By Kathryn Brierley

We believe it is incredibly important to thoroughly research all the options before choosing your wellness retreat. When I started in:spa in 2003 there were only 2 or 3 other ‘retreat’ options on the market. Now, if you look at any retreat listing site, you’ll literally see thousands of wellness retreats, health retreats, yoga retreats, detox retreats or fitness retreats listed in any one month in Europe alone! How on earth do you choose?  

It’s not just money and time that you are investing. Going on a retreat carries with it a lot of ‘hope’ that you will get the mental and physical reset and the relaxing yet energising experience that you deserve. And, of course you hope to have a thoroughly enjoyable time while away as well as reap the physical, mental and emotional benefits of your wellness retreat.

Choosing to go on a retreat, perhaps for the first time, is often triggered by a desire to feel stronger physically, emotionally and mentally, and many retreat-goers attend retreats as a solo traveller. With that then comes some vulnerability, in that you absolutely have to be certain that you are going to have the highest quality care and expertise – you are putting yourself in the hands of those organising the experience. To get full benefit from a retreat experience, there needs to be a fair amount of ‘letting go’ and relaxing. You need to therefore feel deeply safe in order to be able to relax and let go and that means you really have to choose the right retreat, setting and team.  There is a far greater need to get it right when choosing a retreat, than when choosing a hotel offering bed and breakfast!  

In order to reap all these physical, mental and emotional benefits on your wellness retreat it is vital that you are in the right place, with the right people caring for you, that the activities are appropriate for you physically and that you have the right food to nourish you. It’s also a real added benefit if you’re also with lovely like-minded fellow guests (though you can’t choose them!). If any of these ingredients are off in any way, your experience might be spoiled or tainted, and you might be disappointed with the experience, or the outcome in terms of how you feel at the end of the retreat. 

With that in mind, think what your health ‘goals’ are. How do you feel now, and how do you want to feel at the end of your wellness retreat? Lighter, less stressed, fitter, more positive, stronger mentally etc? Thinking about the ideal end results will help you choose the ideal retreat type to deliver those results. 

If you are very much into your yoga practice, you might be looking for a yoga retreat – in which case make sure you know that the teacher’s style and energy will work for you and be what you need. Try out their live or online classes before committing.

If you want to have more  of an intense fitness experience and are feeling robust, you may want to have a lot of fitness included. Don’t choose a bootcamp however as a kick start to a new fitness regime or your body won’t thank you! We have heard from many that a bootcamp can be far too severe and stressful!  

Is having a spa important or treatments included? What treatments do you enjoy, do you want to include some meditation and mindfulness and perhaps breathing exercises? All these components will help if you’re feeling stressed.

Research the accommodation – this is really important. Is the quality high enough for you to truly relax, will you have enough of your own space? Is it peaceful? With views? With pool? Communal spaces? Ask for photos of the bedrooms.

If you want to lose weight, then check what type of food will be offered. Will alcohol be included or is it a detox retreat without alcohol? Some yoga retreat vegetarian food can actually be relatively ‘carb’ heavy, so think to ask about the food too, and put in any food requests beforehand. 

What is on the schedule? Does that give you enough to do, or too much? Are the activities optional or compulsory (some are!), do you know what you’ll be doing each day ? Is everything included or will you have to pay out for additional treatments? What level of fitness/yoga is offered and will they accommodate all levels, so you don’t have feelings of frustration or worry about comparing yourself with others.

How will you get there? Will you have transfers included? What are the other guests likely to be like? Will there be other couples/solos, what are the typical other guests like? How many other guests are there likely to be? How many women/men? Has the retreat been run before by this person/company and if so, do they get repeat bookings? What is the ratio of retreat team/organisers to guests?.. The more people that are on the team to care for you, the safer and more relaxed you’re likely to feel.

Are there recent Trustpilot reviews that you can read through? These are all questions to ask to make sure that you will feel really comfortable in that environment. 

Most importantly however, who are the people running the wellness retreat? They will be your guides, mentors, encouragers and new friends during your time away. Do you trust them to look after you and make you feel safe and supported while away? It is really important that you take the time to talk to someone over the phone or on Zoom to get this reassurance before you book, since the on-site team is the most important factor to be comfortable with. They are coaching you through the retreat and supporting you along the journey.  

At in:spa, what we offer is a really well-rounded luxury wellness retreat, which incorporates activity, nourishment and relaxation in what we think is the absolute optimum format based on results we deliver. Our retreats are led by a team of six exceptional experts, who are all lovely warm people too – without egos – who put our guests first throughout the whole retreat. They are fitness trainers, personal chefs, nutritionists, yoga teachers and massage therapists – all areas of activity for energising, relaxing and nourishing our guests are well covered! Our wellness retreats also take place in stunning boutique properties, chateaux and villas with blissful pools and awe-inspiring views.  

We think our wellness retreats work as the perfect balanced option, whatever you might be looking for. If you love yoga, you’ll enjoy twice daily group classes tailored for different abilities, if you want to include fitness, we have varied group classes and personal training (as much as you want to include!), if you enjoy walking, we have two beautiful hikes included. If you want to be deeply nourished and perhaps lose weight, we have incredibly delicious light food which omits salt, sugar, wheat, dairy and alcohol which all burden or stimulate the system leading to weight gain. Our nutritionist will support you along the week. If you don’t want to lose weight our nutritionist and chef will make sure you remain well fed! If you want exceptional treatments, you can rest assure that our therapists work magic with their intuitive treatments. If you need rest, you have beautiful pools to lie by and you can do as much or as little as you want with a totally flexible schedule. If you want to learn how to bring about a lifestyle change when you get home, you’ll be surrounded by exceptional experts in their field and can learn from them for the week as we build in one to one time for you to spend with them. They are also at all the meals and on hand to support you at any time of day outside the scheduled time too. We believe that our retreats offer the perfect balanced formula for optimal changes to take place in the body and mind across the 7 days. All of this takes place in the most beautiful properties. We’ve been running wellness retreats for 20 years now, and have learned so much along the way!

We’re always told it is the combination of our exceptional team of six experts combined with the most beautiful properties that make our retreats such a success, but we know that it is the amazing results and how people really feel at the end (leaner, brighter, fitter, more energised, relaxed, more positive) that tops it all! If that is how you want to feel at the end of your wellness retreat, then do please get in touch as after twenty years of running retreats we really know we have a magic winning formula. That’s what our many repeat guests tell us too! See our Trustpilot reviews. And that is what has brought several guests back to more than 15 retreats over the years!! Many of our lovely guests come back at least once a year, and love that as they love spending time with the teams so much.

I absolutely love talking to people who are thinking about joining a retreat, visiting a wellness hotel or destination spa as it is really important that you choose what is right for you. Please do get in touch with me on 0208 8968 0501 and I can talk you through the very best options for you personally.