Adding 15 girls who don’t know each other to a whatsapp group knowing they are jumping on flights to Ibiza leaving the heels at home and packing leggings and journals for my first ever retreat didn’t feel real as I approached our gorgeous villa and home for the week a couple of weekends ago. After months of preparation, I felt like I was so ready to welcome them and make their week one to remember. Whether it was sparking a new passion for Pilates, introducing them to a new way of eating or simply creating a zen environment for them to switch off and finally read that book; I had butterflies in my belly for what the week would become. What I could only have dreamt came true- making friends for life, starting new adventures and having the most fun! Here’s the low down on my first Ibiza retreat…
Nothing works unless you do. I have to remind myself this as someone that likes to burn the candle at both ends and say yes to everything. As I’ve been working for myself in London for 4 years now, I am very familiar with the feeling of overwhelm and it’s the worst. Having too much on and not enough focus makes me feel stressed, unhappy and frustrated.
When I went on my first retreat two years ago in the Loire Valley in France it was my first experience of really turning everything off and hitting reset and was honestly one of the happiest moment of my life. I’ve since been on six retreats and have again had most of the happiest moments in my life while on them. From cycling through the vineyards in France, watching the sunrise in the Algarve, reading in the South Downs, swimming in the most gorgeous open lake in Catalonia, watching the sunset at the beach in Ibiza. All of the these experiences with new beautiful people I’d met perhaps a few days before, completely feeling like me, away from London, having eaten nourishing plant based food and moved my body every day, being outdoors and breathing fresh air. I knew I’d be a retreat junkie for life.
Every retreat has put be back on track, whether I’ve been teaching or as a guest, I always leave feeling fresh and free and motivated. The biggest investment you can make is you and I will happily spend my own money to go on a retreat every year. So from experiencing many retreats and loving every one, I knew that I wanted to create my own retreat that encompassed everything I would want from a week of investing in me.
Somehow, it all fell into place and I had 10 wonderful women booked ready to join me in the remote countryside in Ibiza. I knew I wanted their to be Pilates twice a day, the BEST food (this is one of the most important parts of a retreat for me), lots of reading pool time, dancing, sunsets, hikes, a fun relaxed atmosphere, time to explore town and be outdoors, a little wine, a lot of cacao and time to simply be. I wanted every day to be different so planning the schedule was super fun.
I thought I was passionate about Pilates until this retreat and then my passion grew even more. It was such an honour and luxury to work with the same bodies for a whole week and fully immerse them into the practice of Pilates and share my experience, knowledge and love for it with them.
Every morning I wanted to teach the same class and progress it slightly every day and then the second class would have a completely new focus so we did my Pilates flow class, ballet inspired Pilates, a Pilates technique workshop and Classical Pilates mat which to my surprise my guests loved the most. I couldn’t believe how much progress everyone made in a few days of moving their bodies like this every day and we were doing such fun advanced exercises by the end of the week. My main goal of doing Pilates- to enjoy the connection of mind and body, to feel strong and supple and to have fun was achieved.
Kimberly Parsons, the beautiful wonderful Kim, was our chef for the week but was also so much more and it was an honour to team up with her for this week. Kim is just a gem and someone I admire and respect so much. After attending Kim’s retreat in Catalonia and experiencing the food from her cookbook, The Yoga Kitchen, I knew I just had to have her and her delicious food on my retreat. Without a doubt, Kim’s meals were the highlight of our days. I’m such a foodie and the way Kim makes such a simple whole plant based ingredients, exciting and seriously scrumptious always amazes me.
One of my faves from the week was her Chocolate and Maca Quinoa Pops which we made together and enjoyed with tea one evening discussing all things balance, holistic health, social media, sleep and Pilates.
Kim’s Chocolate and Maca Quinoa Pops
120ml melted coconut oil
60g cacao powder
40g maca powder
pinch of salt
80g puffed quinoa or another puffed grain
80g roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
40g dried unsalted cranberries, roughly chopped
40g raw pistachios, roughly chopped
Place the coconut oil and honey in a saucepan and heat gently. Add the cacao and maca powder and pinch of salt and combine to form a loose paste then remove from the heat.
Add the quinoa puffs and stir to combine.
Line a 15-20inch baking tin or pan with baking parchment and scoop the chocolate quinoa puffs in using your fingers to press down.
Sprinkle the hazelnuts, cranberries and pistachios on top and loosely press into the quinoa. Place into the fridge to set for 30 minutes before slicing and enjoying!
If you can resist they can be kept in the fridge for up to a week.
On the Tuesday evening, we hiked to watch the sunset at Es Vedra. I remembered how much I LOVE hiking, it’s perhaps my favourite way to move my body after Pilates of course ;). Es Vedra is quite a mystical island near Ibiza and there’s definitely something quite magical about watching the sunset there. I was so impressed everyone went to the highest point and we settled half way down with homemade tahini cookies (an essential sunset snack FYI) and took in the beautiful view.
Wednesday was massage and yoga day. They had the option of Reflexology and Indian Head Massage with Chloe Shillibeer, my bestest friend and also our dance teacher for the final night and a huge array of massages with Louise Cameron who also taught our yoga session. I’ve had massages and treatments with both my beautiful therapists and I couldn’t wait for my guests to experience them too. Seeing them all float back to their sun bed or to dinner fully released and relaxed, I knew they weren’t disappointed.
During this day, a group of us also took a long walk around the remote hills in the valley our villa sat on. It turned out to be quite an experience with Kim fending off some wild dogs (okay they weren’t that wild- I was just scared) and picking our lemons for the rest of the week from the Ibiza trees. The sun shined and shined and shined some more for us all week which made me feel like the luckiest retreat host in the world. Thank you mr. sunshine.
Thursday, our final day, came around too quickly but was by far my favourite day. Everyone had truly settled in and our villa felt like home. After a seriously strong Pilates class to start the day, we headed into the old town and enjoyed the views of the ocean and ruined walls. We then enjoyed a FEAST at my fave, Passion Cafe and took our full, nourished and giggled out bodies back to the villa for jumping in the pool, Classical Pilates, Spanish dinner, wine and dancing!
From the bottom of my heart, I wouldn’t have changed a thing and feel so truly grateful for this week in my life and my career. I couldn’t have done it without Kimberly, my mum, Chlo, Louise and Natalie. An absolute dream team. I then want t thank my beautiful retreat guests, Chloe, Jen, Chantelle, Denice, Louise, Kate, Laura, Renate, Catherine and Amy for being so lovely, open, so fun and so so inspiring. We will always have our retreat bubble and are still sharing snaps and stories on that Whatsapp group.
Throughout the week we used their Brita fill&go Active bottles to keep us hydrated around the villa, during Pilates and on our hikes. We journaled from our personalised Papier notebooks, wore Sweaty Betty Pilates and Toesox, sipped on Neals Yard Remedies tea and kept our skin soft and protected with Balance Me SPF 25 face moisturiser. I want to thank all these wonderful brands for being a part of my retreat.
Many moments I haven’t shared and will always remain in our retreat bubble so all I have left to say is dreams really do come true and until next time…
Love, Lottie x