AUTUMN EQUINOX RETREAT FAQ

FAQ/Questions you might like to ask!

Here are Frequently Asked Questions that are commonly asked about attending a retreat, and are also questions specific to this retreat. I’ve also added in any questions I can think of that you might like to ask. I am entirely open to any questions and will answer them honestly – please ask if there’s anything not covered here x

How will I get to the village and find the Retreat venue?

The village of Pencaitland (Map) is 19 Miles from Edinburgh International Airport and 12 miles from Edinburgh Waverley Train Station. Your facilitator can help co-ordinate taxi share with other retreat participants if you would like. You will also be invited to join a private Wild Willow Retreats Facebook page and WhatsApp group prior to attending the retreat so can arrange taxi or lift shares directly if you prefer.

There is also a public bus (The 113) that runs from right next to Edinburgh Waverley Train Station directly to the village. A tram and bus service links Edinburgh Airport with the City Centre, so it is possible to reach the village entirely by public transport should you prefer.

The nearest local Train Station to Pencaitland is Longniddry or Prestonpans (a taxi costs around £12 from either station to Winton Cottage). A taxi from the airport is £64 (a large vehicle can be arranged by your facilitator reducing the cost per person significantly) and a taxi from Edinburgh Waverley Train Station is around £40 (again, this can be shared reducing the cost).

Should you choose to arrive by bus into the village, you’ll be met by a guide or your facilitator as you get off the bus and can choose to either walk accompanied by them or get a lift (it’s only around 800 metres away from the main street of the village where the bus stops) to make sure your arrival at the retreat venue is as stress free as possible.

What if i arrive after a long journey and I'm really hungry, will I need to wait until dinner to eat a meal?

On arrival, your chef Ryan will serve you a late lunch if you need it. You won’t need to wait until dinner. 

Why is the retreat £1599 per person?

The cost for this 7-day all-inclusive retreat is £1599. This price includes a contribution towards the fee paid directly to PayPal so you have the option to Pay in Three if you choose.  After extensive market research, this is felt to be a very fair price for what is offered. The retreat begins with a late lunch on day 1 and includes Breakfast on day 7, so is truly 7 days all-inclusive with your own personal chef. There are six carefully chosen, very experienced and highly skilled practitioners working on this retreat; the accommodation is rated 5 stars; there are trips inclusive in this price; and your facilitator will be there for you for the entirety of your retreat experience, as well as before and after the retreat to offer any support or advice needed and to make sure you get the most out of your retreat experience.

In addition, we are currently offering the option of extending your stay FREE OF CHARGE after the close of the Retreat at 12pm on Day 7 (23rd September). This offer gives you the option of staying free of charge in the accommodation on a room only basis until Tuesday 24th September to give you time to relax, further integrate your learnings, explore the local or surrounding area/s, whatever you wish. The Retreat is competitively priced for the experience offered.

There may be the option to reduce the cost a little by choosing a triple room. This is not offered as a standard option. Please see the FAQ below regarding single, twin and triple rooms for further information.

Is there support for me before and after the retreat?

There is support for you both before and after the retreat. The aim is to create an opt in ‘Wild Willow Women’ private page on Facebook/WhatsApp (only for those attending retreats) for before and after the retreat so you can opt in if you would like to join a supportive community of liked-minded women. This may be particularly valuable after your retreat experience when you may have established bonds with other women on the retreat. I personally still have good friends from retreats I attended years ago. I understand the value in this kind of continued contact, but also that it’s not for everyone, so no judgement for those who seek a once off experience and do not wish to connect beyond the retreat.

You will also be invited to meet with your facilitator, myself, via zoom call prior to attending the retreat, to ensure you will receive a personal service and to get to know your host a little before arrival. This is optional, with the aim of ensuring you get the very best from your Wild Willow Retreat experience. You will have the opportunity to ask any questions you might have, learn more about the practitioners and the activities on offer, discuss food preferences and dietary restrictions, express any concerns you may have so that we can work through them together, or just to say hi and connect. You’ll be able to share any experience you have of attending retreats previously and whether you’re a beginner or have experience of the activities on offer. It is hoped that this helps you to have the best retreat experience possible.

