• Karen

So You Want to Lead a 
Destination Retreat…


So maybe by now you have narrowed down your choices for which venue seems to be the best fit for you and your group, but, have you considered what type of retreat you want to lead? Here are some thoughts to consider, which may or may not tip the scales towards which location will best fit your program.


There are many ways to formulate a week-long retreat. What you might first want to consider is how active or relaxed you want it to be. Is this a themed workshop with a program schedule that the group is expected to follow? Or is this an easy-going vacation with some yoga thrown in? The difference is seriously worth considering. If you are planning on leading a group through process work and exercises that evolve throughout the week inspiring insights and openings, please consider integration time. Don’t jam-pack your schedule leaving minimal time for people to relax. Allow time for the work to be absorbed. I’ve seen several ungrounded groups of attendees trying to pack it all in - do the program, get the bodywork, go to the beach, zip line, horseback riding, paddle tours… never stopping to relax by the pool, sleep late or read a book - and wind up leaving exhausted. Even if you explain the modules are optional, consider "group mentality" - many will try to follow the the leader as to not be left out come dinnertime conversation or at the next gathering. Your group will be looking to you for guidance. I have also noticed that in many cases, the group emulates the energy of the group leader. Are you keeping yourself grounded? Do you expect too much of yourself? Are you feeling frustrated or overwhelmed? The group will pick it up. Remember, sometimes less is more. As John Heider says in his book The Tao of Leadership: “Gentle interventions, if they are clear, overcome rigid resistances. If gentleness fails, try yielding or stepping back altogether. When leadership yields, resistances relax. Generally speaking, the leader’s consciousness sheds more light on what is happening than any number of interventions or explanations. Few leaders realize how much how little will do.”

Flying Solo or Partnering

If you are planning the retreat with another group leader, here are some points to carefully consider because it is super important to be on the same page before your retreat starts. Your time in retreat is NOT the time to be fleshing that all out.

  • Are the two of you aligned with the nature of the retreat and the way you want things to flow?

  • Will you need separate rooms, or happy to share?

  • Are you sharing in all responsibilities or defining specific roles for each facilitator?

I’ve seen partnerships succeed beautifully and others end up at odds with one another, creating much confusion with the group as well as with the facility because roles have not been specifically defined. Once you have divided your responsibilities and all is clear, partnering can have several advantages:

  • ​freeing up time for you both so you don't burn out

  • knowing you have support/camaraderie and can share/discuss issues as they arise

  • dividing up responsibilities: best to choose a partner that compliments your strengths and supports your weak spots (Yes! We ALL have them!) and vice/versa

If you choose to go it alone, do make sure you carve out time for yourself. It can be a heavy load, especially if your group is 10-12 or more.

How much should you include with your retreat? This will depend on how you want to structure it. You can charge less and let people pay for extras a-la-carte or charge a bit more and create a package deal that allows them to spend less while they’re there. Retreat leader, Rachel Bonkink of Revealing Vajra had created what she calls her "Leave Your Wallet At Home" retreats. That pretty much says it all! If this concept appeals to you, check with the facility about adding extras. They can be very knowledgeable in helping you set up local excursions and bodywork. Most times you can get a group rate.

I hope this helps you organize your ideas a bit more on the type of retreat that feels right for you and your group, and I hope you'll join in next week for the discussion on: Your Marketing Efforts.

Until then, Peace&PuraVida!

AHKí Abundance Alter

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