‘A guests view’ by Iona De Maudesley - Yoga Goddess on RISE Retreat 2018

“A milky way of stars freckled the rainbow sherbet skies as silhouettes on paddle boards floated along the still, mirror like water. A bittersweet wave came over me as the sense that this moment was fleeting came to realisation, yet the desire to soak it all in and find absolute presence was so powerful, and would forever be one of the most magical experiences my sight would have the pleasure of witnessing. The picture I paint in my head takes me back to one of many special moment experienced at the Rise Retreat in Watamu, Kenya, March 2018.

The week spent with Ottilie Wellness founder, Samantha Warner, our Yoga teacher Charlie Morgan, and the rest of the ‘Goddess Commune’ (as we quickly came to refer to ourselves as), was one of the most inspirational times I have been fortunate enough to experience in my life. Every moment lived gave birth to a thousand lifetimes worth of joy and through this post, I can only hope to share glimpses with you through words.


Nestled away in the foliage, towers of white plaster dotted with stain glassed windows and topped with handmade straw ‘hats’ stand tall. The Treehouse is a miraculous venue that has developed over the last 25 years from a single roomed holiday home in to a haven for holiday seekers.

Each room has its own uniqueness but all shared a similar open plan that overlooked the natural beauty surrounding you. Waking up each morning was to salt air breezes, exotic birds singing their morning tunes, and fading pink skies disappearing in to the blue ocean.

A short walk through the clearings exposes white sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters - not the first point of description I would offer when asked about Kenya, but the picturesque beauty of Watamu took me by complete awe.



To say we ate well would be an understatement. The treehouse kitchen staff prepared us feasts fit for queens, three times a day. At breakfast, you could expect freshly harvested tropical fruit platters, homemade yoghurts, the finest Kenyan coffee beans brewing, eggs any style and quinoa porridge. Word of warning - watch out for the monkeys though!

Lunch would be light and refreshing, a mixture of raw salads, grains, and always followed by fresh juices and smoothies whereas dinner would normally involve freshly caught fish, either grilled or in a stew, and very tempting (and slightly guilt free?) desserts! One of the most unique aspects of the mealtimes would be that they were always served in a different location of the treehouse, so each sitting felt special.



From ‘new moon rebirth floats’, boat trips and snorkelling, to the incredible paddle board yoga session (SUP yoga), there was never a dull moment at RISE! Holiday reads remained untouched by my bed side for the days were spent living adventures of our own.

Each morning began in the yoga room which stood at the top of the tower and gave panoramic views of endless Indian Ocean on your left and wild thickets of trees to your right. Charlie led us through a dynamic flow and seated meditation practice to fire us up for the busy day ahead, and after all the adventures the day had to offer, our evening sessions allowed us to slow down, rest and restore. Through yin yoga, and deep reflective work, often involving journalling and sharing circles, the richness that extended beyond the physical yoga practices and involved much more self-study (svadhya) was challenging, yet welcomed and felt safe to explore in the environment we were offered.



However, all of the qualities that the activities, fine dining, indulgent massages and aesthetic beauty that The Treehouse and Watamu had to offer, was only magnified by the shining lights that are Sam and Charlie. Their hospitality and desire to ensure we all left this retreat with a relaxed mind, a looked after body, and a new outlook and vision of our own was so authentic and heartfelt.

Organising a wellbeing retreat is no easy task but Sam did it from the depths of her heart and every detail was seeped in thought - from the ‘goodie bags’ awaiting our arrival on the beds, to the special birthday celebration I was surprised with, and her genuine interest to make each and every guest comfortable, thought of, and cared for on a personal level.

Charlie is also a phenomenal teacher who challenged our bodies with physical practices and then held space to allow us to peel away layers that no longer served us so we could transform and better serve ourselves and others. She is also real, and an inspirational, fun, energetic person to be around.

What we took part in was more than just a yoga retreat, it was a space to find balance, to challenge ourselves through dynamic practices and then go on to get in touch with that carefree, joyous part of ourselves looking for fun and laughter, brought out through trying new experiences in an unfamiliar yet magical place, with strangers that quickly felt like family. If I were asked to go back again, I would probably say no - but that is only because it would be impossible to re-create that ‘first time’ feeling in my heart again, and the true power and beauty lies in the reality that those moments were only sacred at the time. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t encourage YOU to go, and find your own adventure, and live your own magic, because all the ingredients are there for the best time of your life.”

Feel inspired? Book your place on RISE 2019 - spaces limited so don’t miss out on this truly life changing experience.

Photos by Iona De Maudesley - RISE Retreat 2018

Samantha Warner