My Experience Attending a Women’s Only International Retreat

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For the first time this year, I attended a women’s only retreat at an all-inclusive resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica. For 5 days and 4 nights, I took a reflective, personal journey with about 30 women I did not know.

I’m not going to lie, I came with no expectations. I had never been on a retreat and I didn’t know what to anticipate. Even though I did all the research I could and asked questions before attending, I honestly did not even know if when I arrived, the money I invested was going to be there. I told myself, if I didn’t like it, no big deal! I would still enjoy this beautiful resort in Jamaica.

However, I entered with the mindset of let’s try something new and plan for the best! Little did I know, I would leave this retreat a refreshed woman, and have the support of close to 30 women I can now call on.

Traveling to Jamaica to Experience a Women’s Retreat

The Ignite Your Inner Goddess Retreat was held at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The host and founder, Nicole Sallis of Design+Her+Life (DHL), curated a program designed to “awaken a deeper authentic self-love, gain a new level of Confidence + Freedom on the next phase of your life’s journey, and discover just how much you’re truly capable of .” ( 2019)

I can confidently say that this was true.

The women in attendance ranged from mid to late 20s to early 50s. The retreat is in a group setting and although it aims to tackle personal growth, your time is spent in workshops with other like-minded women that are on the same journey as you.

At first, I found myself a bit hesitant of the group setting. I’m naturally a reserved person and tend to withhold my feelings especially with people I don’t know. However, I felt safe. We established ground rules and every lady made a commitment to abide by them. Even though I did not know everyone in the room, I knew that what I shared was to be left within the safe space.

Design Her Life Retreat Sign

Who Hosted the Retreat?

The retreat was hosted by 3 phenomenal women: Nicole Sallis, Maya Louisa, and Stephanie Fleary.

Nicole Sallis –

Nicole Sallis is an intelligent, vibrant woman that wears many hats and has acquired many accomplishments. She’s an Entrepreneur, Published Author, and Fashion Consultant, to name a few. However, during the retreat, to us, Nicole was our Coach. I found her passion and enthusiasm for helping women to be not only admirable, but also her energy exhilarating.

During the retreat, no matter what was going on, Nicole made it her purpose to check-in and be present with each lady. For a first timer like myself, she was encouraging enough to challenge me, but also understanding enough to know when to step away in order for my own personal reflection. I remember having a conversation with her one-on-one, and although I didn’t verbalize to her that I was scared of this process, she said “the only thing I ask of you, is that you be willing and be open to the process.”

Maya Louisa – @Maya_Louisa

Maya hosted the Yoga and dance breakout sessions of the retreat. When she walks into the room, you can’t help but take notice or her aura. A Yoga instructor and professional dancer based in Brooklyn, New York, Maya empowered every woman to exude her feminine energy with no regrets.

She led outdoor Yoga sessions that opened up our bodies; this allowed us to relax, remove negative thoughts and feelings, and remain present in the moment. We swiveled our God given hips and moved our torsos in the belly dancing classes and danced to the rhythm of the beat as we learned Salsa, Rumba, and Bachata.

Stephanie Fleary – @empoweredstilettos

Stephanie, an Entrepreneur, Mother, Published Author, and Event Curator, was full of fun and added value to the retreat program. A beautiful spirit that led two workshops during the retreat.

Stephanie made us laugh, she danced with us, and she cried with us. I enjoyed the workshops she led because she took us on an emotional roller coaster. We started on a high – laughing and dancing to popular songs, and then we dug deeper and confronted the insecurities that sometimes hold us back from reaching our potential.

Wall of positive affirmations printed on paper and hung on the wall at the retreat.
Design Her Life Retreat Positive Affirmations

Going to a Women’s Retreat Solo

I traveled to Montego Bay, Jamaica alone. This was my first time flying outside of the country by myself. To attend the women’s retreat, I paid for my package directly with Design+Her+Life in advance. This included complete access to the all-inclusive resort, my room, and shuttle service to and from the airport. I was responsible for scheduling and paying separately for my round trip flight to Jamaica. Upon my arrival at the Montego Bay Sangster International Airport, the arrangements from that point forward were already taken care of as part of my package.

