Yoga retreats remain top of the list for many wellness travellers, but the choices can seem daunting. Recently, we were introduced to a company doing things a little bit differently, by incorporating eco-friendly properties and give-back activities into their retreats.
We caught up with Colibri Yoga Retreats owners and yoga teachers Devon Young and Juliette Rossato to learn more about their goal of self-care from the inside out.
Wander: How did Colibri Yoga Retreats get started?
Juliette: Devon and I have been teaching yoga since 2011. When we met in 2013 in LA, we felt like we had been friends forever. We were always taking each other’s classes, attending workshops and yoga festivals together, and sharing our goals and wishes for the future.
We both had dreamed of leading yoga retreats, and after years of seeing our classes and connections to our students grow, we felt like there was no reason why we shouldn’t give it a shot. Our very first retreat was held in 2016 at a lovely little spot in Costa Rica, Indigo Yoga Resort, and it was pure magic!
Colibri Yoga Retreats was born, and since then, we’ve led four more, along with a handful of workshops here in LA. So far it’s been a beautiful ride!
You’ve just returned from Bali where you hosted your “Find Your Bliss” retreat. Was it your first time in Bali?
Devon: Yes! I know we’re a little late to the game with teaching yoga in Bali, but now we understand what everyone’s been talking about!
We knew that we would fall in love with the place, but we could never have imagined how much. Arriving there felt like coming home, and now we are dreaming of going back.
Since returning, the most common question has been, “What was your favourite part?” and while my answer will always be “our retreat,” it’s the people of Bali that make it such a beautiful and special place.
I have never met more genuinely happy, gracious people, and I think our culture could take a lesson from how people are living there.
Why did you choose Hotel Komune Resort?
Devon: While on the hunt for a retreat centre in Bali, we came across many beautiful properties that would have suited us nicely. But we took the time to find the perfect spot and we know that we found it in Komune.
We love being by the ocean, so that was a necessity for our trip. Since we hadn’t been to Bali, we had to plan everything online, and Komune looked stunning. What grabbed us was how eco-friendly they are. They’re doing everything they can to limit their effect in the area and preserve the local habitat.
They provide daily beach clean-ups, grow some of their own food, and are plastic-free. From the moment we arrived, we were blown away by the service and the setting. They completely exceeded our expectations in every way.
Tell us about the food and amenities there.
Juliette: Amazing doesn’t even begin to describe Komune. They have two different restaurants to choose from: The Health Hub and The Beach Club. Both are outstanding!
The food is delicious, the drinks are refreshing (from freshly pressed juices and local elixirs to decadent smoothies), and the staff are some of the best we’ve ever met. By day two, all the servers knew our names by heart!
Komune has its own garden where many ingredients are grown for the Health Hub restaurant. With so many fresh, local ingredients, you can imagine just how healthy the food is.
We had breakfast in the Health Hub every morning and dinner at the Beach Club, which, unlike the Health Hub, is open to the public and a more lively scene. There you can get heartier meals like burgers, curries and noodles, along with beer, wine and cocktails.
Komune has two pools, one near the Health Hub, tucked under jungle palms, which is for adults only, and the other one is right on the beach where you can watch the surfers catch some of the best waves in Bali. If you stay in one of the Beachfront Suites, you’ll even have your own private pool attached to your room.
The Komune spa has some of the best treatments in the area, such as facials, scrubs and massages. They also have two gyms! The indoor gym is fully equipped with state-of-the-art machines and props, and the outdoor Muscle Beach gym is a fitness playground!
Komune has everything covered down to the smallest detail. The toiletries and creams in the rooms are of the highest quality and don’t come in plastic bottles. You also won’t want to miss out on shopping in the onsite boutique. From super-cute beachwear to handmade jewelry and organic sunscreen, they have a lot of charming and useful items.
Do you find you are being asked for more environmentally conscious options with the retreats?
Devon: As people are becoming more aware of travelling mindfully, they are looking for ways to travel without leaving a huge footprint. This is a big selling point for our retreats, and people always respond well to it.
We only book resorts that are doing their part environmentally, because we want to feel that we are leaving a place better than we found it. That means using as little plastic as possible, using non-toxic sunscreen and bug spray, and doing at least one day of volunteer work.
Tell us about the volunteer beach clean-up – how did you decide on this activity to give back, and how did it go?
Devon: We always want to give back to the community that we’re visiting, whether that means volunteering at a local school, donating supplies and clothing, or giving money.
Komune informed us that there weren’t any opportunities to volunteer nearby, so we asked them if we could organize a Colibri Yoga Retreats beach clean-up. They have staff cleaning the beach around the hotel daily, but they suggested we could try walking a little further and see what we found.
Honestly, I thought we would be mostly hanging out and chatting, maybe picking up a couple of straws here or there, but in 30 minutes, we had filled up seven giant trash bags. It was a real eye-opener for us.
You could tell that most of the plastic was coming from the sea, lining up where the tide had come in. There were lots of little bits of plastic, medical supplies, styrofoam, and plastic bottles. It made us very sad and a little hopeless, but I thought, “If we can inspire one person to clean the beach tomorrow, and then they inspire another, it could make a difference.”
Sure enough, when we got back to the hotel, another guest asked us where we got the trash bags and said she was going to do a clean-up herself. It goes to show that even the smallest effort can amount to something.
A surprising thing that’s happened during retreat?
Juliette: We had a really talented group this time around! We hired one of our close friends, Kirsten Moore, to capture some of the special moments during the retreat. Not only did she get great shots of us doing yoga and of all the fun that was had, but she also offered personal photoshoots for anyone who wanted one.
One of our students, Lauren, wanted to have headshots taken for her LinkedIn and her online dating profile. Several other students heard about it and offered to help out. Patrick Santa Ana, a makeup artist and hairstylist, and Peti Lau, a designer, did her hair, makeup and wardrobe, and others came for moral support.
After Lauren’s makeover was complete, she looked in the mirror and started to cry. She felt so pretty and confident, and the photos turned out fantastic.
Our groups always become great friends, but we would never have imagined everyone coming together like that. This story touched us, and it goes to show how important it is to support each other and how doing something nice for a friend can mean so much.
Where to next with Colibri Yoga Retreats?!
Juliette: Next July, we will be heading to Sayulita, Mexico to retreat at one of the top ten yoga resorts in the world, Haramara Retreat.
We held a retreat there last year and fell in love with the place, so we had to go back. Plus, it’s the most eco-friendly resort we’ve worked with, considering they don’t even have electricity in the rooms! We are also working on dates for our next trip back to Bali.
Secret tip: We might add a local retreat here in California sometime in the spring!
We always want to give back to the community that we’re visiting, whether that means volunteering at a local school, donating supplies and clothing, or giving money.