Purposeful travel is undergoing a boom. People of all ages are increasingly interested in removing themselves from their daily routines and experiencing a living space separated from the world where they can engage in searching, learning, cleansing, and reflection. These purposeful travelers want to go beyond a mere vacation. They wish to come back to their lives having become someone different, wiser, healthier, more conscious.
Entrepreneurs in Baja California Sur are swiftly capitalizing on this effervescence. Just type in “retreat center” on Google Maps, zoom into the southern tip of the peninsula, and a number of places pop up that just a few years or even months ago were not there. A hot spot is the 50-mile stretch of Pacific Ocean coast that goes from Cabo San Lucas to Todos Santos. Places like Topia, a venue for wellness retreats, or the Modern Elder Academy, which helps people in mid-life to navigate the transitions that characterize that phase of existence, draw visitors from around the world.
Closer to Cabo San Lucas and its world-class services like hospitals and airports, just a few steps away from a pristine beach, sits one of the region’s pioneers in the field of purposeful travel. On the market and listed by Los Cabos Sotheby’s International Realty, Prana del Mar is a 16-room, off-the-grid, eco-friendly luxury center that has been hosting weekly yoga and mindfulness retreats since 2009. Intrigued by Prana del Mar’s value offering in the context of the burgeoning purposeful travel industry, we caught up with founder Erik Singer to discuss a range of fascinating topics. Read on and learn why Prana del Mar is an incomparable investment opportunity.
From the ocean back, Prana del Mar's two accomodation buildings, its community center, and the main activities room.
Q. What is the difference between a retreat and a vacation?
A. It’s a difference having to do with purpose. When you go on vacation, you have a good time, you relax, and remove yourself from daily stressors and hassles. But very little changes when you come back. Usually, you get right back into your life, your family, your work, your obligations, your responsibilities. Oftentimes there's not much of an inner change or a transformation. But when you go on a retreat with a purpose, particularly something that has a spiritual component to it like yoga, meditation, alternative plants, or mindfulness, the possibility of an unraveling of the layers of your everyday personality presents itself. If the proper guidance and mindset are there, people on retreats often have a deeper experience. During the retreat, things begin to perk up in the participants’ consciousness about what they value most, whether it is relationships, whether it is something that they want to do in their life, career-wise, for instance.
Q. What are people that go on a retreat looking for?
A. Many of them are undergoing a transition in their lives. Maybe they're at a roadblock in their career. They're not really sure how they want to go forward. Maybe they're having challenges in some of their relationships and they want some clarification on what those may be. Perhaps they have just experienced the death of a loved one. There are also corporate retreats, where co-workers or members of leadership teams take a break and spend a few days discerning their shared vision. What all of them have in common is that they really want to take the chance of stepping out of everyday experience in order to pause and search for meaning.
The retreat center's 16 rooms are distributed in two luxurious buildings with the Sierra de la Laguna as their backdrop. Image credit Prana del Mar.
Q. Most of the retreats at Prana del Mar originate in the wellness, health, and yoga industries. What is the current state of these sectors?
A. On the one hand, the health, wellness, and fitness industry has seen tremendous growth in recent years. According to the Global Wellness Institute, this sector is projected to reach US$7 trillion by 2025. Segments within this market include wellness, fitness and mind-body tourism, complementary and alternative medicine, the spa industry, and healthy eating, nutrition and weight loss. The industry overall is experiencing consistent and substantial growth, more than twice as fast as all tourism expenditures. Moreover, wellness real estate was a US$225 billion market in 2019, and it saw explosive growth during the pandemic, reaching US$275 billion in 2020. It was the fastest growing sector within the health, wellness, and fitness economy in 2020.
With respect particularly to the yoga and mindfulness industry, the market has expanded at a breathtaking pace. A study by Ipsos Public Affairs reports that spending on yoga in the United States alone was US$16.8 billion in 2016, an increase of 57 percent since 2012. During that same period, the number of yoga practitioners increased by 28 percent to over 36 million and 62 percent of those practitioners expressed interest in attending a yoga retreat. You can't watch TV for an hour without there being somebody in there doing a yoga pose or doing mindful breathing of some sort or another. It's really seeped its way into the culture. Even in the strictly corporate world, it’s common to see chapters in books about mindfulness and meditation for greater efficiency. This growth is very relevant to Prana del Mar’s business model and bodes well for future prospects and expansion opportunities. Prana del Mar is perfectly positioned to capitalize on this lucrative and growing niche.
Q. How is the retreat industry in Baja Sur performing within the context of this growth?
A. There's a natural draw, particularly in the Pacific coastline from Todos Santos to Migriño, where Prana del Mar is located, for people with a more spiritual bent, people that are perhaps less interested in some of the glitz and glamor of Cabo itself, that want something a little simpler, a little more tranquil, a little more peaceful. Todos Santos and Pescadero are experiencing strong growth. The East Cape areas near La Paz, too, but these regions are still somewhat difficult to reach, which has its drawbacks in terms of accessing services like hospitals in case of an emergency. Prana del Mar is located strategically between Cabo and Todos Santos.
