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Women of Color Healing Retreats

In Good Conscience: Why I Left the Women of Color Healing Retreats in Costa Rica

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Last year, I experienced a period of exhaustion, triggered by traumas from my past. It took a toll on me and left me in a state of seeming depression: bouts of crying and physical and mental fatigue. With the multiple projects and social responsibilities on my plate, I was overwhelmed. After a meltdown, I realized that what I was suffering from wasn’t depression but burn out, functioning on empty. I was in crisis mode and needed relaxation and extreme self care.

As I approached my fortieth birthday, I resolved and committed to entering the next decade of my life intentional about how to treat myself well: my body, my mental health, and, in general, overall my well-being.

Costa Rica is a gorgeous country. The natural landscape of the property where we were placed was gorgeous and scenic. The accommodations were two star at best and not comparable to the price we paid.

The Women of Color Healing Retreats (WOCHR) in Costa Rica seemed promising, on recommendation from a close friend. The website had me thinking that it would be an experience that,  I have been seeking, needing. The website promoted a healing retreat created specifically for Black women, that included workshops, rituals at the river and ocean, yoga, and vegan meals for eleven days. I immediately reserved my spot and paid the $3,333 without hesitation.

I was ready. Then, things took a slightly different turn.

Prior to leaving for WOCHR, I received hyper-aggressive emails from founder and  self-identified healer and yogi, Satya X. The emails were meant to be informational. However, on multiple occasions, attendees were threatened with losing all of their money if they did not comply with responses in a timely manner, send back forms that were sent the week of/at the last minute or whatever else she instructed us. This, among many impressions, suggested that she was hosting a retreat in our (the attendees) favor by accepting our money. 

Despite the off-putting nature of the electronic communication, I was determined to open myself up to the experience in hopes that I would benefit from the promises of renewed energy and well-being. The website advertised an assortment of workshops including: Inner Journey, Self-Care I and II, Exploring Colorism, Tap Into the Ancient Power of Crystals, Mindfulness Medicine, Race, Gender & Politics, Exploring Meditation Modalities, Herbalism, a Medicinal Plant Walk, and a Sankofa Workshop. All worth my $3333.

However, of all that was promised, we only received two workshops – one on colorism and another on self-care. Personally, I felt like the conversations were sophomoric and to be honest, did not leave my cohort with any new skills or strategies to improve our lives when we returned home. Additionally, a self-care retreat for Black women is no my place in my opinion, to have a colorism workshop. That topic is oftentimes triggering for many of us, no matter where we lie on the hue spectrum. 

It became clear that the rest of this experience was going to become even more problematic when Satya told me that therapy was a part of white supremacy and that Black people needed to learn how to heal themselves without any outside help.

Lack of or under-programming aside, the accommodations were in stark contrast to what you would imagine a self-care retreat atmosphere should be. Environment is everything. While the landscape itself was gorgeous, we were in the interior of Costa Rica. If you’re a traveler, you know this meant that the property was occupied with every kind of living creature native to a rainforest imaginable, leaving some of us afraid to use the restrooms at night. Eleven women were split between two cabins where we shared a shower, sink, and toilet per cabin. The beds were hard and caused our backs to ache especially for the elders who were among us. Making matters worse: the massage or reiki that was promised on the website, was rescinded upon arrival. We were told that it was “canceled,” and that if we wanted the massage services we would have to pay an additional $55 to hire an outside practitioner. 

Reminder, each of us had to pay $3,333.

One of the cabins that I shared with four other women.

The meals were sparse. One night I asked for a pinch of salt to season my chickpeas. Satya stood up and replied, “Salt is killing Black people.” Despite the hyperbolic nature of  her statement, I was given a lime wedge to improve the taste, and went to sleep hungry. We were offered three meals a day, water, sometimes coconut water and unsweetened tea. We were told that if we desired snacks such as small mugs of smoothies or fried plantains, we would have to purchase it. Our $3333, as we found, did not come with comfort or sated appetites.

It was on this evening, Day 5, that two of the eleven women in our cohort decided to leave the retreat.

As I am an adamant supporter of Black enterprises, I tried to remain optimistic and show my support. By Day 6, I had all that I could take. My objective for being there was thwarted by the lack of organization and transparency of the entire setup. The morning of my last day at the retreat, I sat outside of my cabin trying to weigh the pros and cons of staying versus going. I decided to prioritize my comfort and peace of mind, and the only way that could happen was to leave. Two other women left with me.

Upon leaving WOCHR, I shared with my community on social media that I decided to leave the retreat and reclaim my time.

In response to that post, more than a dozen women relayed to me similar (or worse) experiences they or their friends had at WOCHR. 

I knew that the “retreat” was meant to help improve something in the lives of each woman who ventured there but was potentially creating more harm—not to mention leaving us absent a hefty sum from our bank accounts. Two of the women were over sixty and their kids paid for them to come. Other women were healing from an assortment of traumas, PTSD and difficult situations. One of the women who left with me broke down and cried and told me that she felt worse than she did before coming to the retreat.

Creating and holding space for Black women to heal is not only sacred but it’s critical. While it was difficult to call out a Black-owned business, I feel even more responsible to the countless Black women who, in desperation, are seeking out spaces for healing. I could not, in good faith, encourage Black women or endorse vulnerable communities to go out of their way to participate in something that may cause even more harm, (re)opening wounds of old and new. WOCHR does not seem equipped to facilitate experiences of healing. 

It’s painstakingly clear that Black women are in need of inexpensive self-care practices that we can employ at home. We are also in need rejuvenating experiences that will take us away from our every day routines. Personally, I’ve been actively involved with GirlTrek, the largest health movement for Black women in the U.S. GirlTrek encourages women to walk 30 minutes a day. This Labor Day, they’ll be organizing its annual Stress Protest in the mountains of Colorado. I encourage you to join us.

What other wellness practices and experiences have you personally benefited from? We’d love to promote those to our readers.

While I definitely did not get my money’s worth, the trip wasn’t a complete bust. I’m open to finding a Black-owned/run yoga studio or class in my city.  As a happy carnivore, I’m open to trying vegan recipes (with proper seasoning) and a few of the Black-owned vegan eateries in Philadelphia.  The camaraderie that was created by those of us who attended, was priceless. Moving forward, we have vowed, to continue to hold one another accountable for finding our joy, and indulging in wellness, one tiny radical self-care act a time.

Fortunately, I found a great therapist earlier this year. I couldn’t wait to vent about the retreat upon my return home. The session turned out to be fantastic (like Celie and Nettie, him and I shall never part…Makidada). Unlike what is being promoted at WOCHR, I know that therapy is essential to Black women’s healing, and most especially my own.

Namaste, NahI’mmago

– Shantrelle P. Lewis, Co-Founder of ShoppeBlack, Duly initiated Lucimi Sango Priest and African-centered curator and social entrepreneur. (IG @apshantology)

When life throws you catfish, always make poboys! My linesister Maya-Camille and I were a little too overjoyed to leave.

FOOTNOTES

Accommodations: Prior to even going to the retreat, we were told that we were to stay in a hostel the night that we arrived and the night before we departed Costa Rica. I chose to reserve a room in a hotel instead. Additionally, the 11 women in attendance were split up between two cabins.The beds were very rudimentary and hurt each of our backs. Most especially the women who were elders in the group. As soon as you sat on them, you sunk down into the planks. There wasn’t any seating on the property such as hammocks or lounge chairs, anything that would allow you to recline, only hard wooden benches. Also, since the plumbing system was operated by a septic tank, we were not allowed to flush toilet paper in the toilet, we had to throw it in a trash can instead. Signs were posted in our cabins saying that in Costa Rica, you can’t flush toilet paper in the toilet because the system can handle it. That is a lie. That property couldn’t handle paper in the system. 

Maya-Camille, making the best of a situation that wasn’t ideal.

Vegan Meals: The meals were prepared by a chef based in Brooklyn with assistance from a Black Costa Rican woman who owns a restaurant and a couple other local women. For the most part the meals were surprisingly tasty, though sparse. Additionally, it would have wonderful to have been offered fruit and tropical or green juices along with our meals. Note: I would hire the chef for future events because some of the meals were tasty.

