A Retreat At High Altitude

Reviewed by The Wellness Traveller

Zermatt, Switzerland


Say Yes To Life

Can you face your fears? Are you living your life to the full? Life throws us many challenges and we deal with them in our own way. Sometimes we hide from the world, we give air time to negative thoughts, we feel smaller, become quieter and then lose our sense of self.  But they say a problem shared is a problem halved. And this is when a retreat, (like this retreat at high altitude), plays a vital role as a safety net, a place to voice personal obstacles on a mental, emotional, physical and spiritual level, away from home, away from routine with the generous gift of “me” time to invest in ourselves.

The Retreat At High Altitude

I’m standing on my hotel terrace breathing in the fresh cool air looking over forests of green pine laced together, moving in a slow rhythm to a comforting breeze. High above is Switzerland’s iconic Matterhorn peeping through a mask of cloud, a sprinkling of white snow at its peak. Its stoic power radiates, its solidity gives strength as I venture out to join my first retreat experience.

Billed as a Holistic Summit with Elise Joan, we gather, one by one, together in Switzerland, strangers from around the globe, from New York to LA, London to Oxford and places in-between, travelling  alone or as sisters or a mother and daughter double act. There’s no age limit, no fitness level expectation. For some this is a first-time experience, for others a reunion. An immersion into a new culture and miles away from that personal comfort zone. Each one bringing the determination to add more to their lives, to disconnect from negativity and soothe the scars of the past. Tough stuff.

The common denominator is Elise Joan, an American celebrity fitness and life coach supremo, prominent on US platforms with a huge following. They all know her from their screens, courtesy of the fitness apps, platforms and magazines. Over the months and years, she has been the online instructor, heard through headphones but now she stands or rather stretches before us all, in person, in real time, as the retreat leader to guide us through resetting new goals, defeating negative mind chatter and to create affirmations to prove our value in this world. And, of course to perfect our mountain pose!

Each day starts with an active body session, a blend of soulful yoga, stretch, “Barre Blend”, and mindfulness. A well-deserved nutritious breakfast presents time to chat and socialise in readiness for the challenge of the day, be it the heights of paragliding, a five-hour hike or a balancing act while wake-boarding. Success stems from facing and overcoming physical and emotional obstacles, or not, with the group providing the support and encouragement to breed positivity and fun. No pressure, no guilt.

These precious 6 days are scheduled with group gatherings, individual coaching and leisure time to off-load weighty thoughts hidden for a decade.  Time is flexible to build friendships, secure long-term anchors and to indulge in time alone to rethink and reset. 

The Retreat Location

It’s high altitude here in Zermatt, a location snuggly wrapped by the Swiss Alps oozing with rugged beauty. This quaint village is defined by Breitling watches, fondue menus, chocolate, of course, while cuddly black-nosed goats parade through the main street in summer giving a distinct character to village life. At a higher elevation is the 5-star Cervo Mountain Resort, trendy, cool and laid back, the perfect ambiance for our retreat. This is a lifestyle hotel, with creative vibes around every corner. It’s a place at one with its environment dotted with contemporary alpine elements using natural materials and sourcing food from local farms and fishermen.  

The Retreat Company

Curating this retreat is Travelgems  the leading retreat company in Europe who now offers 35 retreats in locations around Europe to include Crete and Corfu, Tenerife and Tuscany and Greece, later this year, with the renowned guru, Deepak Chopra. Every retreat has a unique educational pattern that aims to help participants grow, evolve or change their perspective. The increase in the number of retreats reflects recent research that consumers are seeking mindfulness getaways that focus on mental health and wellbeing. This growing demand for meaningful travel experiences embracing wellbeing and cultural exploration appeals to both men and women of all ages. Group numbers are small to maximise personal interaction and retreats are set for 6 days, the time required, it is said to effect a transformation process.

The Retreat Result

“To build the world full of authentic human smiles by enhancing peoples’ well-being.” This is the underlying goal of the company.and is in evidence as the retreat comes to a close. Gone are the stressed expressions, smiles instead. Individuals now stronger and focused. Strangers now buddies and friendships established. New paths mapped and a brighter future ahead. And as I take a last look from my hotel terrace, the misty clouds have blown away, the Matterhorn is in full view. Maybe this is a sign, a reflection, that this retreat at high altitude has cleared my mind, made me stronger and reset paths on a new journey towards higher goals. 

Retreat Contact Details



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