Illuminate Wellness Retreats- offering a safe trusting therapeutic container

Illuminate Wellness Retreats- offering a safe, trusting therapeutic container

Business Name & What We Offer

Illuminate Wellness Retreats was established in 2023 and founded by Dr. Bonnie Sturrock (Clinical Psychologist) and Miss Amanda Calabro (Creative Therapist). They have connected a team of experts and practitioners to create the Illuminate Wellness Retreats for Women (and mother’s and daughters), to be held at the beautiful retreat space in the Noosa, Hinterland, Queensland. This year Illuminate Wellness Retreats will be offering one 10-day women’s wellness retreat from October 27th until November 5th. In 2024, Illuminate Wellness Retreats will offer two 10-day wellness retreats for women, as well as two 7-day retreats for mothers and daughters (pre-teens).

Please see our website here: 

Illuminate Wellness Retreats values, business strategy, and vision are based around offering a safe, trusting therapeutic container to journey into all parts of oneself and create potential new awareness through rest, nurture, reflection, self-exploration, letting go, self-compassion, and self-love. Offerings at the retreats will include Yoga, clinical Psychology groups and individual sessions, dance movement therapy groups and individual sand-tray sessions, authentic movement group sessions, nutritional medicine, mindfulness, meditation, hypnotherapy, guided imagery, creative therapies, breath-work, and time for rest and self-nurturing.

Please see our offerings here:

The choice of venue was very important in our business strategy and had to meet certain criteria to cater for: the program, participants’ individual needs, retreat activities, and a relaxing environment detached from common daily responsibilities and distractions. We were grateful to find the Amara Retreat space that offers a lush 44-acre property, rich in wilderness, nature trails, contemplation areas such as the buddha and rock balancing gardens, a natural swimming hole with floating pontoon, steam room, magnesium plunge pool and an array of accommodation to suit all needs.

The Founders & Conception of Illuminate Wellness Retreats

Bonnie and Amanda met each other on a retreat in serene Ubud, Bali, Indonesia where they were inspired to run their own retreat program drawing from their own background expertise and the beautiful synergy they could offer in combining their knowledge and skills together.

Bonnie is a clinical psychologist who has studied and/or worked in mental health for over 20 years. She is a warm and compassionate practitioner and applies a non-judgemental approach when connecting with people. Bonnie was interested in offering her clinical expertise and knowledge to people in a less formal, safe, and nurturing environment, and that is where ideas for illuminate Wellness Retreats offerings commenced. Her overall hope is to provide her clinical knowledge in a safe container for self-nurturing/exploration of psycho-education, mindfulness, grounding, self-compassion, self-insight, rest, feeling, and reflection.  

Amanda is passionate about supporting and caring for others and, after having attended many well-being focussed retreats in her adult life and on reflection of these, noticed that retreats need two key ingredients: “safety and clinical expertise/support.” As a registered nurse, clinical counsellor, dance movement and creative therapist she wanted to be able to offer a space where participants were fully supported through their emotional and physical journeys, in a safe, trusting space, whilst sharing her knowledge and expertise through the provision of evidence-based practices that promote the best outcomes for participants; hence, the idea for the Illuminate Wellness Retreats was born. 

So, in conjunction, Bonnie and Amanda derived a retreat to cater for women’s (and mother’s and daughter’s) holistic wellness, incorporating the mind-body connection to promote increased self-awareness through the application of clinical knowledge and evidence-based practices in psychology, somatic, breath-work, dance movement and creative therapies.

Please see a full list of practitioners at our retreat here:

Bonnie                                                                                  Amanda 

Business Strategies

Bonnie had been running a business as a sole-trader, clinical psychologist, for over a decade and so the overall business structure was based on her own knowledge and path in establishing and running her own business. Alongside this, we had guidance from lawyers, accountants, bankers, insurance, digital production/marketing specialist (Mia Sturrock), and more… We started with building on the fundamentals that are essential in any business building strategic process.

Our business strategy follows the simple 5 Phase approach and have developed a strategy map (please see images attached). We are a values-driven business that focusses on modelling healthy well-being/self-care. 

