The 13 Key Differences Between A Boutique Business Retreat And Other Business Retreats

Red and yellow orchid flower at Being At The Cottage boutique business retreat

The word â€˜boutique’ originates from the French, meaning a small shop selling fashionable clothing and accessories.  More recently it has also come to mean a small company that offers highly specialised services in a specific area.

It goes without saying that at a boutique business retreat the surroundings are stunning, the food is delicious, and we have hand-picked massage therapists who will help you unwind soon after you arrive.  However, one of the key ingredients of a boutique business retreat is its matchless intimacy. 

Below are 13 more key differences between a boutique business retreat and other business retreats:

Bespoke V Off-The-Shelf 

The experience is tailored for you and your vision, so it’s important to get to know you.   We’ll begin working together a couple of months before your stay with initial conversations over the phone to learn about you and your vision.  We’ll talk about the plan, conundrum or vision you want to bring with you, your likes and dislikes, what you love to eat and what you hate and the little things that matter to you.  Every client will have a unique experience as a result of this preliminary work. This ensures that you have the optimum experience possible when you get to the cottage.

Private Space V Public Space 

You have the luxury, the intimacy and the privacy of having the cottage all to yourself for a minimum of 4 nights.  The time spent here is always all about you.  There’s no need to search for a quiet corner to snatch some time to reflect and ponder.  Time to reflect, go deeper and process is a natural part of this business retreat and gently runs in the background throughout your stay. 

Progressive, Provoking Conversations V Fact Finding

You may or may not have developed the art of self-enquiry.  Either way, having a skilled and impartial listener provides a counter-point to spending time alone, and is a fundamental part of the week. Probing, provoking and full of curiosity, the conversations are woven into the experience.  These can be held in the sitting room or talking while walking in the hills above the cottage. The conversations are intended to gently elicit answers or challenge ingrained assumptions and are woven into the experience to open up paths to your unconscious, helping you to discover information held in your hidden seams of inspiration.  They pull together all the threads of the insights gathered throughout the week.

Personalised horoscope notebook for creative ideas

Just You V A Group Of Colleagues

Spending time alone is an overlooked but important element of teamwork, dovetailing into and enhancing your work with your team.  In developing visions, taking time out to reflect, to process and to evolve is essential. It’s a time where you can glean information in a pure and uncluttered space, then return to share your findings.  Sometimes, other people, however important they are, can be an un-necessary distraction.  

Inspiration V Motivation

Inspiration is internal – motivation is external.  When you’re inspired, you’re pulled forward by something bigger and unstoppable.  You might not feel completely in charge of the process, but you can’t help but allow it to take you.  You trust that it will unfold.  Motivation needs to be generated from you or someone else.  It’s external.  When you’re motivated, you’re pushing things forward – it can be an effort. Being inspired is effortless.  

Your Agenda V Organiser’s Agenda

While there will be suggestions and pointers for you about how to get the most from your time at the cottage, including a loosely choreographed timetable, ultimately you can choose your agenda – when to eat, when to sleep, when you get up and when pay attention to your vision.  You can go with your gut instinct and choose what you do when.  The entire experience is designed to provoke intuitive nudges, get creative solutions and answer the bigger, deeper questions.  You won’t have a train of thought interrupted because you need to be somewhere else.  You’re in charge.   

Roam the Black Mountains plateau above the boutique retreat see mountain ponies

Creating V Analysing 

Everyone has an innate potential to create.  The intention of the boutique business retreat is to encourage more of your creative seeds to germinate and flourish while you’re there and to have put down deep enough roots so that they will continue to grow long after you’ve left. You won’t see any charts, graphs, modules or handouts at the cottage.  

Allowing Intuition V Thinking Hard

There’s no wracking your brain, searching online or thinking hard.  The experience is designed to help you connect with your intuition, to naturally trigger insights, answers, possibilities and new ideas.

A Unique Dynamic V Something A Bit Similar

Spending an extended amount of time on your own creates a unique dynamic and connection with your Self and your surroundings.   A boutique business retreat isn’t about deepening relationships with colleagues, although relationships are an important part of the experience.  It’s about helping you notice your part in something much bigger.  The relationships you’ll begin to notice evolving are with yourself, your surroundings and your vision, because you are free from the usual interactions with colleagues and the mundane distractions of the office. Spending time alone, and immersed in nature, it’s almost impossible not to become aware of a deeper connectedness at play. 

Being V Doing

When I was thinking of what to call the business, the phrasebeing at the cottage wouldn’t leave me alone; so it stayed.  When you stay at the cottage it’s all about being more and doing less.  In the peace, the solitude and the potential that is inherent in being immersed in nature, it’s about finding that extraordinary part of yourself which in turn supports you in pursuing something extraordinary and making a difference, potentially on a significant scale.   You pack your vision and you leave the rest behind.  Doing becomes insignificant.

Allowing V Making It Happen

This is about going with your own flow and allowing things to evolve.  You’ll begin to listen to your Self and learn to tap into the information your unconscious holds – mining those hidden seams of inspiration.  There’s no need to roll your sleeves up, brainstorm and ‘make this thing happen’.  When you get good at having a dialogue with your inner self, you’ll notice synchronistic events unfolding more and more.  The striving to â€˜make things happen’dissolves and life and events flow.  It all starts with allowing. 

Offline And Unplugged V Internet Connection

Research shows that deeply resting and relaxing your brain takes a minimum of 3 days.  For this to happen effectively it’s important to be offline and unplugged. In order for you to settle down and in to the experience of a boutique business retreat you need to be able to feel peaceful, unhurried and undistracted.  So, there’s no access to any of the usual tech stuff.  There’s nothing here to remind you of the office.   