What facilities are in the village?

Pencaitland is a beautiful village with an abundance of woodland and river walks, teeming with wildlife and a haven for walkers, cyclists, or those who just enjoy being in nature. I used to suggest to my youngest when she was a young child that we go on ‘a Deer hunt’ (to spot Deer not to hunt them!) and often within minutes of being in the woodland beside our home we would spot a family of Deer. It’s a truly beautiful place to explore.

The village has a picturesque church, two shops (A Spar shop and ‘The Granny Shop’ – which doesn’t sell Grannies!), and a very highly reviewed Bistro/Restaurant (The Winton) that people travel from afar to dine in. It also has a recording studio where REM and other well-known bands have previously recorded (Castle Studios) and its own Distillery (GlenKinchie). It truly is a remarkable wee village. A short bus ride takes you to the nearby Market Town of Haddington, and a short drive takes you to one of the many award-winning beaches spanning East Lothian’s 40 miles of breathtaking coastline.

For more information about Pencaitland, the Wikipedia page about the village is worth checking out.

 

Is it possible to have my own room/bathroom?

At the moment, shared twin rooms (with private bathroom for each room) are offered for booking. This is the current booking option. To answer this question honestly and clearly, if enough attendees book the standard option of a shared room with own bathroom (£1599 or 533 Pay in Three) or shared triple room (which I could offer at £1299 or 433 Pay in Three), I could potentially offer the option of a single room (likely to be priced around £2250 or 750 Pay in Three), but at this stage only twin or triple rooms (with private bathroom for each room) are offered.

This is a very good question and it’s one I have put a lot of thought into. I myself have been attending retreats for 22 years. Initially, the idea of sharing a room was very off-putting for me, and for a couple of the initial retreats I attended I stayed in a single room. I noticed that a lot of the others were really bonding with the woman they shared a room with, and started to wonder if this was an option for me. I have to say, since choosing to share, I’ve never looked back. I think it helps to be matched carefully with a roommate and that’s something I am seeking to ensure that I get right. An easy-to-complete questionnaire prior to the retreat (and our pre-retreat chat/s) will really help with this, and I hope you can be reassured that I will ensure you are matched with a roommate who suits what you are seeking to get out of this retreat.

I’ve found it helpful to have some open communication from the onset with the person you are sharing with. I have many examples of this, but a couple would be – on one retreat (A Jason Vale Juice Retreat in Portugal where most people share rooms or even small ecopods) my roommate and I decided on a ‘pillow barrier’ idea to ensure privacy when sleeping. We used an additional large pillow propped up on the bedside cabinet between the single beds so that some degree of privacy when sleeping was ensured. On another retreat (one of the many times I have visited the beautiful Lendrick Lodge near Callander – well worth a visit I highly recommend this beautiful inspiring Centre and somewhere I have been visiting for over 20 years), I shared a triple room and we agreed on a variety of things like window open or closed when sleeping, radiator temperature, allowing each other time alone in the room to read or rest by mutual agreement. As your facilitator, I can help with this kind of communication and negotiation to make sure everyone’s needs are met. I am also considering investing in pretty room divider screens (like privacy dressing screens) to ensure you feel your sleeping/reading/resting place has privacy.

The cost of the retreat for a shared/twin room is £1599 for the 7 days (8 days if you take up the offer of the additional free night). The accommodation is 5-star and Winton Cottage has 5 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms. Each bedroom will be assigned a private bathroom. Two rooms are ‘family suites’ with a super king-sized bed and a single bed. As the super King bed cannot be separated into two singles, these can only be rented as twin rooms and could only become a triple option if three friends or family members are booking together. There are a further two bedrooms that can become triple rooms. I like to be honest and upfront, I also like to accommodate your needs, so as noted above –  if enough attendees book the standard option of a shared room with its own bathroom (£1599) or a shared triple room (£1299), could I then offer the option of a single room (likely to be priced around £2250).