Ground Transportation: The week that we were scheduled to leave for the retreat, we were sent an invoice for $100 for ground transportation. We were told that if we did not send in the money within two days, we’d have to pay a late fee. This was an inconvenience for many people who had already budgeted their costs, and were not expecting to pay any additional fees. 

Location: We were taken out to the interior of Costa Rica, in a location that was 3 hours and 44 minutes away from the beach in Puerto Viejo. The website actively advertised that we would be staying at a beach front property, a major draw for the attendees.

Costs: $3333 retreat price not including flights (which was supposed to include a healing massage or reiki treatment), $100 ground transportation $32 for two nights stay at a hostel (more if you paid for a hotel, in our case $300), snacks. NOTE: Initially, attendees were instructed to pay our balance via Paypal. When our last payments were due, we were told that Paypal would no longer be accepted and we would only be allowed to pay via an international wire transfer, which was more expensive for attendees and which ultimately meant that our payments would no longer be protected. The retreat is now offered at $4444.

Communication: We were sent a form that included the retreat’s “codes of conduct” to sign four days prior to our retreat start date. Additionally, the fine print included restrictions against wearing any clothes with labels, including any from small labels (in my case Black-owned companies).  The Code of Conduct also included a gag order about negative commentary about the retreat. I found it odd that a healing and self-care retreat would need to request something like this four days in advance to arriving.

“The zero tolerance hate policy extends to negative postings on any form of public social networking, i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc. Should you post something before or after the retreat, affiliated with Women of Color Healing Retreats that the organizers feel does not align with the sisterhood and mission of Women of Color Healing Retreats, you will be asked to remove or edit the post.”

Karmic Yoga/Kitchen Duty: Almost forgot to mention, we had to wash dishes after our meals.

Yoga: I actually did enjoy the yoga classes. The instructor was kind, compassionate and very patient. Thanks to her classes, I’ll be trying out yoga with local Black instructors.

Featured Image: The morning I left the retreat. 

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124 Comments

  1. My gosh! I went to the black women’s yoga retreat with WOCR in May and your article completely echoes my exact feelings and experiences! Hopefully you were able to enjoy the rest of your trip and Costa Rica once you left!

    • Hi Aris! So sorry to hear that you had the same experience! That SUCKS. Hopefully this will help women make more informed decisions before falling into the same trap. The sad part is, this article doesn’t even describe EVERYTHING that went on. I was able to enjoy myself because that’s the kind of person I am. Take care! Thanks for sharing, Shantrelle.

      • Hi!!
        We are a travel agency in Costa Rica, we provide transportation services around all the country.
        I never hear about this retreat until today, a lady called me 30 minutes ago and explain me about this emails so agressives she received from the founder of this retreat and she thinks will loose all her money. In the website there is not a phone number or address where are they located. They don´t answer emails and no communication at all.
        Be carefull ladies!!
        Your Tica friend

      • Thank you so much for putting this article out there. Tonight I was in a desperate search for a plan to help myself. I goggled retreat for black women and first found the website for the Women of Color retreat itself. My sorority has held a Women of Color luncheon to honor Black women in the Phoenix Metropolitan area in the past so the name caught my attention immediately. I kept researching and I saw the article in Essence advertising this healing retreat. I’m in such dire straights I was plotting what to do so I can go on the next available retreat. This is such a needed experience for so many people. I’ve always wanted to go to Costa Rica too! You have just saved me from being scammed. I think I will stick with the Glow retreat in Tucson, Arizona in 2019 since I live here. Still costs a grip but I can come home to my own bed if it’s terrible. Seriously thank you for the heads-up. I hope you get your full refund.

  2. Thank you. Satiya X is not Her name. Her name is Andrea Smalls.
    She changed her name soon after we finished the retreat. We were part of the VERY first WOCHR she held. It was the same experience. However, there is no mention of us, EVER. She completely erased our experience digitally because of our clap back after returning home. She blocked MAJORITY of the women that were there on social media platforms. Many requested refunds through PayPal, and that is probably why they wasn’t fuckin with her towards the end.
    I hate the way I feel about this experience though. We NEEDED this. I had to hold a healing circle with the other women at the healing retreat…that is crazy! The very thing we were trying to escape and heal from showed up in her. She is a fraud. A wounded healer who doesn’t even want to heal for herself. Capitalistic and supreme, as if she is doing us favors. (Yes, that was our experience, too.)
    As the Retreat grew, I could never endorse it, I was honest with those who asked. I knew she hadn’t changed. I am sorry you, too, had to experience this in a such a way 2 years later. Thank you for your courage to leave and to share your experience. Like you, many of us that gathered there are divinely connected and forever sisters. Cherish them!
    Also, We hold healing space here in NY through BREATHE: Circle for MY Sisters if you are here or ever need space. And we are creating our own intergenerational retreat spaces FOR US.
    Ancestral blessings and healing to you, sis.
    Sending you love and light for the journey!
    Bless Up!

    • Ashley,

      I can’t believe how many women are sharing the same story…especially from years ago! Satya behaved as if this was the first time she was receiving ANY of these complaints. I’m happy to hear that you all created community, in the same way that we did. I hope that no one else is deceived. Blessings and light to you as well sis!
      – Shantrelle

    • “. I had to hold a healing circle with the other women at the healing retreat…that is crazy! The very thing we were trying to escape and heal from showed up in her. ”

      Yes good for you I know what you mean. When we have been so used to being treated bad we tend to accept being treated bad. It’s. It ok. I matter who treats us that way.

    • I am in the process of attempting to get a refund. This is a sad, disgusting scam that needs to be stopped. I have filed an official complaint with the Costa Rica Travel Bureau
      laura.chacon@ict.go.cr

      We need to support each other by speaking up and calling this woman out. I encourage all to go beyond angry posts, file a complaint. This is the only means of holding this shyster accountable.

      • HI Gayle,

        Were you successful in this dispute/getting a refund? I was scheduled for the August 2018 retreat and Satya cancelled, today, July 31st. This is after I booked hostel stay, air fare, purchased new yoga wardrobes, hair for braids, and additional expenses.

        I am so upset by this situation and am curious what luck other women have had.

        • Hi Gayle and Alicia,

          I too was scheduled for the August 2018 retreat and was scheduled to fly out tomorrow. I just returned from a short trip with family and never received any information. I emailed last night and got a short response this morning that an email (that I never got) was sent letting us know the retreat was postponed. It said the email would be “resent.” I have not received anything as of yet.

          I had just checked in for my flight leaving tomorrow morning. I also had a reservation at a hotel near the airport. I am so disappointed about this and sick to my stomach really. I have been ill and this retreat was a gift from my husband.

      • I was just told today that the August retreat has been cancelled and she does not want to refund me my money. Beyond disappointed…I wish I had seen this info earlier.

        • Chan, please email me at gjwlmft57@gmail.com. I am flying to L.A. next month to file a criminal complaint with the Costa Rican Consulate. If I have additional documentation from others who have been scammed by this _____(fill in the blank), it helps all of us. I also want to reach out to all the Media outlets that promoted this scam. Essence, The Root, etc need to step up! I look forward to hearing from you Chan

      • Hi Gayle,

        Thank you for providing Laura Chacon’s email address. I emailed her immediately. I agree with you about filing complaints. I’ve already done so with the FTC and the BBS and with the Costa Rica Institute of Tourism. I’ve already made contact with a few of the other women from the august retreat. If you would like to connect, please email me at angiesplace23@yahoo.com.

    • HI Ashley,

      Did you get your PayPal dispute authorized? I was scheduled for the August 6-11th 2018 yoga retreat and just today she sent an email saying it was postponed for August 2019 and that NO refunds would be allocated. I am like it is literally less than a week before and I didn’t PAY for a retreat in 2019 so wondering what will happen. I am so disappointed. I spent money on airfare, hair for braids, yoga gear, hostel, and other arrangements.

