Picture it: the sun is slowly rising, peeking up over the horizon, casting a rosy glow across the fresh, crisp sky. You and your comrades huddle around a pot of freshly brewed turmeric tea as yoga mats are laid out, ready for your first sun salutation of the day.

Let me preface this piece by confessing I am not, nor have I ever been, a ‘yoga person’, but this retreat is so much more. Whether you’re able to bend yourself into a pretzel-like formation, or whether you’re just about able to touch your toes, this relaxing, restorative retreat should shoot to the top of your bucket list – and here’s why.

Tangerine Retreats was formed with the intention of bringing together the best elements of various other retreats into one neat and complete package. With a splash of hearty vegan food, dash of engaging activities and pinch of personal time, scientists of serenity Jessica and Edward Gow have certainly found a winning formula for their retreats.

Local start-up Tangerine Retreats currently use hand-selected private villas in Tarifa and Jimena de la Frontera, and are soon expanding to Morocco. Alongside the daily scheduled yoga and meditation, specially-tailored treatments such as reflexology, reiki and various massage options are on offer. Added to the mix, experts in the nutrition field are on hand to cater the whole experience.

Here we sit down with Jess, a qualified yoga instructor and reflexologist, and her partner in life and business, Ed, an outdoor fitness leader, to talk about the ‘fruit’ of their labour.

How did Tangerine Retreats come about?

Edward: We spent a large part of 2018 trying to book ourselves onto a retreat but couldn’t quite find what we were looking for, so we decided to create our own. We did a lot of research and looked at lots of different types of retreats, but the problem was we weren’t looking for just a pure yoga retreat or one that only focused on one specific thing; we wanted something for the full body and mind.

We just want to create a retreat that we ourselves would like to go on, one with all these elements combined.

Jess: We wanted to create a retreat that wasn’t just a short-term fix, but that would help create a new, healthier lifestyle for our guests. One that had an element of fun and playfulness to it as well as addressing mental health and physical wellbeing as well as a nice holistic approach; we want you to come away feeling recharged and reenergised, but also have a laugh!

Where are the retreats held, and what do they involve?

J: The retreats are held in Tarifa and Jimena de la Frontera, but we have our next retreat in Tangiers in Morocco. The plan is to continue growing and for our retreats to be held all over the world, adding venues to our list of retreat locations. We hand-pick special, boutique locations that fit the type of retreat we want to offer. Each of our retreats is different, but they all focus around improving your lifestyle and helping our guests in a holistic way.
So far, we have kept to a format of meditation, yoga and acroyoga – this is changing going forward. Our next one in Morocco will be an exciting mix of yoga and exploring, immersing retreat-goers in the Moroccan culture

E: The Moroccan retreat will be all about yoga, adventure, exploring and trying new things… pushing people out of their comfort zone.

Do you need prior meditation/yoga experience?

E: No experience of any kind needed! We tailor all our classes and activities to our guests. If the group are really advanced, we’ll focus on more advanced moves, but if no one has tried yoga before, then we’ll take it easy and give them a great introduction to it.

J: We always make sure that in each of our yoga classes we have variations for each pose, so everyone from beginner to experienced level can attempt it.

What makes it stand out from other retreats?

J: We believe we’re different from other retreats because we try to focus on the body as a whole. Depending on the retreat, we incorporate different classes and experiences to encourage people to eat well, be fit, healthy, mindful and adventurous both during and after they’ve left the retreat. We try and slow the pace down for our guests so that they can have a break from the stress of modern living.

We don’t believe in a strict retreat where you strip everyone from all the goodies. Ecological wine and mobile phones are permitted! We believe it’s about balance, as life should be.

E: It shouldn’t be a quick fix. Although we want to give people a really great experience so they relax in the short term, through the activities, talking openly and filling up on nutritious food we also want people to take something away into their daily life. Something they can grow into.

But don’t just take their word for it – I went along to one of Tangerine Retreats’ special getaways to experience it for myself. Not being of the aforementioned pretzel persuasion, I must admit I was a little nervous about my first retreat, but all nerves dissipated as soon as I arrived to open arms welcoming me into the villa like a long-lost friend.

Tangerine Retreats aim to set themselves apart from other retreats, and succeed in doing so. From the personalised treatments [Jess is a professional reflexologist and conducts some of these herself. I can thoroughly recommend the reflexolog. Jess pinpointed several personal issues with eerie accuracy – all through my feet!] to the addition of Jess and Ed as part of the group dynamic, you won’t have experienced a retreat quite like this one before.

Upcoming retreats: Tangier 30th Oct-3rd Nov, Retiro Sambana 9-12th January, Retiro Sambana 13-16th March. For more information visit tangerineretreats.com or email info@tangerineretreats.com.