Wellbeing, retreats and travel: Alice BB interviews Amanda Wakeley and Henrietta Loyd
At our recent event in partnership with fashion designer Amanda Wakeley, travel writer and The Times LUXX Spa Editor Alice B-B talked to both Amanda and Henrietta, our founder, about where in the world to go for meaningful change, challenging adventures, serious pampering and spiritual enlightenment.
Where in the world have you experienced meaningful change?
Henrietta: In Africa, where my love of travel first began.
Amanda: Two days on Mnemba Island off Zanzibar – a truly remarkable place. A Robinson Crusoe island. Barefoot luxury at its best.
How did that come about?
Henrietta: By chance, two great-uncles told me I had to see the Victoria Falls in my lifetime, so off I set, aged 20, and never looked back.
Amanda: I went there to do a piece for Condé Nast Traveller soon after it launched in the UK.
Was it something you were seeking or something unexpected?
Henrietta: It was totally unexpected.
Amanda: It was completely unexpected if I am honest. I think that sometimes when you live an incredibly busy life, you don’t always make the time to stand back and reflect on your life and your relationships. Forty-eight hours of near solitude was very cathartic, not to say important.
Is it something you will continue to seek in 2019?
Henrietta: Absolutely. I have just got back from Kenya and I will use any excuse to go to Africa or any of our destinations and discover more.
Amanda: I think it is important to occasionally ‘take stock’ but I can’t say I am looking for meaningful change in 2019, just positive evolution. I think travel often acts as a wonderful catalyst though.
If so, where do you hope this will happen? What places are on your radar?
Henrietta: I have never had a particular desire to go to Antarctica or the Arctic but Sarah, who runs our polar regions division, visited the former last year and her feedback just blew me away. She said it was life-changing and, having sat through her three-hour debrief, I can see why. And the Arctic, being nearer, is easier to visit as it is possible to go for a week. It truly is the ultimate expeditionary adventure.
Mozambique is also on my radar; in particular, Gorongosa National Park, which we will be able to send clients to later this year. We are very excited as this is one of Africa’s last wildernesses. And Indonesia is too. The Raja Ampat archipelago is especially beautiful and there are some new and extremely luxurious boats here in which to explore. One of our experts, Antonia, is currently out there and we can’t wait to hear her thoughts.
Amanda: I would love to go to Antarctica. I love being in the elements and I would love to go before it becomes swamped with cruise ships and tourists. We spend quite a lot of time ski-touring and being up on the glaciers in Switzerland and I love the quiet, epic landscapes.
Where have you experienced challenge and adventure?
Henrietta: Last May, I went on a mobile expedition in Botswana. So much travel nowadays is cocooned in luxury but we are getting lots of requests from clients asking us to create trips that are more pared back. This was ‘glamping’ on a grand scale but there was a sense of adventure that sometimes gets lost. Surprises arise when you are reliant on the camp moving – we arrived one evening to find lions in situ rather than the camp! It would also be incredibly special to sleep under canvas in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley. A mobile expedition is for those who want to get back to being at one with nature. In my view, this is the ultimate way to really experience a destination.
Amanda: We recently went heli-skiing in Canada’s British Columbia province to one of the more challenging areas. It was good to really work hard on my fitness before going and then be pushed every day both mentally and physically. The sense of adventure came when we were nearly fogged in on the first day on the mountain. It wasn’t until we managed to get back to the lodge that I realised how close we had been to actually spending the night on the mountain.
How did it make you feel?
Henrietta: Very privileged.
Amanda: Proud, relieved and exhilarated.
Was it alone or with your family?
Henrietta: It was a press trip, so I was with a group of fabulous journalists – many of whom we have worked with for decades.
Amanda: I was with my partner, although he was skiing in another group the day I nearly spent the night on the mountain.
Did it enhance your life?
Henrietta: Yes, it certainly did.
Amanda: Yes, absolutely, not to mention my fitness levels.
Is pushing yourself out of your comfort zone something you continue to look for?
Henrietta: Personally, yes, definitely. But as a business, only to a degree. We have to be very objective as we are constantly dealing with individuals with different wants, so we have to be circumspect from day to day.
Amanda: I think it is healthy to do, but between getting my PADI last November (which was not the easiest for me personally) and this heli-skiing trip, I have pushed myself enough for a while. That is until the next exciting challenge presents itself…
Where will your next adventure take you?
Henrietta: To Cuba in February – I am taking a small group of clients with me to explore Havana and Trinidad. This will be my fifth visit and I love it there.
Amanda: We are taking our sailing boat, Savannah, back to the US this summer to race her off Newport.
Where is the best place you’ve been for intense pampering?
Henrietta: Ananda in the Himalayas, a wholly Ayurvedic spa retreat in India. Surrounded by sal forests and overlooking the spiritual town of Rishikesh and the Ganges river valley, it is an amazing, revitalising place.
Amanda: Honestly, I have never done this, although the idea is quite appealing.
What did you take away from the experience?
Henrietta: That it’s important to exercise – and, of course, portion control!
Amanda: The desire to do this, preferably in some far-flung place like Bhutan.
What does pampering mean to you in 2019?
Henrietta: Turning off for a whole week and concentrating on myself, which does not come naturally.
Amanda: The time to enjoy fabulous treatments.
And where do you hope to find it?
Henrietta: Perhaps in Mongolia. I plan to travel with a group of friends. It really is a true wilderness.
Amanda: I am not sure right at this moment.
Where in the world have you been inspired to find spiritual enlightenment?
Henrietta: I have not visited personally yet but Bhutan is one of our top recommendations for finding spiritual enlightenment.
Amanda: In the power of the beauty found in nature.
Is there somewhere you long to go to develop this further?
Henrietta: I am thinking about planning a small group trip to Bhutan. It will include yoga in remote spots, temple blessings and trekking in beautiful valleys, all while staying in incredible lodges.
Amanda: I am sure a really luxurious heli-skiing lodge in the middle of nowhere could combine all of these perhaps? However, the days never seem long enough!
The Holy Grail… Have any of your travels combined all of these elements?
Henrietta: Not yet but I hope to find it in Bhutan!
Amanda: Not yet. Something to look forward to though!
Describe your best ever cocktail – the place, the smells, the sounds, the taste and who you were with.
Henrietta: A mojito in the open-air bar at the Hotel Nacional in Havana. It is just so evocative of Cuba and the Caribbean. We try to do this on day one or two of my small group trip to get into the swing of things, before we set out in classic cars for dinner and music. Havana is simply alive with music.
Amanda: A fresh white-peach bellini at sunset in the garden of the Belmond Caruso Hotel in Ravello, Italy, with my partner, Hugh, in the early summer. A perfect moment that we still reminisce about…