Know Before You Go: What to Look for in a Wellness Retreat

Looking for the perfect getaway? Tired of coming back from vacations needing another vacation? Then it is time to try a wellness retreat. These days wellness retreats seem to be synonymous with yoga. And believe me there are a ton of great yoga retreats out there to choose from. But wellness retreats thankfully have started to encompass so much more.

So whether you are a runner, a swimmer, a dancer or a fighter—there is likely the perfect active retreat waiting just around the corner for you.

Evaluating whether or not a yoga, running, swimming or hiking retreat is right for you, comes down to personal preference, but there are a few key things you should consider before signing up.

Group Size

Retreats will vary in terms of how many people they will take. While some retreats run with a fixed group, others are more a la carte, meaning you may be the only person there during your stay. Often retreats with flexible departures mean fewer people at any given time. In fact, you may be there on your own. So, if you prefer a smaller group feel, then these are the ones to look at. And if you want the camaraderie of a larger group-than opt for retreats with fixed departures.

Solo vs Group Travel

If you are a solo traveler, you should note that just about every retreat will meet your needs. Retreats are so popular because you have the opportunity to join others that share your passion–so if you are traveling solo rest assured that just about every retreat is a good retreat for you. And for those that want to travel with friends– you should also note that most hosts are happy to put together a custom retreat for you if your party is large enough. This can be a great way to travel with friends in a new and unique way and have the “retreat” all to yourself.

Food & Alcohol

Whether you are gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan or paleo–most retreats these days work to accommodate diverse dietary needs. Some offer purely raw or vegetarian diets–so if you are a meat-eater, be sure to read the fine print. At the end of the day, retreats are designed to cater to your body and your mind-so expect a healthy diet. And if you love to imbibe in alcohol–you may need to hit the wagon for a little bit–as oftentimes retreats have a no alcohol on-premises policy. This will vary-so be sure to ask in advance.

Fitness Level

If you are signing up for an intermediate or advanced fitness retreat-be sure to look at the physical requirements. For running this usually means running for 3-5 hours consecutively with significant elevation gain. For swimmers, this can mean swimming from 3000 meters to 10000 meters in one go. Be sure to ask your retreat host for a training plan so you can prep in advance. Many will make you get a doctor’s waiver attesting to your fitness level.  While retreats will always try to cater to your level, you will want to make sure you can get the most out of your experience, so be sure to prep in advance.

Cancellation Policies

Each retreat will have their own set of terms and conditions. Be sure to read the fine print. While some give full refunds, many do not. Oftentimes these retreats are run by small business owners, so be aware that they can not always accommodate the terms and conditions you might be used to from a site. Be sure to also check to make sure the marketplace or host you book with is known for abiding by their policies. Some marketplaces are notorious for being slow to give refunds or responding at all. So, be sure to choose wisely.


While certain retreats may sound idyllic, you should always check out how accessible they are. If you are on a fixed schedule, you may want to think twice about booking retreats that are far from major transportation hubs. You should also be sure to ask whether or not airport pick up is free or available as part of your package. Oftentimes this is an overlooked but incredibly important perk.

And if you are looking to stay in touch with folks or kids back home, be sure to check on accessibility. Oftentimes hiking and trail running retreats and trips mean being off the grid for days at a time. While others offer the ability to base yourself out of a central hub, which means you won’t have to schlep your stuff with you and will likely have full access to WiFi and comms.

What’s Included

The beauty of running, yoga, diving or cycling retreats is that they tend to be all-inclusive, meaning your hotels, food, fitness programs and oftentimes local excursions are included. But this is not always the case, so be sure to check each retreat carefully. Some only offer half-board and others cover meals but not alcohol or snacks.

If you are looking to immerse yourself in the local culture, check to see whether or not the host or your guides are local to the area you are visiting. This will make a big difference.

In the End

It took me a long time to look at retreats, because as a runner I always found yoga a little slow. But as I have gotten older, I’ve started to see how important keeping your muscles limber really is.  And this applies to all sports. As someone who also loves to travel, I have found it difficult to coordinate schedules and find folks to go with when I am available. This is where retreats have come in handy-and frankly have been life-changing for me. They have given me the chance to do what I love, see the world and meet some new and amazing people along the way.

So, whether you are a runner, a skier, a hiker or a kick-ass walker–be sure to give retreats a go. And if you are looking for your next adventure, be sure to check us out at Activ Retreats. We have 1000+ running, swimming, rock climbing, martial arts, riding, yoga and fitness retreats coming your way this year. 

Happy travels.