I've known Jessica Skye for years, and she is one of the coolest people I know. She is a yoga teacher by day and a DJ by night, so she is adept at mixing those two very different worlds. And let's face it-people are multifaceted. Just because you love yoga doesn't mean you're vegan, or, because you're big on partying, you don't love to work out. Skye gets it, and that's why her Fat Buddha Yoga retreats are so refreshingly different. For starters, each yoga session has the most epic chill-out soundtrack that she has mixed herself.
Skye has hooked up with Elite Island Resorts to pop up at Galley Bay Resort on the island of Antigua, and I was lucky enough to give her first-ever Antiguan retreat a whirl. Trust me-if the sound of a boat party, silent cinema, and daily sunrise and sunset yoga sessions sound like you're kind of holiday, you'll want to keep reading.Jessica Skye
As soon as we arrived at Galley Bay Resort, we were welcomed by the team offering us glasses of traditional rum punch. This is not your typical yoga retreat. Alcohol and indulgent food are not off-limits. (On the second night, we all bonded over a huge cheese board.) So if you're looking for a retreat where you want to lose weight, then this probably isn't for you. Instead, it's more about indulging your soul, doing yoga, eating good food, meeting new like-minded people and having fun.
Each day begins with a 90-minute sunrise yoga class with views of the beach and the sounds of the sea. Galley Bay is breathtakingly beautiful, and all the classes are set up so you can take in the views as you move through the flow. The first session of the day starts slow but quickly gets more physical. The classes are all about pushing your body and challenging yourself.
As the week progressed, the sessions got more challenging. Now, that may sound daunting, but the great thing about Skye's teaching style is that she helps everyone to work at their own pace. It didn't feel competitive. Most days, the yoga is at Ismay's restaurant, but a couple of mornings, you hike to different locations for a change of scenery. I won't give too much away, but both times the views were breathtaking.
Breakfast could be as healthy or as naughty as you wanted. You could choose from tofu scramble, eggs (cooked your way), bacon, cake, fruit, coffee, tea, juice and more.
Being at a five-star, all-inclusive, adult-only resort means that for the rest of the day you can do tailor it to the sort of holiday you enjoy. There is a huge pool to chill out by, but if you're more of a beach person, the long shoreline is dotted with loungers. There are also plenty of palm trees you can find a shady spot next to.
Come lunchtime, if you're not still full from breakfast, you can choose from one of the restaurants on the resort: Sea Grape and Gaugin are more upmarket and offer yummy local food. Gaugin, at night, is glorious and very romantic (perfect for couples). Small tables are set up under canopies that look out onto the beach, and the whole restaurant is lit by flaming torches. The Barefoot Grill has a range of fast food (the American-style burgers are a real winner), and it's close to the bar if you fancy a rum punch (well, when in AntiguaвЂ¦ ).
Once you've let your food get down, you can take a stand up paddleboard or kayak out for a spin, or just relax with a good book. At 5 p.m. each night, we headed to a different spot for the sunset yoga class on an elevated wooden platform that looked out over the sea. This was always much more chilled than the morning session. However, much like the mornings, you could go at your own pace. If you wanted to chill in Savasana or child's pose while others worked through their flow, that's okay.
At the end of each class, both morning and night, Skye comes around while everyone is in Savasana and massages your head and shoulders with a gloriously scented oil. Total bliss.
It's then a quick turnaround for dinner, which is in a different restaurant every night. This is the chance to chat with the other guests, and by the end of the week, it's like having dinner with a group of friends.
Included in the trip is a day out on a catamaran. This was most people's favorite extracurricular activity. You all pile onto this boat and head out around the island, stopping off at different beaches for a spot of swimming or sunbathing. The crew is great fun: They play brilliant music, have an open bar and serve up traditional Antiguan food at lunchtime. Needless to say, after a day out in the sun and many rum punches, the sunset yoga was amazing.
Then, at the last dinner of the trip, everyone goes to a silent cinema. Loungers are set up in front of a huge screen, drinks flow and everyone has their own headphones and popcorn. We watched Point Break, which seemed quite fitting, considering the backdrop.Jessica Skye
The room below is what mine (and a lot of the rooms at Galley Bay) looked like. Incredibly spacious but homely. What you can't see is the massive bathroom with a corner tub and separate shower or the view from the bed that looks out onto the sea. Ground-floor rooms have a patio and direct access onto the beach, whereas the rooms on the first floor have a balcony. If you're more of a pool person, an upstairs room is great, but if you prefer to spend your days on the beach, try to request a downstairs room.
As mentioned, all the watersports, food and drinks are included in the price of your stay. There are tennis courts, volleyball, and a gym if you want to supplement your yoga sessions with an extra dose of fitness (which I did not). There is free Wi-Fi in all the rooms, but if you can get out and explore the 56-acre resort, walk along the beach (it's almost a mile) or enjoy a good book, you'll feel all the better for avoiding screen time.
I went on the retreat wanting to master a headstand. I didn't quite manage it (although I did get close), but I definitely saw improvements like being able to master the crow pose and feeling stronger in my core. By the end of the week, I found it much easier to switch off and get into the yoga mindset without my brain whirring with to-do lists and unread emails.
The week was about switching off from the "go, go, go" mindset of work and life back home and switching onto happiness. It was about challenging myself in the yoga classes, enjoying the good food and drinks, hanging out with friends and making new ones. I laughed a lot that week, and I came back looking and feeling like a better version of myself-not because I had lost weight or strengthened my core, but because I took myself away from the hamster wheel of life and tried something new.Jessica Skye
Also included in the price is a one-hour massage at the open-air spa. In all my years as a beauty editor, I've never had a treatment outside. It was incredible. Instead of the usual spa music-which, let's be real, is often more irritating than it is relaxing-this treatment's soundtrack was nature; the trees swaying in the breeze and the birds chirping. Absolute bliss. The full-body massage was just what I needed after a long-haul flight and a couple of days of double-yoga sessions.Jessica Skye
An Insider Tip
Every guest on the Fat Buddha Yoga retreat gets a goody bag packed with products from brands including Decleor, Kerastase, and Ultrasun, so you don't need to worry about packing suntan lotion.
I'd also recommend buying one of Skye's travel mats. Not only do they look incredible, but if you have booked a spot on the retreat and order a mat beforehand, the employees will have it ready and waiting for you when you arrive in Antigua.
The Finer Details
The Fat Buddha Yoga x Elite Island Resorts takeover will take place at Galley Bay Resort & Spa, Antigua from June 30th - July 5th (5 and 7 night stays available) starting at $4119 per person*. The price includes:
- Return flights to Antigua and accommodation on an all-inclusive basis.
- Daily yoga classes, sunrise and sunset, over five days.
- A 60-minute massage at the open-air spa.
- A day on a catamaran exploring the island and snorkeling, including lunch.
- A Fat Buddha Yoga goodie bag.
To book, call the team at 01245 458 900 and quote "Fat Buddha."
For more information: Elite Island Resorts
*Prices are subject to change due to air rates and currency fluctuations.