Incredible Wellness Destinations: Diana Stobo Of The Retreat Costa Rica On The Secrets To Creating The Perfect Wellness Destination

Incredible Wellness Destinations: Diana Stobo Of The Retreat Costa Rica On The Secrets To Creating The Perfect Wellness Destination

Be open. People try so hard to create an itinerary for travel that they don’t allow space for the unexpected.

The pandemic has shaped the way we travel and live, with a growing trend leaning towards health, wellness, and a holistic lifestyle. More than ever, individuals are seeking not just getaways, but immersive wellness retreats that help rejuvenate the body, mind, and soul. Destinations that provide a serene environment, unique wellness offerings, and an unparalleled experience are in great demand. In this interview series, we are talking to property owners and hospitality companies who are at the helm of these wellness havens. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Diana Stobo.

Diana Stobo is a celebrity chef, best-selling author, health and wellness life coach and founder and owner of The Retreat Costa Rica. Her passion for helping people heal themselves is rooted in her past struggles with physical challenges that traditional medicine failed to offer permanent solutions for. Her goal at The Retreat Costa Rica — a tropical luxury resort nestled among lush vegetation in the arms of a quartz mountain with stunning views of the Nicoya Peninsula and Pacific Ocean — is to offer a transformational wellness center where guests can escape their daily chaos and stress and reset their internal sense of balance in a nurturing and gentle environment.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Myfather, a Persian immigrant who came to the United States to study, met my mother who was a farm girl. Although they are no longer together, I can see their attraction. They both had a love for food and nature, and that love was not lost on me. I was a unique child and extremely creative. My visionary qualities started at a young age, and I always found an outlet to express myself, whether in art, cooking, writing or drawing. Some said I lived in my own little world or called me a loner, but the reality was I tried to keep my sensitivities protected, which led me to discover what truly mattered to me: health and feeling good in my body.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

I would love to give credit to a dear friend who is no longer with us in the physical body. We were sitting on a hammock overlooking the Bay of Bengal in India, and my friend asked me what my life’s purpose was. Without a moment’s hesitation, I spoke swiftly, “To heal people through food and love.” You would have thought I parted the Red Sea with those words. That declaration opened my life and my creative channels, and every opportunity started to flood into my life. I could not say no. I followed divine guidance and ended up here.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

There was a young girl at Cornell University — her name is Alina. She was an incoming freshman and my first employee when I managed the Cornell Catering services while I attended the master’s program hotel school of administration. She had a strong work ethic like me, and we became fast friends. Today, she is the godmother to one of my twins and I am for her daughter. We didn’t grow apart, but we had separate lives and didn’t talk much over the years. When I wrote my first book “Get Naked Fast,” she called me out of the blue to tell me she started her own publishing company. Her dedication to that business and my books led to many speaking engagements along with my name starting to become known across the country in the wellness industry. She is smart, encouraging and relentlessly innovative, and she gave me wings to fly.

It has been said that sometimes our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you during your career? What lesson or takeaway did you learn from that?

There have been so many mistakes, so many failures, so many lessons, that I cannot list them all without laughing and crying at the same time. I have found myself murmuring inwardly that I could have paid for eight more master’s degrees for the cost of my mistakes — mistakes in building and construction, hiring the wrong people, marketing failures and technology. I have built countless websites, had a few bad partners and muddled through things I didn’t know until I became an expert. But the greatest takeaway I have learned from myriad mistakes is that life goes on, and if you keep your vision clear, you will come out ahead. I just keep dreaming and making magic. That is one thing I have never failed at.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“If you can pay for your problems to go away, do it.” I have a billionaire friend who said problems are just roadblocks to your dreams. They take up time and energy that can be used for building, creating and manifesting. If you have the means to make them go away, do it quickly, so you can continue your good work. Quite literally he meant to pay in dollars. At the time, however, I didn’t have such luxury, so I used that philosophy and surrendered to losses. Instead of trying to save an idea or a project, I pivoted by letting go and refocusing on the important things that were working.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I pay attention to what people want from a healing center and the modalities they desire to heal themselves. By listening I am always creating new programs to address the needs and desires of our guests. For example during the pandemic, I created an emotional healing package and brought in experts to help people process the chaos of that time. Recently, I added our Mastering Menopause package to help guide women through the next phase of life. Both have been wildly successful because it was what people were asking for without using words. I even look at the infrastructure on the premises to surmise how the environment can improve in spaces and offerings. Since this place is built on the love and support of our guests, I do everything I can to make their wishes come true. It is their home away from home after all. I am currently building everything our guests have asked for. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag just yet but know great things are happening here at The Retreat Costa Rica!

