The Strategic Space Retreat, France
The Strategic Space Retreat, France
Best for: The smart and ambitious who have an inherent desire to create optimal outcomes for their lives, careers or businesses.
Not for: Anyone with a victim mentality.
This powerful, far-reaching 4-night personal strategy retreat with Narrative Strategist Julie Hosler is designed to help business leaders and creative visionaries of all kinds kickstart their upcoming chapter, whether you’re looking for a personal, career-led or business reboot or life transformation. Held in a magical medieval village in Burgundy– designated as one of France 100 Most Beautiful Villages– it includes daily one-to-one sessions and workshops with Julie, solo exploration prompts and exercises, therapeutic massage, delectable chef-cooked meals and take-home tools to help you map your future success, including a virtual post-retreat follow up strategy session and a copy of Julie’s key takeaways that consolidate what was uncovered during the retreat sessions. Come solo or with a small group of your own making (with a shared vision or common goal). Expect to leave inspired, focused and ready to take on the world.
Julie is a witty, warm guide who has a way of identifying the unique needs of her guests and reflecting them in her curated content. Her workshops are both cognitively stimulating and artistically inspiring, and special touches like customized binders filled with informative and interesting content, the smart notebooks she gives you to write in and the fragrant Diptyque candles she burns during her sessions make you feel stylishly cared for. You’ll also receive an electronic copy of her key takeaways and notes as a consolidation from the 1:1 sessions, which is incredibly insightful and a useful reference tool for the future.
Julie’s schedule fills up quickly, so you may not get the exact dates you want. But Julie does her best to find scheduling solutions that work for everyone.
Read or write a guest review
Have you been on this retreat?Read or write reviews
You have three options: an all-inclusive retreat, a self-serve retreat (you are responsible for your accommodations/meals), or a virtual retreat (from wherever you are). All options include: structured retreat guidance with Julie Hosler, all retreat content and materials, 1:1 sessions, solo exploration prompts and activities, a copy of Julie’s notes and key takeaways from the sessions, and a follow-up virtual session (30 days post-retreat) to keep you supported and in the zone. On the all-inclusive retreats you can also expect a carefully curated programme of morning rituals and solo afternoon activities, beautifully-appointed private accomodation, therapeutic massage and downtime – not forgetting the insanely good gourmet meals and the magical surroundings of a fairy tale village that ignites bigger thinking.
‘Personal Strategy’ looks at how you get from where you are now to where you want to be. It’s a bit like life coaching, only your coach shares clever stories and creative techniques and is even allowed to get into the ring with you rather than just direct from the sidelines. A clearly intelligent and well-read American now living in Paris who also trained with the International Coaching Academy, Julie Hosler worked on client campaigns like Apple and Cartier before moving on to strategising the lives of CEOs and entrepreneurs and is a marvelous person to have inside your ring.
She uses a narrative framework to help you articulate your vision and plan for that reality. The retreat’s key focus is – as the author of your story, how do you want the next chapter of it to go? Her guided retreats create a supported space to think longer term about what really matters in the greater scheme of things. Otherwise, we find ourselves buried and reacting to the urgency of proximate issues, operating within the framework of old goals that may no longer fit the person we are today, or worse, drifting along or reacting to the narrative of others. A great option for people who want to travel to extract themselves from their day-to-day and work intensively on individual vision, goals, and challenges with the structure and guidance of a skilled strategist.
The retreats pivot around three-hour-long session/workshops each morning which start at the civilised time of 9 am. Julie offers a narrative strategy approach that harnesses the power of story to accomplish individual goals. The 1:1 sessions are meant to dive into the heart of the situation or to uncover a bigger vision that may be lurking in the shadows. If things are currently going well for you, you can ramp things up and consider the next big thing. When things aren’t going the way you’d like, you can reconsider, recalibrate and find an alternate way forward. You can move through the days as actively or gently as you’d like. You get to decide the level of intensity and how much you get from the experience. Julie will share insights, personal experiences, inspirational concepts, techniques and alternate perspectives along the way. Whatever is needed to make the work impactful for each individual. Expect to laugh and want to fill up on stories.
You’ll take away a retreat binder filled with informative and inspiring content tailored to you, and Julie will provide a copy of her key takeaways from the 1:1 sessions so you can see things through an objective perspective. A virtual follow up session 30 days later with Julie to build actionable momentum for the road ahead, is also included in the price. You’ll feel the benefits long after you’ve finished your retreat.
Julie sets contemplative practices for you during the retreat to clear your mind so it can make room for creative thinking, and this includes a daily morning ritual. You’re asked to write three ‘Morning Pages’ on waking – an effective ‘brain dump’ technique devised by Julia Cameron in her book The Artists Way that clears the mind of clutter so it can be used more creatively. Before each daily session you then burn the pages to create a clean slate for more productive thinking.
You will find that your personal strategy retreat binder is not only filled with interesting and informative content, but you will add your own thoughts and takeaways over the course of the 4-days– and will want to read through them again and again after you return home. If you are someone who keeps a journal, you should bring it with you on this retreat. Julie supplies all types of contemplative exercises that prompt deeper inquiry, which you might want to explore in your own journal. If you don’t have a journal, or aren’t (yet) the journaling type, don’t worry, she supplies you with journaling tools just in case you want to experiment.
Afternoons are free for contemplative solo exploration, and Julie sets practical and interpretive exercises to help you deepen your own self-inquiry based on each day’s morning workshop theme. You might be asked to read, look at or listen to things, take a forest bath (shinrin-yoku), make notes on something personal, write a letter or imagine a future.
