. And since you are active throughout the day, you don’t put on weight.”

Her first curated holiday was with a group of eight to Mallorca, Spain in November. “I wanted them to experience different parts of the island and the diverse landscape. On the first day, we hiked to Serra de Tramuntana. The next day, we went on a 35-kilometre bike ride through the wine country and visited villages. After that, we hired a yacht and explored caves and snorkeled. On the last day, I organised a Michelin star meal with the wines of the country,” she says. The next holiday she has planned is to Tuscany, Italy in March, where people get to explore the Chianti region, taste wine, horseback ride and learn Italian cooking.

A combination of fitness, health, luxury accommodation and good food, the packages are priced reasonably. “I don’t want to make it a package just for the rich. There are many youngsters who have lots of disposable income and are willing to explore.” A person need not be a fitness expert, anyone can go on her tours. “It’s a way to eat what you want, live in luxury and come back feeling healthier and fitter than before.”

Laiqa has travelled to many countries — Australia, Spain, Canada, UK, USA, Austria, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Dubai, New Zealand, Turkey and more — which she uses as base for her holiday plans. “In a year, I try to visit at least three different countries. And I’ve been to all the places I plan to take people to — stayed at the hotels and tasted the food. Whatever my clients experience, I’ve already done it before. I know exactly what I’m offering,” she says with confidence. And another advantage of travelling with her is that everything comes at a discount.

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