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview about wellness destinations. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or personal experience, why do you think travel can lead to better wellness? Can you share a story?

I started traveling later in life. I was in my early 30s when I journeyed through Thailand with a Thai monk. While in the hills of Mae Hong Son, the northern part of Thailand, we set out on a two-hour hike. Over rivers, through streams, villages and rice plantations, we walked for hours until we realized we were lost. The journey lasted 10 hours without food or water. We found ourselves covered in leeches, eating grubs, falling in deep rich soil along forgotten villages until finally we found our way back. It was quite a journey, but during that time, I never worried, didn’t flinch and just kept moving. When we finally got into a tuk tuk and were driving back along the river’s edge in the dark of night, the Thai monk asked if I wanted a beer. I nodded an emphatic ‘yes.’ We sat in this little hut as he told me about myself. He expressed his version of me in every way, letting me know how calm and courageous I was. He expressed words I have never heard before — positive and uplifting words I probably knew about myself but didn’t ever here from family or friends. When I returned home, I thought I was in love with the Thai monk. It took me several months of deep diving into my soul to realize that wasn’t the case, but what he ignited in me was a new profound love for myself. And that is where my journey to healing myself and everyone around me began.

What are a few things that distinguish your property from thousands of wellness properties around the world?

Most destination properties have different focuses. Some are fitness driven, some are food focused and others are spiritual or spa oriented. We are all the above. But what truly makes us special is our location, the people and the energy that permeates throughout this property. We are perched on a crystal mountain where the energy is palpable the moment you arrive. The crystals bring to the surface of each guest what needs to be addressed and healed, and it happens without thought or intention. The crystal magic works here all by itself, and we are here to support it. The staff are magnificently authentic. I believe in hiring people with genuine love in their hearts and care for the wellbeing of others. We can train and teach the rest. We pay copious attention to the heart and soul of each staff member because they are part of the experience. We are a family at The Retreat Costa Rica. and each one of our guests is part of that family too. When they arrive, they are home.

What type of experience do you want your visitors to have when they visit?

A relationship expert friend of mine once told me her definition of true love is “I want for you what you want for yourself.” I paid close attention to her words and how I was showing up for the people in my life. I realized this intention is about supporting people in their growth and their life experiences and bearing witness to their hearts’ desires. It’s not up to me to inflict my agenda for them on them. I have made a point of creating a place here in Costa Rica that provides a blank canvas for each guest to paint the life they desire, and I happily bear witness to their evolution. We support people in the experience they want for themselves. That is true love.

What makes your property a beautiful escape for a body and mind recharge?

The Retreat design is purposely fresh and open, unobstructed and simply elegant, illuminated with crystals and surrounded by nature. Created as a peaceful space to release and let go, the environment is a huge factor in the experience of the property. Clearing the mind is essential to opening what may come and manifest during their time here. Everyone has a profound experience, and each experience is unique to the individual.

Can you share any transformative stories or testimonials from guests who visited your property?

I could tell you hundreds of transformative stories about the guests’ time here. Vanessa’s story is one people love to hear and delight in. She came with a friend who told her she needed to get out of the house. Her husband had recently become bedridden, and she spent months catering to him and nursing him back to health. She gave up her health and wellness to care for her beloved and lost herself in the process. She wasn’t a particularly healthy eater, and her choices declined over these months, and she felt heavy and stuck. She came when I was hosting a Diana Stobo Signature retreat, so there was a specific agenda. The eating schedule was geared toward detoxification, and the physical program was expansive and meant to challenge and bring out the child in the participants. Her curmudgeonly tone at each meal started with a grunt, “I don’t know about that.” Her approach toward each healthy meal was trepidatious, but she was always pleasantly surprised. By day three she was excited about her meals and began with, “OK, alright,” which we were all noting as she investigated the new foods she was about to enjoy. That day, I announced we were heading to the waterfall to swim. This was the test where the guest would be presented with a leap of faith into the crystal waterfall that would ignite the child in them. She had already warned us it wouldn’t happen to her. She hiked through the jungle with jeans on and a sweater. She watched as other guests jumped off the rock, which was about 15 feet high into deep crystal-infused water, giggling with joy. Nobody was paying much attention to Vanessa as she straddled a tree stump. But before we knew it, she had removed all her clothing exposing a swimsuit. She climbed onto the rock and jumped with glee. Her face as she emerged from the water was that of a young girl who had just ridden her first bicycle. And then suddenly a look of panic came over her. Our fearless guide swan dove into the water and brought her to the edge. She was laughing so hard and shouted: “I got so excited, I forgot I can’t swim.” The smile on her face didn’t leave for the rest of her visit.

