We have a team of like minded professionals, all experts in their field, working together in harmony to bring you your ultimate weekend retreat. We pride ourselves on going above and beyond clients expectation. So read on to get to know a little bit more about the wonderful people who are going to give you an experience that you will want to come back to year after year.
She landed into yoga quite literally after being thrown out of a boat in Australia 11 years ago and landing with a broken back. After 3 months of rehabilitation she was able to walk again but was told her passion of running was no longer an option and that yoga would be the best form of exercise to aid her recovery. This news did not go down all that well to an outgoing, adventurous 18 year old, but yoga has since changed her life in a direction that she did not even know existed. The following years were spent travelling the world, working in the luxury yachting industry in the Craibbean and Mediteranean where she developed skills as a Cordon Bleu Chef and 5* hospitality stewardess and chef. This lifestyle was not sustainable and on returning to her home of North Wales, she started to practise yoga as a way to keep her back strong pain free. The love of yoga was born and after training with David Sweson in Ashtanga yoga a new way of life flourished…the teaching of yoga. She came at yoga from a physical point of view due to her injuries, and led very dynamic Ashtanga based classes in and around North Wales. Traveling to Mysore, India to study with Sharath Rangaswary to further her skills in Ashtanga yoga. She has since carried out a number of training courses over the years and continues to further her yoga training with various teachers from around the world, studying with Danny Paradise, Mathew Sweeny, Gurmkh Gurmkh, Eionn Finn, Uma Dinsmore Tuli, Ruth Gilmore and gaining qualifications in Blissology yoga, children’s yoga, pregnancy and post natal yoga and swedish full body massage. She has a personal and friendly yet professional attitude towards her teaching, offering a style of yoga that is dynamic and challenging with sequences set to rejuvenate the body from the inside out. She continues to practise yoga at a physical level but through continued Vipassana meditation she has developed a more spiritual path to her practise, which she incorporates into her teachings both on and off the mat.
Denise Laura Baker | Retreat Chef
Denise is a food writer and chef, living and working on a mountain in north Wales. Since starting her Moel Faban Supper club in 2009 she has been featured in The Western Mail, Elle Decoration, The Times and Huffington Post, appeared on Britains Best Dish, cooked at Global Feast and interviewed on BBC Radio Wales.
She established Moel Faban Suppers as a fun thing to do after she was made redundant. Drawing on her skills as a chef (she trained at Westminster College in London when she first left school) she initially intended to give it a go for a year to see if it would work in Wales, a year on it was going too well not to continue.
She is committed to high quality, seasonal and local ingredients whether she is cooking an intimate dinner for guests on a retreat or catering for a few hundred at weddings and festivals. We are so pleased to have Denise join us on our Zest Life retreats, so we get to share in her inspiring, vegetarian culinary delights.
Gabby Dickenson | Swimming Leader
Our wild swimming is run by Gabby, of Gone Swimming. She learned to swim in the waters off Anglesey before she could walk. Over the years, she has developed a strong passion for the water, through countless hours of swimming, diving and sailing all around the UK and overseas.
As her professional involvement in open water has grown she has devoted great amounts of time to coaching and water safety qualifications, so you can rest assured that you’re in safe hands.Gabby has a relaxed and easy-going personality which is reflected in the way she and her staff at Gone Swimming approach our swimming excursions.
Sian Sykes | SUP Leader
Sian Sykes was born and grew up in beautiful North Wales. During her adult life, she used to work in Creative Media in London as a Project Director. After 15 years she re changed her focus in life and moved back home. She now runs Psyched Paddleboarding and guides people in beautiful locations. Sian has a wealth of experience and qualifications, so you are in safe hands. She also loves to travel and lead expeditions abroad. She has been fortunate to lead expeditions to Nepal, Mongolia, India, China, Peru, Morocco, Iceland and the Alps.
Sian also loves to do a SUP challenge, she has completed a number of firsts, such as the 1st person to circumnavigate Anglesey on a SUP, 1st person to SUP the 3 lakes challenge in the UK. Sian enjoys linking her love for the water and mountains through SUP. Her love for the outdoors is infectious, and enjoys nothing more than to go on a journey, exploring the nature and landscape on her SUP. You will be truly inspired!
Dave Phillips | Bushcraft Instructor
Dave Phillips AKA the Coastal Wanderer, has a lifetime passion for all things wild, where he is equally at home on the coastline or in the woods and fields. Leaving school Dave went to live in Switzerland where he trained as a chef.
As a trainee he got what other chefs did not like to do, walking the alpine meadows collecting the abundant wild herbage and preparing the local game. It was seventh heaven and turning point on his outlook on what we eat. Back in the UK after a career in working kitchens, Dave taught young chefs culinary and wild food skills. Extending his skill base he went back to school and gained advanced bushcraft awards and became a member of the Institute of Outdoor Learning. He firmly believes in and strives to provide you with a positive bushcraft experience, awakening your enthusiasm for the great outdoors.
Amy Bell | Massage Therapist
Amy’s intuitive touch is a catalyst into the deepest realms of relaxation. Drawing upon her Swedish Body Massage and Re-Connective Healing skills, Amy delivers an immersive experience that works beyond the mind and body. Through attending to mental and physical tensions a euphoric energetic connection is made to ones inner being, leading to a journey of pure release. Amy’s interest and practice in massage, yoga and meditation balances out her lifestyle whilst working as an actress in London.
Deborah Barker | Massage therapist
Debbie joined The Zest Life in 2011. She is a fully qualified massage therapist who relocated to Colwyn bay after a decade in London, where she trained at the Academy of Natural Health. Whilst establishing her massage therapy business in London, she gained a tremendous amount of experience. She was privileged to work with MIND; did a stint at the top London hotels and part-managed a holistic therapies centre. She worked with private clients of all ages and physical conditions in their own homes and workplace. Her approach is to always give treatments in the way that she would wish to receive them i.e. to use the right amount of pressure; to acknowledge that we are all mind-body-spirit; to set a safe and nurturing atmosphere and to be totally present with the client. She works intuitively, tailoring the treatment to the client and respects confidentiality at all times.