About Luminaries Retreat
Luminaries Retreat in western Wisconsin is a Christian-based retreat center for adults (with the potential of opening up to families in the near future). It offers scheduled or custom retreats for both individuals and groups for the purposes of weight loss, fitness, and nutrition coaching. Although it is intended to cater to a Christian clientele, members of all faiths are welcome. Retreats can be tailored for women’s groups, one-on-one fitness training, and more.
This retreat center allows for plenty of outdoor recreational activities as it is located in a small town near lakes, rivers, and wildlife in the St. Croix River Valley. Luminaries’ philosophy of wellness is that while participants should eat whole foods, no dieting is necessary. Rather, attention is paid to the spiritual source of disordered eating. The website promises that guests will have no sedentary days and that “you are going to move your body in at least one way you never have before.”
Program options include group (residential and generally less than a week long), custom (anywhere from 1–8 weeks, residential), and one-on-one (for local residents only and scheduled by the month). Residential programs are all-inclusive. There are also other programs for locals available upon request as well as special weekend retreats that vary depending on the season.
The lodgings at Luminaries Retreat are located in a stylish brick building in town with three apartments done up in a bed-and-breakfast style. These apartments are known as the Peacock Loft, The Copper Room, and the Artist’s Loft. Apartments feature both sleeping and cooking spaces.
The Peacock Loft is on the top floor and has a master bedroom with a queen bed as well as one twin and one full futon in the living area. This apartment has excellent views and has been recently remodeled. At 550 square feet, it includes one full bathroom, a fully functional kitchen, and a small dining area. It is decorated in blue and grey tones in a modern style.
The Artist’s Loft is also on the top floor and has one bedroom with a queen four-post bed. In the living area, there is a comfortable, full-size pull-out couch. While the kitchen is sleek and modern, the Artist’s Loft is designed in a dramatic yet rustic style featuring Gothic arches, mosaic and stained-glass details, and a gas fireplace.
On the lower level of the Luminaries building close to parking and an outdoor patio, the Copper Room is a studio apartment of 250 square feet with a partial kitchen and shower. This may be the best option for someone for whom stairs are a problem.
Each apartment has access to the downstairs patio with outdoor seating.
Retreat groups of eight or more people are housed off-site.
The fitness program at Luminaries can be tailored for guests of any fitness level, and all activities are included in the retreat price. These include kayaking and other water sports, biking, hiking, and running outdoors. The availability of some of these activities may be dependent on the weather. Indoor group exercise includes strength and cardiovascular training as well as body-weight exercises and boot camp.
The fitness schedule for each day is comprised of two sessions adding up to a total of four hours. The first session is after breakfast and lasts 1.5 hours. This morning workout is a group activity such as a class led by a personal trainer or certified fitness instructor at the local gym, which is a short drive away from the Luminaries building and where most of the classes and personal training sessions will be. Residential guests will receive a membership at this gym for the duration of their stay and can make use of it during their free time in the evening.
The second fitness session, which is an outdoor activity, lasts for two and a half hours and ends before dinner. These activities change each day and include kayaking, biking, hiking, and more. In the winter, for example, snowshoeing is offered.
Meals at Luminaries are prepared simply so that it is easy for guests to recreate them at home. The two main phrases to describe Luminaries’ food selections are “whole foods” and “sugar detox.” An emphasis is also placed on enjoying food with thankfulness to God.
Over the course of a weeklong retreat, guests will spend several hours receiving cooking instructions, although this portion is optional. These instructions include both food science principles and recipe execution.
Guests have the option to pre-arrange for certain dietary restrictions (gluten free, Paleo, etc.) for their meals at this FitStay. Following is a sample daily menu for guests with no specific restrictions:
- Unsweetened almond milk, raisin bran, hard-boiled egg
- Sautéed spinach, egg bake, turkey sausage
- Apples, steel-cut oatmeal
- Indian chicken soup with mushrooms, spices, chickpeas
- Salad of kale, spinach, clementines, avocado, and sunflower seeds
- Mixed greens and salmon
- Butternut squash soup and grilled pork
- Barely, vegetable, and grass-fed ground-beef soup
- Creole shrimp and rice with peppers, onions, tomatoes
Guests will most often prepare their own breakfasts in their rooms using the provided recipes and groceries that are included in the price of the retreat. Lunches are demonstrated by a guest chef or the residential nutrition expert. For dinner, residential guests either share cooking duty amongst themselves or, in the case of group retreats, eat a prepared dinner together.
During free time in the evenings, guests can take advantage of the retreat house, fishing equipment, movie nights, support group meetings, or evening exercise and seminar opportunities. Guests who have their own outdoor equipment for water sports or other activities are encouraged to bring them for personal use.
While Luminaries Retreat is all-inclusive for residential guests, they are responsible for their own transportation to the center. Luminaries Retreat is about an hour’s drive from both downtown Minneapolis and the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, which is in Minnesota. Guests arriving by air should either rent a car or take the NWT Express shuttle from the airport to the town of St. Croix Falls in western Wisconsin. The St. Croix River Valley is full of state parks and charming small towns that guests can visit in their free time, and the retreat center itself is a only a short walk from St. Croix River and the Wisconsin Interstate State Park.
Custom residential retreats require a $200 deposit, but prices vary widely based on length of stay (anywhere from 1 week to 2 months) and number of guests. A 25% discount is available for guests who share lodging.
A one-week residential retreat costs $1,200 per person. A custom-length residential retreat, under two weeks in length, runs the price up to $2,000. A two-month stay comes in at $8,000.
Occasionally, Luminaries has special retreat offerings. For example, the group wellness retreat costs $550 per person and includes lodging, seminars, classes, fitness training, outdoor excursions, and some meals. There is also a 3-day, 2-night ladies retreat for the price of $275 per person. This weekend retreat is all-inclusive and off-site.
Unless otherwise mentioned, the above prices include everything except transportation to the retreat center.
Currently, there is also a free wellness support group offered at the Luminaries Lounge. This group is open to all comers and addresses various health topics such as food addiction, cooking, weight loss, etc.
With the nearby lakes, rivers, and woodlands, quaint, small-town feel, and Christian emphasis, Luminaries Retreat promises both physical and spiritual rejuvenation in a relaxing setting. Those who are interested in the Biblical principles of physical health will find it ideal, but the charm of Luminaries Retreat might be lost on FitStay goers who prefer a fast-paced city environment.
Luminaries Retreat Pros
- Caring staff – Guest reviews rave about the kindness and attention of Luminaries staff
- Motivational atmosphere – Guests are inspired by the variety of fun activities and real-life application of nutritional and fitness knowledge to get the most out of each day of the retreat program
Luminaries Retreat Cons
- Weather restrictions – With so much of the retreat program based around outdoor activity, weather restrictions could pose a major threat to participation in the winter.
- Getting around – While not completely in the middle of nowhere, Luminaries Retreat is an hour’s drive from the nearest airport and major city.