Nothin they promised was provided. They started very late on Thursday, only 2 meals a day were provided and inadequate at best, dinner was consistently at 8-830 at night, no classes cooking or Ayurvedic principals were given, the luxury beach front accommodations were on top of a mountain, not a bar of soap to be found and we had to search our toilet paper, we were dropped on a deserted beach one day for 3-4 hours with no food, water or bathroom facilities then taken to a food truck to buy our own lunches, when we questioned the program we were told "we were the problem", the had run many retreats and never had any issues, we were told prior to the retreat that we could pay the balance there with a credit card and on arrival told they could not do that and we would have to pay extra fees for them to take our money, they would not even eat with us and spent ALL their time huddled together whispering. The composition of our group was medical doctors, a PA, attorneys, therapists and businessmen. I will be happy to fax you, on Saturday, a copy of my handwritten letter with details to back up this brief message. Thank you for your concern regarding the retreats you offer. Sincerely.
This is a review of my experience with Renuatum Spa in Rincon, Puerto Rico which was run by Carlisle Amlak and Sarra Kaufmann. This retreat was not what was described on BookYogaRetreats.com. This was supposed to be 5 days of yoga and ayurvedic cooking classes. There were no cooking classes. There was a ten-minute demo on making coconut milk and nut milk and that was it. There was supposed to be three organic meals a day. There were two. This was supposed to start at noon on February 16 but nothing happened until that evening.
I booked very late so I ended up with a shared room. It was described online as “luxury accommodations.” For $1249 for 4 nights, I had a twin bed with a thin sheet and blanket and a couple of flat pillows. I also shared a bathroom with my roommate (who ended up leaving after two days) and another person. Towels were basic. There were no toiletries. For a retreat that has the word “spa” in its name, I expected some basics like soap and shampoo. At one point, I told Carlisle that I thought my room was very expensive in relation to its quality, she explained that BookYogaRetreats takes half of every booking, she has to pay $6000 for the house rental, and she is losing money on this retreat. Uh – not my problem lady.
There are so many other things that were wrong, it’s hard to know where to start. There was an overall lack of hospitality. There was no welcome drink, welcome meal or even snack upon arrival. Almost everyone made a 2 ½ hour car trip from San Juan (plus plane rides) to get there so a warm welcome would have been nice. Although the retreat was supposed to start at noon, they only provided a smoothie and some celery sticks after people complained that they were hungry. Dinner was not served until 8 or so. There was a lack of structure to the retreat. There was a two-hour morning yoga class with brunch following it but after that, no real schedule. There was a lack of communication in general; for instance, they said it was fine to pay our balance with credit cards but then when we got there, they said they wanted PayPal instead. Because PayPal has a fee, people didn’t want to use it. Eventually, they figured out a way of having us pay through BookYogaRetreats.com but not without a lot of tension.
They dropped us off at the beach on the first full day around noon. They didn’t say how long we’d be there or what the plan for the rest of the day was. After a few hours, some people were complaining that they were hungry so they took us to a food truck where we all purchased food. After paying $1245, I don’t understand why I should be purchasing food. On top of it, when food was served, there was barely enough to go around. One night we had tacos and were told, “everyone gets half a [Portobello] mushroom cap each.” Another night, there was one soup bowl short so a couple had to share the one bowl left.
On the second full day, I approached Carlisle on the beach. I suggested to her that it would be helpful if she let people know what to expect in terms of schedule, meals, etc.. Everyone was wondering about the ayurvedic lectures and cooking classes. At this point, we had not done anything except some yoga. She was very defensive. She said that she was so busy fielding complaints from all of us that she didn’t have anytime to do anything else. (Not true, she and Sarra were hanging out by themselves on the beach the first full day.) She protested that she had done this retreat several times and there were never complaints – our group just had “bad energy.”
Regarding meals, she said that she had always offered only two meals a day and when she sent that info to BookYogaRetreats.com, “some guy in India” made changes to the program, making it 3 meals a day. I just rechecked the Renuatum website and it clearly states “3 organic meals a day.” I also told her that I felt there wasn’t a lot of organization in general – for instance, I hadn’t received a guideline for what to pack for the trip. She said that BookYogaRetreats automatically sends that out once you pay and it was probably in my junk mail (it wasn’t.)
One key thing that I expected was her husband, a Trinidadian Ayurvedic chef. That was definitely sold as part of the retreat and he was not there. This was on both the Renuatum website and the BookYogaRetreats website so “some guy in India” is not to blame. If Carlisle had explained that the chef did not come and it was unexpected and difficult for her, she could have actually turned it around and put us all in the kitchen to work. We would have been getting our cooking lessons and some of the pressure would have been off her. Our group had some very nice people and I believe they would have been understanding and happy to help out. Instead, her denials that this exact same program had worked with other groups and we were the problem just created a toxic atmosphere.
Carlisle and Sarra also made promises during the retreat that they didn’t keep – individual check ins, a talk on tongue health, pranayama at the waterfalls, a discussion of our food journals.
I also heard Carlisle arguing with other clients about ride charges. Two women shared an Uber which was cheaper than Renuatum’s $65 pick up / drop off from the airport. Carlisle tried to charge these women a “transportation charge” for being driven to the beach and food truck. One of the women argued that she had provided her own transport for the pick up and drop off so the $65 each way should not apply to her. I found Carlisle's attitude to be shockingly rude.
I was expecting an immersive learning experience about ayurvedics on this retreat. The fact that Carlisle and company could not manage to create a peaceful learning experience shows that are not very good at creating the balance and harmony in their lives that they were meant to teach and share with us. Total failure.
I would like a partial refund for my retreat. It was falsely advertised and there was no attempt by Carlisle and Sarra to provide the things promised. Please also change their rating on your website or take them off completely. I booked this retreat because of the excellent reviews they got on your site. They were far from excellent. On a scale of 1 to 10, there were a zero.
BookYogaRetreats publications are always approved by the organizer of the event, all the information described as well as all the pictures of the listing have been previously approved by the organizer of the event.
Renuatum's retreat was excellent. Carlisle, Bali and Sarah are highly qualified, professional and friendly and the other guests made for a wonderful experience. The accommodations and facilities were first rate and the food was exceptional. I will be returning for another retreat soon.
I had an amazing time and I am really looking forward to working with you and seeing you and the crew again. I became so in tune with where energy was flowing in my body during practice with Carlie and Sarra I cant wait to practice like that again.
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