HOW IT ALL STARTED

Our Story

Our Intention and Our Promise

We promise you a holiday romance – with yourself and the beautiful, natural surroundings of Maison de Lunel. Here you have an opportunity to relax and nourish your soul, and begin a journey of discovery with endless possibilities.

Let Mother Nature wave her magic wand over you

It is our intention to work in association and partnership with the most knowledgeable and accredited professionals, locally and internationally. To share knowledge with our guests to support them on their well-being journey. To source fresh seasonal produce, supporting organic and permaculture farmers and the natural environment. And to truly nourish you, our guests, with the very best that Mother Nature can offer.

Ross and Neil - Our Story

The Beginning

Although originally both from the United Kingdom, we have spent the last 22 years in the Middle East, travelling extensively. Our story began when we met on 16th February 2013 (watch out for the number 16, it features frequently!). And the last few years have been an incredible journey!

Within our first year, we resigned from our corporate jobs and set up an events business based in Dubai. We have been lucky enough to travel extensively with our work. It has taken us from Mexico to Marrakesh and Azerbaijan to Australia. Our travels have influenced many of the elements that you will find at Maison de Lunel.

Although we don’t have a background in hospitality, we’ve stayed in many hotels and are very particular about what works and what doesn’t. So at Maison de Lunel our focus is very much on the guest experience – keeping things simple, chic and elegant. We also appreciate how important it is to step away from day-to-day routine and escape – physically and spiritually.

The Turning Point

I have always been interested in nutrition and decided to make significant changes to our diet and lifestyle several years ago. I was really keen to pursue my knowledge further. Having completed a nutritional diploma, this provided the basics, in terms of running a structured nutritional coaching practice. Increasingly, it inspired me to learn more about plant-based nutrition and Hippocrates’ ethos – let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.

Our events business involved supporting many pharmaceutical conferences and I really began to appreciate the size and the power of the pharma machine. Nearly all of the 45+ conferences a year that we were supporting were addressing medication for lifestyle issues. Cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, pain – but what I found most worrying was the lack of discussion about diet and lifestyle.

In one particular conference, the lead physician said to an audience of around 200 doctors…

We’ve lost the battle against obesity; the message of ‘eat less, move more’ is falling on deaf ears. The only way to solve obesity is with bariatric surgery, the only problem is we don’t have enough surgeons to scale up. However, we have now developed….”

Little did we realise the effect that conference and that speaker would have on our story.

That was a turning point for me and I knew that I wanted to learn and share as much as possible the benefits of a natural plant-based approach to better health. Neil and I started juicing in 2015 and we were hooked. We followed Jason Vale’s 7-day programme, and not long after I signed up to become a natural juice therapist through the Juice Master Academy.

The Kitchen at Maison de Lunel

How we found Lunel… or did Lunel find us?

By the summer of 2016, we were starting to talk more and more about what’s next… and where?  We had a crazy idea that we wanted to run a boutique retreat. Somewhere that we could call home and share with others. A place that would inspire and relax in equal measures. Our vision was of a serene and tranquil setting that would recharge the soul – naturally; a sanctuary that would offer luxury and comfort, and a place where guests could escape, recharge and rediscover themselves.

Neil had always dreamed of living in South West France. So this seemed like the natural choice. And we both knew it had to be somewhere very special that would make us want to stay. Somewhere with the right balance of luxury with rural escapism.

Our story moves to France

We booked a hotel in Toulouse and used that as our 5 day base to view 16 short listed properties in the region. Believe it or not, but Lunel was actually near the bottom of the list as it didn’t tick many boxes. On our checklist we wanted to have at least 10 bedrooms and not too much renovation work.

We simply fell in love.  From the moment we drove through the gates and down the long driveway Lunel stole our hearts. The immobilier photos had not captured the unique setting and far-reaching views across the countryside and woodland. There is also a wonderful positive energy about Lunel and we feel truly blessed to be able to call it our home. There was a magical energy that pulled us here, because the day after we took the keys we noticed a roof tile leaning in the courtyard corner by the front door. When I turned it around, guess what we found? The number 16 drawn by hand into the clay roof tile. That’s why we both have a feeling that we’re supposed to be here.

The Transformation

Obviously, back then we did not appreciate the size of the renovation project or managing it in rural France whilst still running the business in Dubai. But we held on tightly to our vision and our dream. Although I won’t deny that there were times when we both thought the dream was turning into a nightmare!

In our plans we wanted at least 10 en-suite bedrooms, whereas the former Lunel only had 3. However, there was an amazing stable block and a striking old barn, complete with a traditional stone trough, and a tractor from the 1960s.

The dream becomes a reality

We now offer 9 spacious en-suite bedrooms, plus a wonderful one bedroom luxury apartment and can cater for up to 20 guests. The barn has been completely remodelled and transformed into a 120m² multi-purpose studio with French oak floor. The ambient lighting installed in the barn creates an unbelievably magical effect against the old stone walls. It’s as if they come to life!

The former tractor and animal food store is now in our communal dining room, complete with fully-fitted professional kitchen. We have installed a new swimming pool and built a large-covered terrace, complete with outdoor kitchen, lounge area and cinema wall.

So here we are many years later and our love for Lunel continues to grow day by day. It’s home, and as has always been our dream, we just want to share this very special sanctuary with others. But more than that, we want to share with guests our story and wellbeing journey. Ultimately we want to help others regain a lifestyle balance that enables them to feel happy inside and out.

EAT MORE PLANTS!

What to expect when you stay at Maison de Lunel retreat

We are both passionate about our whole food, plant-based lifestyle and aim to share practices that can be integrated into daily life. Not only during the retreat, but afterwards as well. So our guests leave with the tools and knowledge to make a long-term shift towards better physical and mental wellbeing, through informed choices.

However, we are all individuals and no one diet fits all. With busy lives and differing motivations, we work with guests to find a nutritional and lifestyle plan that works for them. Our aim is to empower people by providing them with the know how to adapt to a whole food, plant-based diet and take control of their health.

By taking a holistic and realistic approach to managing our nutritional needs, we genuinely believe that by adopting small daily changes everyone can gain immense benefits. Eat clean. Move daily. Rest well.

We are on an amazing journey. We have learnt so much, met some wonderful people and made amazing new friends. Our first Maison de Lunel guests arrived in September 2020, and each year more people experience our life-changing retreats.

But that’s not the end of our story… so watch this space.

We look forward to welcoming you to Maison de Lunel one day soon.

Neil & Ross

Maison de Lunel Luxury Retreat – Yours to Discover