Art of Living | 16th May 2023
Yearning for a learning holiday? Our tips for upskilling trips
Many hotels are now incorporating learning and upskilling opportunities into their everyday offering.
What’s not to love about the month of May?
Spring is in the air, the days are getting longer and we have an additional bank holiday this year to mark King Charles III’s coronation. It goes without saying the long weekends are wonderful for boosting wellbeing, whether we use the time to reset and refresh, to spend quality time together or to try something new.
Tacking additional days off onto a bank holiday is a fine art for some, with a little strategic planning going a long way to maximise the opportunity. While some just want to relax and recuperate during their time off, many are keen to utilise their free time to expand their skill set and learn new things - from sports to art, theatre to nature, hotels that offer excursions and packages incorporating an upskilling element are rising in popularity. But it’s not just about writing retreats and week-long photography workshops: many hotels are now incorporating learning and upskilling opportunities into their everyday offering, meaning you can be sure to learn something new, wherever you choose to stay…
Creatures Great & Small
Learning more about the local British wildlife, and the huge variation in species across our Isles, is something that pulls those who are usually stuck in an office or chained to emails out into the natural world. Learning the ins and outs of animal behaviour, the way wildlife interacts with the seasons, and spotting these incredible creatures in their natural habitat, appeals to many who go on to become amateur twitchers, fishers, rewilders, and more. These kinds of learning trips can start young, with wildlife boat trips, for instance, appealing to all ages, with dramatic scenery and a good chance to spot seals, dolphins and seabirds nesting in the cliffs. For those more comfortable on foot, birdwatching dawn chorus walks have recently launched at Calcot & Spa, while the Lucknam Park equestrian centre is not to be missed, teaching guests all about the connection between animal and human.
For budding chefs and gardeners, getting closer to nature through learning about rewilding and foraging is definitely having a moment, too. Isabella Tree has helped kindle rewilding in the public conscience through her 3,500-acre project at Knepp Castle in West Sussex. The next six months will be a treasure trove of plants and fungi for the plate, with courses on identifying edible seaweeds, berries, mushrooms and flowers. Chefs up and down the country are adding flourishes to their menus from colourful kitchen gardens, too, allowing guests to participate of these, such as a tour of the charming gardens at Barnsley House, founded by one of Britain’s greatest gardeners, the late Rosemary Verey.
Golfing for all
For something a bit more active, national federations are working hard to encourage more women and girls into golf, with sets of clubs for ladies easily available now too. It’s no secret golf courses tend to pop up in particularly scenic surroundings, and many courses are paired with spa facilities, such as Rockcliffe Hall in County Durham. For an even more outstanding golfing experience, guests at Prestonfield House can take advantage of the Prestonfield Golf Club, sitting at the base of Arthur’s Seat, not a bad spot to get that handicap down!
A creative retreat works wonders to calm the mind plus spark off or reconnect guests with a longer-term hobby. Wherever you take your inspiration, the options for courses to express oneself are endless, including photography, jewellery making, poetry, calligraphy, music, dancing, writing, painting, sculpting, woodworking and printmaking.
Or simply enjoy artistic delights by another hand, whether it’s a guided art tour with tea at the Fife Arms, including original artwork by Picasso, or the open-air theatre at Kilworth House, putting on West End standard shows throughout the year.
Whatever you want to learn, however you want to upskill, the British countryside is a haven of inspiration for all minds and bodies, proving you needn’t travel far to embark on a true learning holiday.