NoFo Retreat

Independent/Jon Schusteritsch

Whether you’re a local or out-of-towner, the North Fork still retains a certain allure of peace. Unless you see the water, you’d almost think you’re elsewhere in rural America. I came across an Instagram account, North Fork Retreats, a very nice idea. The thought alone calmed me.

Jess Kelleher, a certified yoga instructor, and Anne Pawlowski, a certified life coach, met at a holiday cookie party. Kelleher, a born and raised North Forker, went to high school with Anne’s husband. “She thought I was intimidating and did not get a good first impression of me,” Kelleher said. “I’ll never let her live that down.”

A few months later, the two reconnected over a project and created NoFo Retreat, a North Fork retreat company, and clicked. They launched their first escape in June 2018. Attendees ages 25 to 70 came from the East End, all parts of Long Island, NYC, even Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Florida. Now, the two are gearing up for their next local adventure, Autumn In The Vines, on Sunday, October 27, at Corey Creek Tap Room in Southold from 10 AM to 3:30 PM.

For $250, participants will enjoy a day of yoga, mindfulness, wine, food, and connecting with likeminded individuals. As an added bonus, there’s a bottle of wine as a take-home memory of the day.

How did you decide to do a retreat company together?

Anne Pawlowski: We’ve both found much healing, growth, and passion in our work. We love teaching classes and doing one-on-one sessions independently. But we also felt called to do more — to tie the beauty and splendor of the North Fork with our offerings, making a special day for our attendees to focus only on themselves. We’ve both attended a few retreats, but had a vision for something a little different. Both being moms to small children, we knew a week away at a tropical location just wasn’t that realistic for us right now in our lives. As we talked with friends and family, we learned the same was true for many of them, which is how we landed on our one-day format. And we wanted it to be a luxury experience as well. Give us five hours of your time, and we’ll take care of every detail.

Jess Kelleher: It was Anne’s idea and I just said yes. To be honest, when Anne first came to me with this idea, we didn’t know exactly what our retreat would look and feel like, but we had to give it a shot to find out. It worked. It makes the retreat accessible to so many different people. We all feel like we don’t have time. But in some ways, the closer to home the retreat is, the easier it is to transition back home.

In your opinion, why are retreats important to overall health?

AP: Most of us are busy, stressed, and spread thin. Life gets in the way and we find ourselves putting important things on the back burner. Retreats offer an opportunity to press pause, new perspectives and an opportunity for deep connection, with ourselves and with the other attendees.

JK: Life and the emotions we experience can be very overwhelming, very isolating and even mundane. We all need help, inspiration, community, and a break every now and again. We need to feel special and validated and supported and present. But it’s hard to find all of this amidst the everyday monotonous routines. We created NoFo Retreat to break free, albeit for a brief few hours on a Saturday or Sunday. To pamper you, to move you, to nourish you — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. To inspire and motivate each other. To hear other’s stories and realize we are all in search of the same thing and we are not alone and best of all, we can learn from each other. It’s healing in more ways than I can explain.

Now, onto the Autumn In The Vines event. How did you partner up with Corey Creek?

AP: It has always been our vision to incorporate local vineyards into our retreat offerings. They are a huge part of what makes the North Fork so special.

Corey Creek has always been a favorite of ours — we absolutely love the charm and energy of the location, the crisp in the air right now makes the tap room feel warm and cozy, and their wines are superb. We both work out at Underground Training with an amazing group of people. One of our workout buddies is Amy Finno Israel, SVP of Events at Bedell and Corey Creek, so we were able to set it up and make it happen. There’s such an incredible network of innovative, creative, unique, intelligent, hard-working people out here. Meeting and collaborating with many of them has been a special bonus.

Sign up by Friday, October 25, to join in. Can’t make it? There will be three more coming in spring and two summer season retreats in 2020, and an exciting collaboration with A North Fork Affair, founded by Tracy Kessler. Head to or follow @noforetreat.

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