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Review // Step into your Power - A retreat at Bab Al Shams


A retreat at Bab Al Shams

As a busy mum of two, the closest I get to me-time these days is taking a shower. So, when I came across The Connected Collective’s ‘Step Into Your Power’ retreat, I moved heaven and earth to get there…literally – this was the weekend following the worst floods in the UAE for 75 years.


Running from Friday to Sunday, the retreat is open to women who want to get away from it all and take some time to reflect, recharge and re-empower themselves. It incorporates yoga, meditation, reiki, sound healing and other therapeutic practices, all set in the stunning resort of Bab Al Shams. You can choose to come with a friend and book a double room or fly solo, which is what I did. Here’s a little insight into what I experienced over a blissful 48 hours in the desert…


Day one

On arrival at the hotel, we are greeted by Harriet Mandak, the retreat host and owner of The Connected Collective, and the ice is broken with the 11 other retreat-goers over tea and coffee or a glass of bubbles. Goody bags are provided with an array of branded gifts from a coffee cup to a water bottle and even a cool oversized t-shirt, as well as lots of other thoughtful inclusions.


A set of our own ‘value cards’ and a workbook is ready for our first exercise which is all about finding out what we intrinsically value in our lives. This is such an interesting exercise – you narrow about 90 different values down to five which you can then use to shape your decisions, explain some of your emotions and even guide your future.


Then it’s on to free time where you can check in to your room, explore the resort, get a discounted spa treatment, or have a reiki or tarot session with Liza Hamilton-Smith, who runs many of the weekend’s activities. I opt for a cuppa and a private tarot session – not my usual Friday afternoon but I am here to try something new. All I will say is – if you haven’t tried it, drop Liza a line.

 Step into your Power -  A retreat at Bab Al Shams

The evening is spent at the beautiful Sunset Point, a secluded area of the desert, and includes a cacao ceremony and group reiki session. Lying down on our yoga mats, covered by a blanket, and listening to powerful meditations in our headphones, I am swept away into another realm. There are tears from some and elation from others before we move into journaling by the campfire with the desert as our backdrop.


After throwing some powerful words into the fire and setting our intentions for the next day, a huge sharing dinner is served under the stars. The food is surprisingly good and so, so generous.  After a big meal it’s an early night for most.



Day two

At 8am the next morning we are straight into Yin Yoga and Sound Healing – a powerful session which takes place in another desert location under a Bedouin style tent where all you can hear is birdsong – bliss! It’s lead by Liza who encourages us to get out of our minds and into our bodies and sit with the comfort of discomfort.


A leisurely breakfast is then followed by probably the most transformational part of the weekend – the “I am Enough” workshop. Harriet is a trained Rapid Transformational Therapy practitioner and has put together a powerful hypnosis session which focuses on taking us back to times when we have felt like we weren’t good enough – or when somebody has told us that we aren’t. It’s incredibly powerful stuff and the emotions in the room are palpable.


A much-needed few hours of down time are spent at the gorgeous Bab Al Shams pool having lunch and a glass of wine, and chatting with the other ladies on the retreat, while some go off to do more spa treatments.


In the evening, we head to the Anwa Rooftop Restaurant for a ceramic painting workshop. Personalised “I am enough” mugs are provided and after a briefing from the lovely Paige from Tranquilo Ceramics, we get to work at creating different designs while amazing Asian starters are served to our table accompanied by glasses of sangria or bubbles. I can’t think of a more special way to watch the sunset in the desert than this. While the main courses come out and the evening continues, I head back to my room early to get some sleep. It’s back to reality tomorrow after all.


 Step into your Power -  A retreat at Bab Al Shams

Day three

I had the best sleep! Sunday morning starts at 8.30am with a yoga flow and breathwork workshop with the amazing @livandbreathe which is another highlight of the weekend for many and leads us into a nice, relaxing final few hours at the resort. I scoot off for a 90-minute Anti-Fatigue massage at the spa, grab some lunch and then it’s time to check out and head back home.


This is my first ever retreat and I absolutely loved it. It is perfect if you’re looking for low key relaxation – there’s no plant-based menus or detox juices here – you can have a cocktail or two and let your hair down if you want to! There’s absolutely no pressure to do anything if you don’t want to and no forced fun (what a relief!)


The next @TheConnected_Collective runs from 6-9 June at Alila Hinu Bay in Salalah, Oman. Drop them a DM if you’re interested.


Review by Sarah Hewitt



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