Hello, Bonjour, Hola, HI! I’m Chris, the Founder of LATravel Group. I’ve been doing this travel thing for just about twenty years now, and it’s nothing short of 110% awesome! Believe it or not, this whole monster was resurrected in 2001 while taking large student groups to party in Mexico for Spring Break, and now twenty years later BAM, we have become a whole team who take groups of all shapes, sizes and color all over the planet! To name a few -> destination weddings, cooperate conference & leisure, luxury travel and even the odd health and wellness retreat ;).
I’m not gonna lie to ya, this is my first official blog ever – I was told to write this in the same way I speak, so with that said anyone who knows me will understand. As for the rest of you reading this right now just go with it and if you want to learn how things work at our Health and Wellness Retreat, just come next year and find out!
As a tribute to my first ever travel blog…this one goes out to the Magical Unicorn (Lead Instructor Sharon Delbridge), her Dream Team of Instructors (Cris, Josh, Heather & Jennifer) and let’s not forget her band of Merry Ladies who join year after year at this incredible event. I have been hosting this group, which has come to be known as the annual “LAT Health & Wellness Retreat”, for nine years now. All was conceived over a coffee 10 years ago with Sharon and here we are today! The group is comprised of mostly ladies 50+ with some husbands and children who tag along from time to time and its seven days of daily fitness classes – Zumba, Yoga, Barre, Spin, Tai Chi and pretty much anything you can think of when you think awesome workouts. For those who feel like taking a break and would rather sit on the beach with a book (or a cocktail) that is totally ok as well. In the evenings the ladies dine together and then to the lobby bar or the beach party and take over the dance floor. As a matter of fact, to this day if you are ever in the Moon Palace, check out the promo video on channel 2 when you get to your room – You will see the Magical Unicorn and her ladies dancing the night away at the beach party. Every once in a while, we go out on an excursion together (whoever wants to go) – to the ruins, shopping on 5th Ave in Playa Del Carmen and have even done a night front and center at Coco Bongos. Some come with friends and some come alone as ultimately no one gets left behind and everyone is always included if they choose to be. We have an onsite paramedic – who moonlights throughout the year as a Lieutenant in the fire department just in case anything was to happen. His name is Lieutenant Jay if you were wondering and he looks a bit like Richard Gere according to him … and the ladies.
The way I can best describe it – imagine taking your mom x60 down to Mexico to workout, dance, and do tequila shot for a whole week. Definitely a good time and something that anyone would write home about, but at the same time its also full of its own set of challenges from my side of the table. Ha! The first year we ever tried this, 60+ ladies showed up ready to go – some of them never being in Mexico ever. Couple that to a mix of bad press saying Mexico is unsafe and what you get is a lot of anxiety at a level I had never seen before. Wowzers! I am used to just one mom freaking out about everything and anything but not 60. Lucky for me, over the years through experience in my career, I have developed a particular set of skills that have proven to work out well with this group specifically. Now, I am not saying this to insult anyone as I love the challenge of turning people’s minds around to understand that things are never as bad as they seem. I feel this generally is just learning how to shift your thinking and making the best out of any situation. Fast forward 10 years later and we have a group that I would give nothing less than an A++ rating! These ladies come down now like seasoned veterans, acting like Rockstars and know they are supposed to be there! As a matter of fact, undenounced to them they are called the Zumba ladies all up and down the Mayan Riviera. Issues that in the past were potentially the end of the world now look like this Delayed flight, who cares it happens and we will get there eventually. Bad weather – no problem let’s dance in the rain or find a dry area under a tree. Only one king bed in a double room, all good, flip for the couch until Chris can fix things. This is the way we have grown together and learned that the little things really aren’t that bad and are usually fixable.
I would say for the most part this is not only an event for fun and exercise but also time to learn and heal. Now this is where the Magical Unicorn comes in – I told Sharon once that she should apply for one of the Mahatma Gandhi, Dalai Lama or Nelson Mandela jobs because she somehow knows how to cast positive lightning bolts down from the sky and change people for the better. Sounds nuts right but just zip it and keep reading Again, with nothing but respect, some of these ladies came down broken. Whether it be a divorce, a husband who passed away or whatever tragedy hit life at one point or another, but one week with the Unicorn and BAM life becomes better and all of the sudden can live with a smile again. This is NO JOKE. I have watched it happen from year to year as these women get better and better. Kind of like aging like fine wine. Does that make sense? Can you see where I am going with this? You wouldn’t believe it unless you’ve have seen it with your own eyes…or you can just trust what I say and believe me that this S@%T is REAL ladies and gentlemen! Many have met other people they have connected with for one reason or another and have built exceptional relationships outside of Mexico. The Unicorn even threw me a 40th birthday party and 50 ladies showed up…with gifts. WTF right?
Although years past have been awesome in their own right, this year’s Health & Wellness 2020 was, I feel, the best ever! Yes, we missed a few of the key players and they know we missed them, but it felt like the message that has been cast down from the Unicorn the last nine years has sunk in almost 100% (I say ‘almost’ because nothing or no one is perfect). Everyone showed up with a smile on their face with a certain type of glow almost as though they had been practicing since Jan 2019 when the 8th annual retreat ended. I really don’t have any other way to describe it. I’m working my way out of a job because when things happen now – the ladies jump at the chance to fix things among themselves as opposed to in the past would first freak out on whomever was listening and then look for me. It is really kinda cool if you ask me.
I honestly cannot wait to see what next year is going to bring as its their 10th Anniversary and oh boy do we have a few surprises. If you are on the fence and potentially thinking about it … I say DO IT! The correct term to use here is YOLO … and if you don’t know what that means then you need to ask Google because I cannot help you with this one.
Ladies from the trip that are reading this – You are freakin’ fantastic! I am amazed by you all and every year it gets better – I got you.
Back to your lives for now. Remember, don’t sweat the small stuff and come back next year even better!
Last thing and most of you probably won’t care, but I am sitting here typing right now listening to Dura by Daddy Yankee Zumbaing in my chair, smiling ear to ear, all warm n fuzzy inside!!
Please visit our 10th Anniversary LAT Health & Wellness Retreat page for more information and reserve your seat today!
Chris Lucas is an IATA/TICO Certified Travel Guy as well as owner of LATravel Group INC. He lives & works part time in Canada and the other part is spent gallivanting around the planet. Chris has been in the travel business for years, specializing in group travel and good times! For more information please contact Chris at (204) 988-8441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris …… I am in awe of you! You are an inspiration! One day we should vacation together! Great job Cuz!