There is also the option to rent additional accommodation from Winton Castle if it becomes available and there is enough interest in the retreat. This accommodation could offer 4 single rooms with a hot tub, and would be offered at the single room price. This accommodation sleeps 8 in 4 twin/king size bedrooms, but I am keen to keep the group size to a maximum of 16 (minimum of 8), so I would not be renting all available rooms as twins or triples. If there are over 10 attendees, then prices increase for the costs of the six practitioners, the private chef, general overheads like trips etc, and I would need to secure an additional space for hosting the yoga and other activities due to the larger group size.

The payment page offers the standard option of booking a shared twin room with private bathroom for the room at the price of £1599, with the ability to pay in three installments. If you are interested in sharing a triple room, or a single room option, then please be in touch and I will respond within 24 hours letting you know if this is an option. At the moment, the aim is to offer 5 twin shared rooms each with private bathroom. I am happy to consider alternatives once booking is underway and going well. I’ve given a very full and honest response to this question as I want to be open about the practicalities and potential issues with offering single rooms (so I’m offering a little of a ‘behind the scenes’ information that might not usually be shared with potential attendees) but also because I do want to make sure I can offer options to women if it’s viable to do so. I very much want everyone on this, and future retreats, to have a wonderful enriching experience. I personally have made several lifelong friends with room sharing; with enough sensitivity and thought put into matching roommates, I belive it can be a very valuable and life enriching experience – even if you end up creating a pillow fort or using room dividers so you don’t have to worry about being seen asleep and drooling on your pillow after a particularly relaxing Yoga Nidra or Gong Bath Meditation!

Is it possible to bring my family/children/dog?

I realise it can be really tough for some women to get away on a retreat, especially of this length. I am also really aware of the benefits of taking the time to yourself without being in the role of Mum, Partner, or Fur Mummy. The preferred ideal is that you can take this time to yourself to gain all you can from the retreat and enjoy You Time.

Saying that, I am also aware that this may not be an option and, if you have truly exhausted all the possibilities for attending without caring responsibilities, then I am happy to try and work out a way for you to attend. For future retreats, I would like to offer the option of at least one woman each retreat attending who would otherwise not be able to attend, for various reasons. For this first retreat, I’ll do my best to accommodate any requests that allow all those who would like to attend, to attend.

In the main Winton Cottage accommodation, it’s not possible to bring family or children or a dog/s. The only option for this would be nearby accommodation (there are a few options) that families, other children, and even your dog may be able to stay in, with you attending the retreat all inclusive like the other guests, but being able to spend time with family during free time and to stay overnight with them. As I would need to rent additional accommodation (for up to 4 guests) the price for this would need to be confirmed (and is booked up in advance so early booking would be advised) but it may be possible to have a nearby lodge accommodating up to 4 persons with either a family of 4, with 1 person taking part in the retreat, or a lodge for 2-4 friends all attending the retreat.

These are bespoke experiences and I would be able to confirm a price and discuss practicalities once the booking system is underway and bookings are at a level that I’d be able to offer these options. These are only potential options to make the retreat as accessible to as many woman as possible, and certainly in the future the idea is to make the retreats accessible to all. For now, the mian booking platform allows bookings for twin shared rooms in the main Castle Accommodation at the set price. If these take off well, I’ll be able to consider other options opening up booking to more women. Many thanks for your patience in this process.

Is this a retreat where everybody is doing advanced yoga poses and I'm not going to be able to keep up?

This is a retreat for beginners as well as those with experience in yoga. There is a variety of styles of yoga taught; including Yin, Hatha, gentle stretching, Kundalini, and some aspects of Ashtanga, which will all be offered. The teachers who will be guiding you through your practice are very experienced and inclusive and able to teach at all levels. Classes will be structured to suit the group and you as an individual and modifications will be offered as required.

This retreat is also more than just a yoga retreat. It may be that some attendees are more experienced in one kind of activity than another. Creative writing, art, pilates, walking in nature, life coaching, Zumba dance – may be more familiar to some than others. It’s not expected that you have any experience in any of the activities and all activities are suitable for beginners and those more experienced in these activities alike.

Does a Gong Bath involve getting in a bath (with a gong)?

