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Calm palm

Calm palm

One glance at the website for the tropical hideaway of Palm Island in the Grenadines and you’ll see it’s about as perfect as things get for a relaxation holiday. For those of you already thinking about next year’s holidays, in May 2014 the resort is also offering guests the chance to improve their swimming, coached by Olympic gold medallist Becky Adlington and her fiancée, Harry Needs.

Earlier this month, I joined a Swim Palm Island trip to find out what it was all about. First impression? Well it’s a fairly unique combination to step out of your room, with the ocean’s waves drifting up the sand towards you, and see one of Britain’s greatest-ever female swimmers casually waiting for her Monday morning bikini-clad freestyle improvers class to join her for their warm up. For four days, she and Harry, a competitive butterfly sprint swimmer, will take morning sessions in the open water lanes next to the beach for keen swimmers of any level.

Aside from the two flights – one long haul to Barbados and then a short hop to Union Island – and the five-minute boat trip to Palm Island required, a Swimfit holiday on the 137-acre Palm Island rates relatively highly in the eco-value stakes. Transformed from a sandy swamp in the 1960s, Palm Island has its own water supply and vegetable greenhouse garden, much of which ends up in what you eat. The resort’s development into a lux Caribbean oasis has been gradual, with the construction of the swimming pool and various walking trails coming more recently, but these days it’s about as idyllic as a tropical island can get. There’s a library, a small gym, a pool, various beaches on both the Caribbean and Atlantic side (so you can choose windy or calm depending on your mood), two bars and restaurants, and of course plenty of hammocks.

“Swim Palm Island with Becky Adlington and Harry Needs” will run from 4 to 7 May 2014. It will consist of two hour sessions with the couple per day over four days, free of charge for those on a stay of seven nights or more. Virgin Holidays is offering a seven-night package from £1,899pp, including scheduled Virgin Atlantic flights from London Gatwick direct to Barbados with onward transfers, and accommodation at the 4V+ Palm Island on an all-inclusive basis. To book:

For more information, visit