Mareile Paley has been a leader and pioneer in the retreat world since 2010. Her speciality is in pilates, curating unique mind-body adventures that connect not only people and culture, but open a path to ourselves. She is now launching CALM, the Center for the Art of Life in Movement, a wellbeing center rooted in regenerative tourism with a focus on Pilates in Portugal. We spoke to her about her life, projects, and visions.
Portugal / Germany
Q: Tell me a bit about your journey here? A: I'm originally from Germany, but I left when I was 19. First to travel then to study. I met my husband backpacking in Indonesia, then studied in New York, then lived all over the world: many years in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan. Nine years in Hong Kong, seven years in Turkey. 5 years ago I found my true ground here in Portugal and we live in Arrabida with Matthieu and our two boys who are 16 and 12.
Q: That’s such a lovely journey! And how did you get into the work you are doing now? A: I am a graphic designer by training, but over the years the different careers I’ve had have morphed into each other. When I started in 2010 hosting my first pilates retreat in Bali there were not a lot of retreats out there. There were some yoga retreats with all their fuzzy talk on finding yourself - that wasn’t for me! Pilates is such an urban spor
t, there was no soul-searching. But through the retreats and through learning from others (and finding my path within yoga after all), I eventually found that depth. I'm also maybe one of the few pilates teachers ever that I know that didn't come to pilates because I'm an ex dancer, or because I had an injury. I just found pilates in my gym and I was curious and I fell in love on my first class!
Q: Speaking of body, mind and soul, whats your take on wellbeing? A: I would say that in the media and popularly it's become a buzz word. At the same time, it's also a reality, everybody's starting to realize that we actually need to be well. I think we've come over that cusp of wel
l being just being for a few elite people that can afford it. I think it's something that is becoming and should become more accessible to everybody. I wish for it to become less exclusive and more natural state of being. Q: Absolutely resonate with this at Hermanas, we even have a wellbeing feature where we go into more details about the topic, and we’re through the community also trying to contribute to making wellbeing inclusive for all. So tell me a bit about CALM. A: I’ve always had a life in movement, so it seemed obvious, to call my project the Centre for the Art of Life in Movement. This seemed like a very long name for a Hotel, until I realized the acronym was C-A-L-M! Talk about serendipity. CALM is rooted in regenerative tourism and is driven by the land and its history dating back to medieval times. We will have, 4 suites, 9 eco-bungalows, 2 pilates studios, a natural pool, spa, and all set amidst an extensive food forest. We are right on the edge of the cute village of Palmela and part of our land is already in the Arrabida Nature Park, one of my favorite places for hiking, biking and being in nature. The water for our pool will come from our own clear spring water cave, then filtered and cleaned through a natural filtration process, using other plants, rocks and sand. Besides pilates, we will offer Restorative Getaways and Nature Immersions focusing on Earth Wisdom and how to reconnect to ourselves through nature.
Q: Love this so much too, this is such an original offering in this world. A: Yes, I am also aware that the wellness world is very saturated. Unless you have someone you know or you get a great recommendation, it can be really confusing and overwhelming. I'm fully aware that I'm in that mix with with my retreats, and there is no way to single yourself out or discern yourself or to even offer something that sounds different or is different. Lately, there has been a commercialization of the whole well being industry, and I am personally starting to get to the point where I'm asking myself whether I want to continue to feed into that or not. Wi
th this new project I am trying to be extremely intentional and visionary. I see CALM as part of a much larger ecosystem that we need to nurture and be aware of at every step on this journey. This goes from our lifestyle brand Calm Concepts into community building and doesn’t end with the running of a regenerative hospitality business. We need to start thinking in systems and how they each connect to and affect each other.
Q: As a last question, we always ask our Hermanas what community means to you…
A: To me, community, is like an extension of family. People that are connected, because they share the same values. Community to me needs to be real and honest. Where you can express what you mean without needing to put a filter on it. Where we can have uncomfortable conversation and dare to ask questions, challenge belief systems, laugh and cry together. Community is where you don’t need to be anyone else than yourself.