Wellness Weekend: My Amazing Experience At The ‘Girlfriends Getaway’ In Jamaica
After a grueling first half of 2018, my life seemed to know just what I needed when I was recently given the opportunity to attend my first female empowerment weekend in beautiful Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Naturally a skeptic of group events and living my life as a true “extroverted introvert,” I was so pleasantly surprised at the amazing connections I forged with 19 different women from all walks of life.
Organized by boutique marketing and public relations firm Tene Nicole, the Support Your Girlfriends Getaway celebrated its second year this year, hosting 20 women from all walks of life at the beautiful and luxurious Moon Palace resort in Ocho Rios. From the second we stepped off the plane, Tene Nicole CEO Nikkia McClain and her amazing team had every detail organized meticulously so that we all felt like superstars. From the first smiling face that greeted me, I felt my mind’s walls begin to subside as I allowed myself to be catered to and embraced by everyone involved. By the end of the 4 day getaway, I went home feeling renewed and optimistic.
Below is a taste of the magic of the weekend.
Day 1: Welcome To JA
On our first day, we were greeted at the airport by the amazing Club MoBay, which provided us with an escort for expedited lines at customs, as well as a waiting area with delicious food, rum punches, WiFi and entertainment. On my flight were 4 women traveling to the retreat and immediately they embraced me, making me feel like we were already old friends.
We hopped on an air-conditioned transport bus to head over to Ocho Rios to the Moon Palace hotel. From the hospitable staff to the stunning grounds, the Moon Palace was everything you could want in an all-inclusive.
After arrival, we had a few hours to rest, shower and change. From there, we attended the private dinner and cocktail hour, which took place between the Moon Palace’s beautiful pool and beach area. The food was delicious and the service was impeccable, but the most memorable part was hearing an introduction from every woman. I was so impressed with the group which ranged from celebs like Yandy Smith and Jennifer Williams to activist Tamika D. Mallory to media personalities like Lyndsay Christian and media experts like Sandra Garcia Lowery.
Day 2: Level Up
We kicked off the second day with a delicious breakfast at the resort that contained pretty much every Caribbean breakfast dish you could possibly dream of, as well as a talk with Dr. Arabia Mollette, who is an emergency room physician, women’s health advocate and host of the podcast “The Visit With Dr. Arabia Mollette.” After an emotional and empowering discussion, we took off on a sailing and snorkeling adventure, which quickly transitioned to a dance party. And what’s a dance party without an internet challenge? We stepped up to the plate with Ciara’s “Level Up” challenge, the results of which became the Black Girl Magic below.
That night, we headed to dinner at Momo, the resort’s in-house, Pan-Asian restaurant. The food was delicious, but the night contained an emotional moment I can’t quite describe. At the advising of Lucinda Cross, author of the upcoming book “The Big Ask,” every woman in the room shared her big ask for her life. When I shared mine, which was a deeply emotional and scary experience to even say out loud, Lucinda invited me to come up and sit at the head of the table, where she had me close my eyes and have every woman come up and say a quick affirmation in my ear. It sounds simple enough as I type these words, but believe me when I say that the tears flowed freely from my eyes as I released all of my fears and concerns. It was a moment of true sisterhood, where 19 strangers suddenly became friends I will forever treasure. They saw me at a fragile moment, where I put aside my infamous pride and composed exterior, and they not only uplifted and affirmed me, but they did so without judgment. I can’t tell you how much I will remember that moment for life and how it truly reminded me what it means to support your girlfriends.
Day 3: Beach Party
On the third and final full day of the event, we were treated to a private beach day with amazing gift bags of swag from Mielle Organics. After a few hours of cocktails like frozen “Bob Marleys” and sunshine, we headed to the pool for a chat with Essence editor Charreah Jackson, whose newly-released book “Boss Bride: The Powerful Woman’s Playbook for Love and Success” served as the driver of our conversation about living out our best professional and personal lives. Makeup Forever sponsored the intimate event, even providing each attendee with a signature red lipstick.
That night, we had our finale dinner, where Tamika Mallory discussed with us the importance of supporting each other and our communities in these difficult and scary times. It was a great event full of both emotion and celebration. We also got the chance to pour into Nikkia McClain, who had given us so much with this incredible weekend and her tireless work to uplift us all during the year.
The trip was one I will never forget, and served as a reminder for me that it is up to us as sisters to be there for each other. Too often, we hear the narrative that women are competitive and catty and this empowerment weekend was the complete antithesis of that. Since then, we’ve all kept in touch with one another via a group chat. I know that in spite of the unforgettable and breathtaking beauty of Moon Palace’s grounds and all the charm that Jamaica has to offer, the true gift of the weekend was the incredible interaction with a group of truly amazing women.