HolyMama Retreats, Ibiza
Super-relaxing parent and child retreats at gorgeous villas
Best for: Tired, isolated mothers of babies and toddlers looking for rest, support, connection and special time out with their little ones. The weeks are also open to primary school age children – it’s best to come during school holidays to ensure they have playmates.
Not for: Any parent who can’t cope with having other people’s children around them – sometimes mealtimes during the week can feel like you’re in one enormous creche.
HolyMama offers super relaxing week-long group retreats for parents and their babies, toddlers or primary school children that run on set dates throughout May, June, September and October. Your base is two neighbouring white washed private villas draped in bright pink bougainvillea with a pool each and plenty of outdoor space near the lovely town of Santa Gertrudis in the quieter north of Ibiza. Created by Swiss English author and mother of three Claudia Spahr, the child-friendly retreats offer morning yoga and veggie brunches for mums while their children are beautifully taken care of by expert carers, with afternoons free for parents and children to hang out together or go to local towns and beaches. There are some late afternoon and evening activities such as puppet yoga, African dance and drumming and women’s sharing circles. Some of the weeks are also open to dads.
Having the space and time to relax and enjoy your child and reconnect with yourself in a gorgeous and quiet location. The beautiful, reliably lovely carers of your children in whom you instantly trust. The fact you’re on a bohemian, sun-kissed island full of boutique shops, interesting markets, lovely beaches and super restaurants. What a treat.
The weeks are currently more geared up for mothers with babies and toddlers rather than older children. This means that though our older children got huge amounts out of it on our visit, there weren’t any dedicated activities that parents and their older children might have enjoyed sharing both together and with their new found friends, such as art classes, yoga classes or local walks.
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Children are in attentive childcare from 9 am until 1230 pm each day, during which time parents have time for yoga, brunch and treatments. Afternoons are free to enjoy together, and on two of the days there are late afternoon activities for kids and evening sharing circles for mothers.
Each morning all the children are taken care of in the second villa, called The Haven, from 9 till 1230 pm, by an empathetic group of multilingual, beautiful, good humoured women who take them for walks, do yoga and hooping with them, and engage them in everything from artwork and jewellery making to science experiments. There’s a high ratio of heart-centered carer to child, and babies are nursed and taken care of in a separate area, to ensure that all children are given ample attention during the week. The spacious courtyard garden is packed with toys and equipment and a joy to see.
Yoga classes happen each day on a spacious deck under the pine trees near the main villa from 915 am till about 1045/11 am. Yoga teachers vary from week to week but are always hand-picked by Claudia. On our week we very much enjoyed our classes with Sylvie Bader, an Ibiza resident who teaches a hatha practice focused on alignment with special attention to the core and women’s bodies. Other yoga teachers include Suzanne Faith, and Liliana Galvis who all have a heart-centered hatha approach.
There is an opening and closing circle on the yoga deck to begin and start the retreat and make everyone feel connected and welcomed. Mothers can also join a women’s sharing circle in the early part of the week one evening, when baby-sitting is available, and a gong sound meditation in the evening during the latter part of the week.
Included is a facial or pedicure as you prefer, and mothers can book a range of holistic treatments with local experts at extra cost. Choose from Holistic Treatments, Facials, Water Massage to Human Design Readings and Shamanic Sessions. Treatments are available for children too. We had a fabulously thorough 1.5 hours deep tissue massage with British Remedial and Sports Massage Therapist Elizabeth Walker, who lives on Ibiza.
You can spend the afternoons together swimming and playing in the swimming pools (both villas have one), relaxing in the gardens (the main house has a lovely lawn and hammock) or going off to explore local towns, markets or beaches. Children also have some late afternoon activities on a couple of the days, including a fun puppet yoga session and African dancing and drumming. Find out what to do on Ibiza while you’re on retreat here.
Comfortable, creatively styled accommodation is in two neighboring villas, the Sanctuary House and The Haven. It’s worth asking ahead to ensure that you are next to a room with a child of a similar age, otherwise you are in danger of waking each other up. Bring your own toiletries as none are provided. Hairdryers, cots and baby baths are all available on request.
The main house has spacious, private rooms on the first floor, most with ensuites, three with balconies, including the Garden View, Pool View and the large Deluxe Suite which has a great balcony space. In the grounds there are three back-to-nature cabins with mosquito nets at the windows, which are a good option if you want total peace – of these, the Zen Cabana is the most spacious and comfortable.
Our room, the Pool View room, had white washed walls with blue jelly fish paintings and macramé wall hangings, a little desk and a double pale blue wardrobe – perfect for sharing with a child. There were two comfy single beds pushed together with pretty blue blankets on them. The leafy balcony was a joy, and the ensuite bathroom was simple, clean and yellow tiled.
The Haven House:
In The Haven House, the rooms are smaller and on the ground floor, and generally share a bathroom with one or two other rooms. For a more luxurious option, the Apartment has two bedrooms, its own terrace with pool views, or the Deluxe Suite has a Jacuzzi in the bathroom and lovely views over the finca.
Bring ear plugs in case your room is near a young baby, sun cream, and everything your child needs to feel comfortable, including favourite snacks. It’s worth hiring a car, as you’ll want to get out and about on some of the afternoons and taxis aren’t cheap or that punctual. Or connect with another parent before the retreat and share the cost of car hire between you. Aubergine is a delightful farm to fork restaurant a few minute’s drive away that offers organic meat for children, for those who aren’t vegetarians and craving some animal protein. There are some lovely cafes, shops and restaurants in Santa Gertrudis too. Vegans will love Wild Beets. If you’re a new mum, Claudia’s Right Time Baby book is worth a read – she has copies available at the villas.
When to Go
The time of year HolyMama Retreats are scheduled is planned with care as the weather is ideal in Spring and Autumn with sunny days but not too much heat. Come during school holidays with older primary school children. During May half term the flowers are in bloom, its sunny and warm, and Ibiza’s famous seasonal markets are just starting to open.
Buffet-style meals are served in the sitting room of the main house and eaten on the shaded terrace or outside in the open at a long wooden table overlooking the pretty garden. You can expect delicious, healthy vegetarian fare prepared with love for both children and parents. A little menu board tells you what’s on offer each day.
There are dried goods put out for kids in the morning which you help yourself to – from rice cakes and toast to fruits and cereals. Parents enjoy a fresh juice and vibrant brunch around 11 am, kids lunch is around 1230/1pm, kids dinner at 6pm, just before parents dinner around 630 pm. Children’s meals are simple vegetarian fare, from sweetcorn cakes to pasta and tomato sauce.
Parents brunches and suppers are an array of different dishes served on attractive plates and platters and might include falafel with tahini or yoghurt, barley salad with olives, roasted red bell pepper and feta cheese, green salad with grilled veggies and dijon dressing and raw zucchini tagliatelle with roasted almonds, followed by fresh fruit for desert. Or perhaps a green frittata with almond pesto, a ‘no Caesar’ salad with nori seaweed dressing, a carrot curry with pita bread and a melon and feta salad with a desert of cashew nut banana mousse served with frozen berries.
There’s a kettle with teas, coffee and water to drink throughout the day. No alcohol is served.
HolyMama Retreats have an organic and sustainable policy where they only source local food from the island. Recycling is a must, with three different bins for food, bottles, plastic, and paper. You will see friendly signs around the villa encouraging short showers, and a reminder that Ibiza is a small natural island and they’d like to keep it that way.
Ibiza Sanctuary, Diseminado P 29 Sta Gertrud, 110, 07814, Illes Balears, Spain
Transfer time: 25 minutes