A little over two weeks ago I set out for home in Portugal to kick-off the inaugural Mad To Live Retreat in collaboration with our all-time favourite surf and lifestyle camp, The Surf Experience, in Portugal's vibrant and awesome epicentre of all that is surf, culture & adventure, Lagos.
After spending the last few months busy beavering away to get everything ready for our intrepid guests, I was so excited when launch day finally came, with myself and the team from the Surf Experience all hands on deck to welcome the crew and start an epic week. Check out our retreat summary below, followed by a killer video of all the week's action and stoke!
With welcome packs laid-out on all the guest's beds including goodies from Roxy, shorts from Boardies Apparel, raw chocolate from Ombar (delivered by the chocolate fairy, yours truly, 3 times a week on the guest's pillows), Mad To Live tshirts, a hefty dose of glitter and a quenching welcome juice from our favourite cold-press gurus, Plenish Cleanse, the crew quickly got settled into the Mad To Live Retreat HQ for the week, in the stunning, sun-dappled old town of Lagos.
And what a crew we had! With Courtney and Lissette from New York, Olivia and Lucy from Rhode Island (USA), Claire from Ireland, Nicola and Alice from the UK, Lily our local from Portugal and Emma from New Zealand, we had a truly international gang which was brilliant, and brought a global flavour to the week, with all the women sharing adventures and stories from around the planet.
Day one saw our brilliant yogi with the most dulcet tones in the northern hemisphere, the wonderful Igor, lead the girls into a stunning restoriative sunset yoga session. Stretching out and recovering after their long journeys whilst watching the sky turn shades of peach melba and burnt amber, we toasted the day on the beach with a glass of the local vino verde, feelin' totally zen and relaxed for the week ahead.
With a jam-packed agenda of adventure all week, the women dove head first into all the activities and adventures, from the first morning's sunrise run along Meia Praia Beach to their first surf of the trip at Val De Figueiras on the West Coast. With Mark and Millie leading the instruction, the girls were up and riding on day one which was so awesome to see. Expert coaching and 1-1 tuition with the women ensured everyone was getting the instruction they needed, with 3 of us coaching and filming at all times.
The itinerary has been carefully curated at the retreats to make sure there is enough activity and action to make the most of the incredible area, exploring many of the most beautiful surrounding spots, and tough workouts to push those wanting to really drive their fitness over the week. Beach circuits at the incredible Camilo beach were rewarded by an insane sunrise, followed by a high intensity 45 minute workout, topped off with a run up 300 stairs back to the top (no sweat, right guys? ;)).
Food is a HUUUUUUUUUGE part of Mad To Live Retreats. No solo-lettuce-leafin' one-apple-slice-a-day rubbish here. With all the physical activity and stokery (yeah I made that word up ;)) going on, feeding the women healthy and nutritionally beneficial meals is super important. Step in Surf Experience and Mad To Live Retreats chef extraordinaire, the irrepressible Rachel Snow. Preparing a menu that would make Ottolenghi look like McDonalds, Rachel carefully sourced local produce to create a menu that was truly incredible. Group favourites included prawn, mint and pea risotto, fresh tuna steaks on the BBQ, tapas night with cataplana clams, crispy lamb with pomegramate, home made dips, and paella night. Breakfast was laid on by the lovely Giuliana, including our favourite granolas by Lucy Rocks Paleo, overnight oats, fresh juices and fruits, eggs, nut butters, seeds, local fresh breads and croissants. Check the video for full gastronomical highlights, and get ready to drool!
A challenging, sweat storm of a mountain bike ride up to the cliffs of Lagos pushed the chicks hard, and was made all the more worthwhile by the incredible view from the top, mother nature putting on a show for the women. I loved seeing how supportive everyone was of eachother, with team spirit ridin' high as we hooted and hollered, encouraging each other up some tough hills and screaming as we cruised under fountains in Lagos and made it to our lunch spot to have the local delicacy of grilled chicken piri piri for lunch on the beach.
Benzafrim is an incredible part of the Algarve, and exploring the mountains and hills by horseback is probably the best way to do it. Facing a lot of fears for many of the chicks, getting on a horse can be pretty daunting so it was brilliant to see them all saddle-up and smile. My reward for them? A 30 foot jump off the resevoir into the crystal clear warm waters of the Benzafrim resevoir after the ride was up! Hearts-in-mouths for a lot of us (me included!) we hurled ourselves off the edge, the perfect salute to a rad afternooon out on horseback.
The surf gods were definitely on our side this week and we were treated to the ultimate manna, warm green waves minutes away from the surf house on Meia Praia Beach. After spending two days sussing the basics and getting on their feet, all the chicks were ready to be unleashed into the green waves. After an in-depth lesson on paddling, currents, reading waves and dropping in, we paddled out as a team, stoke levels through the roof and with what became our adopted team war-paint colours (purple zinc on our faces courtesy of guest Emma, pow!!). All the ladies were photographed, filmed, and coached from the water, and it was incredible to see them progress so quickly, catching green waves confidently and mastering the drop ins.
Capping off the week with a team meal out and party night with a sudden guest-vocal spot from retreat-er Olivia as she was thrust onto the stage at the Grand Cafe party (she killed it. And it made the final edit on the video!), I packed the ladies off, sun and surf stoked, hearts racing full of adventure.
Check the full edit for ALL the action and adventure, madness and radness and more below!
Thanks to all the amazing women who joined Mad To Live Retreats x The Surf Experience, we love you!
With thanks To Roxy, Plenish Cleanse, Boardies Apparel, Ombar Chocolate & Lucy Rocks Paleo
ANNOUNCMENTS LANDING IMMINENTLY FOR MORE RETREATS IN 2017!