‘Not a day went by when I didn’t drift off into a deep and replenishing sleep, lulled there by the magic hands of the therapists, the soothing music and the gorgeous smells’ – Sasha Bates experiences Absolute Sanctuary in Thailand.
In Short: Absolute Sanctuary on Koh Samui in Thailand specialises in yoga, relaxation and detox holidays. It’s well established, fun, down to earth and makes unwinding very easy. There are just 38 rooms and a good choice of well-thought-through programmes to follow – whether you prefer yoga, hard or soft-core detox options, relaxation, fitness, or more. The laid back yet professional staff make it easy to pick a version that works for your needs, so mix and matching is easy. The yoga is plentiful, varied and good quality, the food is healthy and tasty, and the massages are swoon-inducing. From £1,370 per person for a 7 day harmonizing package. Scroll down for full costs.
Read a word from the queen on Absolute Sanctuary
Read a word from the king on Absolute Sanctuary
Check out www.absolutesanctuary.com
In Short: Little sister of The Sanctuary detox/retox resort in Thailand, The Sanctuary Somerset is a stylish yet super-soulful retreat that really hits the spot. Home is Sparkford Hall, a Georgian mini-pile with a baby-Babington vibe – a little Boho, a bit rock-chick, a tad spiritual gypsy. Groups are small and easy-going and the in-house support is warm and nourishing. They run five or seven day fasts using classic detox techniques. Results are great and side effects are few thanks to a well-planned programme of grounding yoga, qi gong and meditation. There’s plenty to do but you also get time to muse by the open fire, wander in the grounds or simply snooze in the quirky yet mega comfortable bedrooms. From £600 for a five-day detox. Scroll down for full costs.
Read about our experience at The Sanctuary
Check out www.thesanctuarysomerset.co.uk
May 30 – June 6
July (fully booked)
August 11 – 15
September 8 -12
October (fully booked)
November 17 – 21
December 5 – 12
In Short: Owned and run by the Rodriguez Castan family with warm, friendly service that’s very much from-the-heart, this bohemian rural hotel near Santa Agnes in the north west of Ibiza is a wonderfully open place to relax. Looking over the almond groves of the Corona valley, it offers idyllic, individually-designed rooms and massage, facials and holistic treatments in a rustic spa. You can do private yoga, Pilates or meditation, go hiking on local routes or just hang out in the hot tub and by the serenely curved pool. There are three day ayurvedic rituals on offer throughout the season, while yoga retreats take place each April and October led by German hatha yoga teacher Annette Lengersdorf, to which English speakers are welcome. From €200 per person in a double room in low season to €520 per person in the honeymoon suite in high season based on two sharing. The hotel is closed between 1 November and 27 March.
18-25 October - hatha yoga with Annette Lengersdorf
Read about our experience at Es Cucons
Check out www.escucons.com
In Short: People come back each year and stay for months at a time to this family-run, very private 12-roomed hotel, where owner Margaret is a gracious and easy going host. A large shuttered stone house with pretty, flower-filled gardens and terraces near Santa Gertrudis, it has a decent sized pool (plus a smaller one for kids) and a little Moroccan-themed spa, where everything from a facial to a full blown private wellbeing escape can be arranged with spa concierge company Ibiza Balance. In April, May and September, you can also do a 5 night private detox. Come to finish your novel, get some head space or relax and do absolutely nothing. From €320 per double room B&B per night, treatments from €80.
Read about our experience at Cas Gasi
Check out www.casgasi.com. * Book direct with the owners using our form and you’ll receive some Cas Gasi organic herb-infused olive oil for eating or spreading all over your body!
In Short: Silver Island in Greece is one of the most authentic, peaceful yoga retreats we’ve been to in a long long time. A 15 minute boat ride from the coast of Evia island, it offers week-long yoga holidays from April to October. There’s no internet connection and no mains power but that makes it even more of a ‘stop the world’ retreat.
The yoga comes courtesy of teachers from all over the world and with a maximum of ten guests, there’s plenty of individual attention. The ambiance is artistic and relaxed and during down time you can catch up on sleep, sunbathe, snorkel, kayak or just amble around the island. From £1100 per person for 6 nights all inclusive.
