Hello and welcome to BucketListRetreats.com. I’m Kelly Merly, hopefully, your new friend in travel. My love of travel started at an early age as my family vacationed all across the west before we moved to Alaska and experienced the grandeur it had to offer. Once grown and feeling a bit confined, my husband and I moved our small family to Arizona in 1986, camping the entire 4000 mile trip down the Alcan Highway, through Canada, then we went a bit off course to see Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, and Mount Rushmore on a slow eight week trip to Arizona.
While I still would rather be traveling down any back road in America than doing most anything else, international travel is what I longed to do, I just needed to figure out a way to do it. The funny thing was that I didn’t even know I was figuring it out when my book club wanted to travel to some of the places we had read about. What I (we) found was that together our dollars went a lot further and we could travel in a sort of luxury we hadn’t done by ourselves due to cost.
One of our favorite trips was to Savannah, Georgia after reading “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”. Our rented three story Victorian Townhouse in Downtown Savannah was right near all of the sights we had planned to see. We toured the City by foot and by trolleys, ate the Pralines and cheered the ships as they past by us on River Street. If you’ve read the book you can imagine our excitement to see that Lady Chablis was still performing. A show we won’t soon forget. A truly transformational trip as we experienced new people and places together. Other trips with book club have included Santa Fe, San Francisco and this year we plan on going to Seattle.
These trips lead me to venture out on my own and attend a writer’s retreat in Taos, New Mexico in 2008. I took off by myself from Overgaard and thoroughly enjoyed the long ride there. The retreat was at the beautiful Mabel Dodge Luhan House which lent itself perfectly with its historical relevance of housing authors and artists. Not only did I have a week to write, someone was cooking fabulous meals for me that I never would have cooked myself and they were healthy! With the daily yoga and meditation, walks with newfound friends in the mountains and writing workshops with experts in the field, the week flew by. I came home feeling wonderfully healthy, revived and had actually accomplished a lot of writing. How often does that happen on vacation?
Since then, numerous girls trips and family trips later I finally organized my first retreat in Tulum, Mexico. Tulum is approximately two hours South of Cancun and while Cancun is known as the place to party, Tulum is quite the opposite and works hard to stay Eco-Friendly and keep its bohemian atmosphere. I contracted with a heavenly boutique type retreat center that is literally right on the beach. Nine women accompanied me and our troubles melted away once we were welcomed into their gates where we took off our shoes to put our toes in the cool white sand. We wouldn’t be needing them for the next week.
The week was filled with never-ending gourmet health food that drew applause each night as the Chefs left the kitchen. Nighttime beach walks led us to see a 300 pound Sea Turtle come to shore and lay her eggs. We toured ancient Mayan Ruins, enjoying a Mayan Mud Bath and rinsed off by swimming in the sacred waters, snorkeling and shopping local fares as the merchants strolled by. My favorite thing was to wake at dawn, step out of my bungalow, sit on the beach and watch the sunrise. Basking in the light and the breeze alone in my own world, or so I thought, before I would look around and see my travel companions sitting next to me doing the same thing.
After this trip, I knew that creating transformational retreats was what I wanted to do. I dove headfirst into the career by taking a mastermind course and aligning myself with experts on retreating and a travel agency with over 30 years of organizing travel. They gave me the tools I needed added to my own business experience to launch.
My goal is give people the freedom, travel companions and tools to travel to places they’ve always long to go but for whatever reason couldn’t or haven’t.
Right now I am working on my own retreats to Machu Picchu and the South of France so if these places are on your Bucket List, contact me. I dream of an Aurora Borealis Tour in Greenland,
Sailing the Greek Isles and Rafting the Colorado, so look for those in the future. Or, if you have a group that would like to take on a life enriching retreat, contact me and I will help make it a reality by making the planning simple, and I can help fill the retreat as well.
Also, I would be honored if you followed along as we share our trips and our travel tips. You can find us at BucketListRetreasts.com as well as Facebook (facebook.com/bucketlistretreats) and Twitter (@BLRetreats).
Editor’s Note: Kelly Merly spends as much time as possible at her second home in Heber. She and spouse Walter own and operate Contractor Fire Protection and Backflow Services in Mesa. And, she travels more than anybody I know.