Registration and Marketing

HOW DO I START ORGANIZING A TRIP WITH TRUE NATURE?

Normally the process begins with a call with one of our team members to learn more about you and to answer any questions you might have. This is followed by picking a location and a date together. Once we determine your location, date, and projected number of students we will send you a draft contract to review. To confirm your retreat you will pay a Security Deposit (amount varies depending on center.) This deposit will be returned back to you with our final payment (your teacher commission) to you following your retreat.

Who does the registration?

We use an on-line registration system called Reg-online.  It’s a very simple and user-friendly system that collects all the necessary information we need to register your students.  From this info we have many different reports that will help us organize your group, from flight arrivals to special dietary needs.  You will be able to go on-line and see how your registration is going at anytime.

Who makes room assignments?

We can either send you a worksheet for room assignments so you can have control of who goes where OR we can do this for you with your input.

Do I collect deposits?

We collect deposits for you.  We can collect payments on-line with a credit card or we accept U.S. checks.  We keep track of who has paid what and work with your group with any questions regarding payment. 

Do you send all information to students?

Yes, we will send all pertinent information to your participants through email.  They will know what to bring, what to expect and general information about where they are going.  So basically, we handle all logistical issues.  If they have questions about your practice or program that we cannot answer we will let you know.

Do you create marketing materials, if so what type?

We have a talented and knowledgeable marketing team who will create a marketing campaign for you and your group. This includes a trip webpage, a listing on our calendar, a poster (for your local publicizing), inclusion in our newsletters, and a Social Media Promotion Plan.  We will also send you “Steps to Marketing a Successful Retreat,” a document we created to give you a comprehensive outline of how you can participate in making your registration abundant. Our marketing team is also available throughout the enrollment period and will offer you hints & tips for successfully promoting your trip.

What type of web and social media support do you offer?

Our high traffic website attracts many potential retreatants. Your photo and listing will be posted immediately.  We will work with inquiries and keep you informed. TNE is very active on social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram and will be making posts pre-retreat, during your program and post retreat to give you the highest visibility possible.  We also post retreats on on-line directories.

How many participant referrals can I expect from TNE?

Most of your participants will come from your student base and your local studios as they know you and will want to come for intensive practice in an exotic venue.  On average 20%  of students will come from True Nature.  We work hard to get people to us and expect this average to continue to grow.

Travel and Arrival Questions

Are my travel expenses included or do I pay for them?

TNE normally does not pay for air transportation for teachers. If you are interested in including this in your contract we can discuss a formula, which includes your airfare.  Once you reach a minimum of 1015 participants (depending on center)  your lodging and meals are free.  Ground transportation to and from the airport is included in our package.

Do we all travel together?

This is possible depending on where all the students are coming from.  Usually, people book their own flights and look for the most economical option. We will give you arrival and departure windows of time, that can help your participants arrange for flights that work best for transporting your students in a group. We also have a group travel agent who can connect with participants to help book flights.

What are the entry requirements?

For both Costa Rica and Guatemala, a valid passport is mandatory to enter Costa Rica. Visitors of the USA, Canada, and most European countries do not need a visa.  You will automatically receive a 90-day tourist visa.

Will someone be meeting us at airport?

Costa Rica
Yes!  When you arrive at the San Jose Airport a TNE representative will be waiting for your group. We will have a TNE sign at the airport, so your students can easily identify us.   

Guatemala
Yes! You will be met by a private group shuttle.  The shuttle driver has provided service to this center for over 10 years.  The driver will be holding  a sign with the Center’s name on it.

What if someone arrives or departs at a different time than group?

When we are connecting with your participants we give a very clear time frame of arrival and departures.  If for some reason, they cannot make this time, we can book private transportation for participants with an extra fee included.  If they are extending their trip we will give them all the necessary information about the retreat and some suggestions about where to go and what to do outside the retreat setting.

What can I expect from the first day of traveling?

Costa Rica
In most cases, you will be staying at a hotel near the airport for the first night with the other group participants.  Dinner will be provided.  Some teachers like for the group to meet and have an opening gathering and/or a gentle yoga class.   Early the next morning, after breakfast you will be taking a 3-5 hour shuttle ride to the center. For our centers within 3 hours of the airport we try to transfer to the center following your arrival.

Guatemala
After arriving, you will go through customs and immigration (about 45 minutes depending on arriving flights).  After you retrieve your luggage, you will be met outside by a private group shuttle.  In some cases, you maybe waiting for other flights to arrive before the shuttle will leave.  You will have a 3 hour beautiful shuttle ride through the Mayan highlands arriving in Panajachel.  You will be met by a private boat to take you to the dock of the retreat center.  Depending on your arrival time, you may have time to tour the center and then have dinner.  Dinner will always be available, even for late arrivals.