Lol – No! This question has come up for some Kundalini yoga teachers who use gongs in their practice. Jo McCoy, who will be the Kundalini teacher and Gong practitioner on the Equinox Retreat, is very skilful and dedicated to her Kundalini practice and her style of Gong Bath Mediations is very powerful. A Gong Bath involves lying down (usually), often with your head supported by a pillow and wearing an eye mask if you prefer. Often you are already in a meditative state, as prior to the Gongs you’ll have done some kundalini yoga, a meditation, or a kundalini warm-up and Yoga Nidra. Gongs (the significance of each gong is usually explained prior to your Gong Bath experience) are played by your trained, experienced therapist as you relax and allow whatever surfaces to do so, breathing through any feelings that come up. You are safe and warm, and you may experience a meditative (for some very transformational) experience. Jo McCoy’s website gives more information about her yoga and gongs.

Is this an alcohol free retreat?

You’ll get the most out of this retreat if you give your mind and body a rest from stressors and toxins. Your chef will be serving an abundantly nutritious diet and the activities on offer may offer you relaxation, energy, reset, and inspiration. This is the perfect opportunity to take a break from the stressors or habits that may hinder you, to sleep well, reconnect to yourself and your dreams, and move forward with more energy and focus. Wine/alcohol can get in the way of our intentions, goals, and dreams.

You will be welcomed and supported on this retreat whether you choose a sober life back home, whether you are ‘sober curious’, or whether you worry you will struggle without wine/your favourite tipple for the duration of your retreat. The intention of this retreat is to offer a safe space to be supported and nurtured so that you thrive, not a space in which you will be judged. We won’t be serving wine/alcohol on the retreat, and it may be the perfect time to explore ditching or having a break from habits that you feel are holding you back. At the same time, you’ll have free time during the retreat and if you choose to stay on after the retreat, you won’t be judged for exploring the village or surrounding areas and you are of course free to make your own choices.

Any questions about this please do get in touch and I’d be delighted to chat further x

If I drink coffee is everyone going to lynch me?

No! Again, it may be a good time to experiment with reducing or cutting out habits you feel are unhealthy, but tea and coffee will be available and you will not be judged!

Is there wheelchair access or an option for accessible accommodation and activities?

I know only too well how important accessibility is, as Mum to two severely disabled children (one now an adult) who are full-time wheelchair users. This also means I know that, despite having a ground-floor bedroom and bathroom, the Winton Cottage is not properly accessible for wheelchair users. It may be accessible for people with a degree of reduced mobility, but it is not accessible for potential attendees who rely on using either a manual or power wheelchair.

For future retreats, my plan is to arrange a section of my own home to form an Airbnb-style rental that is wheelchair accessible with wetroom, ramps and barrier-free access (without tracking hoists so the ability to manually transfer with support would be needed). Although I already have this facility within my own home (close to the Winton Cottage) I am not able on this first retreat to offer this. I can promise that it is something I will explore in the future, for retreats in 2025 and 2026. I would also be offering a carer place free of charge for assistance to the woman attending. This is part of my vision for Wild Willow Retreats. In supporting Wild Willow Retreats by attending our first retreat, you will be part of making this dream a reality.

it sounds like a lot is going on, am I going to have enough free time?

You’re right – there are a lot of activities offered. These are opt-in and still allow for time to rest between. I’ve worked hard to ensure that energetic options like Zumba, are followed by more seated options like life coaching. I’ve tried to create a balance between activities that involve movement, with those that involve mind or creativity, and ensure that there is free time between. The main reason I’ve kept this to a 7 day/6 night retreat with free time between sessions, a free afternoon, and three free evenings, yet rented the accommodation for 7 nights is to allow the option of gifting you additional You Time – an additional night/2 days at the end of the retreat to rest or explore as you wish.

What if i need to cancel at the last minute?

It’s highly recommended, like any trip, to have travel insurance to protect you against a need to cancel your trip. This said, I would operate a waiting list and, should there be someone on the waiting list who is willing to take your place if you need to cancel at the last minute then of course I would do everything I could to make sure you were able to be recompensated for your space on this retreat.  If I was able to cover the place you had booked, I would not charge an administration fee. This is dependant on reselling the space or offering it to someone on the waiting list.