        • Chan, please email me at gjwlmft57@gmail.com. I am flying to L.A. next month to file a criminal complaint with the Costa Rican Consulate. If I have additional documentation from others who have been scammed by this _____(fill in the blank), it helps all of us. I also want to reach out to all the Media outlets that promoted this scam. Essence, The Root, etc need to step up! I look forward to hearing from you Chan

      • P.S. ———————————————————————
        Resolution of Your Case: #PP-007-126-319-649
        ———————————————————————-

        Dear gayle whitlock,

        We have concluded our investigation into your case and have decided in your
        favor.

        We were able to recover $500.00 USD and this amount has been credited to
        you. Please allow five business days for this adjustment to be posted.

        If you are due any additional funds, we will make our best effort to
        recover the balance from the seller.

        If the seller’s account has insufficient funds to complete the refund owed
        to you, please be assured that we will take appropriate action against the
        seller’s account, which may include limitation of the seller’s account
        privileges.

        ———————————–
        Transaction Details
        ———————————–

        Seller’s Name: Women Of Color Healing Retreats
        Seller’s Email: womenofcolorhealingretreat@gmail.com
        Seller’s Transaction ID: 8TP28777GA050682Y

        Transaction Date: Apr 3, 2018
        Transaction Amount: -$500.00 USD
        Your Transaction ID: 3XK98166TD096134U
        Case Number: PP-007-126-319-649

        Feel free to use my name and my case number!

      • Me too… I was sooooo upset. I really needed to get away. I sent her a long email describing the unbelievable hurtful scam she pulled. I requested a refund but never her back from her. I’ve saved every correspondent. I felt embarrassed that I had been taken advantage of. We would have been at the same retreat.

    • I pray you will reach out and support me as I go forward in filing criminal charges. This type of abuse needs to be stopped. My email is gjwlmft57@gmail.com I will be flying to L.A. to file a complaint in person with the Costa Rican consulate. I need brave sista’s who will back up talk with action. God Bless

  3. I try to support black people in business whenever I can. When I do its mostly disappointment. We are our own worst enemies sometimes. I’ve also come to the realization that many black people just don’t know how or don’t want to learn how to run a business and wonder why so many fail.

    • I am so sad to have to agree with you.
      I want so badly to see more black businesses succeed and was excited to see such a retreat. But i’m so disappointed that it is run by a woman who is not honest.
      I’m back to the drawing board to find a real WOC retreat…. and it HAS TO BE on the beach!

      • Hi Jeanette, I am saddened and appalled to read all of these horrible experiences with the Women of Color Healing Retreats. I will say that I am not surprised though and I am glad this fraud has been called out and hopefully stopped for good. I have lived in the village of Puerto Viejo Costa Rica for the past 14 years. I met Andrea Smalls 2 1/2 years ago when she approached me about helping her with some details of a retreat for WOC. At the time I thought it was a great idea and like many of you I wanted to support a black owned and funded event. So I attended the first WOCHR working as a massage therapist with some of the guests, and like Ashely stated it was a huge disaster in organization and just treatment of the volunteers and some of the paying guests. I was at the circle that Ashley mentioned and when I say we all had high emotions and tears I’m am not exaggerating. I bonded with many of the women of that first retreat and am still connected with some of them. After much thought I almost felt it was my duty to organize a similar retreat to make up for the bad experience these women had. So I have done just that but with much more organization and care, catering to the needs of the women in attendance. I also have witnessed how Andrea Smalls isolated herself in this village and basically burned bridges with the local people. She is not a representation of the village of Puerto Viejo or Cahuita. With all that said I, plus a small team of facilitators, will be launching a retreat called Sister Circle Healing Retreats in less than a week. Although I know people will be reluctant to trust again and cautious, as is understandable, I ask that you at least check out my site and do some research. Like I said this is my very first retreat and I have made it a point to not make the same or similar mistakes as the WOCHR. Thanks you for taking time to read this and please feel free to contact me if need be. Bless!

  4. This makes me so sad. I feel horrified actually. I provide retreats to women of color. It is my mission, for every woman who attends, to feel loved, relaxed, seen, celebrated, and rejuvenated. I work so hard to provide a beautiful experience, and frankly, this makes it bad on all retreat hosts.

    Any retreat host who cannot provide a truly healing, loving, and beautiful experience for participants, should get out of the business.

  5. Wow. Thank you so much for this. As a practitioner that was invited on the retreat, I desired that a person that went on the retreat would share this experience. All of what you said was true even on the practitioner side (which most participants will likely never know about). Thank you for this. I do hope that this is shared, by many. The cost has gone up significantly. It seems like with a good PR team, you can make anything look great. Once again, kudos to you.

    • Sorry to hear practitioners are experiencing this too (but it’s not surprising). I just wish more people would speak up publicly. As of right now, it looks like I’m a lone wolf howling in the dark. That’s one of the reasons why she thinks by changing her hashtags and sending out newsletters that she’ll be able erase my statement. But Karma is a b…and well, that’s all I have to say. That and I hope she gets well. And I wish you well in your endeavors.

      • I am scheduled to participate in the wochr starting next week. After multiple emails where I finally informed Staya X that I did not intend to turn a blind eye to financial abuse because she has cloaked herself in black Nationalism; I received the following reply:

        “We wil let you know this afternoon if you will able to attend the retreat. After months of receiving emails of you attacking the space we no longer know If this is the space for you. take care.”

        My so-called “attacks” were to seek reassurance after reading this post and requesting to speak with someone multiple times by phone to confirm the agenda. I suspect there is some personality disorder at work. I am expecting a skype call today and will find out if I can get any of my money back

      • Please keep me updated as to what I can do to help get the word out and to help seek justice. I cannot tell u how devastated I am right now over this.

  6. Shantrelle, first and foremost I want to say that I am so sorry for your experience but I am so thankful that you wrote this article. People need to know what they are getting for their money. I’ve lived in CR for more than 14 years and I experienced a similar situation 2 years ago with the first WOCHR that was held in Puerto Viejo. I was with a large group of women who also had not so positive experiences with Satya X, Andrea Smalls, Andrea Black, Andrea X, or whichever alias she is now choosing to go by. With what I witnessed and experienced during that retreat is that this work is very much needed and is not to be taken lightly or played with. Taking responsibility for people’s emotional well-being, safety and health at a costly price is nothing to play with!!! Just like you, I didn’t want to call out a black owned business especially by another black woman, so I have taken matters into my own hands. With my network of healers and self-care instructors I have taken on the project of creating “Sister Circle Healing Retreats”. In response to this project I have gotten more than my share of ugly, hate-filled, messages from the founder of WOCHR. I’ve tried to keep to the well known quote of Michelle Obama “When they go low, we go high” in dealing with this. Im so glad that Shantrell has brought this to light!

  7. I don’t know when you went but this was on Vice news a few months back https://youtu.be/jhQI4w1eV80.
    Based on her beliefs about black and white separation yet running the retreat on land owned by a white man, I’m not surprised by your experience. I would love to go on a retreat like this if it was executed honestly and thoughtfully.

  8. Thank you all for sharing your experience. I’m always seeking a safe space for women of color to bond, grow and heal with…I wanted to try this retreat but now I know better. I’m based in Brooklyn, NY and if you could recommend any local based retreat, domestic or international retreats for women of color please reach out to me at chante@vysynphotos.com – definitely interested in sharing my creative gift as well.

  9. I was contemplating this retreat so hard the past few months and couldn’t get myself to purchase it. Thanks for sharing!

  10. This is so upsetting to hear! It’s angering. I want to do some mass healing retreats because we need them but I Want to do them for free or low-cost BECAUSE WE NEED THEM! My goal is to get white men to pay for them TBH. I do not like people taking advantage of the spiritual space. That was their rent, I’m sure they live in NYC and that’s all that retreat was for them, and they figured at the very least they could say the price was worth the workshops, but then for them to not deliver or be realistic on the prices. I want to be compassionate, over the years I’ve fumbled around with cost vs value in my intuitive business, but I always make it right, I care if people don’t feel they got above what they paid. That is inflicting more trauma, not healing and they should be ashamed. I am sooooooo sorry sis. I don’t know why, I’m just a passer-by. But I guess I’m sorry from a person in the spiritual space, because how can anyone be trusted when this is happening over and over and over.

