In the not too distant past I attended a retreat. Before your brain conjures up images of shaven-headed buddhists, bean stews and 4 am meditations, this was a business retreat with actual beds, baths and flipcharts. (I am not denigrating buddhist retreats, they work for a lot of people but alas, I am too fidgety to commit to sitting down for more than 8 minutes at a time).

This magical, immersive retreat was summoned up from the bowels of conference hotel hell and transformed into 4 days of paradise by business genius/angel Nicola MacPhail, of Gen-i Consulting. As cheesy as it sounds (I’m talking extra mature cheddar), this little group of business owners arrived as strangers and left as friends.



Our base was Silverholme Manor in Graythwaite. This was not the land of beige executive suites and teak desks; this was a ‘Country Living’ vision board come to life. After 4 days the sumptuous menus (thank you!) left us begging for a simple bowl of gruel and bigger pants, but we persevered in the name of business.

A mix of workshops, seminars and interactive sessions were designed to reflect the 3 phases of the retreat:

  • Intention – Where are you going? What do you want to achieve?
  • Insight – WHAT do you need to work on? WHAT are the solutions?
  • Implementation – HOW are you going to make the changes needed? Create an action plan.

What made this retreat different was the inclusion of a whole day of planning. Instead of being bamboozled with cod psychology and tales of billionaires who slept in ice baths, we were gifted a room of practical people who ‘knew what they were doing and wanted to help’. No question was too stupid for our facilitators (though I put in a good effort) and we were all given ample time to sit down and pick their brains with a fine tooth comb (terrible imagery but you get my drift).

There is a ton of useful information on Nicola’s website but this wonderful clip will give you a flavour of what to expect

Yes, the woman with the Norn Irish accent is me, and no, I can’t forgive Nicola for this flagrant attempt to make me famous. But if it happens, it happens. Who am I to stand in the way of corporate stardom?

Business is busy. We spend an awful lot of time on the nuts and bolts of delivering for our customers yet neglect our business and personal development. Once a year we will lock ourselves in our office with a bottle of Lucozade, six granola bars and a set of expensive coloured pens to write a 12-month action plan that we will then forget about.

Take time out for yourself. You bloomin’ well deserve it. And believe me, despite the food, the surroundings, the utter luxury and the wine, business retreats are hard work! You WILL need to lie down in a dark room on your return home. But, with Nicola’s follow-up support and your new network of allies, I promise you, you will never regret having done it. This could be start of your new life.