The region’s spectacular beauty, the amazing climate, the fact that we have sun so much of the year, the breathtaking vistas, and the beautiful beaches are magnets for people that will be coming from afar to spend just a week or two weeks here. Baja Sur is just ideal for retreats. When I was planning Prana del Mar, there really wasn't much there in terms of retreat centers. We were one of the pioneers. Fast forward to today and the situation is dramatically different. You see a lot of retreat centers now, and even just people using large villas and Airbnbs and creating their own smaller retreats with a handful of participants. The local retreat scene has expanded and grown. There are for instance, retreat centers that welcome people coming in for the day, from the local communities, that have shorter time spans, where people can just come in for a couple of nights and do a very short retreat. Others just rent their rooms out for vacations when they don't have retreats in session. This is a dynamic niche in Baja Sur, catering to a large, still-to-be-fully-tapped market, offering strong rewards to savvy investors.
Prana del Mar's spacious main activities room.
Q. What does Prana del Mar provide to purposeful travelers in search of a retreat?
A. The concept behind Prana del Mar was simply to set the table for extraordinary retreat experiences. It is important to note that in the midst of the sector’s growth, there are certain standards that are needed for a retreat center. You want something that's a little bit removed from the hustle and bustle of a city so there is a benefit to stepping away, to having some seclusion and privacy, to being surrounded by tranquility in the sights and sounds of nature. You want your facilities to produce a space that feels very secure, safe, and comforting.
Our guests often make shopping trips to Todos Santos, or they go whale-watching, or sea kayaking on the Sea of Cortez. We do have excursions and people can get out and explore Baja and see some of its beauty. But our facilities at Prana del Mar are superb and a number of our guests simply remain within them relaxing and contemplating. Because I knew that my clientele would be coming from affluent communities in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Mexico, my intention behind Prana del Mar was to create a place that was comfortable for them. I've been on vacation sometimes where the bugs are biting me or there's creatures that get into my room. These are superficial annoyances, but they are annoyances all the same, and so the extent to which you can reduce those and create a sense of comfort allows a calmer starting place for the retreat participants. There are a whole range of opportunities in terms of retreat centers, from very, very rustic to eco-chic to high-end luxury. In the Baja Sur region there probably aren't that many that have travertine tile floors, teak wood, furnishings brought from Indonesia, and granite countertops like we do. This sets Prana del Mar apart from other places. I also knew that hurricanes and tropical storms come through Baja, so I needed to build something strong that would hold up to those things. Prana del Mar’s facilities are top-of-the-line and can be easily used as any type of retreat center, but also repurposed as a boutique hotel, for example, a rehabilitation center or a health center.
The community center, which houses a pool, a library, lounging areas, a kitchen, and dining spaces. Image credit Prana del Mar.
Q. Can you tell us more about Prana del Mar’s architecture and the element of luxury that it incorporates?
A. There is a minimalism to Prana del Mar's aesthetic. The furniture was custom-designed, built in Indonesia, and brought to Mexico. I also went shopping in Tlaquepaque on the Mexican mainland to bring in both an Eastern flavor and also a Mexican flavor. Our buildings fit in well with the architecture of Mexico, but also there are hints and flavors of Indonesia. I wanted to marry those two cultural aspects and imbue them with a sense of minimalism. So the design and the aesthetic help clear and focus the mind, but comfort is not sacrificed. It is a place where my mom can come down and feel comfortable.
Q. Mexico’s hospitality industry is known for warm and excellent service. What is the benefit of Prana del Mar being located in this country?
A. I wanted to incorporate the immense open-heartedness of the Mexican people and their immense sense of hospitality and their warmth. Part of the luxury that characterizes Prana del Mar comes from the interaction between our staff and our guests, so that they really felt that they were being welcomed into our family, into a home environment where they are comfortable, where they feel their needs are really being attended to. I feel very fortunate in that regard. We've found staff who are just tremendous people, who are dedicated to our mission, who understand why our guests are there, who go out of their way to make them feel comfortable and welcome in their home country of Mexico. The physical aspects of Prana del Mar are important. It is intelligently-designed, comfortable, and sturdy. But the way you're welcomed, the way you're taken care of, the way you're looked out for, the way our staff hopefully anticipates your needs and can attend to those needs so that you are freed up to let all of those other things go and can focus on the retreat. This is an asset that anyone looking at setting up a retreat center, a boutique hotel, or a rehabilitation center of any kind in Baja Sur should not underestimate.
For more information about Prana del Mar, please contact real estate professionals Marco Ehrenberg or Brandon Duquette today.
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