  11. I remember reading about this Women of Color Retreat and thinking how awesome it sounded. I am sorry that you had to experience this at a healing retreat. I just wanted to let you know that all retreats are different. I, too, host retreats. In fact, I hosted a retreat in Costa Rica in March 2018 that was inexpensive (about $1000), healing, relaxing, and fun. My retreats are not exclusively for Women of Color, but I’d love to do one in the future, maybe in Jamaica. I have two upcoming retreats, one in Mexico in November 2018 called “Women with a Vision Retreat,” and a Be Still Meditation Retreat scheduled in June 2019 in Tuscany, Italy. I also put on local Unplug:Reset Your Life Retreats. My retreats are faith-based, spiritual and healing in nature. We do gentle yoga, guided meditation, healing workshops, healing circles, and explore the area. I also provide lots of time for inner work, rest, and reconnection. If you’d like to learn more, please visit my website https://godgetaways.com. You can see the many testimonials from my retreat page. For those of you looking for a wonderful retreat experience, please check it and subscribe for updates. Thanks for sharing your story. It just goes to show you that glitters is not gold.

  12. Thank you for using your platform for honesty. It is sad that we must think twice about discussing the integrity of a business when it is black-owned. What makes it worse is that you are outside the US without much recourse. I went on a similar retreat in Ghana and it still irks my spirit that I went on this “yoga retreat” and returned more pissed than when I left. Complete fraud just as what is described in this article. Who knew that anyone would go as low than to capitalize on their community and call it yoga…so disappointing…

  13. A friend shared this post with a few of us and I need to say I’m sorry this happened to you. I hope this doesn’t dissuade you or others from participating in future retreats from reputable folks like myself who actually have been doing this work for years, quietly and sometimes without the fanfare of socia media. Moments like this, I have to trust in the ancestors and universe that a positive lesson comes out of these experiences and I see it has for you so yay. Should you need any reccos for yogis to eateries and retreats, have plenty. 💚

  14. I am so upset that you and every other woman who opened themselves up to this opportunity had your trust violated. Thank you for this truth telling with compassion. My friend and I were planning to attend this retreat after we finished our doctorate program coursework to prep for disseration writing. I am so grateful that you shared your experience.

  15. Thank you for sharing. This will help many with their decision to attent this particular retreat in the future.

  16. Wow. I don’t want to say anything negative about another retreat, but I can tell you of a healing Retreat where you will receive all that is promised, and can speak with past attendees. Some of who will be returning for their 3rd time, and it is for women of color.

  17. I’ve been very apprehensive about retreats, especially ones where I have to travel. I had invested in one only to be so turned off by the “host” that I didn’t even attend. It pains me that people take advantage of those in vulnerable states. I’m happy to have found my own tribe and healing space with @LaBrujasclub here in NYC and I do hope to hold space for others to heal in the near future. Thank you for sharing your experience and potentially saving someone the heartache.

  18. Shaking my head about your article. Basically you and these ladies did not research this business properly. This business scam you out of money. For the future do the research and stop allowing your emotions to get in the way. I’m a cynic by nature and people who are struggling mentally need to find a good therapist and not waste their time, energy, and money on scams.

    • LOL. Hi L, I’m a very experienced traveler (I travel out of the US multiple times a year) and you’re right, I didn’t scour the internet looking for any sign that this would be a sham of a retreat. Based on what I DID see, it looked like a positive experience. Had she done what she promoted she would do, the retreat would have been fine. But she did not. I still enjoyed myself with the women I met. And also, I’m not a cynic and won’t ever be one. Thanks for reading! – Shantrelle

  19. Mikyia mo (Greetings),

    This is so unfortunate, yet we are grateful that you spoke up. Coming across this today was interesting because we are hosting our third and final retreat of this year in September in Folsom, CA. In 1849 some of our Ancestresses and Ancestors established the first goldmining settlement along the American River. This settlement called ‘Negro Bar’ would later become Folsom, CA. The nearby Negro Bar State Park is named after this settlement. We are returning to this Ancestral land for our NUB-NUBIT: Rejuve-Nation – Training, Cultural and Ritual Retreat. Nub/Nubit are the terms for ‘gold’ in ancient Kamit and are titles of certain Abosom (Orisha, Vodou). Our retreat is open to Black Women and Black Men exclusively.

    Odwirafo

    http://www.odwirafo.com/Nub_Nubit.html

  20. We can be so aggressive with each other because generationally society has been aggressive with us. This is a symptom of a larger sickness we all are still trying to heal from. Great job assessing your critical needs moment by moment which shows that your self-care game is awesome. Keep going and congrats on making a great decision. Hopefully those leaders who are aggressive will soften their programming, expectations and their treatment of their fellow Black woman sooner than later.

  21. I appreciate you letting others know about your experience AND look forward to hearing about the retreat YOU will put together to ensure attendees really get what is promised and paid for 😉

  22. Thank you for writing this! This is what I just posted on FB along with your article:

    I am SO GLAD she posted this. I had misgivings about this retreat when I first saw it advertised last year. My points of contention-
    1) the founder claims to have been fed up with the racism and other ills of “the establishment” so she felt the only thing to do was leave the United States for a more tranquil isle. Point: I call BS. If you are truly concerned about the plight of black folks and other people of color, why leave? Why not stay here and fight WITH US??
    2) The founder claimed that she felt that black women needed safe spaces to unplug, reconnect, and heal, etc… Point: That may be true, is true, but be honest. You mean black wealthy women. Anybody I know who has 3Gs to drop on a “healing” can heal thyself by putting that money on some bills. And/or take 1-3 trips for the same cost and have some good ole fun with friends.
    3) The founder claimed to have identified a location to facilitate such proposed healing. Point re-stated: If you cared ANYTHING about your “sisters’ getting what they need in a safe space you wouldn’t be charging them $3-4000 to do it, and certainly not in Costa Rica! I’ve been running women’s healing groups in my hometown for the last three years and EVERY SINGLE TIME we begin again it takes weeks to secure a location for the time and duration that we need it. Each potential retreat participant could donate a fraction of the retreat cost (heck…a fraction of the plane ticket) and undergird the costs of safe meeting spaces for local women’s support networks for years to come.
    I’m SO GLAD this woman shared her experience. If you can afford to heal in Costa Rica, I bet you can afford to heal yourself AND OTHERS right where you are. Don’t be so quick to run.
    Shoot… Dr. Sebi is dead and gone and I’m STILL trying to get to Honduras. Get outta here…

  23. I’m so sorry about your experience. Thanks for sharing it! What is the yoga teacher’s name? I need a good teacher.

  24. Wow, my sister I am so sorry to hear of your experience . However, I appreciate your honest reflections. Thank you.

  25. Dang! Thank you so much for sharing this exhaustive review. It’s so sad when these kinds of spaces don’t hold up their end of the expensive bargain… I read the articles and was so excited the space existed. Unrelatedly, my friend in Accra does great retreats for anyone based in Ghana/West Africa: http://yyogaghana.tumblr.com/workshopsretreats

  26. Thanks for sharing your experience as I know it was a difficult decision. I heard the owner on The Karen Hunter Show on Sirius/XM and was intrigued but wanted to do my due dilligence before I invested in her retreat. She has a much larger audience due to Vice and being on Karen’s show. Hopefully she will learn from your thoughtful critics and quickly change her business model or she will no longer be in business. Her target market is very savvy black women and our networks are very interconnected.

  27. Thank you for speaking out and sharing your experience. Sounds like the leader of this retreat is more interested in serving herself than others. How appalling to issue what is essentially a gag order on top of it all. Truth always comes out eventually though… In any case, I heartily agree that “it’s painstakingly clear that Black women are in need of inexpensive self-care practices that we can employ at home.” Here’s one such resource: http://www.livingcreativelyisdivine.com/

  28. Damn. I’m sorry that you went through all of this bullshit. 🙁

    I do just want to mention that the toiler paper situation (not being able to flush toilet paper) is a common thing in Central America, at least from my experience. I spent 3 months in Nicaragua and some weeks in San José, CR, and in most hostels, rural housing, bars, music venues, and urban houses it was common for us to be told to not to flush the paper, or for there to be signs saying not to do so.

