The LUXYOGA villa blends traditional construction and modern amenities with sweeping views from Nice to Cannes. Photo credit: Chelone Wolf

For anyone seeking a mindful escape in a luxurious Provençal setting, award-winning LUXYOGA in Tourrettes-sur-Loup ticks all the right boxes: world-renowned Yoga, meditation, and fitness teachers, superb accommodation, fine food and drink and lots of fabulous places to visit locally.

France Today spoke with founder and CEO Benjamin Sears, who opened the space in 2007, about this magnificent hideway’s origins, and asked him exactly what lucky guests can expect from a stay there and why so many of his clients return year after year.

France Today: So, tell us how LUXYOGA began…

Benjamin Sears: I believe that success is borne of passion, criteria, and expertise. I began teaching Yoga because I wanted to utilize my personal strengths to help others by teaching Yoga with a balance of intelligence, creativity and classic elements. I decided to open the LUXYOGA retreat centre because my connection to the South of France inspired me to create an experience that was equal part perfect vacation and personal transformation.

I believe that a vacation can be life-changing, and I also understand that time is very valuable, so why not have all the elements that make life beautiful? We are serious about the practice of Yoga, and we are serious about curating an experience of cozy luxury. Our clients will tell you that our hospitality stands up to the great hotels of the world.  LUXYOGA is real villa living, like going to visit an incredible family member who has it all and shares it willingly, to give you a dream experience; sunrise and sunset over the Mediterranean, a practice that reminds you how able you really are, inside, meals that appear as if by magic, a staff that’s low-key but always looking out for you.

FT: What is your inspiration as a host?

Cozy luxury, farm-to-table meals, and regional biodynamic wines. Photo credit: Chelone Wolf

BS: Ultimately, it’s about sharing beauty and facilitating happiness and self-reflection. I want to help people remember that details and care in all things potentiate a fulfilling life. So, I share my version of paradise the best I can, and that means we cozy luxury, classic South of France villa living, cultural exploration, culinary artistry, and hospitality, with my other passion: helping people live their best lives through Yoga and Meditation.  I’m also inspired to find new ways to improve the experience, especially since a significant number of our bookings every year are from our beloved returning clients, many of whom have been with us over five times, and some even over ten visits!

FT: The location for LUXYOGA is pretty special. Do tell us more… 

BS: The LUXYOGA villa overlooks the French Riviera and Mediterranean Sea from a stunning perch above the Loup River, just outside of one of the true jewels of the Apes-Maritimes region, the village of Tourrettes Sur Loup. The land to the South of the villa, towards the Sea, is protected, so our view to the Sea is unfettered. From the pool at the East side of the villa to the great room on the West, all rooms open outwards, allowing guests to take in both the sunrise over the bay of Nice and the sunset over the fabled town of Grasse.

FT: And what about the buildings?

Each room at the villa has a unique character thanks to heirloom furniture and artwork. Photo credit: Chelone Wolf

BS: The villa’s artisanal stonework and open architecture are integrated with all the modern conveniences, without losing the historic charm of the region. It’s as if the inside-to-outside quality of the space mirrors the seamless passing of each day on retreat. There are plenty of nooks where you can curl up with a book or take in the view.

FT: What are the accommodation options available?

BS: The LUX Villa is a 3-level 10,000 square foot private luxury home outfitted to support the services of a boutique hotel. Each room has unique and memorable characteristics and thus prices vary. For example, you can be paired with a roommate in one of our double rooms, or book the master suite all to yourself on a private floor. In the middle is our very popular Concord room, and our two Great Gatsby Suites, We also offer two rooms during each retreat at private cottages nearby, and our most economical option, a room in what we call the Yogi Apartment on the village square.

FT: The beautiful surroundings really aid the meditative element of a guest’s stay then?

Pool with riviera views. Photo credit: Chelone Wolf

BS: Absolutely. There is no better meditation than simply appreciating nature. Many of our guests say that being at the villa, because you cannot see any other houses, feels like being on a ship – you feel as if you’ve been transported to another world, yet your every need is handled by our staff.  When the sun sets, it feels like the sky is wrapping around you. When you’re at the villa, you have the TIME to appreciate the natural wonder all around you.

FT: Who comes to stay?

BS: Our guests come from all over the world and are typically hard-working, successful individuals who appreciate the finer things in life, want a vacation that will have leave them feeling better than when they arrived, and perhaps have a special fondness for France.

FT: Do guests need to be advanced in yoga to appreciate a stay?

All levels welcome! Photo credit: Chelone Wolf

BS: No, in fact we have many guests who jump-start their way towards their wellness goals by joining a retreat. On a LUXYOGA retreat, you will be supported and challenged, and not just by your teachers – each group comes together like a team.  To be honest, I think that one of the reasons we’ve had such success not just giving new students a week of practice, but really inspiring them to keep going is that we don’t fake it; we meet people where they are but we don’t let them sell themselves short. I think this message I received from a guest named Maria DeSarbo really speaks to this idea:

“I wanted to tell you that Lisa (esthetician from the retreat) was texting with me a few weeks back, and she was with Ruth (breast cancer survivor). She told me that your retreat gave Ruth her life back.  It is always nice to hear nice things about what you do, and that is about as good as it gets!  You should feel really good about your path in life.  You truly have a gift.” (I changed the names to protect the privacy of the two guests mentioned).

FT: How else can guests relax on site?

BS: In addition to simply enjoying the space, the pool, and all the lovely areas to spend time, we offer massages on-site.

FT: What can guests expect to enjoy on the dinner table?

Masterfully plated dinners and resplendent lunch buffets, all local ingredients. Photo credit: Chelone Wolf

BS: I believe that food is one of the truly magical aspects of life. I mean, while being nourished you can also have an incredible sensory experience. How cool is that? We don’t do fad diets or detoxes, but we do create well-balanced ingredient-driven cuisine fit for the great dining rooms of the world, served at a communal table overlooking the Mediterranean coast. Expect farm-to-table meals that integrate creativity, deliciousness and wellbeing for a joyful lifestyle of balance that can’t be bought off a shelf. Unlike even the fanciest of restaurants, we cut no corners; no cheap oils, or anything I wouldn’t eat myself.

FT: Do tell us more about mealtimes!

Cooking classes every week. Photo credit: Chelone Wolf

Breakfast and lunch at the villa are resplendent buffets that change daily to make each meal an experience while always maintaining our nutritional criteria. Dinner starts with hors d’ouevres and biodynamic wines at magic hour, followed by a three-course meal plated by our chef. All dietary requirements are well supported. Guests fill out a questionnaire upon booking. Each week also features a cooking class, and every day ends with a little wonder at what’s cooking tomorrow.

FT: There must be some excellent days out available locally?

Excursions to the coast and Provence. Photo credit: Chelone Wolf

BS: Yes, three excursions are included in every retreat week. One typically involves heading down to the coast, another will explore a museum and Provencal village, and the third will be nature-focused, like a light hike along the Loup river to a secret swimming hole.

FT: Tell us about the retreats planned for 2020.

BS: We have five retreats and two teacher trainings available for Spring and Summer 2020. On each retreat I collaborate with another world-renowned teacher to create a curriculum that empowers students to make inspiring progress over the course of their stay. The best move is to check out the offerings on our website. Many of our returning guests just pick the week that best fits their schedule.

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World-renowned teacher Benjamin opened LUXYOGA in 2007. Photo credit: Chelone Wolf