Journeys for Change review | life coaching retreat, India
Inspiring, life-changing retreats for those seeking change
The Quick Read: This tour is an ultra-inspiring holiday ideal for those who want to change the way they do their jobs or who need a dose of inspiration about making a difference in this world. You visit a wide array of social entrepreneurs who are using business-like logic and innovation to address social needs in India. You see solar panels being made, fairtrade handicraft and carpet weavers, health and housing projects of all sorts. You meet the founders and learn how they made the leap into these inspiring lives. Meanwhile you’re based in top-notch imperial hotels, some of which offer spas, and also get the insider’s eye on Sufi temples, Rajput palaces and rural village beauty.
What activities to expect: The eight days are very busy – a super stimulating itinerary. You might have two visits to social enterprises in a day – not only seeing the incredible impact they have on social situations in India, but also going right behind the scenes – through colourful craft workshops, inside ambulances, at remote village carpet looms, at the place where they shape and fit prosthetic limbs. You get to meet the founders and operators of the ventures you visit, and to really quiz them on everything from their personal motivations to their business models and funding – read a word from the queen on her journey.
By night, the team arrange all sorts of delights – private access to historic buildings, performances of sufi music in rose-petal-strewn rooms, boat rides, temple tours, hipsters to lead short shopping trips. They have a real aesthetic and choose very knowledgeable specialists to enrich these experiences. On most journeys there are two or three main centres, and you travel between these cities by plane which is included in the price.
Your wellbeing: The desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world, according to writer John Le Carré, which is why Journeys for Change developed their highly original trips. You travel between projects in air-con comfortable buses. Every need – for snacks, water, and so on, is taken care of. Throughout the week there are briefings and reflection sessions which help you make sense of what you’re seeing and recognize what is being stirred within you. At some places, in-room treatments or spas are also available. In Bangalore, for example, you stay at The Taj West End,where you can have treatments, yoga, and meditation at the Jiva Spa. And in Pondicherry, The Promenade offers in-room massage and reflexology.
Where you stay: The tour whisks you by taxi to fine old characterful hotels – old imperial buildings refurbished to really high standards. Expect marble bathrooms, lovely lobbies and gardens and and excellent standards of service. You might have a couple of nights in a rural setting – it would be more basic but still clean and comfortable and this is an experience too, which only makes the return to marbled grand hotels all the more delightful. You have the choice to share a room – which is surprisingly fun on this trip, and a chance to make sense of all you’re seeing with someone else.
Food and drink: Very tasty indeed. None but the very best, and in huge quantities. The hotels provide really good buffet breakfasts with fruit and western options. For lunch and supper you go out and experience a really wide range of top-end Indian cooking at very special restaurants, sharing dishes with the group. It’s always easy to eat vegetarian in India, though there’s not a lot of salad and light, raw food.
Fellow guests: Professionals from all sectors – business, charity and social enterprise. Some are very senior, some younger. The groups are thoughtful people, mostly well- established in their field and very ready to engage in debate and share ideas.
What’s queenly: You get an insider’s view of a wide array of inspiring ventures and moving situations, with the chance to really understand how remarkable people are making them happen – it’s hugely inspiring. You also see India and its social situation with all the paradoxes in full view – both the huge need and the bubbling innovation that the country is famous for.
What’s lowly: You will spend a fair bit of time in offices, meeting the social entrepreneurs and understanding their models, or travelling between them. You have long stimulating days and little time to digest all your insights until you’re home.
Reviewed by Rosie Watford
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