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  • Writer's pictureEveline Vouillemin

Affordable UK-based wellness and walking retreats

We speak to Anna Brown, the owner of Wellness and Walking, about the affordable wellness holidays and retreats she runs in the UK.


Two people kayaking on a lake

In 2023, after working for a tour operator for over 11 years, Anna Brown decided to set up her own tour operator company, with the vision of providing affordable group wellness and walking holidays in the UK, beginning in Wales.


She now runs Wellness and Walking which provides group wellness holidays at beautiful locations with local instructors and guides to provide an itinerary of wellness activities.


The activities vary by holiday, but could include: yoga, pilates, qigong, tai Chi, sound/gong bath, wild swimming, guided meditation, guided walk, foraging, reiki, zumba, HIIT (High-intensity interval training) and paddleboarding.


We spoke to Anna about her vision for Wellness and Walking, the wellness practices she loves most and her favourite things about living in North Wales...

 

What prompted you to set up Wellness and Walking in 2023?

After the tour operator I worked for was acquired by a bigger company, I decided this was the time to take the leap and start a business of my own. Wellness is a high priority for more people now than ever, and a few days away on a retreat can significantly improve one’s well-being, making it easier to cope with life’s everyday stressors.


However, I found many retreats target the high-end luxury market, with limited affordable options for those on lower incomes, so I decided to make it my mission to create more accessible wellness breaks without compromising on quality.


I also realised I could make retreats more accessible to instructors, as there are many small businesses who would love to offer a retreat but are put off by the extra admin and legalities involved. With my specialist background, I can take care of organising the retreat, so instructors can focus on what they do best - creating and delivering an amazing experience for their clients.


What is your vision for the business?

My goals are to remain true to my core ethos, offering affordable options so wellness breaks are accessible to those who need them most and to make retreats accessible to instructors by providing insurances and administration.


I also want to become a directory for group accommodation, to create bespoke wellness breaks for private groups - be it friends, corporations, charities, or families - and to remain a company that offers excellent customer service, flexibility and unforgettable experiences in the UK.


Can you tell me about the types of trips that you offer and what makes them special?

All trips are UK based, and marketed to people living in the UK, so I am promoting green travel. My trips can include many activities that promote wellbeing, through classes, activities or workshops. The options are endless so there is something for everyone.


My holidays with set dates use hotel and B&B accommodation, which allows you to fully embrace a wellness retreat while also enjoying some personal time at your own pace, if that’s what you want. You could bring a friend or partner to enjoy the surroundings too, but they don’t have to take part in the activities, which usually take place in the mornings and evenings.


This suits those who want to experience and benefit from a wellness break, but prefer to spend down time independently from the group. Also, in locations where there is good a choice of eateries, only breakfast is included, leaving guests free to dine according to their budget. Consumers money is also protected – unlike many retreats currently available.


Yoga studio with mats laid out and candles.

How do you want people to feel after going on one of your holidays?

I want people to feel relaxed, happy, accomplished, healthy, rejuvenated and satisfied. I want them to feel more connected to themselves, aware of their needs and better equipped to deal with life’s everyday stressors after they return home.


Which type of trips have been the most popular so far?

Holidays with a focus on yoga and walking are the most popular.


Which wellness practice brings you the most joy and peace?

Walking. Every time. I love to walk through fields, up hills, through forests, along rivers, beside the sea. When I feel stressed, anxious, even tired, it brings me back to myself, and gives me energy. Even a stroll through town can being me peace, but being surrounded by greenery in fresh air is just the best.


Anna Brown stood in front of a waterfall.
Anna Brown, owner of Wellness and Walking

You live in North Wales. When you want to feel completely immersed in nature, where do you go?

Being in North Wales I am so spoiled for choice. I love to explore the Clwydian Range. I feel so blessed to have this on my doorstep, living in the valley with this gorgeous backdrop. My closest haunts are Penycloddiau, Moel Arthur, Moel Famau and Moel Fenlli. I am happiest when I’ve just walked up a big hill, stopped to catch my breath and take in the view. It takes my breath away every time, and not just because of the climb!


One day last November, after dropping my son off at school I nipped up Moel Arthur to walk my dog, Chase. It was a gorgeous, sunny and clear day. I stopped to watch a kestrel hover in the sky for some time, just marveling at the nature before me, thinking I’m so lucky I get to pop here for a quick walk and see this. Then a little further along the path, a huge owl swooped up from the bracken, flew overhead, to then have a little barney with the kestrel I’d just been watching…it was incredible.


Which Wellness and Walking trips are your most excited for in 2024?

Naturally, I am excited about all of them. I have got to know all the instructors and accommodation providers, so I know my clients will be in safe hands and are in for some really rewarding experiences. I will be present at the first of each break, which is a huge perk of the job, getting to experience the amazing holidays I am selling and connecting with clients on a personal level.


I get to enjoy a yoga weekend, active weekend with walking and paddle sports, multi-activity breaks with yoga, qigong, gong bath and walks, and a break including a woodland day retreat where there will be foraging, campfire cooking, balm making, forest bathing, yoga (including aerial yoga) and meditation.


By Eveline Vouillemin


For more information on upcoming retreats, head to Wellness and Walking.

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