Your Way V No-one Else’s Way

A boutique business retreat is about supporting you to optimise the realisation of your vision – your pursuit of something extraordinary.  The answers you’re looking for are already inside you. The experience is designed to help you to elicit those answers.  There are no â€˜done for you’ handouts.

6 Shortcuts To Insights And Inspiration – Part 1

What Makes A Boutique Business Retreat?

I believe that houses choose their owners. In 1991 Graig Ddu chose me.  You can find that story here:   https://tinyurl.com/ydyz5wp3 But back to the present.

After leaving an out of character foray into the corporate world as a property manager in 2018 where I had over 100 holiday cottages to oversee and their owners to manage, I knew that it was time to withdraw Graig Ddu from its role in that bricks and mortar rat race and make the transition from holiday cottage to a boutique business retreat.

As I was gushing about my idea to a friend one day, she bluntly said to me that she didn’t get how it would be any different from going away on your own to any other cottage.  What?

How odd, I thought, as I reflected on what was so clear and beautiful to me somehow hadn’t hit home to her!  I’d obviously made the mistake of leaving  a large amount of information in my head.  I retreated and thought more deeply about the nuances of the idea.

Over the following months I identified the 6 fundamental elements that capture the spirit of the boutique business retreat and why they are so important to connecting with intuition and capturing elusive insights.  Three are fairly common to many beautiful holiday cottages, but three elements are game-changers and elevate the experience at Graig Ddu into something unique.

Being At The Cottage - Graig Ddu - The Cottage in the Forest

Let’s start with the leading actor – Graig Ddu – also known as The Cottage In The Forest.  On the face of it, it’s a simple two up two down cottage ….. but yet, not at all.

It’s sheltered below the great domed moorland of the majestic Black Mountains in the Llanthony Valley, surrounded by forest.  With no WiFi or TV it’s immersed in timeless tranquillity and really is on the fringe of 21st Century life.

I’ve struggled to find the right words to describe just what it’s like to be there.  So, I’ve chickened out and left it to others who are far more eloquent than I.

There are many who are completely spell-bound by their experience of staying at the cottage and, after nearly 30 years, I still am.

I remember turning up the forest track to the cottage in October 1991 to meet my future landlady.  The crunching of the stones, the steady pull up the hill, driving deeper in amongst the trees.  Keep right at the fork, carry on climbing, go around the hairpin and then, the clearing amongst the trees with Graig Ddu standing there.  Every bit the cottage in the forest.  I knew, at that time, it didn’t have electricity, and I thought about what it would be like living without it for the shortest time.  After all, it was only going to be for 6 months.

Being At The Cottage - Small band of Welsh Mountain ponies above the Grwyne Fawr reservoir

But the thing is, you could pick up Graig Ddu and plonk it down in another rural area, and the magic would have vanished.  The Black Mountains, and the Llanthony Valley in particular, have a very special aura.  They are steeped in history and ooze ancientness.  Walking across what the farmers call ‘the flats’ you will always be walking in another’s footsteps, who knows whose inspiration and insights you may pick up on.

In these exquisitely peaceful surroundings, which are becoming increasingly rare and difficult to find, is another of the 6 elements which are a pre-requisite for capturing the spirit of small, but perfectly formed, business retreat.

Stay – Choose From 3 Exceptional Experiences

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The Only Constant Thing In Life Is Change

When we observe and preserve an alert watchfulness over life, we can see the unfolding and enfolding evolution of everything – constant change.  It may seem banal, but this also includes holiday cottages.

I moved to Graig Ddu in 1991 – you can read the story here:  https://www.beingatthecottage.com/2019/01/14/synchronicity-at-its-magical-best/

For 9 years I lived and worked at the cottage as a ceramic artist. In 2005 I made some improvements and it became a holiday cottage.  Since then, this industry has completely transformed.

being at the cottage - graig ddu the cottage in the forest

For the next stage in Graig Ddu’s evolution, and mine, I was drawn into following an unusual direction.  One in which afterwards, I felt that I’d been transported into a parallel universe wearing a straight-jacket liberally lined with grit.  I developed an empathy for Rudyard Kipling’s story of How The Rhinoceros Got His Skin – (it was filled with stale cake crumbs by the Parsee when the rhino took off his skin to go for a swim).

The small but very successful agency that the cottage had been marketed by was bought out. Over lunch in September 2016, my friend, who’d sold this company, said there was a vacancy. Was I interested?  Weirdly out of character, applying for the job felt like the right thing to do.  A week later I was employed as the property manager for the Black Mountains area.

Marie had gently hinted that the company was ‘quite corporate’, and would I be ok with that?  As I hadn’t worked in a corporate environment in over 30 years, the answer was – Who knew? Time would tell.

I lasted 15 months.  During that time, I did my job, all the while craving creativity, initiative, inspiration and freedom.  However, throughout that time, as I went from property to property and visited the office in Devon, (in an evolutionary sense preserved in aspic, suspended in a 1970’s time warp), I got invaluable understanding and insights into the holiday cottage market.

Every cloud has its role in synchronicity.  I couldn’t have got these insights in any other way. They were the catalyst and the catapult for the evolution of Graig Ddu into its next role.  Being At The Cottage was born and so began the transformation from holiday cottage to boutique business retreat.

being at the cottage - every cloud plays its role in synchronicity

Over the months, as I have developed the details of the experience, I get the strongest impression that Graig Ddu has been waiting patiently for years for me to catch up in my own evolution so that together, we can fulfil a higher purpose, while at the same time, offering the opportunity and space for others to fulfil theirs.

The only constant thing in life is change.

Get In Touch Now To Find Out More

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Continue reading A Holographic Garden

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Continue reading 5 Reasons To Spend Time Alone When Pursuing Something Extraordinary