Beyond the Nest: Combining Travel and Wellness for a Passion-filled Life

April 26, 2024   1 Comment »

Beyond the Nest: Combining Travel and Wellness for a Passion-filled Life

April 27, 2021 1 Comment »

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The day Mary Fusillo and Vanessa Famighetti launched their company, Beyond the Nest, fell on the same day that a once-in-a-century storm was slamming Texas.

In Houston, where Mary and her husband live, the couple awoke February 15, 2021, to a frigid home without water, power, or internet. The new business owner couldn’t check the website or even touch base with her co-owner, Vanessa, who is based in San Diego.

“Here we were launching this travel and wellness business I’d been dreaming about for two years,” Mary said, “and I had no idea what was happening.”

The dismal circumstances would rattle most people. But not Mary. The entrepreneur, who has so much joie de vivre she could practically generate her own power, faced the situation with her signature positive outlook.

“We were actually very blessed,” she recalls. “It was 53 degrees in our house, which is cold, but we were safe.”

Beyond the Nest was Born

Fortunately, the site launched without a hitch—Mary learned days later—and was getting some 200 hits in a 24-hour timeframe.

I first met Mary on a Zoom call when I interviewed her about Beyond the Nest, and she recounted that day in February. Her enthusiasm for her new company and life in general practically came through the screen. After our interview, she emailed that she had just finished an espresso followed by iced tea, but I don’t believe that was what fueled her zest. She fervently believes in what she and her co-partner are doing.

travel and wellness retreat mexico

Described by the owners, as “a company focused on offering life-changing retreats to empty nesters and nestees ready to go on a journey of self-discovery,” Beyond the Nest found its way into the digital cosmos, storm or no storm.

Mary describes a nestee as “one who is an empty nester with no children at home, or if someone is child-free, they are ready to step into the next phase of their lives. With everyone working from home due to COVID, so many people want to reinvent their lives, be it work from home or work from anywhere. A ‘potential traveler’ might be an empty nestee who is now working from home and would like to re-imagine how working from anywhere would look and feel; our workshops give people the information to do that.”

Travel and Wellness Combined

travel and wellness retreat

Week-long luxury travel and wellness retreats provide workshops led by experts, with discussions about topics such as how to find a new job that will grant you a location-independent lifestyle and the importance of being connected to a supportive community. Afternoons and evenings are filled with cultural and wellness activities such as hot yoga, meditation, horseback riding, stargazing with a guide, and tequila tasting. Meals are prepared by a private chef – all in a five-star setting.

Workshops focus on recalibrating after COVID, rediscovering your inner-power, mental and physical wellness, and remote work and travel.

In the Flying the Coop retreat, facilitators pose questions such as, “What kind of nest are you in? Who am I away from my ‘nest’ and who do I wish to become?”

In the retreat that focuses on Work-from-home to Work-from-anywhere, participants delve into the possibilities of working from anywhere, which is more likely after working remotely during the pandemic.

Work from anywhere
Work from Anywhere!

“Whether you’re already an established nomadic entrepreneur or beginning to forge your own path toward remote working,” according to the Beyond the Nest website, “this retreat is for you.”

Travel and Wellness retreats offer a chance to learn more about yourself among a community of like-minded souls.

The Origin Story – a Boomer and a Millennial

The baby boomer and the 28-year-old met at a digital nomad retreat in Belgrade, Serbia, the summer of 2019. Vanessa was one of the facilitators, and Mary, who had taken a six-week sabbatical in Montevideo, Uruguay, the year before to reflect on her life, was continuing her quest in Belgrade.

Both had faced adversity. Vanessa endured a life-altering experience, when at age 20 she was diagnosed with cancer while attending UC Berkeley. Today, Vanessa has an impressive resume with an extensive background in the travel business; before the pandemic hit, she led groups of digital nomads on trips around the world.

Mary faced heartache, as well, when she and her husband struggled with infertility early in their marriage. Thankfully, today they are the proud parents of college-aged twins. She went on to build successful businesses that focused on the emotional, medical, and financial aspects of fertility.

Beyond the Nest Founders
Vanessa and Mary – Beyond the Nest Founders


Mary recalls that mid-way through the retreat she was exploring Belgrade on a warm summer afternoon and experienced an aha moment.
“I had an epiphany,” she says. “And I hadn’t even been drinking!” I realized, then and there, what I really wanted was to help other people kickstart their life.”

Join me as I interview Mary on May 3rd, at 6PM Eastern time on Facebook Live! I’ll be talking to her about travel and wellness and learning more about what to expect out of the retreats and why she’s so passionate about helping people! RSVP here to join us live and bring your questions!

A Retreat that Welcomes Boomers AND Millennials

Prior to going to Belgrade, Mary had been turned down by the company she first selected for a digital retreat. They told her, “You’re not quite the right fit. Have you thought about elder hostel?”

