To get under the skin of the evolving philosophy at the resort, we asked Sarah about the project she started now almost twenty years ago. As an English woman living in Italy for a decade, after twenty years of working in the City of London, we felt she might know something about switching gears and making better and more mindful choices!
The project was really born out of an urgent need to rebalance my life when I was working at Goldman Sachs in the late 90’s. I had decided to convert some of the blood, sweat and tears into an escape. I fell in love with this estate in Tuscany and ever since I have come here to unplug from the crazy back in London!
From the beginning the place was mesmeric and it only ever took 24 hours to completely let go. It was like a spiritual detox being out here and made the subsequent years of work possible. Sharing it with others and creating a destination where our guests can restore harmony and balance to their often busy and stressful schedules became my mission. It took another ten years to finally have the courage to leave my job but aligning my passion and purpose has been the right journey for me.
I believe the concept of ethical travel and hospitality has been around for a while. We see more and more of our guests mindfully choosing their vacations. It needs to mean more than just “taking a break.” Our guests tend to have their own wellness objectives around clean eating, eco travel and reconnecting at an emotional level through an authentic and often transformative experience.
Guests arrive here frazzled and leave feeling that both body and mind have been nourished. Our location in Tuscany meets their visceral needs. The Wine Hotel sits within a couple of hundred acres of unspoilt organic vineyards, olive groves and forest. We have organic fine wines that we make on the estate and the immersive wine, food and nature experiences are right at their fingertips. I think there has been a big shift from traditional destinations to unspoilt, virgin locations which are off the grid. A stay with us is often a part of a bigger personal wellness journey.
The need to unplug and tap into local life in a completely natural environment has become a big lifestyle goal. Escaping to a private wine estate where they can walk in vineyards and taste wine from the barrels or pick organic vegetables from our garden then cook and eat with them are just a couple of way we help fulfill our guests dreams.
Don’t we all want to make better choices for ourselves and the planet? Our holidays are no exception so a big part of our mission is to help visitors do just that. We tend to think of their time with us as our opportunity to curate a menu of experiences to meet their wellness goals. A couple who arrive from a busy, urban life tend to visit us with an immersive nature experience in mind. From the moment they check in, the unwind begins.
The service has to be attentive and meticulous without being overwhelming-always driven from the heart. You will feel as if you’re the special guest being cared for in the house of a friend. Of course the architecture and the interior design matters – the canvas has to be right and reflect a philosophy of restorative calm and warmth. I’ve tried to create light and airy spaces which connect you to the outdoors – winter or summer.
We were really determined that any property and land we took on would be organic. This estate is certified organic which means that chemicals have never been used here, not in the vineyards, the olive groves or the fields.
At the core of our mission is to be ethical and sustainable both in the way we care for our guests and also the wine, foods and oils we produce. The restaurant at the hotel is a holistic experience in and of itself. Sitting under the trees watching the sunset eating locally sourced meat and fish and vegetables from the organic garden on site.
To compliment the plate we produce three award-winning Super Tuscan wines from the vineyard stretching out beneath you. We’ve know for a long time that Italian food is already avant garde when it comes to excellence but here in Tuscany, farm to plate takes you to the next level. Its pure medicine, nourishing body and soul.
The passion and driving force behind the Wine and Wellness Retreat is to create a sanctuary of personalised well-being. I want to empower guests and make it easy for them to spend a few days with us restoring the harmony we so often are lacking back at home. I think this is where we all feel at our most fulfilled. We’re all trying to prioritise self care and save our sanity at the same time so undisturbed natural environments with transformative experiences you can enjoy with others or alone for some solo reflection are an obvious choice.
Some might choose to hike into the hills with a truffle hunter or take out mountain bikes and cycle to some of the incredible Unesco cultural sites which are on the doorstep. Then a private yoga lesson or guided mediation and an in-room ayurvedic massage. We just recommend taking the time to do what makes your soul happy.
There’s an amazing simple truth that when we make better ethical decisions we live better lives and it’s one of the best ways to help the environment. Visiting small boutique retreats like ours support local workers, craftsmen and women, farmers, cheesemakers, artisans and so many more…. and of course allows us to preserve a sustainable farming philosophy for the long term. I’ve learnt from my time here in Italy to slow down, stay consciously and to love things that last.