Our Debut Retreat in Carmel, California
What began as an idea over coffee in San Francisco nearly one year ago became our first ever Gather + Getaway retreat! Together over four days and three nights, we explored the charming town of Carmel-by-the-Sea and its stunning surrounding California coastline. Women journeyed from all across the country (and even internationally!) to join us for an in-depth look at the craft and business of blogging, writing, and photography.
We welcomed the group in boutique luxury to Hotel Carmel, our favorite place to stay in the area. From breakfast at the bagel bar (with homemade cream cheese!) and a lobby that feels like a living room — to fireside happy hour with local wines and long soaks in the hot tub, we couldn’t have asked for a more inspiring and nourishing home base.
What followed was a combination of classroom and in-field learning, plus new friendships, fresh outlooks, and a whole lot of real talk (+laughs!)
The women also received surprise personalized gift bags upon check-in! Thanks to our partners at Aloha Collection, Saje Natural Wellness, Ursa Major, EiR NYC, and Rothy’s for treating each of our attendees to some of our very favorite products.
We celebrated our first evening with an opening night party at Brophy’s Tavern, an elegant pub located next door to Hotel Carmel that serves some of the best fish and chips outside of England. Their commitment to using local products (hello, fresh halibut and Monterey calamari) and the passion put into the food and drink makes this not only a fun spot but quite a tasty one as well!
Each morning we gathered in the Hotel Carmel meeting space for presentations. The main part of our curriculum is split into two full sessions — the first on craft, including deep dives in personal branding, honing your skills as a writer and photographer, and learning how to strategize for social media success. The second day brings a focus on building a sustainable business — what it takes to grow and maintain a successful blog, all the paths to monetization, how to pitch more and pitch better, working with brand partners, and more.
Throughout the classes we led exercises to help the women tap into their inner motivation and ideas, with the purpose of being intentional in everything we create and in doing business with integrity.
From there we enjoyed a lovely afternoon with Visit Carmel on the patio at Village Corner, where the women got to ask questions of a destination brand and public relations expert about how they work with writers and influencers.
The women then set out to explore the many passageways and storybook houses of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Assisted by the guide we had written with all of our favorite spots to experience and photograph, it was a bit of free time to let collaboration and creativity flow.
In what is perhaps one of the most beautiful places on Earth, we took our time watching the light change and snapping away at Bixby Bridge in Big Sur after a short drive south.
“There is something luxurious about taking the time to both truly savor and capture the moment as we did here.”
Instead of rushing (as we all tend to do in this life!) we all stood in awe of the natural beauty and took deep breaths of the ocean air. We looked for multiple ways to see the same space, whether that meant changing our angle or seeing the coast both behind a lens and with our own two eyes.
That evening we enjoyed flatbread pizzas and fresh salads (+ the best chocolate mousse ever) with a private table at the elegant La Bicyclette, which is consistently one of our top culinary experiences in Carmel.
After another morning in the classroom, we headed out for a private luncheon and wine tasting at the incredible Folktale Winery. They welcomed us into what is not only one of the most beautiful spaces in the Carmel Valley but, well, anywhere!
From the first sip of sparkling rosé to the last bite of one of the dishes on their delicious lunch menu, we immersed ourselves in the food and wine of the region as we continued our heartfelt conversations at the table.
From there we went for a ‘golden hour hike’ (the best kind) on the coast at the stunning Point Lobos State Park and nature reserve. The chance to see not only some of California’s most beautiful scenery but also encounter its native wildlife (we saw sea otters, seals, birds, and even whales!) was an unforgettable experience as a group.
We were welcomed with open arms (and a mezcal cocktail or two) for our closing night dinner at Cultura comida y bebida. Cultura brings the wonderful flavor and heart of Oaxaca, Mexico to the table in Carmel.
The evening began with an adventurous start — as each of us had to decide whether we’d be dining on the chapulines, a traditional snack of toasted and seasoned grasshoppers! Plate after plate of deliciousness hit the table, and it’s hard to imagine a more lively and lovely place to have dinner + drinks.
The final morning began with a trip to the white sands of Carmel Beach, a short walk from our hotel. Although we saw some light rain and high surf, we all had the chance to walk beside the ocean, take in the moment, and do some guided reflections on the themes and lessons from the weekend.
As each of us looked back at where we began the retreat, why we choose to blog and create, and where we’d like to go next, our original intention for Gather + Getaway came right to mind:
We believe there is strength in community and that the journey is best when shared. We seek to share the best of a destination -- going beyond the surface, connecting with a place, and sharing intentionally and from an inspired place.
We couldn’t have asked for a better group to share this beautiful weekend with. The retreat and its theme of empowering female creatives to live more fully and genuinely on and offline came to life only because of the women who said a wholehearted ‘yes’ to attending.
The two of us set out to truly open up our creative lives and business knowledge, our collective wins and struggles…in order to foster that true sense of purpose, and community, that keeps us all going.
By the end of the four days, we all felt the magic of supporting others, the importance of defining your own path to success, and especially, the value of coming together ‘in real life.’ We look forward to seeing where each of them grows and goes from here.
Until next time…