Ibiza Retreats, Ibiza
Super-stylish retreats with soul
Best for: Yoga-lovers who are yearning to pause, step off the treadmill of daily life, and ask some searching questions about what really matters to them, while being cossetted and cared for in style.
Not for: Anyone averse to soul-searching, or allergic to the phrase ‘seeking your truth.’
Ibiza Retreats are the creation of Larah Davis and Susie Howell, long-time Ibizan residents who source the best practitioners and ensure that no two days alike. You can expect an innovative programme of yoga sessions and workshops delivered with warmth and humour as well as super-slick professionalism. Your base is usually Can Luminosa, a boho chic renovated and extended former finca overlooking the Morna Valley and reached by single track road that snakes up a hill from the village of San Lorenzo (Sant Llorenç) in the centre of the north of the island. As well as a total immersion in extreme self-care, guests are guided on a mind-expanding journey of self-exploration into a life more meaningful.
The professionalism and attention to detail that is a testament to co-directors Larah Davis and Susie Howell’s years of experience of running retreats, which means it runs like clockwork and your every need is anticipated and catered for, from the minute you arrive and find a branded water bottle, notebook and cotton bag waiting for you on your bed, to your parting gift of an aromatherapy rollerball for a calm journey home.
The secluded location of the retreat, high in the hills and a 15-minute drive to the nearest town, means you’re well away from traffic noise and fall asleep to sound of cicadas and frogs, but opportunities for walking and running are limited as the surrounding landscape is rough and hilly. You only leave the retreat twice during your stay (once for a beach yoga session and once for a clifftop walk). This is deliberately designed to reduce outside stimulation and give your nervous system a chance to heal, but more active types who are used to a daily walk or run might get cabin fever.
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Choose from three styles of retreat: Harmonise, Glow and Nourish. Every retreat is hosted by either Larah Davies or Susie Howells. The core activity on each is yoga, with guest teachers throughout the week, along with daily guided mindfulness sessions, from a barefoot walk to a soundbath. There is also a programme of wellness talks and workshops which vary depending on which retreat you choose, and optional treatments.
Harmonise is a ‘life detox’ that aims to rebalance you from the inside out, through a combination of daily therapeutic yoga practices, guided meditation and mindfulness, alternative therapies, nurturing food and sometimes challenging wellness workshops.
Glow is a yoga-focussed retreat with both morning and evening yin and yang yoga sessions, which aims to encourage personal transformation from the yoga mat. Selected wellness workshops compliment the core yoga programme. Suitable for newbies to yoga as well as those seeking to deepen their practice.
Nourish is created to empower women to navigate their personal path with a deeper self-belief, helping them create a more meaningful and nurturing way of living, with special attention paid to tuning into your personal rhythms and cycles. As well as yoga, there is a series of wellness workshops with an emphasis on healing, as well as alternative therapies and personal coaching.
Whichever retreat you choose, yoga sessions take place each morning for around 90 minutes, in the retreat’s Yoga Shala, apart from a weekly beach yoga session that takes place on Cala Nova, a secluded cove around 20 minutes from the retreat. On Glow retreats, you also have evening restorative yoga or yoga nidra sessions.
Style-wise, most classes are based on hatha vinyasa, with lots of props such as blocks and straps on hand to help ease you into the poses. Both Larah and Susie see yoga as a path to healing heart, mind and soul as well as body. Larah’s teaching is inspired by TKV Desikachar, creator of Viniyoga, and drawn from her training in Sivananda and Vinyasa Flow, but also informed by her personal interest in the Bhakti tradition and chakra theory. Susie has trained in several styles including Shiva Rae and Jivamukti and teaches a dynamic flow style that’s also informed by Iyengar’s attention to detail.
Top yoga teachers from the island also visit to take classes, including New Zealander Vivenne Lallot, who brings rock-chick energy to vinyasa flow yoga combined with detailed attention to alignment and the body’s limitations; and the inspirational Marrejan Oepkes, who also co-hosts at many retreats, a Dutch former fashion industry entrepreneur who qualified as a yoga teacher in her late 50s and is a living testament to the rejuvenating magic of regular practice.
Guided mindfulness and meditation practices are woven into each day. Retreats often start with with a barefoot mindfulness walk up the small hill tucked behind the retreat, where a path has been cleared in the forest leading to a meditation maze and finishing with a blissful walk on cool soft grass. Many retreats also include a clifftop walk at a nearby spot such as Xarraca or Portinatx, including a silent meditation to the sound of the waves. There may also be sessions on using the breath, mantras, guided chakra visualisations to help focus the mind.
Retreat participants are invited to place their devices on the altar in the yoga shala on arrival and pick them up when they leave. Those who opt not to are asked to respect the principle of digital detoxing by leaving their phones in their rooms and restricting use to necessary phone calls only.
