– Ewan McGregor
Beyond the gifts and glitz of the holiday season, it’s both a heart-filled and reflective time for us at Blue Sky Escapes.
In 2021, we embraced the joys of reconnecting, recalibrating, and recovering with an optimism that was as prudent as it was hopeful. Through periods of quarantine and lockdown, we’d like to take this opportunity to take a look back at 2021 and share the fondest of our memories with you.
Borne out of our desire to create safe and nurturing spaces in Singapore for healing and transformation to take shape, we launched Blue Sky Escapes’ Retreats in Singapore with the An Emergence of Self series. Our sixth edition came to a celebratory close on 27 December 2021.
Each of these retreats has been unique, self-exploratory and uplifting in their own ways, undergoing constant recalibrations through periods of quarantine and lockdowns. Most notably, the July retreats (An Emergence of Self: Finding Stillness) went ahead in the midst of Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) in Singapore, where only groups of two and masked activities were allowed and dining-in was prohibited. Nonetheless, we saw this as an opportunity to reframe our circumstances – we extended the Day of Silence to allow our guests to venture more profoundly inwards, and created more dining opportunities for our guests through picnics in the nature reserve and meeting virtually with Chef Oliver (from Open Farm Community) on a big screen for a mindful plating activity involving the three-course meal that was later served direct to their rooms. We stayed connected over a group bulletin board and felt intelligence exercises. Indeed, embracing these twists and turns in Singapore’s ever-changing regulations now means we have a ‘pandemic-proof’ retreat in our toolkit.
This year, we’ve grown our Black Book of wellness experiences to include more alternative and esoteric modalities designed to restore soul, senses, and spirit. We’re proud to have hosted over 1,600 unique sessions this year, which include healing art forms such as Reiki and Sound Healing Meditation, movement-based methods such as Embodied Intimacy and Liquid Body, Liquid Mind, and active meditations such as Osho’s Dynamic Meditation.
To remain connected with our far-flung family, we’ve relied on a series of virtual programmes designed to empower our community with the holistic resources to better navigate these unprecedented times. This year, we hosted virtual sessions and touched more than 2,400 participants around the world.
Back in April, we welcomed and harnessed the energy of the Pink Supermoon together, with our beloved practitioner Amber Sawyer (PhD) holding space and guiding us through a night-time meditation session. Across two days in October, we also joined hands with our esteemed practitioners in An Emergence of Self — A Prelude, with sessions that imparted breathwork, meditation, and embodiment practices.
At long last, after being grounded for about 18 months, our community took to the skies again.
But before that happened, we were sure to experience ‘travel in a time of COVID’ for ourselves first so as to ensure we could prepare our guests with the realities of pandemic travel before their trips took off – our founders, Krystal and Chervin headed on a 2-month long journey through London, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, and Germany, which began before the launch of any vaccinated travel lanes, with borders reopening only at the slightest.
Since, we’ve crafted journeys to 9 stunning destinations — including Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Italy, and London — with many more in the pipeline for an encouraging start to 2022.
We are immensely grateful to have crossed paths with every one of our personalities, guides, partners, sponsors and partners, and for the treasured exchanges, generous support, and unwavering confidence they have placed in our shared ideas and collaborations.
This year, we’ve had the privilege of forging and fortifying 48 meaningful partnerships with brands and communities like Changi Airport, Cloversoft, CYC, Grain Traders, Lululemon, Open Farm Community, The Leading Hotels of the World, The Paper Bunny, Violet Oon Singapore and YPO, each of which added a touch of their magic to our experiences.
We’re humbled to have been recognized by established local, regional, and international publications this year for the work we’ve been putting our energy towards, including our pandemic pivots. CNA Luxury and The Straits Times featured our wellness retreats, crafted in a first-person perspective as experienced by the writers themselves.
We’re also honoured to make our mark as a trusted wellness provider — Tatler Asia has featured us on their recommended list for Global Wellness Day, and in a similar fashion, we brought festive cheer to the Vogue gift guide for those seeking a gift of wellness.
A few of us from the team shared our personal takes on travel, and navigating the starts and stops of a pandemic as a travel and lifestyle company on publications, like A Magazine, Business Insider and CNA Lifestyle, and we’ve been given the opportunity to share our perspective as a thought leader on the future of travel on Channel News Asia (TV), China Daily and Singapore Tourism Board’s SingaporeReimagine Global Conversations.
At Blue Sky Escapes, sustainability remains at the forefront of our minds. As far as possible, we endeavour to minimize the impact that our experiences have on the environment and surrounding community.
We’re proud to have facilitated a more conscious way of approaching nutrition and sustenance through our immersive retreat dining concepts. At all six editions of our retreats, meals served were wholly plant-based and vegan. Our first retreat meal of the year kicked off with a collaboration with Chef Ming Tan (Siri House) and Benjamin Ang (Natsuki’s Garden), a horticulturalist who planted all the seeds for the vegetables which were organically and sustainably grown and harvested a day before the retreat to be served up as part of the guest chef meal. Later concepts included farm-to-table culinary experiences, a meal curated by At-Sunrice Academy using spent ingredients, to even harvesting the fruit from the jackfruit tree in our office backyard to be included as a main by Chef Oliver (Open Farm Community) at one of our retreat meals.
We are also mindful to partner with eco-conscious brands which uphold the same values, with our care packages to guests throughout our experiences including items like artisanal fans handmade by a women’s co-op in Bali entirely from spent materials, re-usable bamboo straws and retreat tote bags designed from upcycled fabrics.
On the journeys front, we carbon balance our trips in partnership with One Tree Planted, a non-profit organisation dedicated to reforestation, and a tree is planted for every traveler we send on a journey.
While the winds have been particularly volatile, our sails have steered us towards new routes of exploration and growth. This year, we’re proud to have unlocked over 2,500 unique experiences for our community through our portfolio of local and international offering (including staycations, private and corporate wellness sessions and retreats, walking experiences and outbound journeys).
We are deeply grateful to you, our community, and our partners and friends who have supported us through a trying year. We do believe that even amidst uncharted waters, we can still find stillness, inspiration and connection. By dropping into full presence and actively embracing all that come our way, we can become more agile in navigating the twists and turns. When we embrace life as a moving meditation, we’re able to view the transition from one moment to the next as a continuous journey of mindfulness. And we enter the new year, we invite you to join us on this life-long journey of cultivating presence, equanimity and calm.