Why do you think the experience you offer is so needed nowadays?

People need to “retreat” from everyday life to remember parts they have lost in the day-to-day duties and comforts. Traveling, exploring, getting away or just resting and being cared for occasionally is a great reminder of their soul essence.

Do you think travel enhances our mindfulness, optimism, or sense of gratitude? How? Can you please explain with an example or story?

Absolutely, without question. Last month this beautiful woman reached out on Instagram to share the moments she was experiencing here at The Retreat. A pizote (a local animal in Costa Rica) was sleeping on her balcony every night. She felt it was a messenger for her on her journey, and she was eager to connect. What she didn’t know was that I had arrived at the hotel that night and we would run into each other the next day. She was so excited to meet me to introduce her fiancé and share her story with me. She said she had come a year before when she had lost a pregnancy and the relationship with the man to whom it belonged. It was a dark time, and she needed a reason to go on. She came to grieve. While she was here, she found a place to heal and re-ignite her joy and excitement for life. She was now engaged to this new man who was 13 years younger and brought a spark of newness. She was to be married the following weekend but insisted he come and experience the place that changed her whole life. He was equally happy to be here and insisted they would be back after the wedding. They sent me wedding photos from their gorgeous wedding and keep in touch as we have become lifelong friends.

What are your “5 Habits You Should Develop In Order Make Travel Into An Opportunity For Wellness & Personal Growth?”

1. Be open. People try so hard to create an itinerary for travel that they don’t allow space for the unexpected.

2. Surrender your thoughts. No matter the place or the culture, if you travel with fixed ideas, you won’t be able to learn from the experience.

3. Plan for nothing. Remember the saying “We plan, God laughs.” It’s good to have an outline of your journey, but let the agenda develop as you go.

4. Set an intention for your travel experience such as to find joy, to be peaceful, to laugh more or to try something new every day — whatever it is you desire.

5 . Be present. Leave home at home, and keep the phone in a side pocket — not in your hands. Don’t call friends about their drama, and don’t think about who is watering the plants or taking out the garbage. Everything will be just fine without you. Fully embark on this time with a free spirit.

Based on your experience, where do you see the future of wellness travel heading in the next 5–10 years?

Without a doubt wellness travel is the new way to vacation. It will only expand as our human consciousness expands and realizes self-care is essential for our evolution. There will be more regenerative hotels, resorts even communities that will begin to support the growth during the age of Aquarius. I suspect we will start seeing more spa-like healing technologies to slow oxidation and increase cellular regeneration. There is so much that isn’t available yet, and I am looking forward to when it is.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)

I am often asked this question in interviews, and I struggle to find an answer. I know some incredible people, and it seems the people I am meant to learn from appear in my life as I need them. It would be sad to lose an opportunity to meet some awe-inspiring humans on this platform, so I invite all light beings to reach out if my thoughts resonate with you. I will gladly have a sit down and talk about the metaphysical aspects of our lives, frequency, energy and how we are going to heal the planet and everyone on it, one step at a time together.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Readers can follow me at and on Instagram and via The Retreat Costa at and on Instagram.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success.

About the Interviewer: Wanda Malhotra is a wellness entrepreneur, lifestyle journalist, and the CEO of Crunchy Mama Box, a mission-driven platform promoting conscious living. CMB empowers individuals with educational resources and vetted products to help them make informed choices. Passionate about social causes like environmental preservation and animal welfare, Wanda writes about clean beauty, wellness, nutrition, social impact and sustainability, simplifying wellness with curated resources. Join Wanda and the Crunchy Mama Box community in embracing a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle at

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment