A Moroccan Wellness Retreat with Gabby Austen-Browne

In episode six of Desert Island Events Podcast, Narmeen speaks with events professional Gabby Austen-Browne and co-founder of Diversity Ally!

Gabby’s dream event stems from her background as a performer and her interests in health and wellness. Before becoming an event professional, Gabby was a professional dancer for 15 years and travelled the world, performing, and teaching dance and creativity to marginalised groups such as refugees, those with disabilities and older people. Gabby has a strong interest in yoga and meditation which has helped her positive mindset/wellness. In a nutshell, Gabby’s dream event combines events, health, wellness and movement into a retreat which would span across a two-week period in the tropics! 

In an ideal world, Gabby ponders at the thought of her exotic escape taking place several times a year in a number of her favourite locations such as Costa Rica, Bali, Tokyo, the Caribbean and Tuscany (to name a few!) Gabby’s event is aimed to offer support for freelancers and entrepreneurs in regards to business, planning, mindset, growth and wellness which combined creates the perfect agenda for a relaxing getaway! For the retreat, Gabby chooses Morocco as her idyllic place of relax and mediation due to its amalgamation of different types of scenery, nature, people, history, sights, sounds and smells. On one hand, you have the hustle and bustle of Marrakech and on the other, you have the stunning Atlas Mountains, Sahara desert and the breath-taking scenery along the coast. The aim is to incorporate the entire country into the retreat – with the main base of the retreat situated in a riad complete with a beautiful plunge pool!

Before arrival at the retreat, Gabby is eager to get her guests excited about the upcoming event and describes individual parcels which will be sent through the post a few months prior to encapsulate different elements of the country. For instance, the smells of Morocco through the exotic notes of orange blossom, rose and oud which would be made into an oil or perfume to stimulate the guests and their senses. Upon arrival, guests are expected to receive a goody bag which will help them along each of their journeys during the retreat. Goodies would be personalised to each guest and their motivations for joining the retreat and could range from a pair of cute yoga leggings for wellness, a yoga towel, a gratitude journal and books about motivation and mindset. In addition, guests will be served the traditional, fragrant and sweet Moroccan mint tea for everyone to enjoy as they please!

Moving onto a typical day at the retreat – the day begins at the crack of dawn with a morning ‘Movement and Meditation’ session to calm and focus the mind. Guests can choose from a variety of activities such as HIIT, yoga, Pilates, tai chi or perhaps a hike or cycle through the Atlas mountains before cracking on with the rest of the day. Special guest speakers such as Deliciously Ella would be invited to give cooking classes and advice to the guests. Talks-wise, American professor Brené Brown would be invited to guide guests on each of their journeys alongside yoga teacher, Janelle Lewis, who adds a fun twist to the more traditional art form. During the day, guests can venture out into different parts of the country and will be given the chance to discover new traditions through exploration. 

As for catering, the emphasis will be on sourcing local and traditional Moroccan food and ingredients allowing each guest to explore a new type of cuisine as well as being able to get engrossed in the lifestyle and local culture. A variety of teas, coffees, smoothies, fresh juices and complimentary wines will also be available for fellow retreaters to try – all in moderation of course! Over the last few remaining nights of the Moroccan escapade, Gabby describes her ideal send-off involving camel rides through the desert and a night beneath the stars followed by a variety of farewell concerts hosted by her favourite artists – Fleetwood Mac, Kate Bush and Paul Weller. Nothing else around but sand and the sky. How dreamy!

To wrap up the episode, Narmeen asks Gabby a quickfire question! “If this event had to take place virtually, how would you plan to do it?” Gabby explains how she would use virtual reality (VR) technology to engage and stimulate guests during the retreat. Each guest would be sent their own set of VR goggles to which they would be able to view the grounds of the retreat and the surrounding scenery. Guests would also be sent personalised packages which include (but not limited to) Moroccan tea, teapots, tagine, spices, Berber rugs, towels and other packs/kits to aid them in recreating the country and culture without having to move from their homes! Many of the physical activities/sessions would take place online using VR technology which still allows guests to get a real sense and feel of the Moroccan adventure. 

Gabby’s relaxing retreat is all about being intuitive and doing what feels best for your mind, body and soul. Guests will come away feeling refreshed and invigorated, equipped with more skills – having learnt tricks of the trade from their peers, and overall having more confidence in what they do. Whether it’s health and wellness you’re looking for, or tips to improve your business mind and skillset – Gabby’s retreat has it all in-store!

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