The challenges Illuminate Wellness Retreats is facing

Making ourselves Known: At present, we are focussed on promoting our business and making ourselves known to the community; this is growing, ever evolving, and costly. We are holding our first retreat in 2023 and so we do not have an established foundation of previous retreats and participant’ reports of their experience/s at our retreats. Due to also being clinical health professionals, we also have a very strict guidelines to follow regarding how we advertise and what we can say, our terms and conditions, and insurances.

Unique model: We have had to go through a process of continual review/revising of all aspects regarding setting up the business/advertising, how the retreats will run, legalities involved, insurances needed, as well as making sure our practitioners also have appropriate insurance policies in place. Our model of offerings is comprehensive and developing intellectual property is time-consuming and aligned with the business values. Managing the process of hiring quality appropriate independent contractors has also been time-consuming. 

Commitment from participants: At the moment our greatest challenge is getting people interested in participation and stepping out of general life and committing to time out. It is important for participants to understand the program offerings in relation to the cost, and then achieving bookings. Due to our retreat being run by clinical health professionals and offering evidence-based theory and practices our prices are reflective. The price offered to participants is well below what is included in their program. Just the 10-day program itself including food, accommodation and all practitioner services is valued at over $8,000, and once all our costings and outlays are accounted for our profit is only half the amount we would be making if we were running independent groups and individual sessions. We are hoping that the world financial crisis does not impact on participants’ prioritising well-being and focusing on needed/required healthy self-care. 

Packages are as follows here:

The opportunities the Illuminate Wellness Retreats is facing

There are so many opportunities when starting a new business, and for us being able to create a wellness program that includes evidenced-based elements and being able to share our clinical expertise is very exciting. To offer a safe space where people can be vulnerable and well supported to journey into all the parts of themselves and cultivate self-compassion and self-love is an opportunity unlike any other, especially when it enables us to support many women throughout their wellness journey. Our reach is greater if we have a group of participants engaging all at one time versus working only one-on-one with individuals in a clinical setting.  

Opportunities involve creating more retreats with different programs, for example our mother and daughter retreat to help foster connection/re-connection and understanding in both areas of the mother daughter changing relationship in early adolescence. Opportunities also involve starting our own shop within the business to cater for well-being related products. 

Advice to others about business

Access business-appropriate support: Access appropriate business support through adjunctive professionals and mentors. We had to ask a lot of questions and work through and process a lot of new information/details. Accessing support may be a costly at the start, but once your business is established costs will be focussed on maintenance/general running costs. We had a lot of assistance with developing social media/websites for our technological world from Mia Sturrock. We then aimed to become independent, taking education, knowledge and learnings from Mia in managing advertising content/website changes and updates, and applying them to our ongoing running’s. 

Please see Mia Sturrock, Digital Marketing Specialist services here:

Allow time: We have learnt a lot in a short amount of time. Building a business is time consuming. We focussed on a bottom-up approach to business building with the focus on what we will be providing to participants (IP, content, program), leading to the business being visible in the world for participant uptake. 

Lessons learnt from running  Illuminate Wellness Retreats

We have learnt that there is a definite need for spaces that feel safe for women to let go and focus on self-nurturing. We have learnt that we fill a gap in the retreat market that includes a holistic and evidence-based approach to offerings for women’s well-being. We will learn through running our retreats about participant experiences and further refining offerings, retreat duration, costs, and participant needs. 

We are very excited to develop our business further and we aim to run four retreats in 2024 displaying business growth and development. We are currently in the process of refining our mother/daughter retreat offerings. We are looking forward to connecting with our participants on their retreats soon!

We can be contacted here:

Bonnie in Bali (photo)

Ieva Kubiliute

Ieva Kubiliute is a psychologist and a sex and relationships advisor and a freelance writer. She's also a consultant to several health and wellness brands. While Ieva specialises in covering wellness topics ranging from fitness and nutrition, to mental wellbeing, sex and relationships and health conditions, she has written across a diverse range of lifestyle topics, including beauty and travel. Career highlights so far include: luxury spa-hopping in Spain and joining an £18k-a-year London gym. Someone’s got to do it! When she’s not typing away at her desk—or interviewing experts and case studies, Ieva winds down with yoga, a good movie and great skincare (affordable of course, there’s little she doesn’t know about budget beauty). Things that bring her endless joy: digital detoxes, oat milk lattes and long country walks (and sometimes jogs).

Latest from Business News