How to Choose the Best Retreat Location

WU Expert Tamara Golden, our in-house consultant and planner for the WU SoulTreat retreats, is the owner of Journeywork Retreats, a full-service destination retreat planning company operating across the US and overseas.

Location. Location. Location.

We all know this saying to be true in the world of real estate, where the location of your property can drastically affect its real and perceived selling value.

But, guess what. The same can be said for planning your retreat as well. A killer location can increase the perceived value of your retreat and help in filling those spots!

In fact, one of the most common questions I’m asked by entrepreneurs wanting to host their first retreat is “How do I pick the right location?” This is the first big hurdle of uncertainty for many in the planning process.

So, let me give you some pointers on how you can go about choosing the best retreat location. There are four major factors to consider:

  • Topic.
  • Time of Year.
  • Cost.
  • Cachet.
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Let’s start off with the topic.

This relates to the educational content you’re going to be covering during your retreat and the overall “vibe” to which this topic lends itself.

Ideally, these should be complementary. If your topic is around fitness, maybe you choose a destination that has a high-energy vibe, with lots of activities and physical outings. Maybe someplace that offers hiking, biking, ziplining, white-water rafting, etc. Denver, Utah, or Costa Rica might be prime picks.

If your topic is related to spiritual growth or healing, perhaps you choose a destination that offers more of a reflective vibe at a location that offers lots of zen, spa options, or the opportunity to be out communing in nature. Southern California, Kauai, or Bali would work nicely.

To give you a concrete example close to home, the Wellness Universe SoulTreat retreats feature members of the Wellness Universe sharing their healing modalities with each other and also to members of the public. Therefore, it’s not by mistake we chose Sedona as a fitting backdrop and location for these retreats. Known worldwide as a center for spirituality and healing, set amid the stunning beauty of its red rocks, and containing several energetic vortexes, Sedona is the consummate healing retreat location.

Next, let’s tackle the time of year.

First, let’s start with the obvious (but often overlooked!). When are you and your clients most free to travel? Are there parents with young kids in school? Or are they likely to be in corporate jobs where they have limited vacation and only able to do a brief getaway? These sorts of considerations dictate not only how long a retreat you should offer, but how far away you should ask people to travel, and when during the calendar year.

But there’s another issue when it comes to the time of year. And that’s the weather. Want to head to Mexico or the Caribbean for a retreat that features a luxury resort tucked along a long stretch of beautiful white sand and palm trees? Sounds like a dream, but it’s one that could quickly turn into a nightmare if you end up there during hurricane season!

Ah, yes. Then there’s the cost. This is also linked to when during the year you travel.

Most destinations have a high season, when prices are driven up by demand, and it’s not advisable to plan your retreat then. You’ll not only pay more, but you may find local sights and activities you’d like to schedule for your participants overrun with tourists, schoolchildren, or convention-goers.

Instead, consider the shoulder seasons…those times of year on either side of the high season(s) when the weather conditions are still favorable, but costs are lower, and sights are less crowded.

And, one more word about cost, especially when considering overseas retreats. Time of year aside, there are several places in the world that have a lower cost of living relative to the US dollar. Those will naturally be destinations where you’ll get considerably more bang for your buck. This is a serious consideration if you, or your clients, are on a tight budget.

Keeping all this in mind, we arrive at the last item to consider before planning your retreat location, which is the cachet.

Simply put, how desirable, famous, or popular is this location you’ve chosen? Is it a common bucket-list destination like Tahiti, or the sort of place people eagerly travel to again and again like Hawaii or Cape Cod?

While it’s true that your clients will be coming on retreat for the chance to have intimate exposure to you and learn from you, let’s face it. Just as in real estate, the perceived value of a location absolutely helps your sales equation. If you’re going to take the time to put together an amazing retreat, do yourself a favor and pick a stellar location where everyone wants to travel!

Stay tuned for the next article in this series on July 30th!

– Tamara

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