Let’s just say I needed a vacation.
My partner of eight and a half years and I broke up while in escrow on our dream home in Laguna Beach, California. Buying a house is a stressful process, and the finances, search, and communication with our realtors had fallen onto me solely. So when he suddenly announced that he would be leaving on a trip with his mother—leaving me alone to deal with inspections and the lifting of contingencies—I felt fearful and alone. “I promise you nothing big will come up with the house this weekend,” he said. A couple days later, we lost the house.
After so many years of having his family obligations at the center of our disagreements, I ended the relationship. There may or may not have been a period of listening to Olivia Rodrigo on repeat. But at some point, I moved on: I bought my own home, spent time with my dogs and friends, and work was busier than ever. By March 2022, the pace of the previous 12 months caught up with me and I was exhausted. Making matters worse, I had just ended a new fling, adding a fresh dose of sadness to the mix. So when Paradisus Los Cabos invited me to Mexico to experience its holistic Mind & Body Boot Camp facilitated by a company called SUDA Experience, I enthusiastically agreed.
The Reserve Upgrade and the SUDA Experience
There are so many great places to stay in this area. Todos Santos is a famous destination for healing retreats, just an hour or so from Cabo San Lucas. Those in search of a party can head to ME Cabo in Cabo San Lucas—a stunning beachfront property with a social vibe—while its property in Los Cabos is more serene and family-friendly. There’s also the gorgeous Rosewood Hotel, which is right next door to the retreat.
But in my opinion, one of the great things about Cabo is how laid-back it is. I have to admit that the resort-casual garb and all-inclusive element of the stay removed every last vestige of social stress. With everything included (other than spa services and amenities like laundry), you don’t have to worry about a single thing except making your reservations with your on-site personal assistant. I was also part of The Reserve Upgrade, so even my check-in was completed in the adults-only Reserve Lounge, which served snacks and drinks from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a gorgeous ocean-view patio.
The all-inclusive property had tons of amenities to help get my mind off things—for instance, I was in a swim-up suite with its own deck and pool, and could also see the larger pool and swim-up bar, as well as a peekaboo glimpse of the ocean. I loved waking up to the views, and each night, I soaked in the free-standing tub, indulging in the Mugler toiletries included in the room. I spent hours on a lounge chair at the quiet adult pool (with an ocean view), on the private beach (with bar and food service including vegan tacos), and at the well-outfitted gym where I read my book while on the elliptical. When I wanted to snack between mealtimes, I either stopped by one of the property’s seven restaurants or headed up to The Reserve Lounge—exclusive to guests who upgrade to The Reserve—where I feasted on guacamole and sparkling water with lime.
An avid spa-goer, I especially enjoyed one of the best massages of my life at the YHI Spa. I enjoyed the spa so much, I went back for a manicure (black polish) and a French pedicure, but was also tempted by the blowouts and makeup application. After your treatment, you are invited to lounge and enjoy cups of hot tea to decompress, or to visit a steam room, sauna, or private pool.
My second night there, I slept deeply and uninterrupted for the first time in weeks—12 straight hours—and then napped for two more the following day. Removed from the stressors of my everyday life, I woke up feeling renewed; vacation mode was finally switched on.
I began my mornings with fruit, wrote and read in the sun, and developed the first hint of a base tan in years (don’t worry, I was still covered in SPF!). Because I am plagued with several dietary restrictions, I often special-ordered bean tacos with rice, which the server graciously accommodated—and they were so good that I am still thinking about them. I also ate more guacamole than ever before in my life (it was that good) and had my first taste of the traditional Mexican dish mole. We also enjoyed group dinner at the signature restaurant, Le Petit Chef, which includes a five-course meal preceded by an animated, food-themed presentation.
Each day our group also had a different wellness class and meditation, and a reserved time for dinner. One day was beach yoga, another day was a class called Primal Movement, a movement-oriented combination of martial arts, yoga, breathing, and engagement. Each class helped us to connect within, guided by one of the SUDA facilitators. We also went on excursions—like a boat ride to see the famous arch in Cabo San Lucas—with plenty of opportunity to relax in between.
Immersive Breathwork and Meditation
My favorite group activity was the Immersive Breathwork Meditation Experience, which took place in the evening, bathed in candlelight and under the stars. Breathwork saw a major upsurge amid COVID, with influencers and celebrities (from Justin Bieber to Gwyneth Paltrow) drawing attention to the practice. Integrative doctors, like the best-selling author Mark Hyman, vouch for its efficacy in facilitating emotional and physical release via the mind-body connection.
I am a big fan of breathwork; as a former therapist, I am all about facilitating the release of emotions that would otherwise remain stagnant in the body. I did feel an emotional insight surface during the breathwork meditation, which concluded with a sound bath that helped me integrate the learning. This was the type of experience that makes an entire retreat worth it: actual emotional growth brought on outside of therapy.
So, Is It Worth It?
For me, someone who prioritizes personal growth (plus sleep and relaxation) as part of my lifestyle, this type of trip is absolutely worth it. But before booking your own retreat, it’s important to know that not every wellness modality is going to resonate with you, and that’s completely normal.
A wellness retreat is not something to approach with the mentality of perfection or overachieving; as the SUDA facilitators emphasize, you are your own best expert. Because of this, I actually opted out of certain activities, knowing that it would better service my relaxation to nap and write. But taking chances, trying even one new experience, and giving yourself permission not to like it, is still a worthy exploration into broadening your self-help toolkit.
Having gone, I definitely see the benefits of leaving your typical surroundings and entering a stress-free zone, because the environment greatly impacts health and wellness. How better to focus on yourself than to physically leave your worries behind for a week? Even if you just want to treat yourself to a week of chilling out, this type of retreat makes self-care accessible with comforts at your fingertips.
Ready to go but not sure what to bring? Below are some of the wellness essentials I packed on my trip to Paradisus Los Cabos.
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