Fourteen years of working in the wellness industry gave Dubai-based Stacey Elizabeth Sharp, a STOTT-qualified Pilates teacher and nutritionist, a leg up in founding Retreatmi.com.
The new wellness platform helps users source getaways which specialize in innovation, inclusion and productivity.
Bringing together unique locations from The Philippines to the Czech Republic to South Africa, retreatmi.com allows you to customize your holiday with as many services as your need or desire. Retreatmi.com offers to do the hard work in finding out the best place to go.
“There are plenty of options out there,” says Sharp. “The problem is finding them for what and when you need in the most efficient way.”
The website comes at a time when wellness tourism is growing in popularity as never before. What in 2017 was a US$639 billion market is expected to reach $919 billion in 2022, according to the most recent GWI Global Wellness Tourism Economy report.
Sharp decided to build a business that focuses on helping people get out of cookie cutter or “one-size-fits-all” wellness holidays when she couldn’t find the the right retreat for herself.
“I’m quite particular about the trainers I train with and find this a real challenge when looking for a retreat,” she notes.
As a result, retreatmi.com offers a raft of specific criteria including options for those managing disorders.
“It can be anything from someone suffering with depression to multiple sclerosis. where specialists will need to be involved,” Sharp explains.
This comes through a user-friendly function called Retreat Builder, which allows users to customize a search.
“We even cater to intolerances,” says Sharp. “Many people have allergies, like nut or gluten or gastric diseases such as Crohn’s Disease. A guest will want an assurance that the chef has knowledge of their disorder and can cater to that.”
The possible destinations on retreatmi.com range from five days hiking and meditation in the Czech Republic to paddle board, yoga and surf retreats in Sri Lanka, and they cost anywhere between US$359 to $1090.
Sharp’s extensive industry know-how and contacts have contributed to retreatmi.com’s wide range of options.
“I have been doing a lot of research over the period of the last year to connect and build up relationships with retreat hosts, wellness providers and services,” she says. “Thankfully with me working in the wellness industry for over 14 years I already have many contacts.”
Unless stated by the host of the retreat, the packages exclude flight, visa and related costs. The platform is not limited to the UAE and GCC area but is open to global users. Although the platform hosts mostly international listings, the UAE is increasingly becoming associated with wellness.
“The UAE is really pushing to become a wellness hub and is very well positioned to do so,” says Sharp. “Getting people to visit the UAE and wider GCC and enjoy the great wellness holiday options we have is a key objective for us as there is plenty to do very close to home.”
Due to the 24/7 demands of 21st century life, the need to take time out has never been more necessary. So far, the platform has attracted a lot of interest from millennials, “including males, which is quite an exciting shift,” says Sharp.
With an assortment of alternative activities (think wildness survival, or trips you can take your dog on), retreatmi.com is seeing traffic from every demographic.
Georgie Bradley is a British/Greek editor and journalist based in Dubai after being bred in Bahrain. She's been published by The Guardian UK, The Telegraph UK, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post UK, Buro 24/7 and Harper's Bazaar Arabia. Most recently she was the deputy editor of Emirates Woman. You're most likely to find her in the aisle seat.