The rejection from the first company Mary contacted added to her determination to build an enterprise that would welcome not just the Bali backpacking crowd or the coder in Silicon Valley, but anyone on the quest for a more meaningful life.

“Trips are designed for two different audiences that truly overlap in age,” Mary says.

Mary and Vanessa stayed in touch after the workshop, collaborated for several months, and Beyond the Nest was born. Mary brings the business savvy and Vanessa brings what Mary calls the “woo” (winning others over) factor.

“We complement each other,” she says.

Mary adds that they chose the name Beyond the Nest, to represent what happens when someone is an empty nester and ventures beyond their ‘nest,’ for example, venturing beyond the confines of someone’s parenting life.

“But, it also means getting out beyond your comfy nest and exploring the world,” she says, “finding new things, meeting new people.”

Why Combine Travel and Wellness?

travel and wellness retreat mexico

“We believe that travel is more than a good time,” says Mary. “Travel can be a remedy, it can be an outlet, a gateway, and a launchpad.”

The cross-generational duo’s plans were put on hold for a year due to COVID, but today when things are slowly coming back to life, lavish retreats are planned in Mexico, the Greek Isles, Malta, and Vietnam. Each retreat lasts seven days and six nights, with anywhere from seven to 14 participants, and has its own theme of either “Flying the Coop” or “Work-from-home to Work-from-anywhere”.

“Trips are designed for two different audiences that truly overlap in age,” Mary says. “We believe the audience is between 30 and 60-ish.”
Mary and Vanessa encourage participants to stay for both weeks to maximize their recalibration. Guests may come for one week and attend workshops and then extend for a second week and opt for workshops or simply relax.

Typical Retreat Day

A sample day’s itinerary goes something like this: Mornings begin with a chef-prepared breakfast followed by yoga or meditation in the garden, a workshop such as, “Driving Forces: Self, Work, Home, Community,” breakout groups, free time, and then lunch. Afternoon is a repeat with a workshop, time to explore or do yoga, dinner, and then a cooking class with a local chef or gallery walk in town.

mexico wellness retreat

Participants can look forward to tailored workshops based on the group’s specific interests, that will “get the ball rolling and stoke the inner fire you need to build a life you love.”

Save Money by Bringing a Plus One

Attendees are welcome to bring a bestie, spouse, or companion. (You’ll get a better price if you double up. Bringing a plus one is a great way to economize.)

Mary and Vanessa encourage participants to stay for both weeks to maximize their recalibration. Guests may come for one week and attend workshops and then extend for a second week and opt for workshops or simply relax.

Pre and Post Retreat Mentorship

The fee even includes four weeks of mentorship prior to the retreat – including lists of articles and books to read – and four weeks of the same post-retreat. Attendees are able to “meet” each other online, so they feel as if they almost know one another before even arriving.

Even though the retreat is held at an elegant property in Mexico, or another location around the globe, the goal remains serious: to help participants design a life and career they love.

Is Beyond the Nest right for you? (It sounds ideal to me)

Mary and Vanessa encourage anyone considering signing up for a retreat to call and talk to one of them or their team with questions. When you click “Schedule a call,” on the site, Vanessa’s calendar appears ready for people to book a 20-minute chat.

Retreat villa mexico
The retreat villa in Mexico

Personally, I picture myself at the July travel and wellness retreat in the small village of Atotonilco, seven miles outside of San Miguel. I’m lounging on the two-acre compound of Hacienda Cielo on a sun-dappled patio after a morning workshop, group discussion, meditation and hot yoga in the onsite glass studio. I imagine myself feeling not only pampered but empowered. I’m pondering the questions, “Is the nest I’m in one that is supporting, invigorating, and inspiring me?” and “Who am I away from my nest?”

Create Your Passion-fueled Life

“I haven’t been this passionate about a project since I started my first business in 2007,” Mary says, “but instead of helping people create a family, I want to help people figure out how to combine you, family, career, community. We want to guide others to the next chapter of their lives. Instead of plopping on the sofa and flipping on the TV, I hope to help people reignite long, dormant passions!”

travel and wellness

With their grit and determination, their dream to help people embrace all the opportunities life has to offer will—no doubt–come true, as well as hopefully the dreams of many others. Including mine.

Beyond the Nest: Combining Travel & Wellness for a Passion-filled Life
Sherry Spitsnaugle

Meet the Author: Sherry Spitsnaugle, guidebook author, travel writer, wife and dog mom, first expressed her urge to explore at age four when she packed up her little red wagon and took off for an adventure— around the block. Today, she continues to fulfill her travel bug tendencies, exploring and writing about her experiences.
Instagram: sherryspitsnaugle


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