My Column

Put heart and soul into fitcation firms

  • Date: Monday 3rd February 2020
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GETTING out of bed at 5am and having an egg-white omelette for breakfast doesn’t sound like a recipe to shake off the winter blues – but I’ve just done two weeks of it and it’s left me fighting fit and Thai high.

This time of year can grind us down. We’re dealing with never-ending rain, lack of daylight, and the fact that most of us are carrying a few extra pounds after the Christmas excess. I’m just back from a holiday with a difference in Thailand and it made me think there is an opportunity for savvy travel entrepreneurs in this country.

Ever heard of wellness holidays, or fitcations as they are known across the Pond? They are cropping up around the world, and combine the benefits of having a break from the grindstone with a fitness theme. Existing travel and tourist businesses have been keen to exploit this and are offering breaks centred around surfing, running, yoga, hiking and bootcamps. There is also a Thai kickboxing option – which is what I’ve just done in Phuket.

We all know why holidays are important. They rejuvenate and refresh us, and we come back to our daily lives and jobs with renewed enthusiasm, focus and energy. If we don’t get a break – and I’m not necessarily talking about two weeks in Florida, even a couple of nights in the Highlands or the Lake District can work wonders for the soul – we’re less likely to work to our full potential, our creativity suffers and life can seem, well, a bit of a slog.

The trouble is fitcation packages come with a healthy price tag too. Of course, there are ways you can lower the costs like booking the hotel, flights and camp separately. That’s exactly what I did when I headed to Soi Taied, also known as Fitness Street.

What a place! It has to be seen to be believed. Forget all images of Phuket as a party centre, this place is about an hour away from its crazy nightlife scene but it feels like a world away. World-class indoor and outdoor gyms, martial arts centres, training facilities, healthy eating street food vendors and supplement shops are all packed into one stretch of road. It attracts clients and tourists of all shapes and sizes from all around the globe. You’re likely to see professional athletes and morbidly obese folk who are trying to change their life sharing the same facilities.

If lying by the pool doing nothing more intense that drinking a cocktail is about as active as you like to get on holiday, this won’t be for you. But I wanted to challenge myself, and each day was a challenge!

It started at 5am with a walk to try to get my 10,000 steps a day. Then an hour of yoga at 6.45am followed by breakfast of a spinach omelette or muesli, yogurt and exotic fruits. By 10am I was in a 90-minute kickboxing class at Dragon Muay Thai, then a post-workout shake and back to the hotel to do some work. In the afternoon, I had another kickboxing class followed by more work, dinner. Most nights I had crashed out by 9pm.

It’s a tough regime but believe me, it’s left me feeling incredible as well as ten pounds lighter. I’ve also mastered the basics of Muay Thai kickboxing, thanks to being taught by former kickboxing champions.

The enthusiasm for sport, investing in your health and keeping fit was on another level here. But the two common complaints from folk doing the camps were the poor quality of the water and the polluted air.

That got me thinking. We are lucky enough to live in a country that has the best water in the world (and plenty of it!), clear, crisp air, and stunning scenery. Why aren’t we leading the way in wellness holidays? Imagine the global interest we could drum up in a golf or tennis boot camp? The opportunities are endless.

I’d far rather travel a couple of hours to a bootcamp rather than halfway around the world so any budding entrepreneurs out there should give it some serious thought.

It’s hard to put a price on the benefits of a holiday, but this break has left me with a healthy mind and a healthy body. I’m boxing clever, ready for what’s around the corner!


It’s an amusing idea, but NHS Western Isles is exploring the possibility of using drones to deliver medicines and supplies to GPs and hospitals.

The health board is looking at the best options to deliver medical items from the mainland with drones a top contender.

You might laugh at the thought of answering the door to a small flying robot, but Retail Week reckons drone deliveries will be worth £42billion in the UK by 2030. In Asia, Chinese companies such as have been using drones to deliver orders in hard to reach rural areas for several years.

Once legislative barriers to drone deliveries in the West are conquered, there’s a high chance we’ll see the likes of Google’s Wing, Amazon, UPS and DHL making deliveries via drone.

Perhaps by the next decade drone deliveries will be a routine part of everyday life.



Large quantities of Scotch whisky are being bought by Far Eastern drinks companies and repackaged as Japanese to satisfy increasing demand for the tipple.

Dubbed ‘whisky laundering’, the practice isn’t illegal but Scotch whisky experts have rightly flagged that consumers are being misled.

Experts to Japan more than trebled in the five year period to 2018. Nippon-made whisky supplies have dwindled since production was scaled back during recessions in the 1990s and 2000s.

Back in November I discussed a few trademark battles between Scottish and international whisky brands and the importance of Scotch whisky’s geographical indication.

The origin of a product can greatly influence consumers’ decision to buy it and their expectations of what they’re buying. These Japanese companies should be honest or they’ll end up losing their customers.



January might feel like a tough month which drags on forever before payday, but I was delighted to see lots of Scottish businesses beating the January blues with superb financial results and pledges of continued investment and expansion.

Buzzworks Holdings, one of Scotland’s fastest growing independent restaurant and bar operators, was the latest in a line of companies recapping on a fantastic 2019.

The family-owned group reported a 14 percent increase in turnover last year. Investing in its 12 venues, training and wellbeing initiatives for staff and strategically expanding its portfolio have all contributed to its success.

Continuing with hospitality success, Edinburgh-headquartered Apex Hotels reported a 9.5 percent increase in turnover as well as a 51 percent increase in pre-tax profit to £11.7m.

Again the company contributed its success to continuing investment in its hotels, including Apex Waterloo Place in Edinburgh.

The group is also planning to unveil the results of a significant refurbishment programme at its City Quay Hotel and Spa in Dundee later this year.

Companies from other sectors have also reported strong results including Scottish law firm Thorntons with a 10.5 percent growth in turnover and 22.2 percent increase in profit.

Thorntons acquired Edinburgh-based Morisons LLP last year and also opened its first Glasgow office and invested in larger premises in Edinburgh. Its expansion plan has resulted in it becoming one of Scotland’s biggest full-service law firms with 11 offices and more than 500 staff.

It is great to see these Scottish businesses doing well and I hope it proves to be a good indicator of a positive year ahead. These results just go to show that if you invest wisely, you’ll reap the rewards later.



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