There is a wide programme of wellness workshops, all run by visiting practitioners on the theme of self-discovery and healing, which vary from retreat to retreat, but often includes: Voice Essence by Laor, a singing-based session by this Israeli performance artist and healer, designed to shake outdated limiting self-beliefs about the voice and free inhibitions; Transformative Breathwork by Laila Palaudares, a powerful rebirthing session of guided circle breathing to reach a state of higher consciousness and release blocked trauma; MET Emotional Freedom Technique (also known as tapping) lead by the legendary bodyworker and psychotherapist Shambala; Nutritional Therapy with Anna ‘Avocado’ King, a British nutritional therapist based on Ibiza, who recovered from long-term depression through nutrition.
Each guest receives a 60-minute welcome full body massage on the first day, a detailed and personalised treatment that usually includes Reiki and energy healing from top practitioners such as Georgina Withers. Additional treatments can be booked and paid for during your stay (note, some practitioners prefer cash payment in euros.) The massage menu includes Indian Head Massage, Deep Tissue or Ayurvedic Abhyanga (from €80, 45 mins). An extensive range of bodywork treatments includes Somatic Healing, a mix of coaching, manual manipulation and breathwork to clear energy blockages and encourage emotional release (€185, 60-75 mins); and Six Senses Experience, a Rejuvenating Facial with integrated energy work and body and foot massage from Marion Stone, the island’s most sort-after facialist (€175, 75mins).
Bedrooms: Bedrooms at Can Luminosa are spacious and minimal, with white-washed walls, pale wood floors and reclaimed Indian and Thai wooden cupboards, white cotton bedlinen with brightly coloured runners and cushions. There are six rooms altogether, all of which have large, ultra-modern en suite bathrooms with walk-in power showers.
On the first floor, the L-shaped master suite feels like an apartment, and its own private terrace and a bathroom the size of most living rooms with a walk-in shower, double sink and free-standing bath, as well as a separate WC. It sleeps up to four in separate double beds. There is also a spacious room on the first floor with its own balcony, with a double bed, ideal for single occupancy or couples. On the ground floor, the Forest Suite sleeps up to three, in a double and twin beds.
There are also two Garden Terrace rooms with twin beds that can also be made into a double for single occupancy, and patio doors leading to a private garden area. A smaller Hall Twin in the centre of the retreat next to the yoga studio is super convenient for popping back and forward between sessions and has a spacious en suite, and the twin beds can be made into a double for single occupancy.
Other spaces to be: There are so many places to relax in the retreat centre it’s always possible to find a private corner for some alone-time, whether it’s in a hammock slung from the pine trees behind the house – ideal for forest bathing – or on a shaded sunlounger on the ‘secret’ terrace, built into the hillside below the infinity pool.
Don’t bother packing lots of outfits for the evenings – dinner runs straight after workshops and retreaters head straight for the table in yoga kit. There is one evening out at a local restaurant. But do bring something warm to cover up with – it can get chilly in the evenings and many meals are outdoors. Bring cash in Euros to pay for extra treatments when you are there.
When to Go
Retreats run from March to October. April/May and September/October are popular times when it’s warm enough to sit by the pool but not too hot, although sun lovers may prefer July and August.
Most meals are shared at the large, wooden table on the terrace overlooking the pool and the wooded slopes of the Morna valley, although there is also a slick, glass-topped table with high-gloss acrylic dining chairs right next to the open kitchen, for cooler days. Both tables are thoughtfully decorated with vases full of wildflowers and candles.
Nutritional chef Mar Talavera from Barcelona (check out her Facebook @Mar SoulKitchen) conjures up Instagram-worthy arrays of mainly plant-based delights with some local cheese, eggs and honey, and no gluten or sugar.
Mornings are observed in silence, with help-yourself chia pots topped with fresh fruit, followed by freshly-pressed juices such as pear, kiwi and lime, and pineapple, lemon and parsley, after the first yoga and meditation session of the day. Mid-morning brunch is a buffet of huge bowls of rainbow-coloured salads, and hot dishes such as mushroom frittata, wholemeal pasta with fresh tomato sauce, cornmeal and buckwheat pizza with a ‘base’ of carrot puree topped with fresh pesto and baby plum tomatoes, and tempting cold savouries such as cucumber boats filled with avocado and sprinkled with red cabbage. There is always warm, homemade gluten-free bread, with a sugar-free and gluten-free cake. Mid-afternoon, there is homemade humous, veg crudities and rice cakes to snack on.
Dinner is a three-course meal, with a vegetable-based soup starter, a hot main course such as beetroot falafel on a bed of sweet potato, and a delicate, beautifully presented dessert, such as raw cacao and almond brownie drizzled with cacao sauce.
There is no alcohol at the retreat but there are jugs of water on hand, flavoured with chunks of lemon and orange, and a help-yourself urn full of caffeine-free herbal tea such as turmeric, ginger and lemon, rooibos, lemon balm and fresh mint.
The team is working towards zero plastic 2022 by increasing the delivery of dry produce in sacks and prioritising locally-sourced, seasonal fruit and vegetables. Guests are encouraged to be mindful about water and electricity usage and provided with a refillable water bottle to fill from the water cooler during their stay. A proportion of annual profits goes to the Ibiza Preservation Foundation.
Can Luminosa, Ibiza
Transfer time: 30 minutes