Third Times a Charm:
What Keeps Maria Santoferraro Going Back to Manchebo?
They say you can never get enough of a good thing, and when it comes to Aruba – particularly hosting a yoga retreat there at the lovely Manchebo Beach Resort and Spa – that statement is absolutely true. I’m getting ready to pack up my yoga mat for my third (of what I hope will become annual) Beach Yoga Bliss retreat in Aruba this April 11–18, 2015.
When you work with The Travel Yogi (we love you Maria!), there are so many great travel destinations to choose from, but I fell in love with my Aruba yoga retreat. Here are six reasons why I keep going back (and why you should consider going) on one of the Travel Yogi’s retreats to Aruba:
1. The Best Beach Yoga
One of the primary reasons I first picked Manchebo Beach Resort and Spa for my first Aruba yoga retreat was for its unique beach yoga setting. I saw the pictures and dreamed for months about how lovely it would be to teach under the yoga pavilion or on the wooden yoga deck overlooking the white sand beaches and clear blue Caribbean waters. And when I arrived at the resort, I was not disappointed.
As soon as I stepped into the Manchebo Yoga Pavilion, I was overwhelmed with emotion and started to cry tears of joy. I couldn’t believe that I would get to teach yoga in such a beautiful space. Every time I come to Manchebo, I get that same exuberant feeling when I set foot in the yoga pavilion.
From the pavilion you can see the incredible aqua blue waters of the Caribbean, feel the ocean breeze, and be protected from the sun. It is pure bliss for me to teach there, and I’m told it is divine to put down your mat and practice there as well.
2. A Beach Resort for Yogis
A stay at Manchebo starts with a friendly welcome and complimentary mojito at check-in, and the thoughtful amenities just keep coming – healthy smoothies for breakfast, refrigerator and microwaves in the room, waterfall shower. And the garden-view rooms really do have an actual Zen garden to hang out in!
I can’t say enough good things about Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa. The staff are so friendly and helpful, the grounds are gorgeous, and you don’t get a packed-in, claustrophobic feeling like at other resorts I’ve been to. The staff took really good care of us, and they have all the yoga props (bolsters, straps, blocks, and extra yoga mats) so you don’t have to pack extra gear. This is a beach resort that truly caters to yogis!
Every morning after our beach yoga and meditation session, the staff set up a table for all the retreat participants to gather for breakfast. It is nice to have this time to be together, share stories, and regroup after the yoga sessions. Did I mention that our breakfast table has a view of the pool and the Caribbean?!
3. The Food
It’s not just the breakfast that’s amazing. One of the nights, the resort put together our very own private beachfront dinner with Tiki torches, table decorations, and fancy decorated chairs to accompany our three-course meal. I felt like a princess! Whether you are seeking healthy food, vegetarian options, or have food allergies, the staff at Manchebo will cater to your dining needs with plenty of menu choices!
Some days, you just want to lay on the beach and chillax, but if you want a little island adventure, it is on the agenda in some form almost every day. Hiking, swimming in a natural pool, stand-up paddle boarding, and snorkeling are all part of the outdoor fun that you can experience on the island.
One of my favorite days on the retreat is when we take a sailing cruise out to snorkel and then get to relax on the boat with refreshing drinks and catch the sunset.
And, I really love the day we hike the south side of the island along stunning rocky coastlines and beautiful beaches to the natural pool for an exhilarating dip in the waters.
5. SUP Yoga
One afternoon of the retreat, we headed off for an afternoon of stand-up paddle boarding PLUS a yoga class atop the boards, floating out on the water. After learning the basics of maneuvering on the boards, we paddled down the shore to our yoga studio on water, anchored our boards, and busted out some downward dogs and sun salutations. The instructor’s only rule was that if we fell off the board we had to laugh, and she guaranteed that everyone falls off. Suffice it to say there were lots of smiles and giggles.
The best part of the SUP yoga class was lying in peace on the board in the middle of the Caribbean in savasana with the sun shining down on us. I’ve always loved savasana, but doing it while floating on the ocean is absolutely sublime.
6. The Gift of Peace and Solitude
With great venues to practice, a beachfront spa, and healthy food options, Manchebo really is the perfect place to give yourself a special gift: peace, restoration, and honoring your body with the practice of yoga. One of my class themes was about taking the time to give yourself the gift of solitude, to unwind, let go, and recharge. A walk alone on these beautiful beaches to breathe and meditate was my gift to myself each day, and I brought home some seashells to remind me to keep giving myself that gift even when I’m back in Ohio.
When you have the opportunity to practice yoga and meditate twice a day for a week, your practice is going to blossom. During my Beach Yoga Bliss yoga retreat, you will be surrounded by a group of fantastic yogis, experience new adventures, eat fantastic food, and enjoy all that the beautiful island of Aruba has to offer.