What makes a retreat really memorable? Is it the attitude of the staff or the softness of the pillows? Maybe it’s the food, or the scenery, or the unusual and interesting decor in your room. Or perhaps it’s more subjective than that – the quality of the solitude or how relaxed you feel when you leave.
Of course it’s all these things and more; designing and administering a beautiful retreat experience is nothing less than an art form. That’s why I was so impressed with my experience during the inaugural Well Connected luxury yoga retreat in the Lake District last month. Not only was the vegetarian food impeccably presented and delicious tasting, but all the extra ‘touches’ (from unlimited green juice and almond milk to raw cacao bedtime treats left on the pillow) and the genuinely relaxed attitude to attendance of any group activity made it a serious break from the norm. Not to mention the yoga. I’ve attended many, many classes in my five years as a yogini and The Well Connected’s instructor Charlie Morgan was among the best I’ve come across, fusing fun and movement with spirituality in the least pretentious way you can imagine.
So how did The Well Connected come about, and why is it so unique? First, there’s not much like this in the North West of England says its founder, public relations professional Nici Hewitson: “I’ve always thought that there are few destinations are connected to wellbeing as The Lake District and when I discovered there wasn’t anything really high end on offer here, I decided I’d set one up.”
So where exactly does all this rejuvenating takes place? For the most part it’s at Brimstone, a five-star hotel in the Langdale Valley near Windemere that’s surrounded by some of the highest peaks in England. Opened just three years ago, Brimstone delivers a true five-star service and because it’s totally self-managed (that is, the same staff who clean your room also cook the meals) there’s a small, bespoke feel. Highlights included the biggest, best bed I’ve ever known and an open fire in my room with a coffee table book on ‘Log Fires Of Auld’ that I read from one of the two sumptuous sofas in my suite.
There’s no doubt I’ll be going back (isn’t that why they call it a ‘re-treat’?). The only question is when. The Well Connected is running seven retreats this year, all in the Lake District. “When I take time out I want it to be really gorgeous from start to finish, so that’s what I’m trying to help my guests experience,” says Nici. “This isn’t about deprivation or punishment like many other supposed wellbeing breaks – this is about making time and space for genuine nourishment. It’s something I’m very passionate about.”
The Well Connected are holding retreats at Brimstone Hotel with yoga instructor Charlie Morgan throughout the year, starting at £690 for double occupancy, £1175 single occupancy, all inclusive for three nights.