    That being said everything else you went through was complete and utter bullshit, and it’s a shame that, for the price you paid, they couldn’t invest in a better plumbing system.

    Thank you for sharing your story, love.

  29. Three years ago I did the Landmark Forum, a highly transformative weekend filled with brilliant coaching and exercises that made an enormous difference in every area of my life! The coaching I have received there was delivered by well-trained facilitators and leaders who exemplified peace, power, self-expression and freedom in dealing with life. My work there has wonderfully impacted my communication, relationships, confidence and sense of direction in my life. In the Forum I found tremendous peace with my past, and I began to invent a new life for myself. I highly recommend checking out this course in your city! 🙂

    I later coached a program there and I saw for myself, if we want to be leaders or coaches of others and guide them through any sort of discovery or healing, we must deal with ourselves powerfully first. As much as the idea of these retreats sounds nice, from a distance you can also see it is rooted in some sort of complaint / criticism of the world as well. There is a kind of “survival” and reacting / fixing even in the creation of it. And it seems from reading this article the creators and leaders have not transformed themselves deeply enough to impact others in the way that they maybe hoped to. This is sad, and I think that the faux-spiritualism and new-age stuff that is out there like this gives people a negative and cynical perception of the deeper work. We can’t throw around words like “healing” and “retreat” – when they really perhaps mean things like “find agreement for your opinions” and/or “escape from your problems” lol. I hope the organizers of this learn something from experience.

    If you’re reading this, I wish you many opportunities to transform yourself and grow! You can evolve and transform your experience of any aspect of your life.

  30. Thank you so much for sharing this story. I saw a video of the founder and immediately felt uneasy about her overall anger. You can not create a space of healing for others while holding so much anger yourself. This is not how the universe works. As a Yoga Teacher and Reiki Master, I know this to be true.
    You mentioned in your article that you are looking for affordable resources for our community to learn yoga, meditation and even about vegan food. In response, I would like to offer to you and your community the opportunity to be among the first to be a part of my online classroom https://www.patreon.com/EverHealth
    In this space, I provide a monthly meditation, a weekly plant-based recipe, a weekly yoga class and daily inspiration. I have just launched this week and the fees range from $1.00 -$19.00 per month.

  31. I didn’t think this retreat could get any WORSE, but your experience showed me that it did. I was a part of the Yoga Retreat last June 2017 and everything you stated in this article is TRUE. The Chef got fed up with her mess he stopped cooking food and left. I feel like you need to have a healing retreat set-up to heal from this retreat. I was hoping it would get better but it hasn’t. So sorry that you experienced this. I made sure to inform those who I told about it when I got back to not waste their money.

  32. I would report them to US Chamber of Commerce as a fraudulent business targeting a vulnerable population

  33. Wow! I had high hopes for WOCHR. I felt inspired to launch my healing initiative, Brown Girls Write, because I feel trauma and health disparities are a huge issue in communities of color. I’m so sorry she had this experience but I thank her for having the courage to share with us.

  34. I’m sorry you had to go through this but I’m glad you spoke out about it. There are too many broken people out there taking advantage of other people’s pain. Frankly, I saw the Vice clip and she rubbed me the wrong way in that. There was something about her energy that just didn’t sit right with me and I felt bad for feeling that way, but now I know that my intuition was valid.

  35. Hi! I was originally scheduled to attend the June 2018 retreat but in April, I was dismissed from the retreat for asking about the “Costa Rica Time Zone”. Satya X felt that I was not respecting her authority. It was insane. I was shaken and a bit jarred, even though I had a sneaking suspicion that this was God and that my “dismissal” was for the best. The more I interacted w/ Satya and her staff, the more I felt that attending the retreat would be a mistake. But I didn’t want to just quit. I felt like I NEEDED this retreat! In the end, it turns I was spared from a colossal nightmare of a situation.

    Thank you for sharing your experience. Like many, I did feel some trepidation at speaking poorly of a Black business owner but Satya X/Andrea Whoever is digraceful and I did try to speak up. I tweeted and mentioned CNN, HBO, VICE and the other media group she said would be present @ the June retreat. But I never received a response of any kind. I also saved my email exchanges w/ Satya as proof. She is unhinged. And while I am so sorry to hear about your terrible experience and that of so many others, it’s good to know that I was not alone and I avoided an even worse disaster of a situation. And in her emails, yes, she did act like it was her first time being told about her poor behavior.

    May we all continue to be blessed on our life journeys as we seek peace, joy, love, connection and healing. 🙏🏾

  36. Wow I am so happy I found this platform. I was determined to go the the December 2018 retreat. The only thing that was delaying me is the travel to get there. I said to myself once I figure out the best way to get there I will then book for this healing. Then I said for $4444 per person I don’t understand why this facility doesn’t have a mini van or bus to pick us up as we come in. Keep in mind the nearest point to the retreat is about 1/2 drive. Then as I was going on the site this platform just so happen to pop up. I am sorry these women spent there heard earned money to be treated so cruel and with disconnect. This would have been a scary experience for me being that I am leaving a big city to go to a rural place then to be treated in such manner. Again, I don’t believe speaking ill about black owned businesses but once too many mouths are saying the same thing with proof someone will expose eventually.

    On a more positive note thanks to the prior referrals in this thread I will definitely be looking into going to “Women With A Vision Retreat” or “OMNOIR Retreats”. If there are others that can be recommended please reply. I am also looking for like an all day or weekend retreat close to NYC .

  37. You all- my JAW is dropping. I was scheduled for the August 6th-11th 2018 retreat. As you can see, it is July 31st 2018 and two hours ago Satya sent an email postponing the Black Women Yoga Retreat with the following:

    “We Thank you for choosing to strengthen your practice with BWYR. We are sad to announce the postponed of our August 2018 BWYR. The minimum number of retreat participants comes up too short in these final hours. We are sincerely saddened whenever this should have to happen, however it is never a waste. Timing is everything, and sometimes we’re just in the flows of the universe so the best can come when we release control. Coming off of this full moon and some strong eclipses changes were expected; this one came as a total surprise.
    In light of all of this, , you will always have your yoga retreat saved for the next BWYR you should wish to attend. We like to see this as a blessing in disguise because you’ll be in time for the 2019 relaunch! The dates will be released on the website, and your participant file will be transferred upon confirmation. As the website has always stated, be sure to use your travel cancellation policy, to change your flight for the 2019 retreat.
    We offere our sincere apologies for any inconvenience this might have caused in your schedules, we do honor your time and patience.”

    I replied saying how disappointed I was considering this is less than a week out and I had purchased my hostel stay, flight, and not too mention all of the extra gear I purchased in preparation. I said I could not commit to 2019 because I purchased for 2018 and they said they are NOT doing refunds. I have made 2 disputes with Paypal since that’s how we paid and we paid in 2 chunks. One has been successfully refund for $350 and I’m still waiting for the additional $1,500.

    Communication with Satya the entire time has been underwhelming and skiddish. Yesterday I had emailed her saying I had not received an itinerary yet and she said “one was coming soon 🙂 ”

    I am so disheartened and can not believe this has happened with the kind of notice it did.

    So grateful I saw this article to know I’m not alone. I wish I was connected with the other women scheduled in August 2018 to see if anyone was still planning on traveling, etc.

    So disappointing.

    • Wow, Alicia! I’m glad PayPal has refunded some of your money. I hope they get the rest to you. This is horrible!! I hope the other ladies are able to get their money back also. I wonder if there is some way to go about it so she can’t legally hold anymore retreats.

    • This is a damn shame and a disgrace to all black women that this con artist Andrea is still in business. I was also thinking about the december 2018 retreat and started my research. First thing was off when I emailed her about room accommodation I got a round about answer. I found out through a former visitor with pics that it was 6 to a room 1 bathroom for 4000 she must take women for fools. She needs to be exposed

    • Alicia my mom was scheduled to go in this past August! I’m so glad I came across this website. I literally thought my mom was alone. This whole situation has made me sick to my stomach. My mom was heartbroken because she felt as though she really needed it. I finally decided to say something via social media because I noticed that she was still promoting her retreats, interview with travel companies etc. feel free to DM @caresa2blessed

  38. I was scheduled for the August retreat in 4 days. I got an email today ‘postponing’ the retreat.
    I live in the Turks and Caicos and spent over $1000 on travel fare alone to go to this retreat and Satya/Andrea Smalls or whatever she name, emailed me saying she is not refunding the retreat cost?!
    I am a teacher, I don’t make a whole lot and I saved up for months to be able to go…
    Now what?!
    Can legal action be taken? Is anyone already taking action?
    That is $1888 + $1000 I am out… How could she prey on people who need healing… It is sooo efffed up.
    I only wish I had seen this blog sooner.

