Retreat Treat – Weekend of Connection
Deb Caruso joined 25 other leaders on the Sunshine Coast for a weekend of connection, collaboration and chocolate – and all she had to do was wear her pyjamas.
Nestled on the hillside of Buderim are two stunning properties with high hopes.
Aquila Retreat and Malumba Estate are the creations of Heidi Meyer, a self-confessed ‘connector’ who loves to bring likeminded people together to make magic. Tick and tick – the Pyjama Summit brought together 25 likeminded and leading women (and one man – Martin Duncan) for a weekend of connection, collaboration and lots of laughs.
Heidi said she wanted to share her beautiful space with people she considered some of the most responsible and successful female leaders and fabulous men that she admired to come together, connect with one another, socialise safely, while participating in a conversation about a new shared vulnerability – COVID-19.
“We all see each other at plenty of networking events in and around town, but it occurred to me that I’d like to know these great people better and I thought many of them would also like to know one another better too,” she said. “The idea behind calling it a Pyjama Summit was to set a relaxed tone – there’s nothing like seeing one another in your pjs to fast track ‘knowing one another better’,” she said.
The guest list read like a who’s who of the Sunshine Coast and those who could make it, reaped the rewards.
Amongst us were authors and writers; keynote speakers, consultants, ballerinas, artists, chocolate-makers, photographers and more. What was special was that our level of success or career (and most of us had had many different versions of careers) didn’t define us. One thing we all had in common was a passion for people and community; the ability to overcome obstacles and deliver projects with passion.
Heidi said a lot of the attendees were involved in leadership or wellness and had been considering hiring Aquila Retreat for their own events so the chance was there to showcase the properties.
With no strict agenda, the Pyjama Summit allowed for free-flowing conversation, sharing of challenges and success; and to better understand and support each other. The scene was set from the first night with welcome drinks, and live music by sassyjazz.com.au overlooking the twinkling lights of the coastline. After a three-course feast using local ingredients expertly prepared by Henry Derclaye from Yandina’s revered Bar Deco and Deco Events, it was time to slip into our pjs and get to know each other better. Starting with our host Heidi whose fascinating journey from owning her own business at the age of 15 to working in international media and eventually running the Number One Luxury Retreat company in the world; Yohm.
Showing her award-winning design skills, Heidi gutted and redecorated both Aquila and Malumba according to the energy of the spaces. Aquila Retreat’s Moroccan-influenced Boho-luxe is literally world’s apart from Malumba Estate’s Hamptons heaven! Both superbly styled with attention to detail and a perfect balance that offered surprises, yet were not contrived. It’s no wonder Heidi’s design work has been featured in magazines worldwide.
Key elements of any workshop or retreat is the need to keep participants ‘fed and watered’ as we used to say in the corporate world. Henry’s love of artisanal and local produce paired perfectly with Heidi’s passion and commitment for championing all things local.
The food was sensational, with up to 60 local producers featured over the weekend from breakfast to brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner; and including the locally-distilled gin and craft beers. We devoured it all heartily – the stunning surrounds, sublime food and fascinating conversation; as much as we devoured the chance to connect and have meaningful conversations with likeminded leaders from a wide range of backgrounds.
And what’s a party without chocolate?
Fellow Sunshine Coast Business Award Winner Brigid Woolnough of Kokopod Chocolate ensured there was enough of her sustainably-sourced and award-winning, handcrafted creations to keep us blissed out.
The super-relaxed weekend was designed to fill our cups with soulful association, herbal tea or simply good red wine as we got to know each other better and share our thinking on the global/local economy, leadership, managing change, innovation, disruption and resilience.
Supporting us on our way was morning chi gong and yin yoga with Sue Pope from Yoga Soul Sisters; and an immersive mediation and acupuncture treatment by Trent Banyan from High on Chi paired with the ethereal sounds of Dubarray.
Guest speakers included renowned Body language expert and author Barbara Pease; Telstra Business Woman of the Year Jeanette Allom Hill and our host, Heidi Meyer.
Her vision to deliver Badderam Eco Luxe Resort & Spa on the site on which we gathered was outlined and her passion and drive to create a world-class resort where luxury and ecology sits sustainably side-by-side was evident not just in her words but in what she had already delivered.
Together with her husband Kim Carroll, Heidi hopes to return Buderim to the Tourism Destination it once was revered as. The vision for Badderam is big and could be a game changer, not only for the region but for how luxury hotels and environmental ethos are viewed worldwide. Spanning the current Malumba Estate, Badderam embraces four hectares of land set in elevated rainforest bushland with stunning views of the coastline across valley rainforest. With a Development Approval already in place for 94 dual key apartments, world-class exhibition and conference facilities, restaurants, wellness spa, gym, sauna, heated mineralised pools plus much more; Heidi and Kim are actively seeking investors to bring the vision to life. A vision that is needed perhaps now, more than ever.
Since the Summit at the end of July, we have joined together to paint unicorns and puppies (that’s a whole other story); have dinner; and the Facebook Group Chat still pings regularly as we cheer, celebrate and entertain each other on a daily, almost hourly basis. The nourishment of new friendships, connection and collaboration has filled our cup till it over-floweth!
If Aquila Retreat and Malumba Estate are any indication of the ability of Heidi and Kim to deliver an outstanding experience, the future looks bright for a savvy investor.