*We were thrilled this year to be Chosen by Guardian Travel as one of their Top TEN LIFE-CHANGING RETREATS WORLDWIDE*
Our holidays, in an undiscovered part of Andalucia, combine creative and therapeutic writing workshops, guided walking, mindfulness meditation and periods of silence, and are held at the beautiful Finca Buenvino, in the Sierra de Aracena National Park, north of Seville. Finca Buenvino is a luxurious, superbly comfortable, bohemian and eclectic family home owned by Sam and Jeannie Chesterton. It was recently voted by The Times as one of the 20 Top Hotels in Andalucia. Jeannie's wonderful cooking, assisted by her chef son Charlie, is recommended by top chefs including Thomasina Miers and Darina Allen of Ballymaloe.Cookery School in Ireland. The acclaimed chef José Pizzaro borrowed Jeannie’s kitchen for a film and photographic location and has included one of her recipes in his new book Andalusia. The finca has now been chosen as one of Alastair Sawday's 25 Favourite Places To Stay in Europe. Stuffed with antiques, family heirlooms, art and books, flowers and a grand piano, the house stands proudly on a hill on the family's secluded organic farm with fields full of Iberian black pigs, chicken, sheep, two Spanish waterdogs and the occasional stag. There are 150 acres of chestnut and cork woods to explore and ancient drovers paths to follow which means that even in the hotter months, there is always shade.
Elaine will teach you the therapeutic value of writing down your life, on paper with a pen, and show you how keeping a journal can enhance and may even save your life! You will discover how writing in a notebook can help you make sense of your life and, by reflecting back on past experiences, identify what has helped, what has hindered and what may be done differently in the future. You will gain significant improvement in your self-esteem and self-confidence. You will share memories and stories in an uncritical, supportive and confidential small group. You will record your life story and uncover your unique writing voice. You will rediscover your creativity and give yourself permission to play with language – inventing, exploring and delighting in your mark on the page. You will leave empowered and assured of your place in life as a writer.
The retreat includes journalling, note-booking, memoir, autobiography, life writing and creative writing. All writing materials will be provided and all writing is by hand, on paper. There are mindfulness meditation sessions by the infinity pool; meditative, observational walks in the wooded hills of the Sierra de Aracena National Park; short, contemplative periods of daily silence to focus on the world around you; visits to local unspoilt, white washed pueblos; and morning and afternoon writing workshops with plenty of time for a siesta. For full list of what the programme includes, see right.
The retreat is open to everyone, no previous writing experience is necessary, but a basic level of physical flexibility and balance is needed for inclusion in the activities as walks are on unmade paths and uneven ground, with some steep ascents and descents. We are sorry but we cannot accept guests with physical disabilities.
Arrival and departure: Guests will be picked up from central Seville at 12.30pm on the first day of the retreat and returned at the same time on the last day. If you wish to return to the airport at a time that does not coincide with the rest of the group, this would be charged extra.
Group numbers: The course is limited to seven people.
Food & drink: The price of the holiday includes full board for seven nights – cooked breakfast, buffet lunch with wine, tapas with sherry, G&Ts or soft drinks, three course dinner with wine. All food and drink on visits out.
Transport: All transport during your stay is included.
18–25 May – fully booked
15–22 June – fully booked
30 August - 6 September - fully booked
7–14 September – fully booked
£1800 twin room
£2200 private room
Prices include all expenses, minus travel to Seville.
the programme Includes
Twice daily guided mindfulness meditation
Morning and afternoon writing workshops
Daily guided walks
Full bed and board, including amazing food cooked by Jeannie and her son Charlie and wine at lunch and dinner. All rooms have private bathrooms.
Welcome lunch in local family-run restaurant.
Hike to nearby pueblo for hammam visit with massage
Hike to a local pueblo for traditional Andalucian breakfast in family-run café
Visit to Europe's largest grotto, with time for shopping in the nearby town and (a glass of Manzanilla!) …or a café con leche.