Cynthia Cendreda, founder of Sea Salt Retreats, was raised understanding the rejuvenating and supportive spirit of ‘sisterhood.’ Growing up in a large matriarchal family, it was these initial bonds for Ms. Cendreda that formed the foundation for creating a wellness retreat for women.
“Having female relationships is second nature to me…it’s really shaped who I am,” said Cendreda. “As you get older, you realize those are really important relationships to have.”
An avid surfer and yoga instructor, Cendreda is dedicated to healthy living. When her partner decided to purchase property in Costa Rica, she was able to fuse together her love of surfing and yoga into a sustainable wellness program – one that would rejuvenate participants both inside and out.
“I’ve always been into women’s health and fitness,” said Cendreda. “It’s fascinating to see how far a woman of any shape or age can push herself.”
Sea Salt Retreats, set in the picturesque Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, offers a holistic approach to health and wellness, a chance for women to re-evaluate their lifestyles and health goals. The retreats are kept small and intimate, with a maximum of 15 guests to create a safe and open space for expression.
“There are a lot of experiences that are unique to women and a lot of struggles unique to women,” said Cendreda. “Our retreats allow women to get real about issues they wouldn’t normally address in their own lives – it’s a great experience.”
Sea Salt Retreats offers a collective for women who share a passion for yoga, the ocean, adventure, and healthy living. Each day, participants will experience different aspects of wellness – natural ways to balance one’s mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. Located at the Encanta la Vida resort, these women-only retreats have three main components –surfing, yoga/meditation, and diet and lifestyle counseling (all with the hopes of establishing a network of support for one another).
“Women do everything on feeling – it’s that camaraderie that women get from my retreats,” said Cendreda. “Guys like to muscle through everything, while women want to know what everything feels like, and the reasons why we do it.”
A large component of each retreat is surfing, further connecting women with the power of the sea – otherwise coined “the fountain of youth.” Each day participants get a chance to reinvigorate their health and spirit with surf lessons and their own personal surf guide.
“There’s a pure joy element to surfing – nothing forces you to be more present than surfing,” said Cendreda. “It’s the ability to go out and simply play for an hour. There’s no other sport that puts a bigger grin on people’s faces.”
In addition to water adventures, yoga and meditation play significant roles in Sea Salt’s holistic approach. Small and secluded, the lodge is nestled deep in the rainforest, providing the ultimate escape. Twice-daily yoga, meditation, and mind-body workshops are all part of the experience. One-on-one wellness treatment is also available – from acupuncture to rejuvenating facials, massages, or private yoga.
“The biggest goal for me is that these women develop a long term wellness plan,” said Cendreda. “I want people to come out transformed, asking how they can stay healthy, meet whatever fitness/health goals they have, and maintain a network of support.”
Working alongside chefs at Encanta la Vida, Cendreda ensures that each participant meets and achieves their dietary goals as well, with participants filling out a questionnaire prior to arrival. Having one-on-one conversations about food, participants enjoy nourishing and health-conscious meals during their stay.
“A lot of women do not have good relationship with food. They eat to eat, but what does that look like?” asked Cendreda. “We want it to become a very conscious process – for us, conscious eating is part of the process of getting to know your body.”
Creating opportunities for discussion and transformation, each retreat is focused around the family dinner, a place where women can get together and create a lifelong network of support, friendship, and sisterhood.
“The family-style dinner – that is the most critical time to be present,” said Cendreda. “The conversations that happen at dinnertime are like no other. That’s when everything comes out. It’s mind-blowing.”
In the coming months, Cendreda, alongside Santa Barbara’s Salt Water Divas, will be offering a local Santa Barbara one-day retreat, in addition to other Southern California adventures. Cendreda looks forward to expanding the company and her ever-growing network of sisters.
“It’s the support, it’s the sisterhood. It’s feeling like you belong,” said Cendreda. “It’s hard enough to be a women, much less a mother, much less a wife, but to have friendships and a sisterhood, you feel less alone. Words of support and encouragement are key in this life.”
By Rachel Hommel, LoaTree