There’s a fabulous treat in store for those of you looking for a getaway from daily life with a difference; after the turmoil of the past 3 years, we could all do with escaping to a place of calm. In 2020, Hong Kong-based artist Eleanor McColl and Pilates & movement specialist Ruth Hogg decided to collaborate to create something they had yet to see: a holistic wellness retreat where participants benefit from the meditative qualities that both art and Pilates can offer.
The oOOMA Body, Art & Mind Retreat was thus born.
A unique combination of two practices: Pilates and art, the retreat will be held over 4 nights and 3.5 days in October at a tranquil heritage resort in Chiang Mai. Not only a boutique resort with award-winning design, but a living and breathing cultural memory, the venue is a truly special setting for this one-of-a-kind experience.
Friends and teachers of more than two decades
American poet Mark Van Doren said, “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” Your teachers during the retreat, Eleanor McColl and Ruth Hogg, have each been teaching in their respective fields for 23 years.
Ruth Hogg is a Polestar certified Pilates teacher with a background in classical ballet, having studied at the Royal Academy of Dance in London. She is the owner of RH+Studio which offers pop-up and livestream Pilates classes, and is praised for providing a personal individual touch even in a class of many.
Eleanor McColl has been a practicing artist for 23 years, exhibiting at numerous fairs in Hong Kong and abroad. She passes on her passion for art by teaching at her studio when she’s not working on creating her own collections. Eleanor recently launched a brand of homeware and products inspired by her original works of art, which are themselves inspired by Hong Kong’s vibrant culture.
The name of the retreat, “oOOMA”, comes from combining the first letters of the names of the two teachers’ children – Olive, Otto, Oscar, Max, and Arthur. Friends for 24 years, Ruth and Eleanor attribute their harmonious ability to create a warm and inviting environment for students to their close friendship.
A retreat benefitting the body and mind for all
Held from 20thto 24th October, 2023 at the Kaomai Lanna Resort in Northern Thailand, the oOOMA Body, Art & Mind Retreat will not only be for experienced artists or Pilates practitioners.
The daily free-flow art and Pilates sessions held on the grounds will be accessible to all levels, limited to small group sizes that’ll allow for individual attention for both novice and experienced participants. Indeed, Eleanor has a unique way of bringing the artist out of everybody: “Of course you’re learning art techniques, but it’s mainly about exploring your feelings and thoughts in an unfettered way. You really don’t have to be the next Picasso.”
The most valuable part of the experience for the pair, they say, is hearing stories of participants’ perspectives about art or Pilates shifting after the retreat:
“oOOma Retreat was an absolute delight. After being slightly sceptical of my artistic abilities I was quickly put at ease by Eleanor’s instruction techniques and thoroughly embraced it. Beginning the day with Ruth for Pilates surrounded by the sound of nature was just magical. I left feeling completely relaxed and rejuvenated. The location was inspiring and peaceful. I look forward to hopefully joining another retreat soon.”
Gia Ferguson, participant who travelled from Sydney
The semi-structured format of the retreat allows participants to take from it what they need. Whether joining with a partner, a friend, or alone, all are welcome to bond in the shared experience as well as to take time to go deep within for some necessary alone time. “We want people to get meditative benefits without feeling like they’re meditating.” Ruth says. “The experience offers so much more than just art or Pilates.”
You may be asking, why combine art and Pilates at all? The beauty of pairing two practices together is that it offers something for everybody. Touching on all aspects of wellness, from body, to mind, to spirit, the connections between the two show up in various ways: the group sessions invite you to do something as part of a whole while concentrating on your own practice; the safety to explore creativity in a loose structure; and the meditative aspect of focusing on the task at hand.
The award-winning boutique resort
The Kaomai Lanna Resort is a boutique hotel and heritage site that has been awarded the Chiang Mai Design Award and the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Award for cultural heritage conservation. The idyllic guestrooms have been converted from 36 barns formerly used for tobacco curing during the peak of Thailand’s tobacco industry.
Set along the route from Chiang Mai city to Doi Inthanon which is the highest mountain in Thailand, the expansive grounds are surrounded by a tropical garden. Kaomai Lanna Resort’s verdant land is home to over 50 bird species and hundreds of plant species.
The food served at the café and restaurant has also been grown on-site, a testament to the thrumming vibrancy of the land. During the retreat, there’ll be plenty of time to visit the beautifully-designed coffee shop at the resort for homemade pastries, coffee, and locally harvested tea, swim in the pool, and explore Chiang Mai’s iconic temples and traditional villages.
What does each day look like?
On the arrival day, enjoy a tour of the design-award-winning premises, afternoon tea, a gentle evening Pilates session, and a homemade dinner.
Afterwards, each day will consist of two Pilates sessions with Ruth held in a peaceful yoga sala surrounded by the forest, morning and afternoon creativity sessions with Eleanor, three lovingly made Thai meals per day, and free exploration time. There will also be one sound meditation evening during the course of the retreat.
Whether looking to spark your inspiration as a creative, refresh your mindset on your approach to daily life, or to just share a special bonding experience with a loved one, join the oOOMA Retreat to embark on a journey for inward and outward wellness in a setting with unequalled natural beauty and historical significance.
- When: October 20-24, 2023 (4 nights, 3.5 days)
- Where: Kaomai Lanna Resort, San Pa Tong District, Chiang Mai, Thailand
- Price: Register by August 20, 2023 to enjoy the 10% early bird discount of HK$10,800 per person for a Deluxe Shared Room (fits two people) or HK$11,500 for a Single Private Deluxe Room. After this, the regular prices are HK$12,000 and HK$13,000, respectively.
- What’s included: All-inclusive of accommodation, activities, transportation to/from the resort, and three meals a day. Flights are not included.
- Reserve: Reserve online or email [email protected].
Special code for The HK HUB readers
Use the code “HKHUB15” for a 15% discount off the regular prices when registering by June 30, 2023. (Note that this discount cannot be used in conjunction with the early bird discount.)
Image credits: Unless otherwise stated, images are courtesy Eleanor McColl and Ruth Hogg.