Stephanie LaSpina New York-Yoga Teacher, Retreat Director and Travel Therapist.

Posted By: Eric Smith In: Fitness On: Monday, October 28, 2019

Speaks to her natural calling as yogi and travel curator.

What interested you in being a travel curator?

Well, I think it's very much in line with what I've been doing as a yoga practitioner. I love leading retreats-yoga retreats. It's something that I have done for the last few years. And it's something that really moves me-in that I really enjoy travel, I love yoga and leading these types of experiences. I have a very extremely detail oriented type of brain. So curating these retreats is a way for me to channel this energy.

I love planning it all out. I recently had one in Croatia-a seven day yoga retreat. This is a program where I curated the entire itinerary-working directly with the retreat house where we were staying, coordinating with hosts, we hired a private chef, we organized private hikes, wine tastings, obviously yoga and meditation. So this is something that comes really natural to me. It's something that I'm looking to build on.

This is really a goal in my career is to continue offering these types of services. There's a lot of people who are not so comfortable traveling alone or don't know where to start or they get really nervous and might come into different obstacles. So curating is something that comes naturally to me and I really enjoy sharing my love and passion for traveling, fitness and experiencing different cultures.

What are some of your challenges when pulling together a tour-in particular as it relates to choosing a destination, building the programming etc?

I like to choose destinations that I've been to and locations that I'm comfortable with; so I travel a lot internationally. I've organized retreats in Costa Rica, Italy, Croatia-all destinations I've been to, know my way around and have become familiar with the culture, food, accommodations and things like that.

As far as building the itinerary, I think there is a certain template I do follow and from my own personal experience traveling I know what I like and what my friends like so its' a bit easier to know what the day to day will feel like starting with breakfast to the days activities-which in addition to the yoga elements are really impactful. I like to organized the day where you have the option to do or lot or with relaxing breaks-it's flexible and based on what you feel like doing to sit back and enjoy.

How did you get into yoga and then when did the travel thing kick in?

The travel thing kicked in probably two years ago-where I curated my first retreat in Costa Rica. I've always been an avid traveler-it's in my DNA. My dad is a jazz musician based here in New York and but growing up he was traveling on tour a majority of the time. He was always in Japan, Brazil-so I love that you're focusing on music because that's something in my blood.

So this is something I've always loved. I saw there was a place in the market that people-they want this. It's more than that people want to travel, people go because they want to build a community. They want to travel and may not know where to start, they may not have a community of people who can afford to travel with them or have that desire to travel with them or do the same things when they are traveling. So my retreats are where this is all built out where you will go and have 8 or 10 other people there with you who are also interested in the same activities.

The first retreat I planned-it was a lot-it was very time consuming; I didn't really know what to expect. So it took a lot of time and a lot of back and forth with the host property, preparing the menu with dietary restrictions for people with different needs to be met, programming the activities and it was a bit overwhelming. However, from this experience I got to see what happens and got a good idea for what to expect and now it comes much more easily-but it still requires a great attention to detail. You have to think about how it will feel once you are there; try to anticipate the needs and desires of the participants who are going to be there and kind of have a little bit something for everyone to make it a really positive experience where everything is taken care of from food to transportation.

Being responsible for the group-ultimately is most important.  It's really fun, but it's something you have to take seriously.  You're the professional that's holding space.  A lot of times people who go on these retreats desire a sensation of being taken care of and having someone there they can rely on and trust, so you want to omit that energy as well.  All of these things come so naturally to me and things that I love doing so this is where I'm focusing my energy.

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