    • Shara, I’m so very sorry you had to go through this. Andrea is a fraud. She is running a scam and STEALING Black women’s money. She needs to be stopped. Please write a statement. We’ll repost. Wishing you well and peace of mind and way to get your money back.
      – Shantrelle

    • I too got scammed. I was scheduled for this retreat on the 5th, paid my hard-earned money and now I’m out $2500. I don’t know if legal action can be taken since she’s out of the country but I do plan to follow up with the FTC, FBI (Crime Division) and the US Attorney General’s office to file a fraud complaint. I’m also going to see if Costa Rica has any governing agency that investigates fraudulent business operators in their country. My husband said that it is a “lesson learned”. Maybe so, but this tuition is too steep. I simply will not go away quietly and just “eat” this financial (and emotional) loss. I’m hoping to find a platform (like this) where other victims of Satya X?Andrea Vernell Smalls can ban together and put her out of business so that she cannot prey on any other unsuspecting women of color in need of healing.

  39. I am the latest casualty of this Satya X. I was scheduled to attend the BWYR (Black Women Yoga Retreat) too on this Sunday August 5th. I paid my $1888.00, bought my $610 worth of airfare, arranged for childcare, took time off of work and planned this vacation. YESTERDAY, this fraud emails and said that the retreat is “postponed” until 2019 due to low attendance rate. Wait, what? Yes, 5 days before the retreat she cancels and refuses to refund my money. She is a fraud, a con artist and a scam. I feel so embarrassed and infuriated that I just got scammed. It looks like we all got scammed. I’m not content to simply go away quietly. This CON ARTIST preying on women of color must be stopped and held accountable!! My plan is to reach out to the Federal Trade Commission, Federal Bureau of Investigation Crime Division and the US Attorney General’s office to complain about this fraudulent person. I also intend to reach out to VICE News and ask them to do a follow up piece about this fraud since it was their news coverage that validated this con artist. I don’t care what color her skin is, she is a CROOK and she must be stopped!!! Any other suggestions would be great. How can we create a united front and go after this imposter/fraud/scam/con artist/predator?

    • Angela,

      I too am a victim of the August Yoga Retreat scam. I never received the final itinerary and emailed about it last night. This morning I got a brief email saying the retreat had been postponed. I never got the email everyone else did on July 31st. I had already done the online check in for my flight scheduled tomorrow morning. I was planning to arrive a day early to relax before the retreat started. I am with you on stopping this crook. I’m in! All I wanted to do was practice yoga and meditate in a beautiful place with women who look like me.

  40. Thank you for sharing your experience. It both angers and saddens me that she has only continued to cause more harm than good after my attendance of the retreat in November 2016. Everything you stated about your experience was very similar to me and my best friend’s experience. Our very first day of the retreat there was no talk about where anyone was in their journey, what they hoped to take away from the retreat, there was no foundation. Andrea Smalls the founder barely spoke to the participants and when she was asked questions for clarity she became incredibly passive aggressive. There was never enough food for everyone, every meal you could see eyes staring at other participants’ plates wondering if they were going to eat the lat pancake on their plate. The workshops that were advertised. However they did have an instructor perform tarot readings for everyone without asking participants their comfort level with this activity given that we all come from different religious and spiritual backgrounds. And it gets worse, the instructor used tarot cards with white women on them at a Women of Color Retreat. Most of the instructors did not seem comfortable in their own blackness and sought refuge from their inner healing by deflecting their baggage on all of us. The swimming instructor would not show us how to float because she did not want to get her hair wet. I repeat the swim instructor did not want to get her hair wet during an instruction. The instructors and participants were separated,instructors were housed in cabins up on the hill and the participants lower within the compound. The housing arrangements alone created a power dynamic that we all watched play out during our stay. In the end, we (black folks) have to find a way to hold each other accountable when we are fucking up and hurting one another. I can love,support and encourage you while also telling you that you are falling short. Please don’t waste your money on this trip ladies

  41. Blast on social media, and reach out to all features on her email signature: VICE, HBO, Essence, AOL, etc. I have replied to every tweet I’ve seen and plan to hit FB next. The problem is awareness and we have to ensure other sisters don’t go through a similar experience. This article was not well circulated and I saw this after the fact. From there dispute through PayPal so they start to question the legitimacy of her business. I love the bureau ideas- is her organization based out of Costa Rica?

  42. Between this and the Universal FanCon fiasco back in February, these dishonest folks are making it harder for us to form a community and trust new black endeavors.

  43. Hi ladies

    I am readring about the problem that all of you had with this Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica .
    I want to let you know that in case you need help I can recommend a lawyer in Costa Rica, the best of the best .
    I know where is this people located in San Jose and we are very upset with this problem, so is a bad image for my country and this lady Satya is not “Tica”.

  44. My husband and I were just talking about this and he believes there may still be people who show up this weekend for the retreat. I had been traveling with family and returned planning to rest a day and then take off for the retreat Saturday morning. I never got the email about the retreat being postponed and had even checked in for my flight tomorrow morning. What if the Skype calls on July 13, 14 & 15 were to weed out potential victims vs. “troublemakers.” There were 24 participant names on that email (July 13) confirming Skype call times. Angela, and Shara are on that list, but not Alicia. Did you ladies do a Skype? What happened within two weeks to cause “low participation” and warrant postponing the retreat? My husband thinks those who were thought to ask to many questions were put on a list and sent the email that the retreat was postponed. Those of us who were moving forward with travel plans would just show up and maybe be subjected to the subpar retreat people have written about. Who knows what these crooks are up to. Also, there was an email with the wire transfer instructions where Andrea “accidentally” put her home address, phone number and email. I plan to provide that to the authorities.

  45. Faatima,

    I did have a skype call on the 14th. I’m not sure what this con artist’s intentions were with the skype calls. I just know now that this was a scam all along. Her website stated that the august retreat was sold out. If it was sold out, how would it now have low attendance? Scam! I’ve already started my work on exposing this predator. I’ve written to the FTC, Better Business Bureau, FBI, and Costa Rica Travel Bureau. I’ve also started writing to the organizations that featured and subsequently legitimatized this fraud (VICE, Essence Magazine, Afro Punk, etc). I filed a complaint with PayPal and requested a refund. I’ve gone to my bank to file a complaint/claim to see if they can recall my money (not too sure about that I can get my money back, but I’m going to try). I’m still not done. If you want to contact me directly to see how we can go after this imposter, please email me at angiesplace23@yahoo.com.

  46. Thanks Angela. I will be contacting you. I got an email today from Paypal/Eventbrite saying that the $350 deposit will be refunded to my card. I’m still waiting to hear about the other Paypal payment. I have also written to some of the organizations you have. I hope other victims will do the same.

    • I got the same notification and am waiting on the other. I still have not seen the funds deposited into my account. This is a joke and more so I want other women to never have to deal with this.

    • Faatima, I got the same email from Eventbrite. PayPal told me that unless I get an email confirmation directly from them (PayPal) then it isn’t a real refund. You should contact PayPal directly and don’t count on that Eventbrite email.

