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Retreat Series: My experience at Vista Celestial in Costa Rica

*This is part 1 of a 2 part series all about yoga retreats.

Looking to grow your yoga business through hosting yoga retreats? This article is packed with information all about creating, hosting and filling yoga retreats plus there’s a free download for you with lots of great information!

Why Yoga Retreats Are Great For You & Your Students

Yoga retreats aren’t just pretty pictures, they are great for your business revenue as well as your students. They can bring in an influx of revenue for a relatively short amount of time traveling but more importantly, they are fantastic for your students.

“It’s not every day that someone is able to spend a week with their favorite yoga teacher. It’s a really special time for the student but also for the teacher as well.” - Amanda McKinney

Some possible reasons you might consider hosting a yoga retreat are:

  • You have limited time to teach classes but still want to work with your students

  • You’re looking for a way to teach in a longer format as your students want to go deeper with their learning

  • You want to travel and the idea of working and traveling sounds fun for you

  • You want to make more money in business but don’t necessarily want to add more classes to your schedule

Those are just some reasons that someone might want to host a yoga retreat but overall, if you’re considering this idea, it’s a great idea to explore.

**This was also a podcast episode (episode #165. Use the player below if you'd prefer to listen to this message.

Where To Host Your Yoga Retreat

Yoga retreats can be hosted anywhere in the world but here are the most common places that yoga retreats are held:

  • Bali (Indonesia)

  • Costa Rica

  • India

  • Italy

  • Mexico

  • Spain

  • Sri Lanka

  • Thailand

  • United States

Watch this interview with Vista Celestial owner, Jennie Peterson, as she shares all about hosting a yoga retreat at her boutique hotel:

Planning An International Yoga Retreat

It can feel overwhelming to plan a yoga retreat but the key is to (1) take it one step at a time and (2) partner with a great retreat location that can help you. This is especially the case if it’s your first retreat ever or ever in that specific location.

“It's really important to find a place that will partner with you and help you with the planning. For us we really work with our retreat leaders and take care of every single detail from the moment you touched down in Costa rica. So when your group lands they’re taken care of with fantastic transportation and make the journey here really smooth.” - Jennie Peterson

While this is not a hard-and-fast rule, below is an outline of how you could go about planning your yoga retreat:

  1. Gauge interest from your students

  2. Explore options of where you would like to travel or host a retreat locally

  3. Narrow down locations (if you had a long list of ideas)

  4. Speak with hotel owner/manager to get a better feel for the location and how they will support you

  5. Choose your location and dates

  6. Finalize retreat schedule

Plan The Retreat Your Students Want

The key to planning a successful retreat is to deliver what your students want to have in the experience. But you won’t know what they want until you talk to them about this idea.

During the process of gauging interest from your students you can also get a feel for what type of retreat they are looking for. For example, some people are looking for adventure and others are looking for relaxation. These would lead you to create two different retreats and both can be successful.

“We look at the group that they're bringing, we pick out the best excursions and we plan everything from what time and where yoga is going to happen each day to what excursions the group may want to go on, to coordinating spa treatments. So really it becomes not only a vacation for the retreat students and attendees but it's also a location for the retreat leaders. They're here fully supported, they're not worried about food, about vehicles, about booking people's excursions, about their guests who might want to change their excursions and their spa treatments 10 times which totally happens. We take care of all of that.” - Jennie Peterson

Theming Your Yoga Retreat Is Best

Once you have a sense of what your students are looking for, another great option is to theme your retreat. For example you might focus an entire week on the chakras.

One of the major benefits about yoga retreats is that you have the luxury of time with your students so you don’t have to fit everything into 60 minutes. You can allow the retreat to build upon itself throughout the time you share with your students.

“Themes are good because they're working together as a group to improve on things because it's not often that you get to be with your yoga teacher every single day, working on something and progressing.” - Jennie Peterson

How Much Does It Cost To Host An International Yoga Retreat

Of course this is an “it depends” answer because it really does depend on where and when you host the retreat. However, it’s not uncommon for a 5 to 7 day retreat to cost between $2,000 and $4,000 per person. This would be the total amount for the student so what you would need to do is factor in your costs to identify what your profit would be.

*Article from BeYogi that goes into detail about charging for a yoga retreat

If you’re looking for yoga teacher insurance, BeYogi is a great resource for all of your offerings plus you will receive a discount by using my link.

Example cost breakdown for yoga retreats:

  • Retreat price for students = $3,000

  • Your cost per student = $1,500

  • Your travel costs = $1,000

  • Your profit = $500 per student

*To see the cost breakdown for hosting a 7 day yoga retreat at Vista Celestial in Costa Rica, enter your information below. Plus see sample itineraries:

Student Experience Matters For Yoga Retreats

Once you’ve decided on your location and started to plan your retreat, it’s time to think about the overall student experience. This might seem silly to think about but this is what can make or break your retreat.

Think back to a time when you were really disappointed with an event or an experience. How many people did you tell about it to ensure they didn’t go to that event? Most likely, it was quite a few because we talk about those not-so-great experiences.

On the other hand, think back to a time when you were blown away by an experience. You likely raved about that experience to others as well and it definitely stuck out in your mind.

