Cartagena de Indias: Retreat to One of South America's Most Well-Preserved Cities
Despite the tumultuous political climate in the U.S.; despite a new, unknown destination; and despite not speaking a second language -- a group of O. Christine readers showed up once again (some new, some old) to explore another part of this big, beautiful world and meet new people!
This time, we went to Cartagena de Indias, Colombia: one of South America's most well-preserved (and perhaps even most beautiful) colonial destinations.
A brief overview of Cartagena:
If you need to brush up on history (or have trouble finding the information), Cartagena de Indias was a significant player in the slave trade. In fact, it was THE place to trade slaves in Spanish-speaking America.
Don't believe me? The minute you touch down when visiting Cartagena, you will see it: Colombia in all of its beautiful blackness, depicting the 1 million-plus African slaves that were brought over and traded in what is now a touristic plaza.
Horses and carriages trot along tightly constructed roads and cobblestoned alleys, and strong fortress walls by the sea wrap around the 1984-declared UNESCO world heritage site, blocking out the majority of larger vehicles.
Brightly painted colonial structures stand tall among street vendors and artists, while small park plazas and cafes offer refuge from the Caribbean humidity.
Thriving from massive tourism, Cartagena de Indias' centro histórico is the safest place in Colombia.
Our Retreat Accommodations:
We checked into our private luxury boutique hotel in Getsemani, perfect for a group of up to 12 people. Past the oversized doors, our attendant Beatrice greeted us as we dropped our bags and gazed with large eyes at our new accommodation's striking interior.
There were six bedrooms, one of which wasn't used due to a last minute cancellation (stuff happens). Each bedroom had its own modern bathroom and shower, queen size beds (or single for double rooms), and high-quality bedding.
Actually the pillows were a bit too high quality for me... I hate oversized, fluffy pillows! Is that weird?
Anyway... there was also Wi-Fi so, yay.
Included in the retreat package were daily breakfast, beverages, and fresh fruit, as well as two large group dinners cooked on the premises (no lie, they were THE BEST MEALS). All meals were authentic Colombian dishes cooked by a local. From arepas to coconut rice, patacones, ceviche, and fried fish -- we had NO complaints. In fact one gluten free / dairy free guest reported improved digestion! (I'm not saying this because I'm Puerto Rican but... Caribbean food = 👌🏾 )
Cartagena is more expensive than you'd expect, being in South America. So in order to achieve our goal of providing an affordable, relaxing luxury experience, we arranged a few activities included in the price and allowed guests to enjoy free time too.
We provided a complimentary private walking tour of the old city, a private boat to the Rosario islands (lunch, drinks, snorkels, and staff included), yoga instruction for anyone interested, and sharing circles / one-on-one consultations.
Places like Castillo San Felipe de Barajas and Bocagrande were entirely at the discretion of the guest.
My favorite part of the tour was our sharing sessions. Man, were they productive! We all became so close: growing and learning from one another and encouraging each other to SHINE.
The one-on-one sessions were quite productive too. Whether embarking on a new journey toward entrepreneurship, planning a new travel adventure, or seeking blogging / marketing advice, guests took on some of their biggest challenges with my undivided attention.
Additionally, guests had the opportunity to take advantage of Sarah Vasquez's private coaching session when they got home (donated to our swag bag).
My other favorite part of the trip: that PRIVATE BOAT to the Rosario Islands (rented with Boating Cartagena). I'll be honest -- at first, the weather was iffy, which totally unexpected because I'd been there a month and each day was PERFECT.
Of course the day we boat it decided to turn grey. BUT... the rain held off, the sky gave us sun every time we needed it, and the Caribbean sea remained warm. Food and drinks were flowing, music was bumping, and there was A LOT of dancing.
The O. Christine perks:
If you've been following my events/group trips, you might've noticed this trip was the best yet: I added swag. I wanted to make this trip extra special so took a chance and connected with companies and brands I thought the group would love and benefit from. (You can learn about some of those companies in detail, here)
- Shout out to TNEMNRODA, who provided beautiful handmade, beaded bracelets for everyone (she's a sunnies guru).
- Beautycounter, for supplying the group with high quality personal care items free from toxic chemicals (and really chic packaging).
- Natalie Gaetani, for creating a mini pre-trip nutrition plan for everyone.
- Sarah Vasquez for offering free 1-hour sessions to help people identify and achieve their dream life.
These brands made our group feel extra special -- perfect for a much needed detox getaway.
Where to next?
Wish you could've joined us? Make sure you are on the Travel Tribe mailing list to receive details and information about the next trips and meet ups. Members receive exclusive discounts, first invites, and more. You also get to suggest where we go and when!
Enjoy this travel video from our retreat:
See you next time!