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The Ultimate in Luxury Wellbeing: Island Retreats

Emma Whitehair takes her heart and mind to rural Ibiza to experience Erin Knowles' first luxury wellness retreat...

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Erin Knowles is known by the world’s global elite as a ‘society fixer’. An alumna of Quintessentially, in her past life this petite powerhouse ran a concierge service offering clients the ultimate experience, in London, Ibiza or any other key hot spot. However, trying to maintain her ‘the sun never sets’ tagline after having a baby left her feeling burnt out. Here began a profound healing journey which led her to launch Island Retreats…

Island Retreat Erin Knowles

Erin Knowles, Island Retreats

Retraining in psychotherapy and energetic healing, Erin’s passion for wellbeing is now a priority in all aspects of her life, leading her to work with some the world’s leaders in this field. Through her retreats, Erin is collaborating with a few of these practitioners, creating experiences aimed at supporting people to get back to their authentic selves.

I was lucky enough to experience Erin’s first retreat – ‘Mind to Heart’ – hosted in the luxury villa Can Terra, set in a pine forest in the rural north of Ibiza. Grounded on a bed of crystals, the magical island of Ibiza is long believed to be one of the most magnetic and therefore healing places on the planet, making it an ideal location to reboot from a busy city life, and discover new wellbeing rituals to bring home.

Yoga with Suzanne Faith

On this one week retreat, most mornings and every afternoon we had a 90-minute yoga class at the villa with my hippie chick girl crush – Suzanne Faith. Established as one of the most authentic teachers on the island, Suzanne is also co-founder of the ultra cool ‘One Yoga for the People’ in Vancouver and has a doctorate in counselling psychology which is evident in her teachings.

The pace of her classes on our retreat was set to gentle, in keeping with the majority level of our intimate group, while her unique style was a version of Iyengar restorative and Anusara. Even though I am used to a more advanced level, on this trip I rediscovered how beneficial it is to get back to basics, with time with each asana allowing us to drop into some lovely deep stretches.

Suzanne also guided us through a variety of meditation practices and integrated pranayama and mantra, further developing the themes that relate to the heart and mind.

Tulayoga with Louka Leppard

Island Retreats Louka Erin

Erin Knowles, Island Retreats

Louka was resident on the retreat, where most of the guests were his Geneva-based fans. We each had a two-hour appointment with Louka during the week, with the option for an extra slot, and after my session I fully understood why so many had travelled for his work.

Louka has developed an incredibly unique treatment, which starts with a floor-based massage before moving into acrobatic inversions that were passive and deeply meditative. When I was first lifted, I burst out laughing at the gravity-defying sensation – like floating through space, before a transcendent feeling washed over me. As I trusted and let go, I was able to deeply drop into the postures I was being suspended in, creating a gentle stretch for my spine and starting the journey inwards, towards my axis. A beautifully disorientating exercise in balance, Louka’s tenderness during this sensual treatment is like nothing I have experienced before. I left our session feeling more centered and, strangely, loved.

Food by Ally Beattie

All of the meals were freshly prepared by leading island wellbeing chef Ally Beattie. Mostly vegan and locally-sourced, we all begged Ally to share his unique recipes – including peanut butter hummus, Beluga lentil bolognese and chai-infused raw choc balls.

Thankfully, the super healthy retreat menu was also fulfilling. Especially as the food was so incredibly delicious, and my appetite was through the roof with all the yoga… and hiking.

Island Retreats Food

Erin Knowles, Island Retreats

Hikes & Stargazing with Toby Clarke

On a few mornings, native guide Toby Clarke and his dog Cosmo led walks along rural coastline paths. A natural storyteller with fascinating facts to share about most of the plant life and landmarks we passed, this immersion in nature was a thoroughly enjoyable exercise in mindfulness. Passing through ‘Heaven’s Gate’, by climbing a pretty precarious rock face with nothing but a sheer drop below, was my highlight, as were Toby’s mythical tales and conspiracy theories surrounding Es Vedra, giving me a new-found obsession with the magic of Ibiza’s neighbouring rock.

Toby also arranged an evening of stargazing for us, and being a total geek when it comes to the cosmos, I found the talk was out of this world (pun intended). In the gardens of the villa, lying down on blankets and with hot drinks, the likes of Orion’s Belt and the North Star were pointed out while we heard about the expanding universe.

Upcoming Retreats

Erin’s next retreat is ‘Summer Shine’ (from June 25 – July 1), hosted at Can Shui, a new Feng Shui designed luxury villa, dramatically perched on a west-facing cliffside to capture those magical Ibizan sunsets. With an infinity pool, its own rustic path to a small secret beach and a meditation room, there are plenty of options to occupy any free time.

Yoga will still be a focus – this time with Anna McColl, on a custom-built yoga deck looking out to sea, and Toby will be leading hikes to historical sites and rare geographic landforms. While Amanda Tizard (who I see regularly when she’s in London) will be on hand with her magical healing, in the form of craniosacral massage therapy.

More upcoming retreats include another ‘Heart to Mind’ at Can Terra in October, and ‘Holistic Beauty’ (November 4-11). The latter with Su-man – the facialist favoured by the Hollywood stars – will be focusing on nourishment from the inside-out, with a 100% organic plant-based menu, and leaving guests with lifelong beauty techniques and knowledge.

Island Retreats Group

Erin Knowles, Island Retreats

With max. 14 guests on these retreats there will be a high level of individual attention, and places are expected to go fast. For more information click here.

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