Author & Journalist Caroline Sylger Jones is the founder and editor of Queen of Retreats, www.queenofretreats.com, a brilliant travel website for independent reviews and advice on spas, retreats, healthy escapes and transformative holidays around the world. We chat to her about breakfast, Bolt Head and her biggest luxuries in life…
What is the first thing you do in the morning?
Open my curtain and look out at the sky and green fields through the window of my Devon home. If our little daughter isn’t yet awake, my husband and I then drink a cup of hot water and lemon in bed, luxuriating in the peace and our ability to have an uninterrupted conversation!
What do you eat for breakfast?
After a short yoga practice, it’s a fresh juice such as carrot/ginger/apple/wheatgrass, then usually an egg with homemade bread, or granola. If I had my way, though, I’d eat Asian or Indian breakfasts every morning – I get really hungry and love their rice and veggie combos.
What is your work place like?
When I’m at home I write in a little study overlooking our flower-filled garden – well, it’s mostly flowers, though even the weeds in Devon seem to look pretty.
What do you eat for lunch?
When I’m writing, something quick and easy. I love leftover veggie curry from the night before, or there’s another dish I make a lot – bulgar wheat, which takes minutes to cook, mixed with chopped raw courgette, red pepper, tomato, fresh mint and flat leaf parsley, cubes of grilled halloumi cheese and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Do you snack?
Yes, if I’m peckish – I love avocados on their own, or I’ll have an apple and a huge chunk of any type of hard cheese – I especially like Manchego, an utterly delicious sheep’s milk cheese from Spain.
How did you get into wellness travel?
I was working as a travel writer for various publishers, and at the end of a particularly fascinating but gruelling three-month trip I ‘found’ meditation and yoga on a Thai beach. It was the start of a journey that had me moving from London to Devon, taking up yoga, changing the way I ate, then putting my combined passions together and writing my first book, Body & Soul Escapes. After that I started to specialise in writing about spas, retreats and healthy holidays for newspapers and magazines, then wrote a second book, Body & Soul Escapes: Britain & Ireland. I launched www.queenofretreats.com in 2012.
What is your favourite spot in the world?
My local coastal walk around Bolt Head in Salcombe – I’ve been walking it since I was five years old, and it always makes me feel grounded and inspired all at once.
Why is travel so important to you?
It gets you out of your head and reconnects you with the rest of the world.
Where are you off to next?
I’m heading to Sicily at the end of this month to experience one of the health programmes at Verdura Spa Resort for Tatler. The following month I go to Silver Island, a new yoga retreat on a privately owned island in Greece, for Condé Nast Traveller. After that I’m taking my family to try out a new ‘rough luxury’ fitness week, the LUX Experience, in the South of France, for various papers. You’ll be able to read and enquire about all of these places on www.queenofretreats.com.
How do you exercise?
I do a daily yoga practice, I go on an hour-long coastal walk at least twice a week, and I swim twice a week too. I can’t stand gyms and my knees don’t like jogging.
What is your skincare routine like?
I’m a bit rubbish at sticking to one product. I’m using a Bare Minerals facial wash at the moment. Then it’s ILA rose facial oil, followed by whatever decent moisturiser someone has sent me to try – right now it’s rather a lush product from Santa Maria Novella in Italy.
What do you never travel without?
My large cashmere travel wrap from The Travel Wrap Company – I feel the cold very easily.
What is your biggest luxury in life?
A very long, very hot bath with ILA himalayan bath salts, candles and a very good novel.
What three things can’t you live without?
Friends to connect with, good novels to read, and getting out into the fresh air.
What gets you up in the morning?
My husband Tom and daughter Annoushka – both literally and metaphorically!
And what do you go to bed thinking about?
Usually Queen of Retreats – an enquiry from a reader, perhaps, or something I want to put up on the site.
What motto do you live by?
It changes all the time. This is my favourite right now, and it feels appropriate for our over-busy, do-everything-now world: ‘If you don’t know what to do, do nothing’ – Susan Hill.