The Zest Life, Wales
Yoga weekends with revitalising extras on a stunning estate in Anglesey
Anyone keen to mix yoga with another activity
Anyone allergic to group experiences
The Zest Life offers 3, 4 and 5 day luxury yoga retreats at the spectacular Plas Cadnant estate on Anglesey. Yoga features on each retreat – enjoy Vinyasa flow, yin yoga, partner yoga and Dru yoga with a variety of teachers – and each retreat also has a number of add-on activities, from wild swimming, stand-up paddle boarding and coastal walks to hiking in the mountains, fitness sessions, mindfulness meditation, gentle detoxing and yoga immersion workshops. Healthy eating is an integral and important part of all the retreats. Come to be well and soak up the beauty that north Wales has to offer.
The Zest Life has an incredible team hand picked by the founder Laura Bell. Some of her closest friends work for the brand and her love of what she has created shines through them. Nothing is too much trouble.
There are a limited number of rooms at Plas Cadnant with single occupancy and most of the (spotless) bathrooms are shared – bring a robe with you for ease.
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Yoga is central to each retreat, with different retreats offering a range of high energy or relaxing activities alongside.
On each retreat, twice-daily yoga classes are taught by experienced yoga teachers who have trained with some of the most illustrious yoga teachers around the world. Claire and Amy’s classes offer a more dynamic, vinyasa style, while Kate teaches with a more gentle, flowing meditative approach. All are carefully picked by Zest Life founder and yoga teacher Laura Bell.
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.
Full Swedish body massages with one of two local therapists are offered in the afternoons on each retreat. Booking your treatment in advance is essential.
Plas Cadnant has 21 acres of private parkland to explore, with stunning views over Snowdon, a meandering river, mature woodland and a waterfall feeding into a glorious swimming hole in a lush valley. Walk along one and a half miles of woodland or garden path, with all kinds of surprise vistas and woodland delights along the way.
The glorious hiking retreats take you up the highest mountain in Wales, Mount Snowdon. Experienced and personable guides will encourage you every step of the way to the summit, where you will take in the glorious views.
On the ever popular wild swimming retreats you will experience some of the most inspirational coastal and lake locations in North Wales. The wild swimming is supervised by experienced instructors, bristling with water safety qualifications. Afterwards there’s an alfresco picnic with homemade hot soup, sandwiches, cake and tea.
Stand-up Paddle Boarding (SUP) is led by outstanding guide Sian Sykes and takes place at picturesque Lake Padarn, a stunning lake at the base of Mount Snowdon. Explore unspoilt coves and enjoy small group tuition with a 1:5 instructor/student ratio.
The fitness retreats are usually timed to help guests give their new year a kick start. They include, yoga, Pilates and running sessions each day, all coached by expert instructors.
If you’re in need of some TLC, come for a weekend devoted to relaxing and detoxing, which includes pampering massage treatments from in-house therapists, delicious cleansing meals and mindfulness meditation sessions. Stunning 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.
Bedrooms: The owners live in the main house at Plas Cadnant but The Zest Life reserves two other luxury accommodation options on the estate for their retreats. The main one is The Coach house, a large stone building which sleeps up to 12 in rooms full of character. The other one is The Dairy, which has three bedrooms, one with a four-poster bed. Up to five can be accommodated here.
If you are on the ground floor in The Dairy, you can hear those above you because of the wooden floors and all the doors have rather noisy, heavy latches, so this could worry light sleepers. All the bathrooms in both cottages are clean and lovely but you will have to share them with other rooms, unless you book the double en-suite.
Other spaces to be: There is plenty of room in the beautiful gardens and rolling parkland to get away from everyone else should you wish to. The grounds have lots of private nooks and crannies with strategically placed benches where you can read a book, meditate, sunbathe or simply admire the view.
Bring a pair of slippers to pad about the house – you might like a hot water bottle in winter too. This is an easy escape for London dwellers, as there are direct trains from London Euston to Bangor that take 3.5 hours. The weather in Wales is unreliable – bring layers and be prepared for anything.
When to Go
The Zest Life runs retreats each month from January to November inclusive. The first in January has the focus on fitness, February is a yoga immersion retreat, then March features yoga and detox weekends. April brings the ever popular hiking Snowdon retreats, leading to the Summer months which are totally devoted to yoga plus wild swimming and stand up paddling. Autumn recharge wellness retreats run in October and there are two winter warmer yoga and relaxation retreats in November.
Healthy eating is an integral and important part of all the retreats, which include healthy, vegetarian meals and cater to most dietary requirements. Meals are eaten in the Coach House in a huge, atmospheric and welcoming dining room with a long rectory table and a wood-burning stove. The food is prepared by the in-house chef, and is always vegetarian, and where possible sugar, dairy, wheat and gluten free. All the menus are seasonal, balanced, wholesome and nutritious.
Breakfast is a leisurely affair after yoga with a fruit smoothie, a breakfast pot with fresh fruit (bircher muesli/ soaked chia seed) followed by toast and a variety of spreads. On the final morning there is also a cooked option.
If you are wild swimming, stand up paddling or hiking, lunch is a picnic with homemade soup, focaccia sandwich, healthy flapjacks and energy balls. Otherwise lunch is back in the coach house, where you will enjoy homemade seasonal soup, a selection of breads, salads and dips.
At 4 o’clock there is always a delicious cake and a warming cup of tea to be had. Dinner is quite substantial, with all kinds of healthy dishes followed by a light pudding – all lovely nutritious fare and perfectly filling.
There’s a large bowl of fruit available at all times. The retreats have a no alcohol policy, but ordinary tea and coffee, and a wide variety of herbal Pukka teas and fruit infused water are always available.
During the Autumn, Plas Cadnant let the team pick apples and plums from their trees. The Zest Life try to source all other produce as locally as possible. Faith in Nature toiletries are provided and refilled each retreat. The Zest Life also recycles all plastics, cardboard, metal and glass at every retreat. All staff are local too.
Plas Cadnant, Cadnant Road Menai Bridge Gwynedd LL59 5NH
Transfer time: 5 minutes