Dolphin’s Leap Wellness Retreat, Greece
Enlivening weeks of wellness by the sparkling Pagasetic Gulf
Best for: A balanced approach to wellness – sea views from outdoor classes on the terrace and fresh, home-cooked meals accompanied by local wine.
Not for: Those seeking an intensive fitness or detox retreat.
Dolphin’s Leap is an elegant hillside Mediterranean villa with spectacular sea views in the mainland village of Lefokastro in the Pelion region of Greece where week-long retreats for wellness and yoga take place from April-July and September-October each year. Your warm and friendly hosts are owners Pippa and Nick Dale-Harris, originally from teaching and publishing backgrounds, who visited the area for years before fulfilling their dream of building a luxury retreat location. Come to take time for beach yoga and meditation with personalised holistic healing therapies. Enjoy superb family hospitality and delicious home-cooked Greek dishes with local wine. Explore the coastline on foot or by boat, swim in the sea, or simply take in spectacular views from the infinity pool. Do as much or as little as you like as you relax and recharge.
Superb and generous hospitality by owners Pippa and Nick Dale-Harris. The expertise and experience of Wellness Retreat instructor and healing therapist Ioannis Dovros.
Determined detoxers and boot-campers may be alarmed that ‘nothing is banned’ and that the daily programme starts at a civilised 8am.
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Dolphin’s Leap invites you to “Replenish your spirit, re-vitalise your body and calm your mind”. Re-charge with Pilates, sunset qigong and sound bowls on a Wellness Retreat. Enjoy Vinyasa and restorative practice on a Yoga Retreat. Learn about healing energies and self-realisation on a Chakra and Yoga Retreat. Guests have plenty of free time to be as active or relaxed as they like, exploring the coast by foot or by sea or simply enjoying the infinity pool and sun terrace. Personalised holistic treatments to complement the group sessions are offered at extra cost on the Wellness Retreat, and are frequently available for other Retreats.
Dolphin’s Leap Wellness Retreats take a balanced (and balancing) approach to wellness and healing, inviting you to “Replenish your spirit, re-vitalise your body and calm your mind” through daily group meditation, Pilates and Qigong. They are led by Ioannis Dovros, an experienced Pilates expert, health professional, masseur, reflexologist and acupuncturist who is trained in medical fitness and Clinical Pilates and also holds an MSc degree in Social-Clinical Psychology.
A 90 minute pre-breakfast Pilates class combines stretching with exercises to build strength and flexibility. The class is tailored to all levels but groups may be split if necessary. Exercises are monitored and corrected continually throughout the class, and adapted for those with pre-existing injuries. All equipment (balls, hoops, straps, foam rollers) is provided.
A 20-30 minute early morning meditation session precedes the Pilates class. The group takes the 2 minute walk down to the beach below the house and is guided through a calming, energising meditation session with a focus on breathing technique.
A 90 minute session in which a series of slow and rhythmic movements is combined with meditative breathing to activate the energy channels of the body and relax the organs. The session may include a closing 30 minutes of sound bowl vibrations and gongs that help the body enter a state of deep relaxation, accompanied by a guided meditation that focuses on visualisations. Alternatively, the session may conclude with guidance on self-massage and self-healing techniques to help ease physical pain and tension.
Aimed at all levels, Yoga Retreats are run by a number of teachers including: Molly Harragin, a 800hr qualified Jivamukti yoga teacher; Charlotte Lucking, who specialises in Sivananda principles and teaching based on Hatha postures; local Greek teacher Eugenia-Alana Mitsanas who is inspired by Bhakti, the yoga of devotion, and who focuses on safe alignment and movement with breath; and Bonnie Prentice who has over 30 years of teaching practice, specialises in rehabilitative yoga and is a certified Ayurvedic Practitioner. A 90 minute pre-breakfast active vinyasa flow session follows early morning beach meditation. Free time during the day is followed by a 90 minute restorative session looking out at the sunset, before dinner is served on the terrace.
These retreats combine chakra therapy and dance/yoga flow sessions. Principal trainer Annie Penny leads all sessions in chakra development to focus on healing energies and the journey to self-realisation. She is an experienced practitioner, qualified in Healing, NLP, counselling, Hypnotherapy and EFT and has been a healing tutor for the Guild of Healers. Olivia Brown, who originally trained as a Professional dancer, leads yoga classes based on a combination of traditional Hatha and the creative elements of dance/yoga flow.
Personalised treatments with Ioannis Dovros are always available on Wellness Retreats and are frequently available on all other Retreats as well. Extra treatments at a cost of €50 per hour include: Sound-massage and sound reflexology; Hippocratic pressures massage; reflexology; Asian massage; head and neck massage; face reflexology; acupuncture and Reiki (Usui Reiki Ryoho). It is also possible to chart a personal training programme as well as a personalised wellness plan, involving holistic massage, reflexology and other sessions.
