Qualified nurse, aromatherapist, yoga teacher and yogic healer, ila founder Denise Leicester has spent a lifetime exploring natural healing to create her renowned range of organic skin and self-care products and spa treatments. Here, she talks about health, healing and living with intention

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I have always loved creating remedies and the use of essential oils. I guess I brought this to ila from my nursing background, which is what lead me to create an organic skincare and lifestyle brand.

My eyes were opened to healing when I worked in the Middle East as a nurse. I liked to look after people, but there was something more profound to healing. It was not just about the medical touch, but touching on a deeper level — a healing and holistic touch. This type of healing led me to complementary medicine.

We need to look at results, but beyond the physical level. I look at the oils and ingredients I use to see how these affect our emotions to ensure they leave us feeling positive both within the mind and the body.

I aim to live with intention. Every morning, set your intention for the day. Mine, for example, this morning was: “To be positive and to stay peaceful, whatever comes my way.”

The most important thing we need in this modern life is balance and routine to benefit the body and the mind. We need to allocate time to ourselves, whether it’s a lovely bath, a walk with the dog or coffee with friends. Whatever it may be, you are not DOING but purely BEING.

Sound therapy has positive effects on your brain, nervous system and even circulating blood. The sensation of sound is one of our primal senses: the first developed in the womb and the last lost when we die. Noise has the power to relax, alert, soothe, inform and transport us. It can trigger, express and change emotional states. Sound healing is a powerful way to help bodies achieve higher levels of energy.

Children absolutely love sound therapy and it can be made such fun for them. We are hosting workshops at ila for parents to come with their children. They can have a treatment and do some sound therapy — the part the children love the most is to make a product! It’s not only a lovely way to spend time together, but to teach children about organic ingredients and what effect they have on us.


Ila has now opened its first dedicated permanent wellness retreat location — Maison ilā, Le Trésor, a healing space in the heart of the Aude, Languedoc Roussillon, France.

Set in verdant gardens in the picturesque village of Sonnad, Le Trésor is home to a main house with five bedrooms, communal dining space, snug, treatment room and yoga and sound healing studio. It also has a separate cottage with a further two bedrooms, living space and kitchen. Outside, a beautiful garden is overflowing with healing herbs and plants, such as St John’s Wort, Roman camomile, geraniums, sage, verviene, lavender, jasmine and honeysuckle.

Denise and her husband, John, spent lockdown restoring the property to create a sanctuary of healing based on ilā’s core belief that healing starts from the inside and that by giving ourselves space and time, consciously relaxing the nervous system, the body and mind are able to rest, naturally rebalance and reconnect to our inner essence of radiant health and a peaceful mind.

Maison ila offers a curated menu of face and body therapies and shamanic journeys, including Flexbeam red light therapy and treatments created especially for the new CBD (cannabidiol) ollection. Yoga, meditation and sound healing will be complemented by wild swimming in neighbouring natural pools, with wild movement specialist Alli Suddaby guiding guests through outdoor practice.

“There is a magic here that lends itself perfectly to the creation of a dedicated ilā space,” says Denise. “We are so excited to welcome guests to escape here with us for heartfelt rejuvenation.”


Room-only rates from 150 EUR per night

Bien Être retreat packages are available including:

Arrival and departure wellness consultations
2 Daily Therapies (1x 60 / 90 mins and 1x in-room ritual)
2 yoga sessions
1 sound healing session
1 daily activity (cycling, wild swimming, forest bathing)
An organic vegetarian diet (intermittent fasting)
1 – 2 natural movement session(s) with Alli (depending on length of stay)
5 & 7 night stays: 120 minute therapy – Shamanic healing or Chakra Wellbeing)
Extra activities such as morning yoga, breakfast at Rennes les Bain or hot springs and supper plus fire by the river

From 1000 EUR