Travel is as much about discovering another country or culture as it is about discovering yourself. French photographer, illustrator, and writer Garance Doré has found this to be true over the course of her remarkable career; she was a pioneer of street-style fashion blogging and became well-known for her lifestyle blog, Atelier Doré. “One of my passions has always been to travel, and I have always seen it as a one of the gateways to self-discovery,” she says.
Last year, Doré organized a creative retreat to Morocco in partnership with boutique hotel guide and booking service Mr & Mrs Smith. The trip, entitled the Art of Storytelling, gave a handful of women the opportunity to explore self-expression against the backdrop of Marrakesh’s rich artistic community. This November, Doré will once again facilitate a gathering of like-minded women for her new retreat, the Art of Self-Discovery, which will take travellers to Chile.
The Art of Self-Discovery is ultimately about connection and reflection.
Partnering once again with Mr & Mrs Smith, Doré has set the retreat at the Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa high in the Andes mountains. The eco-friendly accommodation was built to be at one with the surrounding environment—employing solar power to heat the pools, using a reverse osmosis water system, and growing its own vegetable garden.
Here, the landscape of the Atacama Desert is punctuated by ancient rock formations, geysers, and incredible skies that open up at night to the cosmos (those on retreat are invited to take part in stargazing at the region’s only open-air observatory). Doré chose this location precisely for the sense of isolation and disconnection that it evokes. “The idea is to travel in depth inside ourselves. We needed to find a space that supports and inspires that, and I felt like the Atacama Desert was absolutely perfect for this,” she says.
Everyday urban life can be short on the essential spiritual resources of time and space: the opportunity to decompress and turn inwards. The desert offers space in abundance, while the retreat offers time to tend to the self. There is a focus on the internal journey of the spirit, as opposed to the outer work of telling one’s story. “Our retreat in Morocco, about storytelling, started with guiding our guests towards finding their own story. The Art of Self-Discovery is a more intimate look at the self.” Doré is joined by meditation teacher and writer, Susan Piver, as well as Tashi Dos Santos, an astrologer and tarot reader. Both of these modalities have been used to understand the self by facilitating introspection. “To me, self-enrichment needs to be extremely grounded,” says Doré. “Susan is extremely renowned and has a fascinating approach, and she’s been working with Tashi for years. We wanted to bring them together.”
During the week-long retreat, participants will take part in daily workshops with Piver, yoga sessions, and evening discussions with Doré. There is also the chance to see the sun set over the Valley of the Moon, and walk over the otherworldly white salt flats of Ojos del Salar. Dos Santos will facilitate one-on-one tarot sessions and astrology readings throughout the week. “I think our travellers will get to experience some breakthroughs,” says Doré, “and I want them to leave with the tools necessary to keep that experience resonating inside them. I want this trip to be life changing.” The Art of Self-Discovery is ultimately about connection and reflection. The desert and the luxurious accommodations play supporting roles on this trip, the real destination is you.
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