In August 2015, COMO Shambhala Retreat at Uma by COMO, Paro – an intimate resort in Bhutan’s Paro Valley – is pleased to welcome yoga expert Elena Brower. Elena will lead a brand new six-night residential package, focusing on the fundamental yogic tools of asana, pranayama and meditation in the forests of this mysterious Himalayan kingdom.
Elena has studied with master teachers since 1997, and has been teaching yoga and meditation since 1999. Along with co-author Erica Jago, Elena blended the worlds of art and yoga in the roundbreaking book Art of Attention. She has taught classes at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Central Park, and leads annual international workshops. She has contributed to The Huffington Post, Origin Magazine and Positively Positive and keeps her own blog, elenabrower.com.
Read more: Yoga Retreat in Bhutan - Uma by Como, Paro
Just before Virtuoso week 2013 I was put in contact with the owner of Hermitage Bay Hotel in Antigua over twitter. At this time I knew little about the island of Antigua, I knew nothing about Hermitage Bay but I believe everything happens for a reason so I was intrigued to set up a meeting with Andy Thesen the owner of Hermitage Bay. After our first meeting in 2013 Carly and I knew we were kindred spirits with Andy. One year later we met again at Virtuoso Week 2014 and we wanted to get up close and personal this time with Andy and learn the heart behind Hermitage Bay.
The hotels and resorts in the Virtuoso Collection have all gone through a rigorous screening to be included in the list of the world’s Best of the Best. Therefore Carly and I know that the rooms, bathrooms, décor in the hotel and service all reach a certain level but we want to know what makes each hotel property different. Is it an independent hotel? Is it a trusted global brand? Does it have a sense of place? Is it boutique? Is it grand? The questions go on and on for what can set each luxury hotel apart from the next.
Andy discovered Hermitage Bay when he was looking for property for a home for himself. What exists now is nothing of what he thought it was going to be originally. He now offers the most powerful sense of wellbeing at a luxury resort with the top priority of taking care of their guests.
What is your definition of Wellness?
-Very conscious of what one eats, wanting to know where it comes from, no processed food, no farmed fish, fresh produce etc. I like creating my own kefir and sauerkraut. The kefir I make comes from raw goats milk that I get at a biodynamic farm near my house in the UK.
-Staying Active and having an exercise routine that works for you
-Spiritual Wellness; taking that time in the day to meditate and reflect.
What is your definition of Luxury?
-It’s not marble bathrooms and gold taps…. It is a feeling of human connection and being part of a bigger thing.
Hermitage Bay has been given rave reviews for the service, what is the philosophy behind your impeccable service?
-Hermitage Bay is an entity, it is a being and has become what it is by the people who work here. I have hired all local staff. We recruit people with good hearts and we teach the rest!
-The GM, Rachel, is a community builder and she doesn’t even know it. It is in her DNA and comes from the fact that she grew up in a commune in BVI. She has created a sense of culture and sense of family amongst the staff. They know they are all in this together and help each other out without asking.
-I have also had group therapy sessions with the 100 staff at Hermitage Bay because it allows us to have the most open and honest communication possible. The therapy allows us to continue to grow and be the best we can be. It comes not from a place where there is something to fix but more from a place similiar to the fact that Roger Federer probably has tennis lessons!
-This sense of community and love within the staff naturally trickles to love and appreciation of every guest that stays at Hermitage Bay. The staff give out genuine authentic care without anything in return. When I am on property if I can see the guests are open to it I love chatting with them and learning their story.
What kind of environment have you created at Hermitage Bay?
-The environment is conducive to anyone who is looking to relax, disconnect and be present. We offer a low stress environment for those looking for peace and to connect back to oneself. We have no man made noises on property, we enjoy the natural sounds!
Did you come up with the name Hermitage Bay?
-No, it came with the name and it is very fitting. Hermitage Bay….literally a place for people to hermit.
What Carly and I got from Andy was raw and left us in tears for just how beautiful, transformative, and powerful a stay at Hermitage Bay can be. I left off the amazing guest stories that Andy shared with us so if you are interested in learning about them feel free to contact me or Andy (twitter @HermitageBay)….or better yet how about experience it firsthand! #AntiguaAwaits