Wellness Vacations And Retreats Owned And Approved By Black Women – Essence

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Black women are finally looking inward and acknowledging the importance of self-care (hallelujah!), and we’re treating ourselves to one-of-a-kind wellness vacations designed by us, for us. ESSENCE interviewed a group of stressed-out sisters who took a step back, invested in themselves and happily reaped the rewards of a life-changing retreat.
If you’re in need of a mental health break, chances are one of these packages is just right for you.

Samantha Sinclair, Founder and CEO of Pathway to Purpose

THE STRESS: “I established an education start-up and felt overwhelmed with the things that had to be done. At the time I had a full-time job, was enrolled in a Ph.D. program and was running my business on the side. I did not have a clear vision or the support needed to thrive.” 
THE SOLUTION: Goddess Pray Love Retreats
founded by Abiola Abrams
Concept: “Many of my clients are very successful but still don’t feel that they are who they were born to be,” says Abrams. Daylong activities center around development and empowerment alongside sound healing, aura readings and a cabaret ­burlesque dance class at the Josephine Baker Night School in Paris.
Who Goes: Recent college grads to retirees, ages 21 to 65 and over
Next retreat: Chantilly, France; July 22–26, 2019
Accommodations: A chateau
Cost: $2,800–$3,800

THE CHANGE: “A one-on-one session with Abiola helped me ­focus on how to lead with certainty from within, grounded in knowing that my God-given vision was granted only to me. Now when I am conflicted about a decision, I tell myself, Let it be a Hell, yes!’ or a Hell, no!’ ”

“I was going through a very difficult period, coming out of an unhealthy long-term relationship as a new mom. I had to take some time to decompress and reflect. My therapist and I had been working on ‘who I was’ versus ‘who I am’ post-relationship, and she felt this retreat would help me answer that question.” 
THE SOLUTION: Mty Retreat, founded by Myleik Teele 
Concept: It’s designed to introduce you to your professional support group—other Black women who understand what it’s like to be the only Black woman in the C-suite. 
Who Goes: Executives and entrepreneurs, ages 25 to 45; an average of 135 participants per session.
Next retreat: Mexico; 2020
Accommodations: Five-star resorts 
Cost: $4,000–$6,000 
“After being in a state where I didn’t think anyone could ‘see’ me, I found my voice and was listened to for the first time. Fear and self-loathing began to melt away, replaced with a process of learning, collaborating and christening my best self. I returned home armed with new branding and social media marketing skills and an unparalleled professional network.”
Amerie-Marie Woods, Neurophysiologist
Kela Walker, TV host and producer
“As a media personality, I give so much mentally, emotionally, physically. As much as I love what I do, at times I feel drained of energy. It’s important to step away and have time to myself, to replenish and refuel, not only so I can do it all again but also for my own peace of mind.”
THE SOLUTION: IMARA Retreat, founded by Tori Elizabeth and Victory Jones (The Colored Girl)

Concept: You’ll reconnect to your true power and feel amazing in an Afrocentric, Instagram-worthy communal mind–body reboot, simply executed and ­presented with warmth and gratitude. 
Who Goes: From creatives to corporate bigwigs, ages 23 to 67; between 80 and 125 participants per session.
Next retreat: Different locations in Africa; spring 2020
Accommodations: Various
Cost: Approximately $5,000
“This retreat isn’t your typical de-stress and withdrawal from reality, because it wasn’t about pampering the body. ­Instead it was about restoration and fulfillment of self. There were nights I went to bed after 4 a.m. because clusters of us broke off to talk about topics of the heart. The conversations were raw, honest and sacred. I didn’t have to hold my tongue or be on ­defense when I was with my sisters. I was free to be me.”
THE STRESS: “I was burnt out from the 9-to-5 grind. I was desperate to reconnect with my body, relax and detox from the patriarchy and the New York City hustle.”
THE SOLUTION: Holistic City Life Reset ­Retreat, founded by Leslie Carrington
CONCEPT: Everything is directed ­toward self-optimizing a new benchmark for self-healing and self-love with an on-site nutritionist, tarot reader and a program dedicated to an invigorating African spiritual energy.
Who Goes: Professors, wellness practitioners, small-business owners, ages 23 to 40; 12 participants per session.
Next retreat: Fort Jeudy, Grenada; August 5–9, 2019 
Accommodations: No-frills luxury
Cost: $1,800

