Why A Yoga Retreat Is the Perfect Choice for the Solo Traveler
The timing of the offer could not have been more perfect. April is known to be one of the best months to visit Mexico, when, as Goldie Locks would say, it isn’t too cold or too hot, but just right.
Yoga has been a part of my life for over 12 years, and one of my favorite things about the practice is how inclusive the community is. I always knew that if/when I was to go on a retreat of sorts, that I wanted to try it on my own and really embrace the entire experience without the crutch of a friend or family member. We can learn a lot about ourselves when we take on challenges like traveling alone, and to do so to at a place where I knew I’d be welcomed with open arms made the idea far less daunting.
Upon landing in Puerto Vallarta, I was escorted in a taxi to a marina where I would catch a boat to take me to Xinalani Retreat. The hotel sits 12 miles south of Puerto Vallarta and can only be accessed by a 50-minute boat ride. It sits in the jungle right on the ocean -- a perfect setting in which to disconnect and find peace. The moment the boat started to move and I felt the fresh ocean air blowing on my face, I felt liberated and couldn’t wait to get to the hotel. Upon arrival, I was warmly greeted by other members of the Xinalani team and given an overview of the entire hotel and experience I was about to embark on over the next few days.
I was led up intricate stairways through the jungle that I couldn’t believe existed in the middle of nowhere, which led me to my home for the next three nights. The hotel is made up of only 23 rooms, all of which have three walls with a fourth open wall that looks out over the ocean. I had seen photos of the rooms online, but no photo can capture the salty smell of the air, the sound of the waves crashing below and the never-ending ocean view -- it took my breath away. I couldn’t help but sit and stare at the beautiful view for quite some time before I actually began to unpack. Because you are, in fact, exposed to the many aspects of nature, each room has a bug net that the housekeeping team drapes around your bed each evening as part of the turn-down service. There is cell service and Wi-Fi at the hotel, but the atmosphere calls for unplugging as much as possible.
Included in the price of the room are daily meals and two yoga classes per day. Most of the other organized activities, spa services or drinks are an additional cost but are surprisingly affordable for such a remote location. The hotel and all of the guests run on the same daily schedule as follows:
- 7-8 a.m. – morning coffee and tea
- 8:30-10 a.m. – morning yoga class in the jungle studio
- 10-11 a.m. – breakfast in the main dining room
- 11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. – free time
- 1:30-2:30 p.m. – lunch in the main dining room
- 2:30-5 p.m. – free time
- 5-6 p.m. – evening yoga class in the jungle studio
- 7:30-8:30 p.m. – dinner in the main dining room
As I mentioned earlier, traveling alone can be intimidating, but I was excited to quickly learn that of the roughly 25-30 guests staying at the hotel, about six of them of them were also solo women travelers of different ages from around the U.S. and Canada -- all looking to have an experience just like my own. Little did I know when first embarking on this journey that I would meet such interesting people and leave the trip with three new friends that I hope to stay in touch with. The daily schedule allowed for the perfect mix of social time (if interested) and alone time to simply enjoy the beautiful surroundings. The hotel has a full bar with delicious cocktails (one of the best margaritas I’ve ever had, in fact), where many guests gather and mingle before and after dinnertime. There are two separate areas below the bar and dining room with beach chairs and hammocks that look out over the ocean. As someone who gravitates toward the sun, I thoroughly enjoyed bopping around from chair to chair, chasing the sunshine with beautiful views of the ocean and hotel.
One of the main highlights of the experience, of course, is the yoga. I have taken many different classes over the years with many different teachers, but I have not experienced anything like this before. Guests walk about 10-15 minutes up the many steps to the Jungle Studio, which sits above the rest of the hotel. It is a large studio and like the rest of the hotel, has open walls with palms as the roof. The combination of the sun pouring through the open walls, the fresh air blowing about and the sounds of nature all around creates an idyllic setting to practice the art of yoga. The first class of the day is a more intense flow, while the evening session is a slower paced restorative class. There are three rotating teachers who are all very experienced and bring their own personal touches to the various classes.
Although I was only at Xinalani Retreat for three nights, I was amazed by how much I got out of the entire experience in that time. From the wonderful yoga classes to the beautiful jungle atmosphere to the interesting people that I met, everything about the trip was simply wonderful. I will spread the world on this magical place and can only hope that other people looking to travel somewhere on their own will consider Xinalani Retreat and hopefully have the same fulfilling experience that I did.