Once in a Lifetime Retreats with OmLuxe
by julia ford-carther
OmLuxe founders Pamela Jones and Jennifer Grace at The Standard Spa, Miami Beach.
Manifesting amid an energy vortex in Sedona, performing a fullmoon surrender ceremony in Santorini, or offering gratitude during a cleansing water ritual in Bali—these are a few ways OmLuxe, a Miami-based luxury retreat company, makes a difference in the world.
Founders Pamela Jones and Jennifer Grace came together over a mutual interest in five-star travel, personal transformation, and helping others. Born in 2010, their OmLuxe now hosts multiple transformative retreats where travelers experience life-changing breakthroughs in some of the most sought-after global destinations. But the OmLuxe effect isn’t reserved only for guests.
As part of its mission, the company supports the Somaly Mam Foundation, an international organization committed to ending sex slavery by bringing awareness to the issue and empowering its surviving victims. This month, OmLuxe hosts its next travel retreat, Compassion in Cambodia, a weeklong trip of personal discovery and global humanitarianism, and for the first time, guests will be helping OmLuxe raise a goal of $40,000 to be donated solely to the foundation.
Guests experience a transformative Balinese fire ceremony in Ubud, Bali.
Jennifer Grace: Pamela and I both have a passion for conscious living, and also a passion for luxury. We would travel to these high-end destinations, like St-Tropez, St. Barth’s—places where normally it’s not [about] the yogi lifestyle—and if you didn’t want to leave your consciousness behind, where were the places you could stay that were eco-friendly, that you could get your Om on and go meditate or take a yoga class? Where were the organic and vegan restaurants and the organic vineyards in these destinations? I remember being in yoga, literally in downward-facing dog pose, and I went, “What if we made it a retreat company?”
Pamela Jones: Our first signature retreat was Sedona, which we’ve gone on three times now.
JG: We had 18 women staring at us, and we had no idea what we were doing. And that trip went off without a hitch. It was so seamless, and everybody went through a huge transformation.
PJ: We took the group to the top of the vortex, this mountaintop with this Native American shaman who led a [manifesting] ceremony. Everybody cast their intentions, and it was very powerful. That I’ll never forget.
During a travel retreat in Sedona, Arizona.
JG: [We] love to bring other healers, transformational psychologists, and incredible experts to deepen the experience for our women and men who are on these retreats so they can really have a huge breakthrough.
PJ: And we always have given a portion of our proceeds to charity.
JG: It was the Somaly Mam [Foundation] that we joined it to.
PJ: I was introduced to the work of Somaly Mam through a photographer in New York named Michael Angelo, who did The Lipstick Portraits. At this show, they had been working with Somaly and I thought she’s such a powerful, inspiring woman. Empowering women is what I want to make my life’s work about. I was just drawn to it. We’ve been supporting the Somaly Mam Foundation through all of our retreats.
JG: We feel so compelled to speak up, make an impact, make a difference, and wake the people in our world up to what’s going on.
PJ: This Cambodia retreat is a dream coming true. The guests are fundraising on their own—this is a new concept for all of us. Each participant is required to raise $2,000, with our collective goal being $40,000 for the foundation. We’re going to actually meet Somaly and have a private lunch with her as well as meeting some of the survivors.
JG: [Cambodia] is sold out. Now we’re focusing on just raising the funds.
PJ: One hundred thirty-five dollars can provide one month of services and provisions for a woman or a girl in Somaly centers, which includes food, clothing, accommodations, healthcare, recreational activities, and specialized training in her field of choice: hairdressing, weaving, sewing, small-business management, or agriculture. Fifty dollars can support a full computer-training course for a survivor of trafficking.
JG: People who can’t go on the trips still can make a difference.
Practicing yoga in Oia, Santorini.
PJ: We’re going to have meditation and yoga sessions, and some of the survivors will be participating in the yoga with us. We’re also going to have an interactive panel with the Voices for Change survivors—that’s a Somaly Mam Foundation survivor-empowerment program. It’s women who are being trained to become activists and advocates and educators. They’re accompanying Somaly around the world on some of her speaking tours. We’re also going to offer a Khmer [Cambodian] cooking class, a Thai-yoga massage workshop, and guided tours to famous sights and temples of Angkor Wat. It’s going to be very transformative.
JG: And we are slating a photo yoga safari in South Africa in 2014, where we’re going to do service work. Staying under the umbrella of women, children, and sex slavery, [we will choose] a foundation that is connected to Africa. Again, 100 percent of the net proceeds will be donated for that.
PJ: I’m really about giving back at this stage in my life. It’s been an incredible partnership.
photography by gary james; omluxe (bali, sedona); omluxe (santorini)
Cover shoot: Behind the scenes with Pitbull for the October 2014 issue of Ocean Drive magazine.