Of course I put an enormous amount of energy into the preparation of our retreats. The content, the food, the accommodations, I want everything to be perfect, (of course it never is). I want people to feel like they get real value for money. After all this is a huge investment, it’s your annual holiday and you may never have been on anything like this before so it has to be good, no great!
I try to prepare for every possible contingency (of course you can’t). I worry about airport transfers when planes are late and contact drivers to offer them incentives to ensure they wait, I nag staff about individual dietary requirements, (God help me those nut allergies, make it almost impossible in Asia). I do all this because I think you are worth it and I think you expect it (I would).
The evaluations we receive on average score us a 9 out of 10 (I agonise over that 1 point and try to make it better for next year). I’m continuing to learn and grow and develop and find new locations to have these amazing adventures, of course it will never be perfect but sometimes it is still perfect for you.
Even after all of this, the one thing that gets reported back as being the single most important and meaningful part of the retreat I have no control over. This is the sharing of experiences with the other women on the retreat. It was who you sat next to at dinner, or the woman you shared a car with to the temple, or the one that sat with you when you cried after your visit to the healer, that special person who saw how much you loved the necklace she bought so she got you one the next time she was in town, the one that made you laugh until almost, (we have been doing our yogalates girls) a little bit of wee came out.
It’s finding all the shared experiences, the woman you find tucked in the corner of the patisserie down the road sharing your love for Mille-Feuille, the woman who suggests wine with dinner, you could just kiss her! (never wanting to suggest it yourself for fear of sounding like an alcoholic), the other women whose mothers have recently passed away, they become your sisters.
We laugh, we cry and the we laugh again, and yes the massage made you feel great at the time and the food was yummy, and that sunset over the ocean was amazing, but after all is said and done and we return home what we remember is the friendships we made.