If you feel the urge to move, a marvelous way to think through things is to simply walk in the inspiring surrounding area, and a steep stair-lined path takes you up to the old chateau with sweeping views of the village below where the Serein river encases it. There is plenty to explore in this incredibly creative little town or take one of the good running/walking paths in the countryside, or along the river in either direction.
Afternoons are an important time to sink away and absorb the retreat’s content, inspiration and the magical surrounding. Take a walk through the countryside, daydream under a tree next to the river, fill up on inspiration at the local art gallery and teahouse, or cosy up in front of a fireplace and enjoy the fragrance of the Diptyque candles that Julie provides. One deeply relaxing massage session is included with a local therapist during the all-inclusive retreat.
For those who choose the all-inclusive retreat, you will stay in a well-appointed and spacious private house with open fireplace and beautifully manicured garden. Or you can choose the option to stay in a private room/bath at the artist residency, which is located above the art gallery in the village center. For those who choose a self-serve retreat, there are plenty of other options. In this fairytale medieval village, each house and housing accommodation is unique with its own individual charm and amenities. Based on your preferences and budget, Julie make suggestions for the accommodation that best suits you.
The Private House: The private house has an open, double-sided fireplace and beautifully manicured garden. On the ground floor there is one bathroom, an open plan, fully equipped kitchen with a professional cuisinière, dishwasher, and lots of windows. In the living and dining space there’s an extra-large oak dining table that looks through the double-sided fireplace into the cosy lounge with a comfortable sofa, and Sonos speakers. Upstairs you’ll find a grand bedroom with a king-size bed and en-suite bathroom designed in polished concrete.
The Artist’s Residency: La Porte Peintre is an international arts center located in the main square of Noyers sur Serein. Based in a rambling medieval half-timbered building that leans out over the village square like something from a fairy tale, La Porte Peintre offers the opportunity to engage in creative exploration in an unusually inspiring environment. Bedrooms in this artistic accommodation are for those who wish to spend a few days experiencing an enchanting art-house in the center of this fairy-tale village. Each of its contemporary-medieval rooms are designed for creative inspiration. You might also have the chance to meet artists and writers in residence who are at La Porte Peintre to devote themselves to creative practice.
If budget is an issue, you can request a self-serve retreat. You’ll be responsible for your accommodations and meals (Julie is happy to make suggestions). Or, for those who find the expense of travel is too great a challenge, there is a virtual retreat option, so that you can experience a guided retreat from wherever you are–4-day structure either over a working week, or 1 day over four simultaneous weekends.
When to Go
Private retreats can happen anytime of the year, whether for yourself or a group of your making. This village is magical no matter the season. Spring is a great time to kick start a new chapter when you can watch the trees, flowers, and gardens come alive as you yourself change and grow. The temperature can fluctuate, from cold to sunbathingly warm depending on Mother Nature’s mood. Summers are a great time to take a dip in the local river’s swimming hole or take a blanket and daydream under a tree. In Autumn, the countryside’s show-stopping autumnal hues can be an inspiring backdrop for your own ongoing transformation. It’s not uncommon for Indian Summer to grace the Burgundy countryside with warm summertime temperatures, or you can enjoy crisp, often still sunny days. Winter offers an especially magical stillness and quiet that is especially inducive to deep contemplation and rest.
The Bourgogne food prepared by chef Ollie Timberlake’s culinary wizardry remind you that you are in one of the best culinary regions in the world. It’s simply fantastic fare – fresh, local, extravagant and filled with flavour, mainly vegetarian, but with optional meat options per your individual preference. Wine is offered with dinner, though non-alcoholic alternatives are always encouraged to leave you clear and well rested. Although the food is definitely on the healthier side, this isn’t a place to physically detox – your mind is doing that instead.
For all-inclusive retreats, breakfast is provided at your accommodations so that you can serve yourself at whatever time you choose. Expect French coffee, tea, green juice (such as kale/apple/lemon/ginger/parsley or beet/carrot/ginger/turmeric), detox water (distilled water with lemon/lime/mint/cucumber/ginger), mouthwatering baked goods, chef-prepared granola, fruit, local yogurt and honey and fresh juices all on offer.
Lunch and dinner are delivered to your accommodations daily. No two meals are ever the same. For lunch you might have vegetarian lasagne, seasonal vegetable and cheese tarts, sweet potato and salmon roulades, seasonal soups (gazpacho, butternut cumin coconut, etc.), several varieties of salads and local cheeses (Epoisses, Chèvre, Brie de Meaux, Chaource), beetroot humous, fresh baked Gougères, – you’ll be able to save your favourites in your private kitchen for later snacking.
Dinner is a surprising mix of expertly prepared dishes such as locally farmed organic trout, Monkfish with capres et olives, vegetables/prawns in a Jamaican curry, grilled artichokes, roasted vegetables with polenta fritters, butternut squash raviolis in a sage sauce served with a warm chevre salad. Desserts are always included – enjoy indulgent salted caramel tart, chocolate mousse, profiteroles, seasonal fruits sorbets and meringues.
The priority is to locally source materials and ingredients like cheese, honey, vegetables, meat, and wine. Chef Ollie is militant about composting food waste, and recycling is taken seriously. Meals are delivered daily in reusable glass containers. Plastic is discouraged, so fresh juices and detox waters are delivered in large glass carafes. Many retreat participants contribute to The Strategic Space’s ongoing scholarship programme to help support the attendance of emerging creative visionaries who need financial support to attend future retreats.
Transfer time: Airport: 2 hours Train station: 20 mins