Since I was coming alone, the retreat assigned me a roommate since each room is based on double occupancy. Of course, this is nerve racking for anyone; Being placed in a room with a stranger after you flew from another country is not something everyone is willing to agree to. Fortunately, I ended up having a wonderful roommate. I got really lucky being placed with another woman that was kind, considerate of our shared space and someone I ended up having great conversations with.

About a month or two before the retreat, Nicole scheduled one-on-one and group calls to answer any outstanding questions or concerns. She also made sure to ask what we hoped to gain from attending the retreat in order to more effectively address our personal needs.

The Day-to-Day Schedule at the Retreat

Thursday: Arriving in Jamaica

My flight (Spirit Airlines) arrived around 12:00PM local time. Upon arrival I went through customs & border patrol. Before our arrivals, Nicole emailed our shuttle service information from the airport to the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall. I found the shuttle company desk in the lobby and checked in. Shortly after, I was escorted to a shuttle van and after another 15 minute wait, was driven to the resort.

Design Her Life Retreat Gift Bag
Personalized Gift Bag

The first day Itinerary was simple – get settled in and give time to all the ladies to check in to the rooms once their flights had arrived. Around 7:00PM in the evening, we met at one of the resort restaurants for a group welcome Dinner and meet and greet.

Friday: Getting Started

The fun begins!

Our day started at 9:00AM with a welcome message and meditation. We then transition to the morning outdoor Yoga session hosted by Maya. Once Yoga commenced, as a group, we then began the first 2 hour workshop.

Ignite Your Inner Goddess retreat welcome sign
Ignite Your Inner Goddess Retreat welcome sign

After the workshop, we took a break for a light lunch. We returned to our program itinerary with the dance and body connection workshop. This dance session entailed belly dancing and becoming comfortable with moving your body freely and sensually. We then ended with the second 2 hour Ignite workshop of the day.

We wrapped up the night with a group dinner and then a creative painting session hosted by Jamaican artist and Ignite Your Inner Goddess Attendee, Lattecha Willocks (Lattecha Willocks Art Gallery).

Bags made by Lattecha Willocks of Lattecha Willocks Art Gallery in Jamaica
Bags made by Lattecha Willocks of Lattecha Willocks Art Gallery

Saturday: Getting Out of My Comfort Zone

We start the day again at 9:00AM with Yoga on the lawn. After calming our mind and body, we embark on another 2 hour Workshop. By 1:00PM, we head to lunch. Upon return from lunch, we enjoyed another dance and body connection session with Maya. This session focused on Latin dancing basics and techniques.

Later in the day, Nicole divides us into small groups where each group is given a task and a limited amount of time to complete this. After a dinner on our own and group collaborations, we return around 9:00PM for a fun event called the “Show Off!”

Sunday: Enjoying a Free Day and an All-White Closing Ceremony

Sunday was our free day. We were able to take an excursion, lounge by the pool, and/or sleep in.

By 6:00PM, we changed into all white attire, and had a beautiful closing ceremony by the beach and a group dinner.

Monday: Departure

As we said our goodbyes, reflected on our time together, and parted ways, we prepared for departure and back to our normal routine. I checked out at 11:00AM and a shuttle to the airport was was waiting at the resort to escort guest to the airport.

Closing Thoughts

I laughed, danced, and cried.

Personal healing and growth is not a one time, fix all thing. The Journey of self-discovery is to be worked on continuously and throughout life. Although, my experiences in life so far, do not compare to some of the other ladies that attended, I was able to listen and learn from my sisters. I learned that it’s OK to not have it all together, and it’s OK to not want to be strong all the time.

My initial hesitations were immediately put to rest after the first day. I trusted the process and kept an open mind and a willing attitude. I am grateful that Nicole reached out to me via Instagram and encouraged me to look into attending the Ignite Your Inner Goddess Women’s Retreat.

Interested in Attending a Women’s Retreat?

Interested in attending the next women’s retreat? Stay connected with Design+Her+Life on Social Media and website below! Let Nicole know you heard about it from me.

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