According to a recent study by luxury travel provider, The Luminaire, 90% of travellers ranked the appeal of ‘luxury educational travel experiences’ at an 8/10 or above, as we continue to see increased demand for immersive and educative journeys. From freediving and floristry to basket weaving and breathwork, BIRD has curated its top picks for those looking to take an educational holiday and learn something new this year.
LEARN HOW TO HARNESS THE POWER OF COLD WATER AT THREE MILE BEACH, CORNWALL
New for 2023, Three Mile Beach – a collection of luxury beach houses on the North Cornish coastline – has launched a three-night Cold Water Therapy Programme, teaching you how to harness the restorative properties of cold water. Available for individuals and groups, the first day you will take to the seas of nearby Gwithian Beach to uncover the therapeutic nature of surfing that is now prescribed by the NHS for effectively improving resilience and self-esteem, as well as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. The programme continues with a dedicated Wim Hof Method workshop led by Cornwall-based health and wellbeing movement, Soul Sweats. The five-hour workshop will introduce you to the powerful pillars of the WHM: Breathing Technique, Cold Therapy, and Commitment, before teaching conscious breathwork with hot and cold therapy as you flow between an ice-filled oak barrel and your own private cedar-wood barrel sauna. A meditative sound bath on the beach will follow before a restorative yin yoga class to finish the day. The next morning, a three-hour guided coasteering session honours the brave as wild sea swimming is combined with low-level traversing, bouldering and steep cliff rock jumping, offering the opportunity for you to put your recently learned breathwork into action.
TEACHING THE ART OF TRADITIONAL ALENTEJO CRAFT AT SÃO LOURENÇO DO BARROCAL
Under the guardianship of the same family for over two hundred years, São Lourenço do Barrocal is a farmstead hotel, winery and spa, set in 780-hectares of Portugal’s unspoilt Alentejo. The property recently launched its ‘Craft and Culture’ experience which invites you to learn more about the region’s cultural heritage and time-honoured traditions, through a curation of local artisan-led experiences.
On the first day, you will have the opportunity to join ceramist Hélène Falé, who will lead a masterclass on the traditional Alentejan pottery style. You will take to the potter’s wheel to design your very own terracotta piece, before learning how to use a traditional sgraffito technique to create contrasting patterns and textures during the decorating process. The following day is a visit to Fábrica Alentejana de Lanifícios, a 100-year-old textile factory in Reguengos de Monsaraz, an area famed for its intricate woven blankets that adorn homes across the country. Helmed by designers Margarida Adónis and António Carreteiro, you will have the rare opportunity to see local artisans working ancient looms using coloured merino wool to produce the highest quality wool rugs and blankets. On the final day, you will learn the secrets of flower arranging with local florist Catarina Cunha as she takes you on a journey through the estate to forage for bountiful greens and wildflowers to make unique individual arrangements using foraged findings.
PINE CAY LAUNCHES NEW CARIBBEAN YOGA AND FREEDIVE RETREAT
An 800-acre barefoot luxury private island in Turks & Caicos, Pine Cay is an elegant 13-room hotel and small collection of private homes, and one of the most exclusive diving spots in the world. New for this season, Pine Cay has partnered with leading freediving instructor and ocean conservationist, Samantha Kildegaard and talented yoga instructor, Perumal Koshy, to offer a Caribbean Yoga and Freedive retreat on the island.
Led by the two leading experts, while staying at Pine Cay you will have the opportunity to enjoy two sixty-minute yoga classes daily and a two-day PADI-certified freedive session, accessing new levels of relaxation, focus, and awareness while engaging with the aquatic world. The retreat will begin with lessons in breathwork, a practice that is essential to reach a certain level of calm and helps manage stress underwater. You will learn to expand your respiratory capacity with Perumal through five pranayama techniques before spending time with Samantha to adapt your breathing for freediving. Yoga asana and fluid sequences will then be taught, strengthening the body and creating physical freedom followed by visualisation techniques, fundamental to concentration, at the end of each yoga session. Debut freedivers will test these newly learnt techniques under Samantha’s supervision, pushing the body out of its comfort zone to encourage the release of adrenalin and dopamine. Silently blending into the crystal-clear Caribbean sea, divers can expect to encounter whales, dolphins and turtles amongst an abundance of marine plants that thrives on Pine Cay.
THE SKILL SWAP PROGRAMME AT SALT OF PALMAR, MAURITIUS
With the aim of connecting modern explorers with meaningful travel experiences, progressive adults-only Mauritian hotel SALT of Palmar takes guests to people – not just places. A perfect paradise for solo adventurers, you are immersed into the heart of Mauritian life, with the opportunity to connect directly with locals via the Skill Swap programme – exchanging their time, talent & skills with the local people.
You are invited to connect directly with locals like Soobiraj, the palm heart grower whose plantation can be visited upon request or Selva whose pesticide-free aromatic herbs and vanilla are cultivated at his home in St. Julien a short 20-minute drive from the resort. As one of Mauritius’ only vanilla producers, Selva provides an exclusive and immersive experience, introducing you to his traditional methods of farming which requires untold patience and vigilance. For those eager to exercise their creativity, an afternoon of basket weaving with father and son Mawlabaccus and Said Moosbally in Brisée Verdière at the family’s workshop enables you to try your hand at creating handmade rattan products using tried and tested techniques.
LEARN TO SERVE LIKE A PRO AT SONEVA FUSHI, MALDIVES
In 1995, the award-winning luxury resort Soneva Fushi set the standard for all desert island barefoot luxury hideaways in the Maldives. Located in the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Soneva Fushi blends castaway chic with sustainability and is the ideal escape for sunshine and a string of activities to discover. Throughout the year Soneva illuminates your stays through its Soneva Stars calendar where each Maldives resort welcomes an enviable line-up of acclaimed chefs, wellness specialists, sporting heroes, cultural pioneers and so much more.
Coinciding with the recent launch of padel tennis courts at Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani, those seeking to improve their serve will benefit from a host of world champion tennis and padel tennis players over the coming months offering workshops, coaching and talks to guests. Names such as former World No. 4 in singles, World No. 1 in doubles tennis and current captain of Sweden’s men’s national padel team, Jonas Björkman alongside Todd Woodbridge, one of the world’s greatest doubles players in history having amassed 22 Grand Slam doubles titles throughout this career are on the impressive lineup.