Travel Holiday Garden view of the house at Domaine de Rhodes Domaine de Rhodes “Sometimes you have to play a long time
Garden view of the house at Domaine de Rhodes
Domaine de Rhodes
“Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.” – Miles Davis
Break patterns, take risks, get unstuck and do all these things now. Ici maintenant (here now) was our mantra over a four-day sojourn with Antacara Frontiers in one of the loveliest areas of southern France. Single travellers looking for trips that have meaning and enable self-improvement will enjoy a getaway with Antacara Frontiers. A search for life’s meaning is nothing new but purposeful solo travel appears to be a more recent and more urgent objective of many, driven by our stressful world of political strife, environmental concerns and general uncertainty about the future. Antacara Frontiers, a new venture by former aid worker Jillian Reilly, is ideal for anyone looking for a holiday that offers more than simply a beautiful location. Antacara is designed to help anyone who needs to focus, identify their strengths and stop behaviors that block self-growth and success. The Antacara package includes a five-night stay with meals at Domaine de Rhodes, a series of activities and followup coaching by skype afterwards.
The beautiful grounds at Domaine de Rhodes on Ile de la Barthelasse
Antacara means “frontier” in Sanskrit and the experiences Antacara hosts are a personal development journey towards your life’s frontiers. Neuroscientists have shown that travel and exploration are critical tools for human growth. Travel and exploration enhances our imagination and forces us to be more functional and less anxious. Travel is known to be a great stress reliever. Ile de la Barthelasse, a small island on the outskirts of Avignon, Provence, nestled between two tributaries of the Rhone river, is the ideal place for exploration, both physically and mentally. Domaine de Rhodes, a beautiful sixteenth-century French manor house, on this island, was in fact the home of an explorer. Alexander de Rhodes was a Jesuit missionary in Cochin China and Tonkin (Vietnam) and linguist. He is an integral part of the history of Vietnam, with several streets of major cities bearing his name.
If Not Now, When? Jillian Reilly of Antacara Frontiers
Antacara Frontiers is based on the simple premise that following an “explorer’s mindset” will have radical benefits on our mental, emotional and spiritual health. Sometimes known as allokataplixis, a phrase derived from Greek, this “other wonder” captures the heightened and delighted attention to the ordinary we feel when travelling. Once we enter new territory and start exploring it, our minds begin expanding and adapting in highly beneficial ways. We feel a sense of joy, fuelling us to keep exploring around new corners and landscapes. The program is run by the insightful Jillian Reilly, who after graduating from Northwestern University, ventured to South Africa to help monitor the pivotal 1994 elections. This was followed by work facilitating change with community groups and non-profits and a move to Zimbabwe to start an HIV/AIDS program at the height of the country’s epidemic. These experiences expanded her worldview, gave her deep insight into human development and led to a book, Shame, Confessions of an Aid Worker. They also built her personal ability to be curious, adaptable and resilient. In her own words, they shaped her “explorer’s mindset.”
Entrance to one of the suites at Domaine de Rhodes on Ile de la Barthelasse
Antacara Frontiers’ base, Domaine de Rhodes, a manor house hotel owned by the genial Emmanuelle and Cyrille, has five characterful guestrooms and an apartment in the main house, plus a brightly painted gypsy-style wooden caravan and three cottages in the attractive grounds. The main house features stone walls, red tiled floors, exposed wooden beams and is set in a vast park of 2.5 hectares, with meadowland, cedar and pine trees, lavender and flowers. There’s a lovely swimming pool, lounge areas in the shade of the ancient trees and a terrace for breakfast. Included in the Antacara package is lunch and dinner, prepared by a vivacious, quirky Frenchwoman, Céline, who prepares imaginative, healthy and delicious meals.
Swimming pool at Domaine de Rhodes on Ile de la Barthelasse
Domain de Rhodes
Antacara leader Jillian Reilly is at pains to emphasise that while the location of the four-day escape is beautiful and tranquil, “Antacara represents the antithesis to a retreat because we are not in any way withdrawing from life but facing it with renewed vigour, focus, clarity and confidence. By really tapping into our senses and responding to the beauty around us in a new way, Antacara reequips us with the tools we need to surge ahead.” With that in mind, over four days, participants complete a series of “expeditions” where a destination is chosen with the aim of really paying attention to surroundings along the way. This is one technique that enables better focus once home and Antacara is a distant memory. Exploration encourages a cycle of introspection that enables attentiveness and intuition, leads to wonder at the discoveries and stimulates self-growth, joy and human connection. As such, the activities are designed to inspire participants to begin to move forward in their lives beyond status quo thinking and behaviors, arming them with the tools to surpass self-imposed limitations and change up their go to habits and thought processes.
Pears in bottles for brandy at Manguin, a distillery on Ile de la Barthelasse
In today’s stressful political climate, it’s no wonder that people feel like change isn’t possible, have feelings of self-doubt and feel “stuck” and unable to progress in their careers or lives in general. Over the course of four days, the emphasis is on identifying strengths and discovering the blocks that prevent achieving life goals and enjoying life to the fullest. Each day starts without digital devices and some light exercise before breakfast. This is followed by an exploration activity outside of Domaine de Rhodes. Participants find their own way to artisanal distillery Manguin for a tasting of pear brandy and the world’s first olive gin. Another exercise involves cycling with a fellow participant to a cultural location in Avignon, making decisions together about the route on the way and choosing items from the food market for a picnic. A group activity involves cycling together to an antiques market in Villeneuve-les-Avignon and then each choosing a small gift for someone in the group. Following the day’s activity, late afternoons back at Domaine de Rhodes, include sessions for reflection on the new experiences of the day.
Discovering a gramaphone at the antiques market in Villeneuve-les-Avignon
After four days, participants have a heightened sense of curiosity, clarity and possibility – the starting point for heading towards their frontiers. Through follow up coaching, participants fine tune their navigational tools to direct them forward and join a growing community of fellow explorers sharing tips and stories about life on their frontiers.
Pont d’ Avignon on the River Rhone
Working on yourself and really thinking about aspirations is the intention but nothing in the Antacara experience feels like “work.” Journeying towards your frontiers in a beautiful setting, with nature walks, cycling, picnics, markets and museums, plus contemplation, listening and discussion makes up the Antacara experience. Plans for further bases around the world and shorter programs in cities are already in the pipeline. Urban Antacara will launch in September 2019, with a day program in Paris.
The next Antacara session at Domaine de Rhodes near Avignon is 4 – 8 September 2019 – €2,700/person (includes accommodation, food and beverage)
Urban Antacara (Paris) is 10 September 2019 – €275 /person (includes food and beverage).