When I’m looking to take a vacation, the idea of a week-long stay in a posh location with meals included is inviting. Unfortunately, such places are seldom veg-friendly, much less living-foods-friendly. I’m reminded of the honeymoon cruise my husband and I took after we were married; we must have been the only passengers to actually have lost weight by the end of our journey. That was ten years ago, and, thankfully, things are changing; There are a few raw retreats popping up around the country.
1. TREE OF LIFE REJUVENATION CENTER
The first retreat that comes to mind is the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia, AZ. This center, founded by Dr. Gabriel Cousens, was featured in Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days, the review of which can be found here. One can choose from several programs - “Juice Fasting, Vegan Vacations & Retreats, Zero Point, Live Food Preparation, Conscious Eating, Sacred Relationships, Essene Training, Essene Healing, Fasting & Detoxification.”
The Spa features yoga classes, meditation, hot tubs and infrared saunas, hiking in the beautiful hills of Patagonia, and live-food meals, including classes to learn how to prepare living foods. Package choices include colonics and massage, craniosacral treatments and neurofeedback, including training.
2. THE ANN WIGMORE INSTITUTE
Dr. Ann Wigmore was ahead of the trend when she started her Institute devoted to healing. Located in tropical Puerto Rico, guests can become certified in her program and then stay a little longer to take advantage of some amazing excursions, such as checking out the bioluminescent bay or the Arecibo Observatory.
The programs are comprehensive and cover everything from how our internal organs work and how to eat for their best health, to composting and soil management classes. The retreat is designed to assist guests with cleansing and healing, and teaches the basics about the Living Foods Lifestyle.
3. LIVING LIGHT CULINARY ARTS INSTITUTE
Mendocino County in California
Founded by chef and author Cherie Soria, this culinary arts school offers living foods chef certifications, as well as empowerment workshops and sponsors Raw World, and international retreat in Montezuma, Costa Rica for raw food enthusiasts. Guests can enjoy hearing internationally-known speakers, learning culinary skills from top chefs, daily yoga, alternative healing workshops, instruction in art, and gourmet living cuisine.
4. LIVING ON LIVE FOODS CERTIFICATE PROGRAM with ALISSA COHEN
This program is less a retreat than an intensive training, but if you want a life-changing experience, this will be it. The five days are each filled with twelve hours of training and learning how to both identify goals and how to get there.
Alissa Cohen’s 5-day intensive is the one retreat I have been able to attend so far. The days were packed and long, and worth every minute. Interestingly, learning about how to prepare the food was what I thought I wanted, but I found amazing value in the coaching offered by Alissa Cohen’s co-facilitator Elaine Biskupic.
There was no yoga, no hiking, no massage and no lounging by the pool. This was work, both on the self and on raw food prep and teaching. I left this retreat with a clear vision of how I wanted my life to look, and the motivation to get there.
5. BE YOU RETREAT
Eastern Slope, Colorado
There was another retreat that I attempted to experience earlier this year, but was unable to go. I was scheduled to attend a week at this retreat, had my travel plans all arranged and was looking forward to the time away from my very stressful job when, just a little over a month before I was set to leave, the hostess phoned to say she had to cancel as she had a family situation. She asked if I could schedule another time and I told her I would speak to my husband and get back to her the next day. Unfortunately, other dates were not going to work for us, and that evening I canceled my travel plans (to make sure I received a refund on what I had already paid). To make a long story short, the hostess wanted to keep my deposit (over $1200) even though she had canceled. When I insisted that this was not acceptable, as I was not the one who canceled, she insisted that there was a misunderstanding and she was going to have the retreat on the dates I had scheduled afterall. Because of the misunderstanding, she was willing to split the deposit with me. When we decided it might be time to get an attorney involved, she insisted it wasn’t about money and she wanted all of us to be happy. We received a refund check (after many back-and-forth e-mails and the final threat of litigation), less 10% of the total deposit. This was the final straw, and I now have no desire at all to experience this retreat.
Had the owner/hostess simply apologized and refunded my deposit, I would have remained excited about attending at another time. As it is, I felt as if I was being ripped off and still have a bad taste in my mouth about it.
I’m sure there must be other retreats and, someday, I hope to visit each one. In the meantime, I welcome comments from anyone who has been to any of these or others about which I might not be aware!