Ibiza wellness: My Island Retreats – New beginnings bring hope

Many of us spend a lifetime searching for new beginnings. Some present themselves readily – a new day, a fresh challenge or starting a family, while others prove more difficult to detect. And yet, if we look closely, we notice other forces are always at work, pushing us towards an ultimate destination completely unbeknown to us. This was the case for Erin Knowles, founder of My Island Retreats, whose fast-paced, jet-set life came to a halt when she was forced to re-evaluate her priorities due to illness. At the time it was a painful process, but it ultimately led her to Ibiza, Can Almaria, and a life she’d been longing to live.

As a super-fixer for the world’s global elite, Erin’s schedule was nothing short of frenzied. Based in London, she provided a service for the world’s rich and famous with a can-do attitude that allowed very little time for rest. The effects eventually took their toll, leaving her body frazzled, and her mind, exhausted. “I got quite sick because of the lifestyle I was leading and I had to dig deeply to get through it,” she explains. “I really had to start thinking about my body and what was best for it.”

This quest led her down many paths and to the doors of many wellbeing practitioners, and after much soul searching, Erin swapped her fast-paced life for something more grounding and stable. “Once I made a personal shift it became very difficult to continue doing the job I was doing,” she says. “Then it came to me – I had a vision to host retreats for people who needed rest and recuperation, just like me.” Ibiza, she says, was the natural choice when it came to location. “I’ve always loved the island, and now with My Island Retreats, it plays such an important role in making people better.”

Erin hosts eight My Island Retreats escapes scattered throughout the year, and all of them are held at the stunning Can Almaria, a villa near San Rafael that’s been tenderly looked after by the same family for over 50 years. Nestled among citrus groves and “every tree you could possibly imagine”, it houses six beautiful bedrooms, two swimming pools, a yoga deck, tennis court, fire pit and a spectacular Mongolian yurt, all set within beautiful botanical grounds. It’s a place guests feel safe, and comfortable – somewhere to escape from the pressures of normality.

In 2018, My Island Retreats are in residence at Can Almaria from April 29 to May 5 for the Awakening Retreat plus September 30 to October 6; October 28 to November 3 and November 3 to 10 for Autumn Retreats, with more retreat dates set to be announced soon. There’s also the possibility for clients to commission Erin and her team to design and host bespoke retreats for between one and 12 guests throughout the season. For the remainder of the year, Can Almaria is also open to all other retreat providers looking for the perfect venue to host health, wellness, fitness, yoga, meditation or any other type of inspirational retreat.

“The house just has such a lovely feel to it,” enthuses Erin. “This place has been loved by the same family for years and years and you really get a sense of that.” She credits the serenity of the villa itself for helping guests come to terms with their own healing, describing it as like coming home “to your parents’ house.” In addition, its beautiful setting really allows people the opportunity to connect with the surrounding nature, in turn coming back to themselves.

The retreat’s programming centres around Can Almaria. Mornings begin with sunrise yoga and meditation sessions in the yurt before moving on to a three-course vegetarian breakfast. Afternoons are spent hiking with a Walking Ibiza guide in the local area, and concentrating on bodywork or additional treatments, while evenings pass with more restorative yoga, a three-course dinner and starlit nights sat by the fire pit, where intimate conversations linger long into the night. “There’s a lot of relief that comes from talking to the other people in the group,” Erin explains. “Here, there’s a lot of space to process what’s going on with you.”

Erin’s team of expert consultants are on hand to help with that processing too. With a little black book of dream contacts, Erin has collated the perfect bespoke line-up for each retreat. Globally renowned bodyworker Louka Leppard often plays a key role, as does veteran yoga teacher Suzanne Faith, and each contributor brings a unique set of skills to help guests relax and truly unlock their personal demons. Even Ally Beattie, the onsite chef, has become an expert listener. “People end up sharing stories with him while he’s cooking,” smiles Erin. “He’s a gentle soul.”

Erin herself is always available to offer guidance as well. My Island Retreats clients tend to come from similar backgrounds – highly stressed, extremely pressured and burnt out, which puts her well placed to advise, and at Can Almaria, they’re given the time and space to readdress all that. “If you want to find ultimate peace, then come,” she says. “We offer restoration in nature that helps heal body, mind and soul. My last group were all exhausted when they arrived, and by the time they left they were glowing – none of them had anticipated the extent of what they’d get from the experience.” Sometimes all you need for a new beginning is a nudge in the right direction.

There is one remaining space on the April  29, 2018 Awakening Retreat hosted by My Island Retreats, and Can Almaria is also available to book for private retreats and holidays throughout the year. Please contact erin@erinknowles.co.uk for further info or to reserve your retreat space.