THE CHANGE: “I had a great healing session with the Reiki master, which cleared a lot of negativity. Afterward, I started sleeping better; my energy was stronger. While the retreat is not about burning calories or cutting carbs, I lost 12 pounds in the eight days thanks to a simple plant-based menu and daily juices. It gave me a fresh start—with the bonus of lifelong friends and better eating habits.”
Guylaine Adelson, Founder of Artistic Decor

THE STRESS: “The loss of a dear cousin put things into perspective, and I decided to make a career change for better work–life balance. A short time after getting a new job and launching a start-up, I received the heartbreaking news that my father had terminal cancer. As I was saying my good-byes to him, a beloved aunt passed away. I tried using my art as therapy, but it wasn’t enough.”
THE SOLUTION: Wholeness Experience, founded by Tameika G and Whitney Gee 
CONCEPT: A health-conscious slumber party that embraces the journey to ­well-being with yoga and boot camp–like strength training while learning the art of hugging yourself.
Who Goes: Everyone from lawyers to doctors, flight attendants to military personnel, ages 21 to 60; between 12 and 16 participants per session.
Next retreat: Tuscany, Italy; July 13–20, 2019
Accommodations: Farm houses, villas, beach cottages
Cost: From $2,899
THE CHANGE: “I have this new sense of hope and positivity that helps me cope with the ups and downs. That feeling comes from knowing that there are beautiful moments in life waiting for me to grab and experience them. It helped me gain confidence in pursuing my art. I have since secured some great artistic projects for large-scale events. I also now have a tribe of strong women who hold me accountable.”
THE STRESS: “When my mother-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer, my family moved in with her to care for her after surgery. I was feeling extremely unfulfilled because I didn’t have a support system. Everyone around me felt like I had it all. I didn’t; I felt guilt and then anger. My life was stuck on this hamster wheel of depression, and it was breaking me.” 
THE SOLUTION: OMNOIRE, founded by Christina Rice 
CONCEPT: It’s crafted to take you out of your comfort zone and help you discover that a life well-lived requires soul-sustaining experiences. 
Who Goes: Ages 30 to 70; between 30 and 50 participants per session,
Next retreat: Grenada; October 24–28, 2019
Accommodations: Luxury to modern chic 
Cost: $3,500–$5,000
THE CHANGE: “I emerged with a clarity of mind and an improved version of self. I started to do the work needed to get out of the funk instead of making myself comfortable with the dysfunction. I no longer sit in my feelings and allow them to fester.”

Antoinette Arrington, interior decorator and aesthetic consultant
THE STRESS: “Almost every other day I would read about a police shooting in the U.S., which made me concerned about my two sons and four brothers. I was constantly aware that being Black is polarizing. Plus, I live in Vienna, ­Austria, where some White people think a Black woman is either a ­prostitute or a drug dealer. Constantly trying to explain myself was ­exhausting. I was waiting to exhale.” 
THE SOLUTION: OYA Body-Mind-Spirit ­Retreats, founded byStacie CC Graham 
CONCEPT: A place to power down from a maxed-out life to renew the organic connection between mind and body, bookended by sunrise yoga and sunset meditation.
Who Goes: Professionals, expats, graduate students, ages 25 to 60; 12 to 15 participants per session.
Next retreat: Taliouine, Morocco; September 24–28, 2019 
Accommodations: Country estates, small castles or private homes
Cost: $738–$1,390

THE CHANGE: “As a former military officer, I have ­never been a quiet person. During the retreat, I learned that there is peace in a calm and silent mind. Now I find myself scheduling trips to sit at a canal to ­simply listen to the water. A blindfold exercise where a partner leads you around literally helped me feel comfortable with the process of letting go.” 

This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of ESSENCE.

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