Read about our experience on Silver Island
Check out www.silverislandyoga.com
In Short: This fitness holiday led four times a year by talented personal trainer Drew Perrott combines exercise, nutrition, treatments and relaxation to help you get fit and de-stress. You’ll be based at the Villa de Geggiano, an elegant, cream-coloured 18th century summer villa in the foothills of Siena with astoundingly preserved interiors – not a bad setting for body and soul rejuvenation. Individually tailored to your fitness level and taking a maximum of 10 guests, the fitness break will encourage rather than force you to do anything, and makes exercising feel infinitely more do-able because of the glorious surroundings. From £1,900 – to £2800 per person per week including all meals, activities and two treatments.
Fitness holiday dates in Tuscany for 2014:
18 – 25 May
20 – 27 July
7 – 14 September
26 October – 2 November
Read about our experience with Drew Perrott
Check out www.drewperrott.co.uk
Kaliyoga’s base in France is set in acres of beautiful grounds surrounded by lavender fields and fruit trees.
In Short: Reenergise run comforting health and wellbeing retreats for busy people looking for a chance to leave their stresses at home, and to refocus and reconnect. They’re ideal for first time retreaters. Retreats are held in venues across Aberdeenshire, a beautiful coastal area leading to the foothills of the Cairngorms in Scotland, and cover everything from health and nutrition to creativity and various life-loving outdoor activities. The company was set up in 2013 by business woman Dorothy Burke, whose own life turned around after she attended her first retreat ten years ago. From £300 for a weekend break from 5pm Friday to 6pm Sunday, including full board and all activities.
Group retreats are on hold for 2014 – ask us for more details.
Read about our experience at Reenergise
Prices start from £300 for a weekend break from 5pm Friday to 6pm Sunday. They are inclusive of full board and all activities.
Reenergise run comforting health and wellbeing retreats for busy people looking for a chance to leave their stresses at home, and to refocus and reconnect. They’re ideal for first time retreaters. Retreats are held in venues across Aberdeenshire, a beautiful coastal area leading to the foothills of the Cairngorms in Scotland, and cover everything from health and nutrition to creativity and various life-loving outdoor activities.
In Short: Wildfitness offer highly inventive fitness holidays that use outdoor, natural surroundings to get you fit so you feel as far from an urban gym as you possibly can. They were created in 2001 by all-round athlete Tara Wood (listen to Tara talk about wildfitness on TED), who’s warm, funny and lovely to be with, and are run by a hand-picked team of trainers. There are 9 day, 2 week and intensive 24 day fitness holidays on the gorgeous Watamu coast in Kenya, week-long fitness breaks in Spain and bespoke fitness and cooking breaks on the Isle of Wight. It’s not a problem if the last time you did anything like this was when you were five, as you’re encouraged to go at your own pace and rest when you need to. Your body is pretty much designed to change shape for the better, and you’ll feel it. From £690 per person for 3 days on the Isle of Wight.
Check out www.wildfitness.com
Wildfitness holidays cost from £690 per person for 3 days on the Isle of Wight, from £1970 per person for a week in Spain, from £2250 per person for a 9 day course in Kenya.
Wildfitness offer highly inventive fitness holidays that use outdoor, natural surroundings to get you fit so you feel as far from an urban gym as you possibly can. There are 9 day, 2 week and intensive 24 day fitness holidays on the gorgeous Watamu coast in Kenya, week-long fitness breaks in Spain and short fitness and cooking breaks on the Isle of Wight.
In Short: Farnham Farmhouse is a family-run, ivy-clad 19th century farmhouse set in serene Thomas Hardy countrysde where you can stay on a B&B basis and indulge in beauty and holistic treatments in the cheery, sunflower-yellow therapy centre built into the converted stables next door. From £80 per room per night based on 2 sharing, treatments from £30.
From £80 per room per night based on 2 sharing, treatments from £30.
