Today The Wellness Edit is in conversation with Caroline Sylger Jones, founder & partner of 'Queen of Retreats', - the most trusted guide to the world of retreating.
Holy Mama, Ibiza
Thank you for joining us Caroline! Let's start with finding out how you came to launch the 'Queen of Retreats' website?
I started Queen of Retreats as a blog in 2011 a year after the birth of my daughter, and following the publication of my two healthy travel guidebooks Body & Soul Escapes and Body & Soul Escapes: Britain & Ireland (Footprint Books). I’d been called ‘Queen of Retreats’ in a tongue-in-cheek interview about the books, so I started a blog using the name as a light hearted way to share my honest, personal stories from the retreats I’d researched over the previous 10 years – and as a diversion between the pleasures of motherhood!
Ibiza Retreats, Ibiza
Today it’s a curated collection of global-retreats that have been reviewed honestly, in depth and with care by a whole trusted team, and ‘Queen’ refers to the strong, majestic energy behind our collection, brand and every writer and retreat involved.
Yobaba Lounge, France
Where do your retreats take place in the world?
We review retreats all over the world, from Anglesey to Zimbabwe, and our readers are global too.
Malabar Hall, Zimbabwe
Casa Ana, Spain
What do your retreats offer the 'Solo Traveller'?
Lots and lots! The chance to step away from their life, and return renewed and replenished, in whatever way they need. They can go on retreats alone, with experts who tailor the experience just to them on dates to suit; in a family or friends closed group; or with a group of like-minded others. We cover retreats to meet a wide variety of needs for people from all walks of life, including retreats devoted to chilling, cleansing, connecting, creating, learning, eating, growing, healing and moving - there’s something out there for everyone.
Your ‘Grow’ section features retreats related to life-coaching, spirituality and transformation, amongst other things - what can people expect to get from these experiences?
The nurture, guidance, support and spaciousness we might need to start to change ourselves or our lives from the inside out… if that’s what we most want and need.
Are the eco/sustainability credentials of the retreats you represent important to ‘Queen of Retreats’?
Very much so - this is now a non-negotiable in our world. Each of our reviews includes a Sustainability section, in which we’re not afraid to highlight where retreats can do better, as well as to showcase what they are doing well - both for planet and for people.
Sharpham House, Devon
Being a Sussex-based business, it would be great if you could tell us about the local retreats in this area and what they have on offer?
Oh, you are lucky, as there are all sorts! One of the most intriguing new ones is a company called Bespoke Retreats run by gifted healer Lynn Jackson, who organises private retreats in carefully selected locations across Sussex, from a beautifully converted barn with fabulous views and a luxuriously relaxing yurt to a stylish spa hotel. Meditation, healing treatments and life coaching with Lynn are always included, but you can have as many optional extras as you choose - you can read more here and read our writer’s personal experiences of her retreat with Lynn.
I would imagine that there is going to be a ‘boom’ in the retreats industry at some point, with people keen to get away and to re-set after this crazy year. What do you forecast as the trends for 2021/22?
Absolutely, mid and post pandemic, more and more people from all walks of life will want to discover the power of retreating, which we believe should be available and accessible to all. I think there will be an increase in creative and learning retreats - after all, one person’s yoga might well be another person’s pottery - and that more people will be looking for retreats in nature where they will be encouraged and supported to digitally detox and entirely switch off. Whether you need to laugh or cry, grieve or scream, rest deeply or energise, heal or hula, learn to paint or finish your novel, go wild swimming or detox everything, change the direction of your life, career or relationship or just simply chill, there are going to be more and more retreats out there for everyone.
Queen of Retreats, Journal
I like to end the Wellness Edit by asking 6 quick-fire questions…
What makes you smile?
My daughter, Annoushka.
Last book you read?
Most evenings I run myself a very deep and hot epsom salt bath and read in it for as long as I can get away with. I am currently working my way through all the glorious but largely unknown classics published by Persephone Books, and they are a real antidote to the chaotic world outside. I’ve just finished The Home Maker, by Dorothy Canfield Fisher…very interesting for any mums and dad homeschooling right now.
What are you curious about right now?
Cornwall - I’m researching boutique studios for myself where I can bed down and write away from all distractions, and also glorious places to glamp there this summer with my family.
What is your personal favourite type of retreat?
Anything that sparks creativity.
Most memorable retreat experience?
There are too many - but most recently, it would have to be my between-lockdown experience of a 5 day silent meditation retreat at Sharpham House a gorgeous Palladium mansion strewn with artworks in Devon which runs virtual and actual meditation retreats for everyone, including beginners, all year round.
Thank's Caroline, it's been a pleasure hearing about your story and the ‘Queen of Retreats’ - I am off now to have a cup of tea and a browse through all the lovely retreats on your website!