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Surf/Yoga Retreat in San Sebastian, Donosti Chill

We all sometimes need a pause from our daily lives—going on a surf/yoga retreat in Spain seems like a good way to do it. The photographer, surfer & yoga teacher, Ale Romo, decided to open her own retreat last year in San Sebastian and since then, have been making us daydream of this place!

How do you open up your own retreat? What do you need to know? Is it easy? Or on the contrary, extremely hard?

To have a bit more insight, we’ve asked Ale to share with us her experience about it all. The goods and the bads. The journey. The dream.

That’s what she wrote.  

When I came up with the idea of having a house to have yoga retreats in San Sebastian, I was in a situation of so much change, coming and going in travels exploring the world photographing and surfing.

Even though I love the nomad life, I noticed that not having a place to go back to was affecting me very much.

The fact of leaving behind everything, every time I wanted to leave, has begun to burden very much in my energy levels. Every winter for a couple of years, I left for five months leaving everything behind, but I was always coming back to San Sebastian. Even if I lived in Barcelona for a long time and still have tons of friends living there, Barcelona wasn’t feeling like home anymore. It was a typical city. Everybody living the “9 to 5” kind of life, rushing everywhere and no waves!

I began to do yoga retreats when abroad, and I was enjoying myself very much connecting with people, increasing my practice and surfing two times per day. It was in 2014 when I came back from Nicaragua that I understood I needed a HQ. Keep travelling and moving, but a headquarters to go back and feel at home again.

By luck I’ve got my old apartment back and thanks to a friend, I started to do Airbnb in my place. People loved my place, my advices and watching me do yoga every day—some of them even asked me about lessons in the city or to give a lesson myself. I am not a certified yoga teacher (yet), but I enjoyed the experience of teaching a classic class to anyone and guests loved it.

From that year, I decided to look for a house to establish a proper yoga retreat as there was not much of a yoga culture in the city. It sounded like the perfect plan! Working eight months in San Sebastian and then, just going away for the rest of the year! Perfect combination of sedentary and adventure.

I spent two years searching for a place. I didn’t realize how difficult it could be!

At first, I wanted to buy a place. Too difficult! I wasn’t receiving any loan if I didn’t have around €150k saved to invest in the project. Who the hell in Spain (one of the countries leading the European economic crisis) could have saved €150k in their 30s with a media salary of €1200 per month… Exactly!

After this, I decided to search for a place to rent (even more difficult due to the reason I needed it for), and I spent almost every day looking, calling, visiting places and meeting with horrible real estate agents.

When we started to doubt during this long quest, wondering if I will ever find a place someday, we decided to organize our first retreat in Bali. Two months before leaving, I decided to stop looking and focus on my trip. I also made a promise to myself to keep looking when I’ll be back. Until when? Until it felt right to do so.

Just when I decided to go with the flow, 15 days before leaving to Bali, a real estate agent of a superb apartment near the beach called me saying I was next on the list to see the apartment.

I still remember the ad of this apartment—it was online for only 2 hours. Tons of people called (as usual in San Sebastian), and things here are always “first come, first served.” By the time I called, they already gave it away to somebody else. The real estate, still on the phone, asked: Do you want me to put you next on the list? Just in case something happens? Sure, why not!

Things didn’t work out with the first person, so they called me back! I knew I was taking the flat before even visiting, so I made my offer to the owner, explained my plans for the place, etc. Four days before leaving, the owner calls me and tells me that I can rent the place if I wanted. I spent three days in errands to make it happen and the day I was flying to Bali, I signed the contract and gave away all my savings in deposits. Shit!

From there, I’ve been working so much on my new yoga house! It’s almost a year I opened it and even though it’s being much harder than I first thought, it is worth every moment spent on a project that is mine, and mine only. I don’t know for how long I’m going to do it, or if I will get bored with it. I’ll just do it until it feels right.

For the moment, we have a lot of travellers staying with us because they find great to have an accommodation with yoga in a great location (just in front of Zurriola beach, and 10 minutes away from downtown and train & bus station), but my goal is to have the more yoga retreats I can (among other kinds of retreats) during the year and to offer a great experience that was, until now, non-existent in the city.

I’m also very interested in doing “work retreats,” offering a space where young entrepreneurs can work from their computers enjoying early morning surfs, yoga lessons and workshops and if they like, some vegan brunches prepared by me (I’ve been finding myself enjoying so much cooking healthy and simple food, that I began to do a few “yoga & brunch” events last year with the yoga teachers of my house).

I have so many plans for this place and I’m so excited for the future of the house! I want to invite you all to visit me if you plan to come to San Sebastian, or if you’re looking for a great place to do a little retreat.

The house has places to sleep 12 persons comfortably divided in 4 double rooms, 1 triple and 1 single room. We have 2.5 bathrooms, a big living room/yoga space and big kitchen.

Connect with Ale Romo

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