What happens when you put 16 strangers into a house in the town of Muskegon on Lake Michigan for a long weekend?  No, not your next reality show!  Instead, you have the Fresh Coast Retreat, which happens to be a meeting of the minds so to say, in this case, it was a group of very talented food bloggers spending time together.

Fresh Coast Retreat

 

Back in April, we did a whirlwind trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan (you can read about it here), but was long enough to give us a taste of what the city has to offer, and make us want more.  Once we wrapped up in Grand Rapids, we were invited to be part of the Fresh Coast Retreat.  This retreat was hosted by three lovely ladies, Dara from Cookin Canuck, Liz from The Lemon Bowl, and sweet Phi from Sweet Phi at an amazing house right on the lake (you can rent it over VRBO).  The purpose of this retreat was not only to network, bond, socialize, cook and drink together, but to also collaborate, share ideas and learn from each other.  Everyone not only brought their warm personalities to the table, but they also shared their business savvy ways.  To say the group was amazing would be an understatement.

 

Fresh Coast Retreat

Photo taken by: Alejandro Photography

 

 

Fresh Coast Retreat

Photo taken by: Alejandro Photography

 

Beginning at the left:

  1. Lee from Fit Foodie Finds {Instagram + Snapchat}
  2. Trevor from The Blog Village {Instagram + Snapchat}
  3. Jennifer from Show Me The Yummy {Instagram + Snapchat}
  4. Amy from Amy’s Healthy Baking {Instagram + Snapchat}
  5. Gina from Skinnytaste {Instagram + Snapchat}
  6. Lenny (my other half) from Chez Us {Instagram + Snapchat}
  7. Denise (that would be me) from Chez Us {Instagram + Snapchat}
  8. Heidi from Foodie Crush {Instagram + Snapchat}
  9. Lynn from Order in the Kitchen {Instagram + Snapchat}
  10. Andie from Andie Mitchell {Instagram + Snapchat}
  11. Phi from Sweet Phi {Instagram + Snapchat}
  12. Dara from Cookin’ Canuck {Instagram + Snapchat}
  13. Liz from The Lemon Bowl {Instagram + Snapchat}
  14. Alexis from Hummusapien {Instagram + Snapchat}
  15. Alejandra from Always Order Dessert {Instagram + Snapchat}
  16. Raul from Alejandro Photography {Instagram + Snapchat} (he’s behind the camera).

I have attended my share of blogging conferences in the past, and this was my first retreat.  We had no expectations going into it.  I mean, 16 strangers living in a house together for a long weekend, could go anyway right?  It could be a love or hate relationship.  Now, I am not sugar coating this at all, being completely frank and honest here, folks.  This was the first event that I have left in a very long time, on a positive note.  We both had the feeling of being recharged, excited about pumping up our blog with new ideas and opportunities and the most important thing for both of us was the new relationships we left with.  We have always said our blog has brought us some of the warmest and genuine connections, both personal and business, and this was the case at the Fresh Coast Retreat as well.

 

Fresh Coast Retreat

Photo taken by: Alejandro Photography

 

Fresh Coast Retreat

Photo taken by: Alejandro Photography

 

The retreat would begin with morning yoga or a walk on the beach;  unless an extra 5 minutes of sleep was your thing.  No pressures at all.  After sharing breakfast together the days were filled with sessions lead by someone from the group and topics ranged from how to shoot videos all the way to reading legal documents for your blog as well as travel blogging and even how to make it on TV.

 

Fresh Coast Retreat

 

Fresh Coast Retreat

Photo taken by: Alejandro Photography

 

Fresh Coast Retreat

Photo taken by: Alejandro Photography

 

Fresh Coast Retreat

Photo taken by: Alejandro Photography

Our evenings were spent cooking dinner together while enjoying cocktails or a glass or two of wine.  Besides getting to cook together, which was a blast, we also cooked recipes from everyone’s food blogs – which was a fantastic way to experience some new to us recipes.  The evenings would wrap up around a bonfire outside, making smores over round-table discussions about the business of blogging.

 

Fresh Coast Retreat

Photo taken by: Alejandro Photography

 

Fresh Coast Retreat

Photo taken by: Alejandro Photography

 

Fresh Coast Retreat

Photo taken by: Alejandro Photography

 

Fresh Coast Retreat

Photo taken by: Alejandro Photography

 

We did take a couple breaks to experience what life on Lake Michigan had to offer, and when you have a large group you need some cool transportation, which happened to be a classic Trolley Car.  We had a lovely lakeside lunch one day at The Bakehouse Waterfront Grill, and dinner out our last night at The Hearthstone Bistro;  both were very lovely, and we cannot recommend enough.

Another highlight of the retreat was having three of the brands (Bob’s Red Mill, Stonyfield and Experience Grand Rapids) who were sponsors for the retreat, come in on Saturday to talk with the group.  They shared their roles with their respected companies, and how they look to work together with food bloggers.  It was such a casual atmosphere that the sessions were more like sitting around with friends and brainstorming about how to work together than a typical conference session would be.  This retreat could not have happened without their support in each of us being there as well!

 

Fresh Coast Retreat

Photo taken by: Alejandro Photography

How did it all unwrap?  We left after three days of being together with 15 strangers, with our hearts fuller as well as our minds refreshed and recharged.  New friends were formed, and a new appreciation for the world of blogging business was found.

 

Fresh Coast Retreat

Photo taken by: Alejandro Photography

Cannot end this post without thanking all of the wonderful sponsors for the Fresh Coast Retreat – without your amazing products we would have gone hungry, and without you believe in each of us, this could not have happened.  Thank You!

If you ever get a chance to attend a retreat – jump on it.  Not only will you learn a tremendous amount, but you will leave with a full heart, and new relationships.

Fresh Coast Retreat

 

Disclaimer:  We were invited to be part of the Fresh Coast Retreat;  but, were not compensated for it.  Expenses were paid, and all opinions are of our own.  Wonderful sponsors such as:  SabraStonyfield, Bob’s Red Mill and Experience Grand Rapids made the Fresh Coast Retreat all possible.  As well thank you to Muskegon CVB for the very fun volley car rides to lakeside excursions.  Without wonderful food ingredients from DeLallo FoodsThe Little Potato CompanyLindt Chocolate and Stoneware Authentic Flatbreads we would not have been feed so well all weekend. Thank you our wonderful readers for supporting the brands that Chez Us supports and believes in.  

 

 

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