This is what you want to have in your mind as you’re planning your yoga retreat, no matter your budget. A positive student experience doesn’t mean it’s the most expensive experience overall. Instead it means that everything was intentional and thought out. It’s often the little things that make a big impact.

Small things that stand out:

  • Hand written notes for all students upon their arrival

  • A well thought out schedule that accounts for lots of down time

  • A curated list of things they can do on their own outside of the retreat activities

  • A welcome note or bag of goodies in their room when they check in

  • Plenty of communication before the retreat so all their questions are answered

Of course you can add to this as you gain more experience with your retreats but it’s amazing what a well-thought-out retreat can do for your business.

​​”I had a mother comment to me that this is the first vacation she’s ever taken where it really feels like a vacation for her because she said normally she is the one who's figuring out the vehicles, who's making sure everyone's got a bed, who's making the reservations for the activities. But all she had to do was show up and pick in advance what spa treatments and activities she wanted to do, put them on a list and then the rest was taken care of.” - Jennie Peterson

How To Fill Your Yoga Retreat

The best way to fill your yoga retreat is to actually fill it before it’s ready. This sounds silly but here me out…

Talk to your current students and gauge the interest before jumping into all the planning. If you actually have interest in the retreat before it’s even an offering on your website, you have a good chance of filling it!

“I know it’s scary to talk about something before it’s ready but it’s better to do this because if you create something that no one wants, you won’t sell the spots” - Amanda McKinney

The easiest way to do this is to create a waitlist and talk about it to your current students and let them know that if they are on the waitlist, they will be the first to know about it when it opens.

Here are some other marketing ideas for filling your yoga retreat:

  • Use a waitlist to gauge interest

  • Start small so there aren’t as many spots to fill

  • Share about the retreat to your current students before/after classes

  • Send emails to your list to promote the retreat

  • Talk about the retreat planning on social media

If you’re looking for even more specifics about how to fill your yoga retreat, you can get a full marketing toolkit once you’ve signed up to host a retreat at Vista Celestial. I’ve partnered with Jennie to create the toolkit based on my marketing knowledge and previous retreat host experience. Simply send an email to to get more information.

More Information About Vista Celestial In Costa Rica

The Student Villas

“We have our, we call them our luxury ocean view villas, They're just about 1000 square feet. They all have, they're all exactly the same. They are set for two people so they're set up with either one or two queen beds um very spacious and they each have a private plunge pool overlooking the ocean. And the plunge pool can be heated into a hot tub.” - Jennie Peterson

The Teacher Cabin

“For our retreat leaders we have our retreat leader, jungle cabin. Um which is not quite as luxurious but it is a really nice private serene space. So it is a place for them to escape. Um It has a private patio also with jungle and ocean views, a hammock and a little kind of outdoor table there. Um And a nice just kind of private bathroom and it is a sanctuary for the retreat leader to escape to. So they can plan their classes and have some down time.” - Jennie Peterson

The Food

“We love wonderful food and we feel like having great food is an important part of that escape and the best vacation you had in your life. So that was important to us. We have a fantastic team of chefs and Costa Rica is a land of abundance. There are so many wonderful fresh ingredients here, fruits, vegetables, fish, meats, and grains, And so we really focused on having wonderful, high end restaurant quality food, but that's still comforting and accessible and not too fancy.” - Jennie Peterson

The Activities / Excursions

  • Full service spa services

  • ATV/Quad Tour

  • White Water Rafting

  • Horseback Riding

  • Zip Lining

  • Waterfall Rappelling

  • Tandem Paragliding

  • Hiking

  • Surf Lessons

  • Kayaking / Stand Up Paddleboarding

  • Snorkeling

  • Local Tours

  • Scuba Diving

  • Private Boat Charter

  • Bird Watching & Photography

Your next step

Your next step after listening to this conversation is to identify if hosting a yoga retreat is something you’re interested in. Whether it’s Costa Rica or elsewhere, is this something you want to offer?

If so, start to look into location options and narrow down based on where you and your students want to go and what retreat facility will be a good support for you and your needs. And then move forward from there with the planning, filling and hosting of your awesome retreat! And if Costa Rica is the place you’re looking to go, then I highly recommend Vista Celestial.

Click HERE to learn more and see all the details of hosting a retreat there. You won’t be disappointed!

Until next time give yourself permission to dream about your yoga retreat and grace along the way. I’ll talk to you soon!

Get More Done with Less Screen Time with Shailla Vaidya

“It's really important to find a place that will partner with you and help you with the planning. For us we really work with our retreat leaders and take care of every single detail from the moment you touched down in Costa rica. So when your group lands they’re taken care of with fantastic transportation and make the journey here really smooth.”

- Jennie Peterson (Vista Celestial, Owner)

Guest Bio & Links:


Host A Retreat At Vista Celestial

If you've made it this far on this page, then you're seriously considering hosting a retreat and here's what I think....Just Go For It! I know it's scary but if you can think of 5 to 10 people who might be interested in this, I highly recommend downloading this sample itinerary and info packet and then talking to those people.

You never know unless you ask them and having the information at your fingertips is the first step to uncovering your confidence with that step. Enter your info below and you'll get the information immediately ⬇️


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