Navigating the Legal Landscape of Retreat Hosting

Navigating the Legal Landscape of Retreat Hosting

A call for industry compliance. By Adam Handy of Success Retreats, a part of the Albatross Group

Reading time: 4 minutes

For more than 25 years, my career in the travel industry has provided me with invaluable insights into the often[1]overlooked legal intricacies surrounding retreat hosting. It's alarming to observe that numerous retreat companies and instructors lack a comprehensive understanding of the rules and regulations governing their operations.

One fundamental legal requirement, applicable to all UK organisations selling package holidays, mandates the provision of financial security for customers' prepayments and repatriation in the event of organisational insolvency. This imperative is categorised into packages including flights, covered by the Air Travel Organiser's Licence (ATOL) system, and those without flights, governed since 1992 by the Package Travel Regulations (PTRs) and enforced by DBT, CMA, and Trading Standards. The unfortunate collapses of industry giants like Thomas Cook and Shearings Holidays stand as stark reminders of the critical importance of adherence to these regulations.

A 'package' is defined as a combination of two or more different travel services for the same trip, encompassing elements such as flights, accommodation, car hire and other tourist services like yoga and Pilates sessions. Consequently, all retreats, whether inclusive of flights or not, fall under the scope of these regulations.

The obligations for a package organiser are multifaceted:

  1. Appropriate Financial Protection: This can be achieved through bonding with travel trade associations such as ABTOT or ABTA, per passenger insurance, or a meticulously maintained trust account meeting regulatory standards.
  2. Appropriate Liability Insurance: Given the organiser's liability in the event of accidents, robust insurance coverage is indispensable.
  3. Contracts with Suppliers: Establish contracts with suppliers that not only meet minimum standards but also have their own protective measures in place to prevent shouldering the costs of subpar services.
  4. Clarity in Communication: Provide clients with clear information regarding the protection in place, emphasising suitability for individuals with reduced mobility. This information should be prominently displayed on websites, booking terms and conditions, and brochures.

When booking a retreat, customers must seek evidence of appropriate financial protection, such as a numbered ABTOT, ABTA, and/or ATOL logo. References to financial protection should be evident in booking conditions and invoices to ensure peace of mind throughout the booking process.

In response to the industry's shortcomings, Success Retreats was established to alleviate the stress for both customers and instructors. Our commitment to compliance ensures that customers can book with confidence, knowing they are financially protected and that all regulatory requirements have been met.

Over the past three years, Success Retreats has collaborated with numerous instructors, offering an enticing array of retreats in picturesque locations worldwide. Our comprehensive packages, inclusive of flights and transfers, are backed by ATOL and protected by ABTOT. By choosing a reputable company like Success Retreats, customers experience peace of mind from the initial decision to travel.

We prioritise the wellbeing of our instructors by providing:

Full Coverage: Instructors are fully covered by our company's public liability insurance.

Personal Coverage: Personal coverage is extended through our company's business travel insurance.

Administrative Support: We handle all back-office tasks, from invoicing to supplier relations, allowing instructors to focus on their students and customers.

Marketing Support: Our commitment extends to providing marketing support, advice, and materials to enhance bookings and ensure the viability of retreats.

This symbiotic relationship ensures that both instructors and customers travel with confidence, knowing they are covered. At Success Retreats, we emphasise that wellbeing before a retreat is just as crucial as wellbeing during the retreat.

Even if you choose not to partner with Success Retreats, I encourage you to contact Samantha Banbury at ABTOT, who can offer appropriate bonding and further advice, fostering a safer and more compliant retreat industry for all.

Adam Handy is the co-CEO of The Albatross Group, a business with nearly 40 years of expertise in providing diverse tours and holidays across the UK, Europe, and beyond. Success Retreats was formed three years ago and offers over 50 fully packaged flight inclusive retreats across the world with a fully-fledged support network for instructors. Visit:

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