Perched above Similk Bay near Anacortes, Heartful Retreats is more than just a vacation spot.
“It’s a bed and breakfast, but it’s about providing respite,” says Owner Yvette Neumann. “Life is living at the speed of light; you don’t have time to process much.”
One of her goals is to give people things to do to help them recalibrate, and to encourage real conversations between people. “We’re trying to be a connector,” she says. “What’s been neglected is inner worlds.”
Neumann grew up in South Africa, at a time when art was not considered a job. “It was expected that you would do a practical thing that would allow you to do your hobbies,” she says. “I trained as an engineer, but I’ve always done art in my life.”
After a career in the aerospace and technology industries, Neumann opened an art studio in Bellingham where she created and sold original abstract and contemporary paintings. Here, she discovered a niche of teaching material science, business and technology skills to other creatives.
“Maybe artists can benefit from chemistry and physics and math… getting people to see how things intersect between art and science.”
She acts as a coach for professional artists, teaching entrepreneurial skills and assisting them with goals and project management, as well as helping hobby artists who want to expand their work and find new ways to be creative. Opening the B&B was both a retirement project for her and her husband and a way of giving back to their community. “Businesses exist to make money; I wanted to make money but, more importantly, to make an impact.”
The Neumanns bought the house in 2019 and spent a year renovating it. There are only four guest rooms, two on each side of the house, giving people the option to interact or remain private. There is breakfast served every morning, the art studio is open 24 hours a day, the chapel provides space for a yoga class or a private spot to work on a novel, a warm atrium provides a green haven on chilly days, and the garden is full of twisty paths and private nooks.
For those looking for vacation activities, the B&B’s location offers opportunities to kayak or stand-up paddleboard right from their private beach, as well as only being a short drive from both Anacortes and La Conner. But the real focus of Heartful Retreats is encouraging true wellness: “to bring body and mind into alignment.”
Neumann schedules retreats through the year, each with its own theme, covering anything from basic art techniques to self-transformation. Custom retreats can be designed for business groups, religious groups, or just friends with a particular goal in mind, and can include workshops on painting, yoga, meditation, and sound healing. Groups are limited to six people, keeping the experience intimate.
In addition to structured workshops, guests are encouraged to use the studio as play time, rather than trying to force themselves to work. Neumann notes that grownups don’t get time to play, and encourages guests to give themselves “permission to not make good art.”
“The best insights come when we’re the 5-year-old in our head,” she says. “What we’re trying to do is remind people that life is this playful thing.” 8480 Thompson Beach Rd., Anacortes, 360.510.9819, heartfulretreats.com