If you have tried to plan your next international escape, you know first hand to coordinate the perfect hotel, dining options, tours and Setting aside time to explore alone can be more daunting than you think. All-inclusive packages offered by many hotels and resorts should take some of the weight off their backs, but they can also seem standardized with the same carefree experience marketed to everyone, regardless of their personal taste. A retreat can introduce you to a destination you never thought you would end up with, with the added element of pre-determined lodging, meals, and a more intimate, local perspective on how you spend your time. The following creative retreats go the extra mile to incorporate the art into your itinerary and provide space, materials and instructions for you to jump into a new skill. No experience is required for you to become a wildlife photographer of the week, capture the Tasmanian landscape in plain air or color fabrics using centuries-old methods in Oaxaca. Experience coastal Portugal while designing your own textile masterpiece, or be fascinated by a mandala workshop in Nepal. You also do not want to go through the experience alone; Support from other participants with similar goals can be a lifeline when you put yourself out there and try new things. Wherever you choose to put your energy, an organized creative retreat will take care of the logistics while you focus on expressing yourself.
With creativity, cultural education and environmental awareness at the forefront, Thread Caravan organizes attentive international retreats to celebrate diversity in the arts. Spanning three continents, tours include workshops run by local artisans; gain practical exposure while teaching your colleagues to retire and a whole new country. Your participation supports local artists in the country you choose to visit, and you return home both well-rested and inspired to open new doors.
Mexico’s southwestern Oaxaca region is known for its emphasis on traditional crafts and cuisine, and Oaxaca City is the heart of the state. Thread Caravan’s natural dyes and weaving retreat gives you seven days of hands-on workshops with local artisans, guided tours of the city, and a boutique bed and breakfast to call home for the week. You will learn how botanical products are processed to create lasting textile colors, as well as how to use a traditional fabric to weave fibers. By attending workshops, you participate in ancient techniques imbued with history. Excursions beyond the classroom include ruins dating back to Zapotec culture, botanical gardens with native cacti and flora, and rejuvenating mineral springs, among others. Meals are varied and always local, and special diets are welcome. There are a select number of seats left for the Thread Caravan’s December edition of this retreat, and the organization also offers customized travel dates for groups of four or more.
That Mother-daughter retreat, which takes place as fast as in September, is also a beautiful way to experience textile art along with ceramics, culinary recipes and even a flower styling workshop led by local women. The retreat invites four mother-daughter couples to Oaxaca to motivate, support and encourage each other while attending workshops, tastings and excursions. The retreat begins Sept. 4, so reserve your seats soon; whether you are a mother or daughter, surprise your loved one with an Oaxacan respite this fall.
Recently named 2021 Outstanding Photographer of the Year by the North American Nature Photography Association, Suzi Eszterhas offers nature photography tours that take you (and your presence behind the lens) longer than you thought possible. With a year-long successful photo career, Suzi is no stranger to the Earth’s remaining wild places and the hidden life in them. Her tours welcome all levels of photographers and are professionally curated to ensure participants go away with shots once in a lifetime and professional advice to continue shooting.
Upcoming tours includes African safaris arranged to highlight the season’s vitality, migratory fauna and predator area. Stains are still available in October African Predators Safari, February East African migration and predator safaris, and Africa in Green Safari in March.
Each tour is dictated by wildlife patterns that ensure you arrive at the best viewing locations at the right time. Tours include private charter transportation, extra luggage space to accommodate your equipment and luxury camps to keep you rested when you see animals in their natural habitat. Professionally trained guides keep your itinerary running while you focus on technique, composition and getting the perfect angle. Tours work in private concessions, which means your route will not be crowded with vehicles or other tours, giving you the full safari experience from a particular vantage point. The photographs you leave with will be more than memorials, and you will return home with a permanent reminder of what lies beyond.
Machine filtration may not be the first medium you think of when considering coastal Portuguese culture, but Karin HellabyPatchwork Retreat mixes the two effortlessly and gives you a luxurious retreat that takes place in the fall. The author and master craftsman will meet you in Portugal to guide you through machine sewing of your own project while you draw inspiration from the country’s Silver Coast. Before her workshops begin, you have two days to take in Porto, the coastal city known for its azulejo tiles. After a day of touring architectural wonders, you will find yourself crossing the Douro River to attend a dusk of port wine tasting brought to you by the retreat. Visit a local quilt shop the following day introduces you to Portugal’s craft culture just in time for the drive to Coimbra, where you check in at the five star Praia D’El Rey Golf & Beach Resort. Located right by the sea, the resort offers a full-service spa, an on-site restaurant, bistro and bar, as well as a private terrace or balcony for all guests. Over the next four days, you will attend Karin’s workshops, fine-tune your sewing skills and emerge with a final project to bring home. When not learning, spend your extra time relaxing in the spa, soaking up the sun or taking advantage of your private balcony. The retreat is the pace so you have the opportunity to see, use your hands and do absolutely nothing without feeling overwhelmed. Luxury and craftsmanship can go hand in hand on the Silver Coast, and Patchwork Retreat finds a special balance to keep you happily busy.
With countless yoga-focused retreats to choose from, it’s hard to find one that stands out based on location, itinerary and originality. Based in Nepal, Mandala Workshop and Yoga Retreat brings the two forces of art and movement together in a spiritually important destination. The retreat is seven days long and each day includes a learning element based on traditional Nepalese music and visual arts. This includes mandala painting workshops with local professionals along with sound healing sessions and a double dose of yoga instruction daily. The mandala is elusive in that it is certainly something you have seen rendered countless times out of context, but probably never encountered in its proper cultural setting. Learning about the history of mandala as a symbol and taking the time to create one in your hand will be just as spiritually and physically stable as your yoga practice. You will be exposed to traditional materials and guided as you participate in the pattern-making ritual. The retreat is brought to you by the Umbrella Healing Center, which also offers healthy daily meals, comfortable lodge accommodation and a garden atmosphere during your weekly stay in Pokhara.
If you have always been curious about mainland Australia, why not take it a step further and satisfy your adventurous spirit by getting to know the island of Tasmania instead? Your headquarters will be Red Feather Inn near the town of Launceston where you can enjoy a luxury room, your meals handmade by a private chef and five day trip to the island with brushes in hand. Your mentor will be Clair Bremner, an Australian artist known for his expressionist attitude to the lush nature of the continent. The retreat includes walks in the archipelago in the high season of flowering; Highlights include a trip to Table Cape Tulip Farm and a full day dedicated to Tasmania’s favorite Tulip Festival. Travel to some of Clair’s favorite places to paint from, and pick up tips as you go; at the last sessions, your strokes will be more confident and your motives more intentional as you familiarize yourself with a stream. The retreat itinerary goes in full circle to ensure you see, sample cuisine, meet locals and preserve your Tasmanian experience on canvas during your stay. If you have never considered the island as a holiday destination, take this chance to deviate from traditional tourist hotspots and venture south.
The most important thing in choosing a creative retreat that works for you is to be inspired by your surroundings. Just stepping into a place that is completely different from what you are used to can get your left brain going, even if you do not necessarily consider yourself an artist. The extra support of an instructor and other participants ensures that you are free to express yourself and dip your feet in a whole new pursuit without worrying about what the “old you” might think. If the memories are not enough to motivate you to keep creating once you are home, it will be the last piece. Choose a continent, book your retreat in advance, and look forward to escaping with a purpose.