The Zest Life, Wales
Yoga weekends with revitalising extras on a stunning estate in Anglesey
Best for: Anyone who wants to mix yoga with another activity
Not for: Those allergic to group experiences
Takes up to 15 guests
The Zest Life offers two and three day weekend yoga retreats on set dates throughout the year at the spectacular Plas Cadnant estate on Anglesey. Well-taught yoga classes feature on each retreat alongside a range of different activities, from wild swimming, stand up paddle boarding and coastal walking to seashore foraging, mindfulness meditation and gentle detoxing. Enjoy unspoilt local beaches and mountain vistas. A delightful way to reclaim your mojo in a short amount of time.
The Zest Life founder Laura Bell, a brilliant yoga teacher and passionate runner who came to yoga reluctantly after suffering a broken back and has never looked back. She now loves all things ‘vital’, which makes her perfect for the action-led yoga retreats.
There are not many single rooms at Plas Cadnant, and all bathrooms, though spotless, are shared – do bring a wrap or sarong with you to make getting to your shared bathroom easy.
Yoga is central to each retreat, and a range of sporty or relaxing activities are then offered alongside. All include healthy, vegetarian meals and relaxing massages too.
Twice-daily yoga classes are taught by The Zest Life founder Laura Bell or Kate Hamilton-Hunter. Laura offers vinyasa flow yoga, while Kate specialises in yin yoga, partner yoga and drug yoga.
Laura’s yoga practise, which began with ashtanga yoga in 2005, has evolved into a teaching style that is fun and informative yet relaxed and calm. Her vinyasa flow style sessions focus on strength and alignment, leaving you feeling more centred and alive. Kate has been teaching since 2010 – dru yoga’s flowing, rhythmic style, its focus on meditation and Kate’s smiley, light hearted approach to teaching make it an enjoyable yoga style to be immersed in.
On the wild swimming weekends you’ll be able to experience inspirational coast and lake locations. The wild swimming is supervised by Gabby Dickinson, an experienced instructor bristling with water safety qualifications. After an invigorating swim you can enjoy a beach picnic with hot soup, cake and tea.
If you’re in need of some TLC, come for a weekend devoted to relaxing and detoxing. These include pampering massage treatments from in-house therapists, healthy and delicious cleansing meals and meditation and mindfulness sessions. Stunning coastal walks are also offered on these retreats, or you can stroll around the beautiful historic gardens at Plas Cadnant and find a secluded corner to relax with your thoughts or a book.
Bring your own toiletries and a pair of slippers to pad about the house in. You might like a hot water bottle in winter. This is an easy escape for London dwellers, as there are direct trains from London Euston to Bangor that take 3.5 hours.
When to Go
The Zest Life runs two retreats each month from January to November suited to the seasons and the changeable British weather. The first in January has the focus on fitness to get you into shape, then March features yoga and detox weekends so you can have a spring cleanse. Summer months are devoted to yoga with wild swimming, stand up paddling and seashore foraging. Autumn recharge wellness retreats run in October, and there are two yoga and relaxation retreats in November.
Healthy eating is an integral and important part of all retreats, and all meals are eaten in The Coach House in a huge, atmospheric and welcoming room with a long rectory table and a wood-burning stove. Food is prepared by the in-house chef, always vegetarian, and where possible sugar, dairy, wheat and gluten free. Menus are balanced, wholesome and nutritious – and delicious.
Breakfast is a leisurely affair taken after yoga, with a buffet providing different types of muesli, natural yoghourt, berries, seeds, nuts, raisins and toast.
If you are wild swimming, stand up paddling or hiking, lunch is a picnic with homemade soup, dips, sandwiches of choice, raw veg crudité, healthy flapjacks and energy balls. Otherwise lunch is back in The Coach House, with homemade seasonal soup, pitta bread, wholesome crackers, a selection of cheese and dips and an array of raw vegetables.
At 5 o’clock there is always tea and cake to be had. Dinner is quite substantial, with all kinds of healthy dishes followed by a healthy pudding – all lovely nutritious fare and perfectly filling. There’s a large bowl of fruit available at all times. There is no alcohol, but ordinary tea and coffee, herbal teas and fruit-infused water are always available.
Some of the fruit and vegetables come from Laura’s mother’s garden. During the Autumn, Plas Cadnant let the team pick apples and plums from their trees. They try to source all other produce as locally as possible. The Zest Life also recycles all plastics, cardboard, metal and glass at every retreat. Any left over food is taken to a local ‘Pay as you feel’ café in the town of Bethesda, so nothing goes to waste. All staff are local too.
Plas Cadnant, Gwynedd
Transfer Time: 5 minutes