Meet the team | Wellbeing Escapes

“Give your mind the same attention as your body on a Wellbeing Escapes retreat”

-- Vogue UK

Our Story

In 2005, Stella Photi had an idea. Largely to meet her own longing of being able to plan a break that would make her feel better on every level. At the time she was looking for a yoga holiday for herself and came up with over 200 choices on the web. How could she decide which was the best one for her and even which one was any good without spending extensive amounts of time on research? Time that she didn’t have. Stella was and still is a typical working woman, trying to juggle the demands of her work, family and keep up with her own interests and frequently feeling overwhelmed. That’s when the idea of Wellbeing Escapes was born and she created a company that would lead the way in pioneering wellness travel.

Her quest was to make healthy breaks accessible and exciting for everyone. Stella and the team put together a wide range of holidays that were researched extensively and would deliver on expectations.

Today wellbeing Escapes is the UK’s most established and largest wellbeing holiday company, having won awards along the way and partnering with major brands such as American Express, Kuoni and The Telegraph. They offer down to earth and objective advice and the team will always do their best to find a break for you that fits your needs. That’s why their clients return to them year after year for their wellbeing holiday fix!

Fast Facts

  • 2005 Wellbeing Escapes created to offer a wide range of researched healthy breaks
  • 2013 Finalists in British Travel Awards
  • 2012 Wellbeing Escapes offers online booking for convenience
  • 2016 Wins Telegraph Travel Award for best specialist tour operator category
  • 2017 Runner up in Telegraph Travel Awards
  • 2018 Wins Gold Trusted Service Award with Feefo
  • 2020 Wins Platinum Trusted Service Award with Feefo

Meet The Team

Stella Photi, Founder & Managing Director
Stands for: ‘Everyone deserves a little Wellbeing...’

Stella founded Wellbeing Escapes over 11 years ago when she saw a growing need in today’s hectic world for people to take time to recuperate from their busy lives. Quite the jet-setter, Stella has visited over 54 different countries and has tried well over 100 different treatments. It’s fair to say that Stella certainly knows a thing or two about wellbeing travel and has lent her expertise to many different media publications as well as being a leading member of the International Health and Wellbeing Alliance.

Favourite Healthy Holiday: Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary 

Favourite Fitness Activity: Walking in nature is a great stress reliever and I make sure that I walk my dog Louis in the park for least 30 minutes daily. I also love dance classes, especially Latin Dance or Zumba. They are really energising and keep the brain working as you have to remember and learn all the new routines.

Favourite Wellbeing Activity: Meditation. Even if it is for just 10 minutes. If you lead a busy and stressful life it is a life saver.

Favourite Treatment: Shirodhara

Favourite Place in the World: That's a tough one – Bali or India...

Top Travel Tip: Once you get on the plane do a 10 minute meditation. Concentrate on your breathing - inhale for a count of 5, hold for 1 second and exhale for 5. This will relax and put you in a good state of mind to start your Wellbeing Escape.  

Peter Stearn, Sales Director
Stands for: “Done is better than perfect.”
Peter came to Wellbeing Escapes in 2005, joining his business partners Stella Photi and Robert Keysselitz. Having always been involved in lots of team sports and fitness as well as having travelled extensively, Wellbeing Escapes is a great fit. He grew up in Southern California and came to London on a 3 year job 1997. Asked if he has settled into London finally, Peter says: "I don't think London ever lets you settle anything, but it is a great place to live and work."

Favourite Healthy Holiday: Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda, Italy

Favourite Fitness Activity: Hiking, the more challenging the better!

Favourite Wellbeing Activity: Stop and breathe, so simple, so good

Favourite Treatment: Watsu, if you have ever done it, you'll know...

Favourite Place in the World: I have been lucky to visit a lot of fantastic places, but I am not sure there is a better area than the California coast south of Monterey

Top Travel Tip: Pack light and take your music

Dominika Palicova, Manager of Product & Sales
Stands for: ‘Be kind and respectful to everything and everyone.'

Dominika joined the Wellbeing Escapes team in Janurary 2017. After working in Thailand as a yoga teacher and travelling solo around Asia for year and half, she came back to London and joined Wellbeing Escapes. Dom has a hotel and event sales industry background and is also a certified Reflexologist and Reiki healer.

Favourite Healthy Holiday: Euphoria Retreat, Greece

Favourite Fitness Activity: Ballet or barre classes - my thighs burn but I love the gracefulness of it.

Favourite Wellbeing Activity: Yoga. Particularly classes where I can chant and have my eyes closed most of the time.

Favourite Treatment: Reiki

Favourite Place in the World: Kuta on Lombok or Lake Toba in Sumatra. Also a little slice of paradise where I lived in Thailand must be on my list.

Top Travel Tip: Always use sunscreen, wear a hat and never drink water from the tap. Learn about the country and its customs before travelling. And travel solo - you meet some incredible people along the way. 