Is bus transportation available?

Costa Rica
Costa Rica has a bus system that offers inexpensive, timely and convenient transportation. It is the primary means of transportation to natives. In the countryside, sometimes buses do not run frequently. In some places they operate only once a day. Another possibility is arranging transfers with tourism transportation agencies, which would give you a first class service at reasonable rates.

Guatemala
We recommend that visitors use private shuttles for moving around Guatemala.  The colorful chicken buses are quite an experience, but unless you are an experienced traveler we do not recommend it.  Most tourists do not rent cars in Guatemala and unless you are familiar with the country we do not recommend it.  Shuttles are comfortable, safe and affordable.

Costs and Extras

What is included in the retreat?

We design a program that is just right for you so each of our retreats are different.   Once we craft and agree to the specifics, you will know exactly what is included.  Room, meals, ground transportation to and from airport, some activities, and taxes are typically included in our packages.  Treatments, tips, excursions are generally not included.  We are always available to work with you and your participants to make it very clear what is a part of the package.  If you bring at least 10 students your lodging, ground transportation and meals are free.

How much is the initial deposit? And are there other deposits? When are they due?

That is the great thing about our program; there is one initial deposit and then we collect deposits from your students, so there are no other deposits you are responsible for.

Are deposits refundable?

Your initial deposit is not refundable.  The initial deposit from your students is also non-refundable.  If your student has paid the full tuition a portion of that is refundable if we are notified within 90 days of the retreat.  In cases of last minute emergencies we try our best to work with students to have a fair resolution for both sides.  In some cases we can transfer deposits within a 12-month period. 

How much do I get paid? (per student)

This is up to you.  First we work together to create an exciting program that will entice your student base.  Once we have finalized this, we give you our Presenters Rate (“wholesale price”).  We then provide a Suggested Tuition Rate for your retreat based on market research. You can then price your retreat and monies above the wholesale price are yours.  Of course, you need to keep in mind a retreat price that will be sellable.  We find that most teachers earn $300-500 per student, so with 20 students you will take home between $6000-10,000 plus your free room and board.  It’s a great way to spend a week and earn right livelihood.

What is the minimum amount of students I can bring?

10 fully paid participants.  We do have another program in case there are less than 10 people and could review these guidelines with you.

When do I get paid?

You will be paid within 2 weeks of the retreat ending.  After the retreat we will calculate actual occupancy and send your check + your initial deposit.

Can 2 teachers co-teach? If so what is the rate per student?

Yes, two teachers are welcome to work the program together.   Normally, two teachers can stay free in a double room with 20 paid students. (This may vary center to center)

Do I pay for my accommodations?

No, if you meet our minimum of 10-15 paid students (depends on center).

Can I have a private room?

Depending on the location you choose (how many rooms they have and how many students register) you can have a private room.  Their maybe an additional fee that can be deducted from your teacher commission.

Are my tips and excursions included?

These expenses along with treatments are not apart of the program price. 

If you have enjoyed the services you have received, we recommend tipping the hotel staff $6-10 per day ($42-70 for the week).  These tips will be divided amongst the staff.  No additional tipping is required at the center.  For spa treatments, this is totally up to you and anywhere from $0-20 per service is typical.  Shuttle driver:  $3-5 per person depending on the number of people in the van.  Tour guides: they do not expect tips, but if you feel you have had an outstanding adventure $5-10 per person is a nice gesture. In general, in cafes 10% service fee is already included. 

Do they accept US dollars? What is the currency and exchange rate?

Costa Rica
Most places do accept US dollars, but its always wise to have some Colones (local currency).  The exchange rate is approx. 500 Colones to 1 US dollar (it varies but this is the general rate).  You can check on-line or at your local US bank.  There are ATMs in Costa Rica.

Guatemala
There ATMs machines throughout Guatemala.  The center offers you ta private bill that can be paid with a US check, credit card or cash (US or Guatemalan).  Most travelers have about $100 changed to Quetzals upon arrival.  Some vendors do accept dollars.  The exchange rate is about 7.5 to 1 dollar.    There is an exit tax of about $3 dollars you  must pay at the airport.

What if I need to cancel?

Once we commit to each other, we hope that there will not be a reason to cancel, but in the event it is necessary, you will notify us and we can review the cancellation policies in your contract. Deposits are Non-Refundable, but at times transferrable for unto 12-months.

Safety and Medical

What are the medical concerns?

We recommend that either a family member or friend have a copy of your daily itinerary and your passport in case of a State-side emergency.  We also will have an emergency number in the unlikely event we need to contact some at home.