Dolphin’s Leap has a salt-water infinity swimming pool that looks directly out over the sea (lilos are available), while the pool terrace is perfect for sun bathing or reading. The sea can be reached either by a jetty and diving platform beneath the main house, or via a short path down to the beach. The calm waters are ideal for swimming (snorkels and goggles are provided), especially in September. From 2019, there will be stand-up paddle (SUP) boards available to use. Guests are offered the opportunity to take a boat trip during the week to visit one of the local coastal villages such as Kalimos and include a stop at the local Taverna to sample the catch of the day.
Host Pippa Dale-Harris offers guided coastal walks to encompass the local wild herbs, flora and fauna. The region is hilly and mountainous and for the more intrepid, Pippa and Nick Dale-Harris will offer walking expeditions.
Main house bedrooms:
The main house has six large double or twin bedrooms, four of which have ensuite bathrooms and two of which share a bathroom. The bedrooms are split between two wings that are joined by an open terrace on the first floor. They include a master double bedroom (first floor) with its own private balcony, and the particularly attractive Pelion room, flooded with light by six windows across two walls). One bedroom is part of a fully equipped studio apartment with its own kitchen, sitting and dining area.
All rooms are air-conditioned and have sea views. Thoughtful touches on arrival include a fragrant Pelion soap gift and vase of wild herbs. You can expect a deliberately simple Mediterranean style décor, with painted white walls and traditional wooden furniture. All feel spacious and light, and are comfortable, clean and fresh. Bathrooms are generally of a modern style with white painted walls and simple tiles, though one bathroom has a more ornate Naxos marbled wall. All towels are provided and both towels and bedding are changed once during the retreat.
Other places to stay:
Wellness Retreat guests are accommodated in the main house. Further accommodation may be available for hire privately or as part of other Retreats at Dolphin’s Leap, either in a separate, stone-built annex house (the Writers’ Retreat) with beautiful galleried bedroom, or an adjacent Yurt which shares stunning sea views and is sometimes used as a personalised treatment space.
Other spaces to be:
There is a quiet public beach just two minutes’ walk down a path from the house where is it safe to swim. As well as the main yoga terrace beneath the house that directly overlooks the sea, there is a smaller yoga terrace adjacent to the main house – both tend to be unoccupied between group sessions. The coastal walking paths that cut through the property also provide for some alone time.
Feel free to pack lightly on clothes as although you’ll have one night out at a local Taverna, dress while at Dolphin’s leap tends to be casual. Bring long sleeves for the cooler evenings; mosquito spray; sunscreen; shampoo/conditioner (soap is provided); shoes suitable for walks and for an uneven downhill path down to the beach (unless you wish to go bare foot). If you have the time and are travelling via Thessaloniki airport, pending more frequent flights into Volos, you may wish to break up the journey with a day or two exploring the city of Thessaloniki.
When to Go
Retreats run between April-June and September-October. The area has its own microclimate of warm sunny days, but day temperatures reach 17*C in April; 22*C in May, 27*C in June, 25*C in September and 21*C in October. Sea temperatures average 14*C in April, 18*C in May, 23*C in June; 25*C in Sept and 21*C in October.
Communal meals are shared in an outdoor eating area under a canopy on the stone terrace that overlooks the sea and surrounding coastal villages and mountainous terrain. Meals served at Dolphin’s Leap are vegetarian (with vegan available) and prepared by Tulla the resident cook. Many are inspired by the recipe book Food from many Greek kitchens by Tessa Kiros and are prepared with organic, fresh, seasonal and locally grown or made produce.
Breakfasts include eggs, fresh wholemeal bread, yogurt, honey and fruits; lunches might include traditional Greek salad, baked chickpeas and traditional spinach filo pie; dinners are delicious home-cooked Greek-style dishes such as vegetable moussaka, butterbean casserole, or stuffed tomatoes and peppers, with lemon potatoes and split pea puree. Tulla sometimes prepares an afternoon treat such as apple or plum cake. Fruits and nuts are available for snacks throughout the day and guests are welcome to have tea (including herbal mountain tea) or coffee. Local wine is available (and included) if wanted to accompany the evening meal.
Dolphin’s Leap Wellness Retreats are led by a local Greek instructor and therapist, while house staff (cook, gardener and cleaners) are also local. The property itself, which features the distinctive Pelion stone, is designed and built by local Greek architects, craftsmen and builders. Produce is largely locally grown or made, while the olive oil is produced from the Dolphin’s Leap own olive trees. Sheets and towels are changed once during the 6 day retreat. Waste is recycled. The swimming pool uses salt water that requires no chlorination.
Dolphin’s Leap, Argalasti, Greece (registered with Pelion Vision, P O Box 5017, Argalasti, Greece)