October | Travel

Mandali Retreat, Italy

From dance festivals to downward dogs – the EDM supremos now taking charge of your chakras

Susan Ward Davies

You wouldn’t expect the men behind the world’s largest EDM festival, to be the creators of this peaceful, almost tech-free, mountainside retreat but after years in the business, Tomorrowland founders, Wouter Tavecchio and Wildrik Timmerman, want to get people into a different kind of headspace. They founded the non-profit Mandali Retreat an hour north of Milan – handy for post-fashion-week burnout. Set high above the pretty lakeside town of Quarna Sopra, the eagle’s-eye views of beautiful Lago D’Orta and the distant snow-peaked Swiss Alps are worth the trip alone.


Mandali’s design, with the Body Care Centre (pool, sauna, hammam), sleeping quarters and dining room spread over several buildings, is based on a medieval Italian village but with an Eastern spiritual-sanctuary vibe. Bedrooms are simple but stylish and serene, with lots of earthy natural textures and en-suite bathrooms (not always a given in retreats).

Sustainability is one of Mandali’s core values: built of  local stone, tiles and reclaimed wood, everything is reused and recycled, and they strive to be as low impact and close to zero waste as possible. Heating is from solar panels or woodchip burners, with surplus power diverted to the local community, and the vegetarian (and alcohol -free) menu is sourced locally and organically.

You can book a dorm (same households only, while covid lurks), splash out on a lakeview room with a bathtub on the terrace, or four can share one of the two apartments.  


They specialise in three – five day retreats, which include yoga, meditation, qigong and personal growth workshops, encouraging you to ditch your devices (there is wifi in the library if you are desperate) and switch off from the outside world. 


Rooms from £320pp, full board, inc all classes and access to the body care centre. Mandali.org

Book trains to Milan with raileurope.com