Inna Gasimova, Contracts & Revenue Control Manager
Stands for: It's all about a healthy balance

Inna is our systems whizz kid. With a mind mathematically wired for numbers she diligently ensures all of our contracts are ship-shape, trouble shooting any hiccups and ensuring all of our amazing offers are in place. A talented linguist too, Inna travelled to the UK from Azerbaijan in 2002 and speaks three languages, Russian, English and Azerbaijani.

Favourite Healthy Holiday: SHA Wellness Clinic, Spain

Favourite Fitness Activity: Swimming and walking. I love to take long walks along the Thames with my family! 

Favourite Wellbeing Activity: Curling up with a good book and reading, especially about history, knowledge keeps the mind sharp and active.  

Favourite Treatment: A deep tissue massage to work out all the knots in my shoulders. 

Favourite Place in the World: Paris, France is just so fun and Azerbaijan for the food, sea and people. 

Top Health Tip: Don't wait until something is wrong before you get a treatment. Prevention is better than cure.

Megan Brown, Social Media Manager
Stands for: Compassionate thoughts, compassionate actions
Megan joined the Wellbeing Escapes team in early 2022. She brought with her a natural passion for wellbeing, self-development and growth, spirituality and complementary therapies as well as enthusiasm and knowledge in social media management and content creation. Megan has a background in teaching, a passion for perfume and natural skincare and is also a qualified beauty therapist.

Favourite Healthy Holiday: Paradis Plage

Favourite Fitness Activity: HIIT training or circuits. I've grown to love pushing my body (and mind) to limits I never thought possible; it's taught me that I have the strength to overcome the hardest of challenges and to persevere through challenging times.

Favourite Wellbeing Activity: Meditation. Learning that my thoughts are just thoughts and not me has been a revelation.

Favourite Treatment: Indian Head Massage

Favourite Place in the World: Northern Italy; It can be enjoyed during winter and summer months. The lakes the cities, the mountains and the FOOD are spectacular.

Top Travel Tip: Try to learn some of the language before you go. Speak to the locals and get your recommendations from them!

Tara Mcleod-Williams, Wellbeing Travel Specialist
Stands for: “If you let cloudy water settle, it will become clear. If you let your upset mind settle, your course will also become clear.” — (Buddha)

Tara ventured into the Wellness Travel space in 2020 and found her calling. After working in the leisure travel sector for six years prior; and undergoing her first yoga teacher training, she realised her passion for guiding individuals on holistic, spiritual, and wellness paths. Tara has extensive travel experience (57 countries), and is also on the verge of becoming a 650-hour certified yoga instructor and a 350-hour certified yoga therapist. 

Favourite Healthy Holiday: Ananda in the Himalayas

Favourite Fitness Activity: How I see it is that movement is medicine - dance, shake, walk, run, get super primal (if your body calls for it!). Functional movement is a great tool for self-regulating when your nervous system feels shot

Favourite Wellbeing Activity: Pranayama (breathwork) is by far the most alchemising and transformative modality there is (for me). I’ve been practicing forms of breathwork, meditation, mantra and yoga since I was 7 years old

Favourite Treatment: Physical touch is a top love-language for me so massage therapies are always a must — but I am also moved by sound baths and sound healing sessions. Something deeply resonant about lying down and being lulled into a sweet restorative state. I do want to try a Shirodhara one day

Favourite Place in the World: I am totally enamoured by The Seychelles, but there’s been a long established top 3 list according to Long, Medium and Short haul destinations. In order: Namibia, Morocco and Greece. 

Top Travel Tip: Always keep an open mind; an open heart and try to grow yourself with each encounter and experience

Rebecca Gould, Wellbeing Travel Specialist
Stands for: “Feel the fear and do it anyway”

Rebecca has over 20 years of experience within the travel industry. Growing up in a small seaside town in Dorset it gave her a desire to spread her wings and travel. She moved into the wellness sector in 2017 following travels to India where she completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training programme and advanced studies in Ayurvedic Medicine. Rebecca is a keen amateur artist and paints everyday to seek a little bit of calm and to help keep the balance in check.  

Favourite Healthy Holiday: Somatheeram Ayurveda Beach Resort

Favourite Fitness Activity: Long distance walking (especially in my native Dorset along the Jurassic coast

Favourite Wellbeing Activity: Yoga nidra 

Favourite Treatment: Shirodhara or a traditional Aromatherapy Swedish massage

Favourite Place in the World: Dharamshala in the Himalayas in India is in my opinion, the most beautiful place on earth, it is so profoundly spiritual, it really changed my life. I also love Arambol in North Goa for its hippie vibe and yogi community. Morrocco is also a favourite destination of mine.

Top Travel Tip: Travel solo, you can really push yourself outside your comfort zone and will find you meet so many interesting people along the way whilst learning a lot about yourself. Also, eat where the locals eat!