Costa Rica
Health-care in Costa Rica is very good and sanitary standards are high. First class hospitals are found throughout San José and some of the other largely populated areas. Since long ago, diseases such as malaria, paludismo, and yellow fever have been nearly eradicated in Costa Rica. Hospitals and the Red Cross will provide any medical treatment in case of emergency. Please check with your physician for any other necessary personal preparation.  No vaccines are required to enter Costa Rica.Please refer to the CDC (Center for Disease Control Website)for more information and recommendations: www.cdc.gov.

Guatemala
There are no major concerns traveling to Guatemala.  If you have questions about which vaccines are recommended please go to www.cdc.gov.  Most of the ex-pats who live in Guatemala, do not get vaccinated, but you must do what feels right to you.  There are first class hospitals in Guatemala City and western doctors who live nearby the center.  We have never had any major health issues.  Some people encounter intestinal irregularities.  We recommend bringing Grapefruit Seed Extract and perhaps taking it a week before your trip.  This helps your body to assimilate to the different bacterias of a new country.

How close is the nearest hospital?

Costa Rica
All of our sites are within 1 hour of either a hospital or a 24-hour Emergency Clinic.  We have never had a medical situation that has not been adequately resolved.  In extreme cases, air transport is available. Please check your health insurance for coverage in foreign countries.

Guatemala
The retreat center is nearby a few clinics for minor issues and there are western doctors who reside in the same village as the center.  There is a hospital across the lake (20 minute boat ride) and larger hospitals in Guatemala City.

 

Will my group be safe in Central America? What are the concerns?

TNE’s founder, Joshua Canter, has lived in Costa Rica for over 5 years and chose this country as a location for retreats based on his personal experience there.  We only choose venues that feel appropriate in a number of areas: safety, comfort, nature, activities offered, quality of food, and basic ethics and outlook of the retreat center. Costa Rica is considered one of the safest places in Latin America to travel.  Of course you need to use your common sense about times you are out and being alone.  Most of the time your group will be together, not exploring solo and there will be a guide who is very familiar with the locale.  We want our group leaders to feel at ease ~ we have done the background legwork to ensure you will have a pleasant and safe experience with your group. 

Who will my contacts be and will they be accessible?

You will be working with our team here at True Nature, including working directly with Joshua Canter, the founder/director of TNE.  We want to support you fully in this effort and are available through email, phone, texting and skype.  We try to answer emails multiple times daily and do take weekends off. During your retreat, Joshua is available through text to help your in-retreat efforts in anyway he can.

Do people get sick a lot from the food?

This is not typically an issue in Costa Rica. For people with sensitivities, we suggest they bring GSE (Grapefruit Seed Extract) drops or pills to help with any digestive problems that may come up.

Programming

Do I design my own program? Classes and meal times?

Yes, we use our 10 years of experience in the industry, to work together to create a program that will be profound and appropriate to the environment you will be in.  We help you whether it is your first retreat or tenth retreat. This can include visioning your retreat theme and building an itinerary that supports your focus. In addition we will work with you on your   weekly schedule including class times, meal times, free time, etc.

Can I choose the extras that can be included in my retreat?

Yes, you can.  We will guide you to what has worked on past retreats and then you can decide what feels right for your group.  Most often excursions are planned on-site as different people have different interests and there are so many options.  Sometimes choosing one group activity and let the rest of the week unfold is a good way to go.

Are there guides for all the extra excursions, programs and activities?

Yes, there are local guides who have expertise for everything that TNE offers.  They are English speaking and safety oriented.  Our guides work hard to make sure everyone is comfortable and having a good time.

Can I have a Service (“Karma Yoga”) component to the retreat?

Service is a core foundation to TNE that we are committed to.  Our founder created an organization called CREER (to believe) that is service oriented non-profit organization.  Depending which center you choose to visit, we can definitely create a service piece for your program from painting buildings to reading to school children to planting gardens- we will find what is right for your group.

Are there things my students can bring that would help the local community?

Yes, we do have a wish list for our service organization, CREER, and other local communities.  Students can also purchase donations (like school supplies) in Costa Rica, whatever works best.  We love helping you coordinate this kind of effort.

Food

Do they accommodate special diets?

Our centers do accommodate most special dietary restrictions like allergies, vegan and non-gluten diets.  They serve wholesome, fresh, organic when possible meals that are simple and delicious.  Costa Rica does have some of the alternative food we enjoy in the States, but generally speaking the diet in Latin America is simple and basic.  If you are concerned you can bring some alternative snacks to supplement your meals.

Is the food organic?

Each of our centers does their best to serve organic fruits and vegetables when possible.