In Short: This white-painted, 16th century manor house near Machynlleth in the Powys countryside is set in 14 acres of pretty gardens, in the middle of a bird reserve, and near the energising Cambrian mountains. Come here to enjoy total peace, brilliant walks, gourmet meals, cossetting interiors and treatments. For a more intense wellbeing fix, there are Relax & Revive breaks each weekend on which you can learn meditation, enjoy the guidance of a coach and destress with holistic therapies. Owner Joan Reen has a firm belief in a holistic approach to life and is keen to offer her guests more than just pampering. From £150 b&b, per night. Ask us about special offers.
Read about our experience at Ynyshir Hall
Relax and Revive breaks from £460 per night for two, based on two sharing a double room including all meals and a meditation walk with Thomas. Treatments from £65.
In short: This is a rare treat. A comfortable, 400-year old house in the Lincolnshire countryside where two expert ayurvedic practioners offer bespoke retreats lasting 3, 5 or 7 days. Andy and Laura Shakeshaft are genuine, normal and full of integrity, and have created a real haven of calm. Cleanse body and mind with daily oil massages and steam therapy, one to one yoga and qigong sessions, optional cranio-sacral sessions, personalised dietary advice, ayurvedic counselling, cooking demos, simple meals – and total peace. It costs from £825 per person for a 3 day retreat, which is fully inclusive of everything including lots of one to one attention, beautifully cooked ayurvedic food and bona fide ayurvedic treatments, so it’s pretty good value. Read all about ayurveda here.
In short: This tranquil retreat in rural East Kent is near miles of sandy beaches yet only 55 minutes by train from St Pancras, London, and it’s run by long time mindfulness practitioner and owner of Mindfulness at Work Louise Cox Chester. Discuss in advance what you need to set you back on track, whether it’s mindfulness training, organic facials, yoga classes, massages or life coaching, then stay in a sweetly converted barn and start to relax. Gloriously for stressed parents, ad hoc babysitting can be arranged.
Our editor Caroline Sylger Jones says: ‘This is one of the most mellow, charming spaces I’ve found for a private wellbeing break in the UK.’
Check out www.witherdenshall.co.uk. *Queen of Retreats readers get 2 nights midweek out of high season for £195 (usually £300) including a basket of organic fruit and vegetables to use during your stay.
This tranquil retreat in rural East Kent is near miles of sandy beaches yet only 55 minutes by train from St Pancras, London. Discuss in advance with your devoted team, led by Louise Cox Chester, what you need to set you back on track, whether it’s organic facials and massages or mindfulness and life coaching, then stay in a sweetly converted barn and start to relax. Gloriously for stressed parents, childcare can be arranged.
In Short: The Mobile Mermaid – Susie – is a gentle, smiling woman who immediately puts you at ease. A Pilates teacher, make up artist and holistic therapist, she runs boutique Pilates retreats at Baliffscourt Hotel and Spa in Sussex and at a gorgeous finca in Andalucia, Spain. Throughout the year she also offers private one-to-one Pilates sessions and treatments either in her studio in Hove or on home visits in Brighton and Hove and by arrangement in London. From £420 per person for a 4 night retreat in Spain & £50 for a 1:1 Pilates session in the UK.
Susie’s 2014 pilates retreats:
At Baliffscourt Hotel and Spa, Sussex: 12-14 May (see below for full details)
In Spain: 2-9 May (Full), 2-9 June, 22-29 September, 24-31 October, November dates TBC
Read about our experience with Mobile Mermaid
In Short: Tilton House is a large and lovely white-painted Georgian house set at the foot of the South Downs National Park. It offers a range of yoga and creative breaks on the weekends, and relaxing B&B and self catering during the week. It’s the former home of economist John Maynard Keynes and his Russian ballerina wife, Lydia Lopokova, who apparently liked to dance on its lawns by moonlight, and remains a discreet and carefree place to stay thanks to the super hosts, film-makers Polly and Shaun. The house makes a relaxing midweek base for a shopping trip too, as it’s just 10 minutes from Lewes, 20 minutes from Brighton and 1.5 hours from London. Doubles from £95 B&B per night, treatments from £40 an hour, cost of weekend retreats vary.
Doubles from £95 B&B per night, treatments from £40 an hour, cost of weekend retreats vary.