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4 tips to choosing a retreat

OK, I admit it: I love retreats. In my experience, they offer the opportunity for transformation like nothing else. A retreat is a new zone. A place where a new boundary is created, new rules are made and new conversations can happen – the ones that don’t get air time in the day-to-day rotation.

For executive teams, a retreat is their chance to re-align as a team, re-gain strategic vision and re-ignite their passion to achieve. For individuals, a retreat offers the possibility for deep introspection; to ask what you want, what makes you happy, and where to next.

I’ve participated in and facilitated a number of retreats over the past five years; most recently my own Mindful Leaders Retreat in Byron Bay. When choosing a retreat for yourself or your team, there are a few important factors to consider.



Writer Stephanie Bown (centre) helps business leaders “re-align as a team, re-gain strategic vision and re-ignite their passion to achieve.”


1.   Learning outcomes

What is it you want to achieve as an outcome of the experience? Is it for personal or professional growth? Are you going away solo or with a group? Speak to the program organisers to ensure the stated outcomes of the retreat match your expectations, and that there is the right balance of work, rest and play for you. For example, some retreats have strict diets or no-alcohol policies. That is fine if your goal is to detox, but not if your goal is to let your hair down and get social.


2.   Location

Location is a big factor in choosing a retreat. Retreats are often in beautiful locations closely connected to nature to promote relaxation and clarity of thought. You may be seeking a cosy, wintry scene in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula that promotes group dynamics or a warm, tropical beach on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast or NSW’s Byron Bay to promote deep relaxation. Either way, there should be a clear link between the location and the desired learning outcomes.



Next Level Surf Coaching provides high performance tutoring for the everyday surfer in Indonesia, Hawaii, the South Pacific and Byron Bay. Photo by Ming Nomchong.


3.   Facilitator

When the student is ready the teacher will appear” Laozi. It is important that you connect with the person leading the retreat and feel you have something to learn from them. There needs to be a high level of trust and respect for the group to work well together and the facilitator has a large role to play in that. The facilitator should be qualified and experienced so check out their credentials and look for positive client testimonials.


4.   Budget

You can achieve fantastic outcomes on a small budget, just by making the right choices on all the above. One of the best retreat experiences I’ve had was a one-day mindfulness retreat in the Byron hinterland that cost me a $25 voluntary donation and a share plate! I’ve also spent $3500 on a one-week Yoga retreat in Bali. Be clear on what your dollar buys you and whatever the spend, represents value for money.


Top image courtesy of For Life Retreats

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Stephanie Bown

Co-founder and managing director of workwellgroup, Stephanie Bown is an acclaimed performance coach with a passion for supporting organisations to achieve exceptional results by providing opportunities for their people to thrive. Her education in psychology, neuroscience and organisation dynamics, coupled with her accreditations in Human Synergistics tools and Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), allows her to bring keen insights and a pragmatic approach to nurturing an organisation’s greatest assets – its people and culture.

The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Homeloans Ltd.