Is the water safe to drink?

In most of Costa Rica the water is safe, and as always there are some exceptions in certain places. We usually drink bottled water in the cities. We will be clear when it is safe and unsafe to drink the water.  At the retreat centers there is unlimited filtered water, so you can fill your water bottles (please bring one with you).

Accomodations

How many rooms does the center have? Maximum occupancy and occupancy options?

This depends on the center.  All of our centers can accommodate 20 students or more.  All have multiple occupancy options (singles, doubles and triples +) depending on your registration.  Once we decide which center we can give you the specific details for that locale.

What kind of access do I have to communications (phone/internet)?

Your cell phone will not work here unless you have an international calling plan (check with your provider).  It is a recommended to bring a calling card to make long distance phone calls. Please get international calling information specifically for Costa Rica when buying a card. (This includes a special toll- free number to dial while in Costa Rica).  Calls can be made from the center at a rate per minute.  Wireless Internet is available.

HOW BIG IS THE GROUP SPACE? HOW MANY STUDENTS CAN IT ACCOMMODATE?

Each center is different.  All centers can accommodate 20+ people for a yoga program.  After we decide which venue is right for you, we can give you detailed information about the entire property.

What features does the center have? (pool, spa, grounds etc.)

Each locale is unique and has different amenities.  When we know which center you will be visiting, we will give you comprehensive information about the property.

Can someone with mobility issues get around?

Most of our centers are working to be 100% accessible.  Please check with us in regards to current access at each center.

What equipment and supplies do they offer in the group rooms?

Each center has different props and materials available. Please check with us in advance to clarify what is available for your retreat.

How luxurious are the accommodations?

All of our centers are in a natural setting, beautiful and comfortable.  Some are more luxurious than others.  As apart of deciding which center would suit you and your students best, we will review each possibility.

Will there be other guests/groups at the hotel?

Unless we sell out the center, there could be other guests on-site.  In many of our retreats there have been other clients at the property and it has never been an issue, in fact many times it has added to the fullness of the program.

DO I HAVE FULL ACCESS TO THE GROUP ROOM/YOGA SPACE?

Yes, for the majority of our centers you will be assigned one of the group rooms on the property and it is yours to use 24/7.  For those centers that cannot offer 24/7 access, you will just need to provide your group room schedule in advance so we can ensure priority access.  

If I offer treatments to my students, how does that work?

Many of our teachers are also licensed practitioners in some area of healing who would like to offer a treatment as apart of the retreat.  Each center has different policies in this area.  Typically, if one treatment is a part of your program, you can use the group room for this and no fee is needed for the center.  If you want to be apart of their healing team for the week, you would work on whatever split system they have.  Not all centers are open to you joining their team as this takes away from their local therapists.  Check with us, if this is something you want to explore.

Weather and Conditions

What will the weather be like?

The weather is always changing in Costa Rica. Basically, there are two seasons; dry and green.  January through July is usually the warmest and driest part of the year. The temperature annually will range from 65F to 85F. There is always a possibility of a shower here and there as we are in the tropics, so bring your raincoat and/or an umbrella too.

What is the time zone in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is the same as C.S.T. (1 hour behind E.S.T) but does not observe daylight savings time.  This means during March –October they are on MST (2 hours behind E.S.T).

Miscellaneous

What is the language in Costa Rica? Do people speak English at the center?

Spanish is the language primarily spoken. You will find that many people speak English as a second language and you should not have troubles communicating with locals. There will be a TNE guide with you who speaks English available throughout your retreat.

Do I need to take any special precautions?

Please consider the following precautions during your trip that are the same wherever you travel around the world:  Do not leave your luggage unattended at the airport or with a stranger. Do not carry any stranger’s luggage through customs or immigration, and always carry your money within an inside pocket, a body pouch, or a money belt.

Daily spending money could be carried in your bag or front pocket. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are good tools when you travel. Carry a separate package with the following information: a copy of the identifying pages of your passport, the number of your credit cards, traveler checks, bank accounts, airplane tickets, and emergency phone numbers. Valuable items should be left in a safe place. Avoid crowds as well as dark and lonely places, and deal with well-known tourism agencies instead of unknown persons. In other words, take the same precautions you would have when visiting any other country, but do not let that decrease your enjoyment of this experience.

Can I make copies at the center?

Most of our centers have minimal office equipment and sometimes a printer that copies is what they have.  There are places in most towns that you can make copies, however we do recommend that you bring all materials that you will need for your retreat: schedules, support materials, art supplies, writing supplies etc. that will be needed for your program.  In the event you need a copy or two, its no problem, but if you need 20 copies, the fees could be quite high at the center and this is not included.