  47. You all can file a class action lawsuit against her and you can also contact the FBI and various Costa Rican authorities on this. Retreat scams are unfortunately very common and there are a multitude of cases that have been brought against them to my understanding where they have been extradited and brought up on fraud charges and convicted. Even if her website says there are no refunds that doesn’t mean she isn’t still liable. Lying about not having enough people signing up then showing as sold out on the website is 100% fraud. The coast Rican authorities can potentially prosecute her as well but forthe best impact it would be best for 8-20 of you to file a class action lawsuit against her and also simultaneously go to the Costa Rican and US authorities. She even potentially could be committing tax fraud and not paying applicable taxes to the IRS or the Costa Rican tax authority. I’m am willing to bet her first handful of retreats were taxabale under US law which she may not have paid US taxes on. You should all listen to her on the Context of White Supremacy podcast back in April. She has a unsettlingness in her voice and her knowledge of Gaga when you hear her speak doesn’t appear to be that profound for someone who is a yoga master. She doesn’t go in depth in any of her commentary. She comes off like a sista whonis grying to “make that paper” With that astronomical price she is probably making over 20K a month after her defeat costs are paid in full. Below is a link to her 2 hour interview and quite honestly it isn’t very good. She has a massive misunderstanding of the metaphysical and is mixing western culture with african culture which doesn’t work. Best of luck to you all in getting justice.

    https://youtu.be/xNcrjNZVo30

  48. How can we get this on the news so that others know about this retreat fraud? She has to be stopped. I feel like we can’t allow this to be something to go by the waste side as times goes on and she continues to fraud people. I will research how to pitch a news story.

    • Sabrina,

      I’m with you!! We can’t let time go by and this woman continue to defraud sisters worldwide out of tens of thousands of dollars. If you find out how to pitch a news story, please contact me at angiesplace23@yahoo. com.

      We need to work together to expose this FRAUD.

  49. Wow! Thank you for sharing your review of the retreat! I’m not writing the retreat off because I’d rather go by my own personal experience, but thanks for your view!

  50. Update: As soon as I am confirmed an appointment with the Costa Rican Consulate in Los Angeles, I will be traveling there in person along with Angela Herron to file a criminal complaint.
    I asked if I may submit notarized statements from those of you who cannot make this trip. Unfortunately, the complaint must be made in person by each individual who was defrauded. Once I have a confirmed date, I will post it on this site.
    This is a cause of fraudulent behavior and nothing more on the part of that woman. Early on, I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and a chance to address the allegations in this article. Instead, she was defensive, arrogant, and informed me that I was not welcome and would issue a refund. We have to go beyond ranting and move into action. The legal adviser I have spoken with informed me that if t here are 40 + individuals who are willing to step forward; a class action suite is possible.
    Finally, if there are those of you who for whatever reason do not wish to pursue obtaining a refund, I encourage you to contact HBO Vice, The Root, Essence Magazine, and XM radio. While I do not hold these media outlets financially responsible, It was the positive promotion that prompted each and every one of us to invest in this “retreat” It is my opinion that these outlets now need to expose reality.

    To pursue a criminal complaint the Consulate for California is located at:

    1605 West Olymplic Boulevard, Suite 400
    Los Angeles, CA 90015
    United States
    TELEPHONE
    (+1) (213) 380 6031
    (+1) (213) 380 7915
    FAX
    (+1) (213) 380 5639
    EMAIL
    concr-us-ca@rree.go.cr
    costaricaconsulatela@hotmail.com

    Other locations in the U.S,:

    Washington, D.C., Embassy
    Atlanta, Consulate General
    Chicago, Consulate General
    Houston, Consulate General
    Miami, Consulate General
    New York, Consulate General
    St. Paul, Consulate General
    Tucson, Consulate

    The consulate in Costa Rica is located at:

    María Natalia Villalta Hidalgo
    Fiscal
    Oficina de Asesoría Técnica y Relaciones Internacionales
    Fiscalía General
    San José-Costa Rica
    Tel (506) 2295 3458/ 2295 3540

    Ms. Natalia does not speak English however her assistant “Fibola” is bi-lingual and VERY familiar with me and my efforts to file a complaint.

    Finally, there is strength in numbers. There are too many legitimate Black owned retreat operators to allow that woman to take advantage of others. once again, my email address is gjwlmft57@gmail.com I am not the most interest savvy person yet I am willing to do all I can to stop this abuse by any means necessary.

    • I did inform Karen Hunter via Twitter and she (or someone on her staff) commented but I’m not sure if she followed up with Shantrelle and others on this thread as a follow up. Since I heard about the retreat on her show, I felt obligated to share this commentary with her.

  51. I would appreciate the contact information for the lawyer you referred to in your post. Angela Herron who shared her experience above and I are traveling to the consulate in Los Angeles to file a criminal complaint. We would appreciate all the support we can find in bringing this woman to justice.

  52. I signed up for the October retreat and received an email from the retreat saying that the August and October retreats have been post poned because they are re-launching. The retreat offered everyone a chance to transfer their retreat ticket to a retreat in 2019. I knew the retreat was non-refundable when I signed up because the website said it, but the post pone is dissapointing and so is this blog, but I do like that the retreat has taken the time to relaunch instead of having us go and waste our time. Mixed feelings but thank you for your view, I’m excited to go to the retreat, I’ll keep everyone posted!

  53. HI!

    Thanks for sharing your review, i’m sorry about your experience! I went to the retreat last year and I had an amazing time, you can find me on Satya’s social medias page , my name is Michelle, i’m tagged , she tags some of the participants that have attended and puts some on the website. The retreat isn’t a scam and thats obvious but it sounds like it got a little unorganized, i’m glad that Satya is re-launching and keeping the retreats up, this retreat def changed my life and other black women should def experience it!

  54. Greetings: While it’s great to hear you had a good experience, there are many of us who have been treated with disdain by the wochr venue. Disorganization can be explained; refusing to honor an offer of a full refund, canceling THE NIGHT BEFORE those in the August cohort were planning travel and refusing to provide a refund is fraud. This Thursday I along with another victim of this scam will be filing an official criminal complaint. I continue to encourage those who were taken advantage of to speak out.

  55. […] journey from Alajuela to Nosara was a 6-hour drive. During this time we read and discussed the ShoppeBlack article entitled “In Good Conscience: Why I Left the Women of Color Healing Retreats in Costa […]

  56. Update: An official criminal complaint was filed yesterday at the Costa Rican Consulate by myself and Angela Herran. For those wishing to file a claim with the Consulado General de Costa Rica, you file in person.

    Los Angeles Consulate
    1605 West Olympic Blvd, Ste 400
    Los Angeles CA 90015
    email: concr-us-ca@rree.go.cr
    (213) 380-7915/ fax (213) 380-5639

    Consulate General in Washington, D.C.
    General Information: 2112 “S” Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20008
    Tel.: (202) 328-6628
    Fax: (202) 234-6950
    Email: concr-us-wa@rree.go.cr

    Consulate General in Atlanta
    General Information: 1870 The Exchange, Suite 100
    Atlanta, GA 30339
    Tel.: (770) 951-7025 / (770) 951-7027
    Fax: (770) 797-7700
    Email: concr-us-ga@rree.go.cr

    Consul General: Flora Leah Venegas Corrales
    Attention to the public: Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. (By appointment only)
    Jurisdiction: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
    Consul General: Roberto Avendano Sancho
    Administrative Secretary: Maria Guadalupe Navarro Baltodano
    Attention to the Public: Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. (By appointment only)

    Consulate General in Houston
    General Information: 3100 Wilcrest Drive, Suite 260
    Houston Texas, TX 77042
    Tel: (713) 266 0484
    Fax: (713) 266-1527
    Get Appointment: consularappts@sbcglobal.net

    Frequent Questions: consularinfo@sbcglobal.net
    Consul General: Herbert Daniel Espinoza Solano
    Attention to the Public: Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. (By appointment only)
    Jurisdiction: Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas.

    Consulate General in Miami
    General Information: 2730 SW 3rd Avenue, Suite 401
    Miami, Florida 33129
    Tel.: (305) 871-7485 / (305) 423-3951 / (305) 423-3952 / (305) 423-3954
    Fax: (786) 522-0119
    Email: concr-us-fl@rree.go.cr

    Consul General: Andrea Arroyo Mora
    Consul: Mariamalia Jimenez Coto
    Attention to the Public: Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. (By appointment only)

    Consulate General in New York
    General Information: 15 West 37th Street,12th Floor
    New York, NY 10018
    Tel.: (212) 509-3066 / (212) 509-3067
    Fax: (212) 509-3068
    Email: costaricaconsul@yahoo.com

    Get Appointment:http://consuladocrny.simplybook.me

    Consul General: Rolando Enrique Madrigal Gutierrez
    Counselor and Consul: José Antonio Arroyo Gonzalez
    Counselor and Consul: Dana Szlak Rottenberg
    Administrative Secretary: Noemy Elizabeth Zuñiga Cordero
    Attention to the Public: Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. (By appointment only)

    Jurisdiction: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont.

