Ibiza wellness: Meet the founders – Ibiza Retreats
When Larah Davis founded Ibiza Retreats in 2007 her dream was to co-create her own retreat space, where guests feel truly held by the location and the team, allowing them to let go and experience the true nature of abundance – wellness. She began by connecting world-class teachers and group leaders with the island’s incredible retreat locations, therapists and chefs and when Susie Howell joined her as her partner in 2009, their offerings expanding to develop a range of their own inspiring holistic retreats.
Combining yoga, meditation and tailor-made programs of treatments and therapies, Ibiza Retreats focus heavily on teaching techniques for self-healing to inspire their guests to nourish and care for themselves. Practicing what they preach is certainly part of the process for Larah and Susie, and a thorough understanding of life’s ups and downs means they connect with their guests on a deeper level. Moving into the new Ibiza Retreats HQ, Casa Lakshmi Luz, in 2016 has seen the dream come to full fruition, but the road was long and not always easy for these two beautiful and inspiring souls.
Meet Larah Davis – A holistic life and wellness coach (NCFE certified in the UK), NLP Master Practitioner, yoga teacher, yoga therapist and energy worker.
When Larah’s previous relationship broke down, her partner’s business had become her world. Drowning in a negative spiral of co-dependency, smiling on the outside yet shattering inside, she was holding it all together but was stressed to the core and trapped in a painful comfort zone. Yoga, massages, meditation and time in nature were the only things keeping her sane.
From Sydney to London, she had been training for four years as a Holistic Life Coach and NLP Master Practitioner and was quietly seeing clients, but when she started working with a terminally ill friend she saw a powerful transformation. Working with dozens of complementary therapists and healers, Larah finally felt truly inspired.
Whilst support-coaching at a workshop in London, the group visualised their ideal life and a vision of transformational retreats in Ibiza arose from her heart. She had already had experiences in Sydney studying energetic and spiritual healing, Life Coaching and NLP when she helped to develop a life transformations company in 2001/2002. Yet until that moment, had not felt ready to stand in her light and “serve”.
“I needed to find the confidence, clarity and self-belief to break-free from the relationship and mental ‘gridlock’ of London living,” she says. “Every cell of my being was aching to retreat. Yet I couldn’t find, at that time, any retreats in Ibiza that offered the whole holistic package of coaching and wellness, yoga and meditation, integrated treatments and therapies, spiritual guidance and consciously created cuisine. There were none where I felt I would be truly nurtured as a woman, where I could rest my head, let go and release. I realised that there was a thirst for this, a market niche and a need.”
Larah felt deepy nourished within the Ibizan sisterhood. A community of women from all over the island and indeed the world who openly shared their own stories, empowering Larah to release the past, forgive her ex and most importantly heal and forgive herself. These women had gone through hardships and drawn on their inner resources to create a new life of grace, joy and gratitude. This open-hearted sisterhood continues to soothe her soul.
“In a tepee at home, or high on the mountains, in workshops and retreats, we sit with women of all ages, sharing, our truths, our challenges, and our needs,” she says of her day-to-day experiences of life in Ibiza which inspire her work with Ibiza Retreats as it evolves. “Granting respect to the wiser older spirits and embracing the younger girls’ blissful innocence. And in the sharing flows acceptance, openness, courage, vulnerability, an expose of the inner-qualities that incarnate our sensitivity and our ability to honour and be the more emotional, feminine race. I am constantly inspired by the courage of each guest, to see themselves, to look into their shadow sides, face certain truths and to take up the gauntlet to create the health, happiness and success that they deserve.”
Today, always looking to extend her wellness and healing capabilities, Larah is currently studying yoga therapy and is specialising in enabling her clients to self-heal anxiety, depression, recuperate from surgery and chronic back pain. And her philosophy that “women need to fill our cup first, so that we have more love and energy to give” rings true, as you find her rejuvenating her soul, from her morning practice outside under an almond tree, to the white islands’ women’s circles in yoga, meditation, kirtans, prayer and sound healing ceremonies as life allows!
Meet Susie Howell – A yoga teacher and wellness consultant who is passionate about yoga as medicine.
Susie moved to Ibiza in 2010 after an intense 10-year career in advertising and a series of broken relationships saw her feeling trapped and uninspired, disconnected from her fractured sense of self and stuck in patterns of self-destruct. She had graduated at 21 and began her relationship with her yoga mat at 24, suffering from well-hidden anxiety attacks. Gaining promotion after promotion she was trapped in the cycle of wanting more, but struggling with anxiety as there wasn’t enough of her to do it all. She was functioning perfectly from the outside, but inside was merely existing.
“Yoga allowed me to connect to something so much greater and more powerful, and was a space to be softer, away from the stresses of work and dysfunctional relationships. It helped me through a divorce, deaths of close friends and family, and a feeling of ‘who am I and why am I actually here?’”
Time spent in the yoga studio steadily increased and in 2007 Susie undertook a yoga teacher-training course in London. Over the course of 18 months this enabled her to break away from some of her destructive patterns, to build new friendships with inspiring people and to cultivate the strength to begin to explore what it is she was really looking for.
When Susie was introduced to Larah she felt an instant connection to her passion and vision. Soon she became a partner in Ibiza Retreats, and building and evolving their shared baby has been a healing journey. “Connecting to so many wonderful people and their awe-inspiring journeys has given me the strength and courage to be authentic, to be present, and to explore beyond what is told and trained and conditioned. It has enabled the bondage of the past to be released – the guilt and the fear – and for me to use all that has been learned and shared with the brave women who come to begin or further their own journeys.”
Whether working one to one in yoga or co-creating and hosting a retreat, Susie’s passion for what she does shines through. She is fully present for you and your journey – without any judgment for the story – and helps you connect back to yourself – to what is real and authentic and to recover what has been lost along the way.
“Ibiza became my place to grow, throw off the mask I had been wearing and align with my true self. Authenticity and honesty are some of the greatest freedoms – and helping people to tap into that has been a humbling journey.”