Yoga isn’t as straightforward as it used to be.
No longer relegated to sweaty studios, practitioners can downward dog on surfboards, or do dolphin pose while actually swimming with dolphins (yes, really).
“People are looking to get more out of their holiday,” says Sean Kelly, who with partner Ron Piron founded BookRetreats, a new online booking platform that he hopes will make these niche getaways more accessible to the masses.
“They want to feel nourished and refreshed, and there’s more yoga retreats that cater to that,” he adds.
Kelly, an American, and Israeli Piron are both veterans of Silicon Valley and wanted to combine their love of technology and entrepreneurship with their passion for yoga.
They see BookRetreats as the “Airbnb of yoga.”
Really, though, the site is more of a curation of the best yoga retreats across the globe, as handpicked by the founders and their network of avid yogis.
“Both me and Ron have been in the yoga world and travel world for many, many years,” says Kelly.
“In that time, we’ve met many yoga teachers and practitioners whose personal recommendations we trust very much.”
The site currently lists 250 retreats, and though Kelly is working to grow that number, he wants to make sure the quality of the listings always remains intact.
“We’re not doing this to just get anything and everything. It’s more about the vision than about trying to grow as fast as possible,” says Kelly.
BookRetreats pulls in TripAdvisor reviews for any retreat that has them.
“The review is the strength of TripAdvisor, it’s what they do well, so we’ve incorporated it,” Kelly adds.
In terms of payment, BookRetreats works similarly to other booking sites.
It takes a 10% commission fee from the host for any transaction successfully made through its site.
To limit disputes, it keeps money paid by the guest in escrow until they arrive at the retreat.
“It helps protect both sides of the equation,” says Kelly, whose father was a professional mediator.
The site also has a lowest-price guarantee, “so owners can’t just bump up the price by 10%.”
Different styles, different countries
In addition to listing a few featured retreats at the top of the site, BookRetreats allows users to search via location, yoga style and categories such as “affordable,” “luxury” and “couples.”
“When people are feeling stressed out, overworked, or they need an escape from their work, their family or themselves, they can go on BookRetreats and find a retreat that is close to home or far away,” says Kelly.
“We want to plant drops of spirituality across the planet.”
Meditation-loving yogis they may be, but the founders are anything but cliched hippie dropouts.
“I’ve taken everything I’ve learned from the worlds of meditation, yoga, technology and synthesized it,” says Piron on the pair’s website.
Meanwhile Kelly describes the project as the “integration of spirituality and the creative business spirit.”
This is business as well as pleasure.
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