| Hannah Grafton

Meet The Women Behind Zest Retreats

The Dear Body Programme is a wellness retreat like no other. Teaching guests valuable lessons in mindfulness, self care and self-nourishment, the programme aims to nurture the understanding of the links between emotional happiness and physical health, and is now available on The Sybarite in collaboration with Zest Retreats. The brainchild of Ali Lemaitre and Dr Bea Paszthy, Zest Retreats has crafted a series of ten programmes that will be released over the coming months. The Sybarite sat down with Dr Paszthy and Ali to discuss how their partnership came about and what guests can expect from Zest Retreats’ programmes. 

‘We were friends from the moment we met. Bea and I always found that we were on the same page in our thinking, especially when it came to women’s health and wellbeing.’ When Dr Paszthy and Ali met at an embassy function in London several years ago, they clicked immediately and quickly decided to combine their skills and passions to work on a luxurious retreat to help  women take a week out of their busy lives and address the issues holding them back from leading a fulfilling life.

After going on several different retreats over the years, but never finding anything that was completely transformative, Ali had already begun to think about what an alternative retreat, one that was really worthwhile to guests, would look like. After working with women as a psychiatrist, psychotherapist and family therapist for two decades, Bea was familiar with the tremendous amount of stress and pressure that women in the 21st century face. As well as prolonged stress causing a myriad of health issues such as weight problems, depression and hypertension, most women struggling with stress will tune out the messages in their head in favour of medication and reading conflicting advice online. Zest Retreats aim to buck this trend, encouraging women to listen to and appreciate their own body. Bea explains ‘At every stage of life our bodies offer us different gifts and challenges, and we must learn, as women, to work with our incredible bodies rather than against them.’ Ali adds ‘We wanted to reach out to women struggling with a range of issues that we felt, with the combined knowledge of Bea and myself, could really begin give a transformation benefit…we realised that there was a very real demand for this type of retreat for like-minded and liked-hearted women.’

Dr Bea Paszthy (left) and Ali Lemaitre (right)

When asked what they would like women to come away from their retreats having learned, the answer was simple. ‘The realisation that many of the challenges they face in the real world can be more easily understood, solved and/or better dealt with, with a few simple dietary and lifestyle changes, a shift in mindset and plenty of sleep.’ Dr Paszthy adds ‘Only women who are happy and contented can help others find happiness and contentment.’

One of the unique strengths of Zest Retreats is that it is highly responsive to each participant’s needs, and during the retreats they are able to develop personalised practices that each woman can take home. Every single one of us has different needs and varied strengths and weaknesses, making it difficult to recommend just one practice for us to implement into our daily lives. However, the one piece of advice Ali gives is to include a few minutes of meditation and diaphragmatic breathing to your routine, to allow the autonomic nervous system to find its balance once more. Ultimately, we should all be putting time aside to listen to our bodies and become aware of what they may need. ‘Maybe it’s more water, more sleep, veg, or maybe more laughter. It’s amazing how well your day goes if you have this as part of your daily practice.’

The setting for this Octobers retreat, The Dear Body Programme.

When I ask Ali and Bea what locations they want to take Zest Retreats to next, it’s clear that no continent or corner of the world is off limits for their future programmes. ‘Each of our locations are carefully selected to compliment the programmes we are delivering. Take our retreat in Italy this October for example: Italy is known for its colours, fragrances, countryside, luxury and sensuality, as well as delicious food and wines – a perfect setting to explore the relationship you have with your own body.’ The next retreat in the works at Zest is the Elemental Woman programme, set in the stunning Icelandic countryside, and promises an escape into elemental rawness, tectonic movement, powerful waterfalls and geysers and its own imitable style of hygge. ‘We also have plans for different programmes in the South of France, Hungary, Greece, Indonesia and North America, to name just a few.’

So what’s the big dream for Zest Retreats? In short, Bea and Ali hope to make a difference in people’s lives, take them to beautiful and memorable locations, and provide them with a renewed sense of optimism and confidence for the future to allow them to move forward and flourish in their own lives. So far, they have created four bespoke and well crafted programmes for women, and with the promise of future retreats for young adults and men also on the horizon, Zest has ensured that each and every one of us will be able to enjoy one of their once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

If you would like to secure your place on Zest Retreats’ Dear Body programme in October, you can book directly through The Sybarite. Just click the link here.

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