    Consulate General in Chicago
    General Information: 30 N Michigan Avenue, Suite 1922
    Chicago, IL,60602
    Tel.: (312) 470-0282 / (312) 577-4267
    Fax: (312) 577-4271
    Email: concr-us-il@rree.go.cr

    Counselor and Consul: Jose David Murillo
    Attention to the Public: Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. (By appointment only)
    Jurisdiction: Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Indiana, Wisconsin.

    Honorary Consulate in Minnesota
    General Information: 6 West 5th Street, Suite 201
    Saint Paul, MN 55102
    Tel: (651) 293-1816
    Fax: (651) 665-0015
    Email: concr-us-mn@rree.go.cr

    Honorary Consul general: Catherine L. T. Nicholson
    Office Administrator: Raul R. Sanchez
    Attention to the Public: By appointment only

    Honorary Consulate in Tucson
    General Information: 3567 E. Sunrise Drive, Ste. 235
    Tucson, AZ 85718
    Tel.: (520) 529-7068
    Fax: (520) 577-6781
    Email: concr-us-az@rree.go.cr

    Honorary Consul: Carmen Bermudez
    Attention to the Public: By appointment only

    Jurisdiction: Arizona

    It is necessary to have your narrative translated into Spanish. Fortunately, a friend who is Spanish speaking came along for support and used google translation app to covert my timeline.
    I would also recommend contacting each media outlet that promoted this venue as well as filing claims with the FTC. There are multiple legitimate retreat destinations for half the cost in Costa Rica. Once again, there is strength in numbers. my email is gjwlmft57@gmail.com

    Peace

  57. Satya is back at it again… Offering a December retreat. This time using another person because she indicates she will no longer be at the retreats. The new person she has caught up in this is @mswrightsway on IG. I hv tried to reach out and give her a heads up but have recieved no response as yet

  58. I saw this as well and attempted to reach out to whom ever this new person is. I had a busy week with work and could not devote as much time to to staying in touch with the women who have banned together. We had planned a Skype which never happened. I’m in my office today trying to get ahead of the week. I will follow up with all the ladies with the goal of forming a collective plan to move forward with our grievance. Honestly, I became a little disillusioned when the Skype call fell through. Once again, my email is gjwlmft57@gmail.com I know we are all busy with family, work, and what have you but If we could all come together, we could really be productive. Have a peaceful rest of your Sunday

  59. I got an email saying that the 2018 retreat is post poned. I wasn’t upset about not receiving a refund because the website says that if a retreat is post poned or canceled , we can go to a future retreat but refunds are not issued, so I wasn’t upset because I read the refund policy early. So far the communication with WOCHR has been pretty good, their customer service team has been helpful, I haven’t spoken to Satya, according to her team, she does not answer any emails anymore but her customer service team answers all of them. After reading this blog, I did search something’s and came to see that the retreat has a lot of good feedback from past participants, I found it on their IG page, the website and YouTube. It just seems to be that sometimes the negative can be louder than the positive. I’m glad that Satya and her team have taken the time to restructure. I’m looking forward to my experience at the retreat next year!!

  60. I sincerely appreciate your feedback on this retreat company. Your honesty can help inform others. I do feel some of your points are nit picky though – for instance, not being able to flush toilet paper in the toilet is very common in this part of the world and not something that should imply that a living space is shoddy in any way. Also, chores like dishwashing can be viewed as part of a communal and community experience. The remainder of what you mentioned is quite concerning and I can see why this was a disappointing experience. Very upsetting to hear that it had to end early and didn’t provide the services promised.

  61. Thank you for sharing. I am in active pursuit of a healing retreat for women of color and I told my mom about this one hoping to have her join me. After reading through the WOCHR website and getting super excited, I went back to google and (because of all of the comments recently) this article was ranked 3rd–thank goodness. I am so grateful to all of the women who shared here. I’ve read through most all of your comments and while I’m saddened that so many of you were scammed, I’m pumped that you are taking back your power and doing something about it. The solidarity and teamwork you’ve shown is superb. It’s without being said that I will not spend my hard-earned money on this retreat BUT I am still shopping for the perfect healing space for my mom, my best friend and myself. We need it. I need it. I won’t let one crazy stop me from finding my peace in a beautiful location.

    Shantrelle, you did the right thing and look at the movement you’ve started. Image what all of these hard-working, passionate women would have done without this article. Communication like this reminds us that our experiences are not our own most of the time.

  62. Those of us who have decided to work together are still working on a successful resolution. It is frustrating that it appears we are fighting an uphill battle yet I feel compelled to see this through. In terms of a legit experience, Regine with Black Butterfly journey reached out to me. She was extremely gracious in offering advice on how to go about addressing the fraud by Andrea Smalls. If I were going to venture investing in a retreat I would consider this organization. There are good people in this world doing good work. Unfortunately, Andrea Smalls is not one of them
    http://www.blackbutterflyjourneys.com/

  63. This blog seems like it has a lot of lies. I have never seen a retreat or a trip guarantee 15 workshops and I just don’t believe that this blog is telling the entire truth. it also just seems like Satya has a lot of haters that don’t want to see her do well. I went on their website and IG and they have relaunched and she’s not even at the Retreats anymore. The fact that she would even relaunch to make sure things went right , speaks volumes about her integrity, she clearly cares. I’m disappointed in this blog because it’s another black woman trying to tear apart another black woman. I mean why keep this blog up and going when the retreat is relaunched and she’s not even their anymore, she’s clearly on to bigger things, and all of these bitter women need to let it go.

  64. This blog is slander , ooooh I would not be surprised if Satya hit you with a lawsuit at some point, as a brand she has every right too, be careful , I think it’s coming in the next few months.

  65. This blog is full of defamation and slander. You also called her a fraud , sick and so many other names on different outlets. Yet, she has clear proof that she’s none of these things, as she has had many other retreats where the women were satisfied So she can easily prove this is defamation, slander and libel. I’m unbiased but as an attorney. You’re going to be sued by her , I’m pretty sure, it’s coming in a few months, I’ve been watching this for awhile now, and i know this is going to happen. You should let a defamation lawyer read this blog and your social media handles and they will tell you, you will likely be getting a lawsuit in a few months. I know how this works, it’s my job.

  66. I say bring it! Myself and the other women who have been defrauded are more than willing to have a day in court. Andrea smalls has committed fraud by taking money for services she did not provide. She has promised this writer a refund only to renege on this. By the way, this refund was offered after she disinvite me from the retreat When I had the audacity to ask for reassurance after reading thus blog. Along with another woman who was ripped off; we have filed a formal complaint with the Costa Rican consulate and are in the waiting.
    I stand 100% behind what I have posted on this blog regarding my experience. And I will re-state that it is appalling that she would use the 2016 election with the division and hate that his been perpetrated towards people of color as her snake oil in luring Black women to this venue. SHAME!

  67. Good morning, I too experienced the horror of the WOCHR. I have followed the blog post and wholeheartedly agree that the retreat is a scam and fraud. Truth is a defense to libel and defamation so any lawsuit against the author of this blogpost would not prevail. I had not planned on speaking for a number of reasons but after threats of lawsuits by people who appear to be connected to Andrea, I must speak up. I am a lawyer and Administrative Judge based in California. I’ll be joining the movement to stop the scam and will be sharing my experience as an October 2017 retreat within the week.

  68. I attended the October 2017 retreat and I had an amazing time. Our retreat took place at a completely different location so we didn’t experience the same accommodations as you. Satya, was really nice and warm and I think a lot of us are saddened by some of the stuff on here because since I experienced the retreat first hand I know that a lot of it are sensationalized lies. No matter what though, I’m glad that Satya has relaunched because the retreat is def a unique experience. I learned so much about being plant based at the October 2017 retreat, it helped me on my journey.

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