Imagine you just packed your bags for a week to embark on a journey (without family, routines, etc.) that will take you to one of the most unique and exquisite locations in the world, where you will engage in both mental and physical self-discovery allowing you to recharge and refocus. Welcome to Cufitra, a company that is redefining luxury retreats centering around healthy living, fitness, and adventure.

A passion for fitness, travel, and a desire to find her best self led Cufitra founder, Melanie Watterberg, on a personal exploration to create a retreat like no other. Through Melanie's own experiences with wellness and fitness retreats, it was clear to her there was an opportunity in the market to bring like-minded people together for a time of transformation by providing the best in class resorts, tranquil locations, renowned fitness instructors, and top chefs. She has traveled the world scouting locations and follows the leading trainers in the industry in order to set the Cufitra experience apart from the rest. Cufitra empowers its participants through choices, education, and the freedom to completely let go while on a retreat by handling all the details for their clients.

We talked with Melanie to learn more about the overall retreat experience and the upcoming retreat in Costa Rica this November. We are ready to start packing and trust you will want to as well!

Noteworthy: What inspired Cufitra? 

Melanie: I was trudging through a successful career in corporate America, running sales organizations for large insurance companies, and I began exploring my passions for fitness, cooking, and travel. I started to question my life’s purpose, I wondered if there wasn’t more to life than I was living. This quest led me to sign-up for wellness retreats, where I was blown away by the amazing community of women who attended. However, I was underwhelmed by the overall experience at many of the retreats. I sensed that while I could get a great workout or visit an exotic location, there were a 100 small details being ignored that could make for an unforgettable encounter. That’s when the lightbulb went on, and I knew that the expertise I had developed organizing large corporate events for demanding clientele was the missing component from the wellness retreat planning world. From there, I moved quickly to test the Cufitra concept within the wellness community in New York City, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. I happily walked away from the corporate world and began focusing solely on Cufitra in early 2016.

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Noteworthy: How would you describe the Cufitra experience. What sets it apart? 

Melanie: Cufitra retreats are both intimate and custom-tailored. My job is to think of every detail that will make for an experience like no other. Those little details are what we end up remembering for the rest of our lives. I want for my retreaters to unplug and unwind from the stresses of everyday life, build lifelong relationships with other like-minded people, and feel fit and healthy. They should leave feeling relaxed, revitalized, invigorated, and inspired to be their best self. There are many things that set us apart, I'll give you a few examples. First, I believe in partnering with top industry health and wellness experts, lifestyle and fitness coaches, top chefs, and luxury boutique properties. As a fellow travel and fitness junkie, these are the people I want to surround myself with, learn from, and share with others! Ultimately, they are the key to the 360 degree Cufitra experience. For example, on our November retreat, we are partnering with two incredible women in their own right, Jill Payne and Jaycee Gossett. Second, I really want my retreaters to be able to strip down and unplug from their work, significant others, children, and daily struggles so they can be present and focus inward. To do that, you need the peace of mind in knowing everything will be taken care of for you while traveling. On a Cufitra sponsored retreat, you can literally pack your bags, book your flight, and leave all the other details up to us (I love spreadsheets). Our retreats are all inclusive, from airport transportation in a foreign country, to the property stay, to the meals that will nourish your energy levels (I promise there will be plenty of food), to the wellness and fitness component, to spa treatments and excursions. No detail overlooked!

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Noteworthy: What does wellness mean to you?

Melanie: Sometimes the word wellness can be so broad! For me personally, wellness is a way of living and it is different for every person. My wellness journey has consisted of finally being in tune with my body and actually listening to it; when and what it likes to eat, how it likes to move, who it feels good being around, where it likes to go, what it likes to do, etc. I used to do the latest and greatest diets and workouts even if they left me hungry and uninspired. At 40, I gravitate towards what makes me feel good and brings me joy and inevitably, the rest just falls in line. My typical routine (meaning 80% of the time) is to wake-up and spend 10-20 minutes meditating/setting intentions, morning matcha, 60-90 minutes of movement (usually classes), a green juice or smoothie, work and meetings, a giant plant-based lunch, more work and meetings, afternoon matcha or kamboucha, and a very light dinner of veggies with the occasional tequila (usually with friends). I do believe in holistic medicine, acupuncture, and colonics.

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Noteworthy: Tell us about the upcoming Cost Rica retreat.

Melanie: The retreat is a week-long, all-inclusive experience at the fabulous Florblanca Hotel in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica (just written up in the NY Times) from November 11-17, 2016. Renowned fitness and lifestyle coaches Jaycee and Jill have teamed up to change the way you think and feel about fitness and your body. The theme "Bare Naked" is all about taking off your armor and feeling good in your own skin. These two do not tell you how to do it, they show you. They are truly living their own practices! To give you a feel for the trip, each day you can choose to wake yourself to meditation or beach walks. Jill and Jaycee will lead organized group classes twice a day, and will also be available for private sessions (included) that are transformative and not to be missed. Three delicious and healthy meals will be served, in addition to snacks, coconut water, and adult beverages (yes, that’s right). There is so much natural beauty in Santa Teresa that you will feel yourself naturally decompress. During your stay, you may indulge in rejuvenating body treatments at the stunning Spa Bambu. And when you are ready, you can stimulate your senses with surfing, hiking, horseback riding, or zip line excursions - just to name a few of the many adventurous activities available to you during your stay. For more information or to register go to cufitra.com.

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Noteworthy: Who are Cufitra’s perspective clients?

Melanie: Cufitra caters to a wide range of people but they are usually like-minded in a sense that they have a love of travel, a sense of adventure, are open minded, enjoy fitness/movement, have an interest in health and wellness, enjoy meeting new people, understand the importance of unplugging and restoring, and are interested in personal growth.

Melanie Watterberg

Melanie Watterberg is based in New York, New York. Through the launch of Cufitra, she is creating a multi-dimensional, luxury fitness travel experience by bringing together the most sought after fitness instructors to lead daily rituals, the finest chef’s to nourish the body’s needs, and exclusive destinations in luxurious locations. Cufitra creates intimate, custom-tailored retreats by thinking of every detail so that you can unwind from the stresses of everyday life and focus on creating the better you that drew you here to begin with. In the end, you are assured to leave feeling relaxed, revitalized, invigorated, and inspired to be your best self. For more visit, cufitra.com and follow @cufitra on Instagram. 

Featured images/headshots by Graciela Cattarossi Photography. Other images from cufitra.com.