Note: As of January 17, 2023, GilChrist no longer has any specific COVID-related restrictions for individuals and groups (which includes the vaccine requirement that we had in place for groups and for WindHill entry in 2022). We will, however, continue to work with group facilitators to identify shared practices for the safety of their group. We also ask individual guests in shared spaces to consult with others about comfort level with or without masks.
With 67 acres of trails, woods, ponds, and prairies, plus cozy cabins and a well-equipped gathering house, GilChrist is a beautiful space to support the needs of contemplative group retreats. Please review the following information to discern if your intended program is a good fit with the mission and facilities at GilChrist.
Jump to section:
- General Guidelines
- Size Options
- Day Retreats in WindHill
- Booking Process
- Contract & Deposit
- Planning Your Group's Visit
GilChrist provides space for renewal through both solitude and community. We encourage groups to consider a balance between these practices for retreats, including plenty of time for rest and unscheduled, self-directed activities. The combination of the cabins for solitude and WindHill for gathering is specially designed to support this dialectic, and we encourage our guests to use our spaces in a way that reflects the importance of both purposes. Our reasonable rates and variety of options encourage guests to experience spaciousness in both their personal space and their retreat schedule. Group retreats of at least two nights are encouraged and given preference in scheduling. We also encourage retreats that are accessible and hospitable to diverse participants. Occasionally, non-facilitated groups may request to reserve our facility for a group retreat. For such groups, we ask that someone serve as a point person to review our group policies and coordinate the contract, deposit, and other responsibilities of the facilitator outlined below. Please note that we do not provide food service: each cabin, as well as the WindHill building, is equipped with a full kitchen for guests to store and prepare food.
Our desire is that retreat be accessible to all. Please get in touch if you need special arrangements for payment.
Overnight accommodations in the cabins and WindHill apartment
$60/person per night
$90/night for family members sharing a cabin or the apartment
Use of WindHill (the community building)
$200 for a one-day retreat
$200/day for a full group retreat with overnight accommodations
$140/day for a small group retreat with overnight accommodations
$20/day for each additional cabin added to a small group retreat
Overnight accommodations in Tree of Life (4 bedrooms)
$60/person per night
No family rate available
$55/person per night for 7-13 nights
$50/person per night for 14-20 nights
$45/person per night for 21-27 nights
$40/person per night for 28+ nights
Full group retreat in WindHill and the cabins (9-12 people): Includes WindHill for gathering ($200/day), and the apartment and all eight cabins for private accommodations ($60/person per night). Accommodates up to 12 people, including two facilitators in the apartment and up to 10 guests in the cabins (six single cabins, two double cabins).
Small group retreat in WindHill and the cabins (5-9 people): Includes WindHill for gathering ($140/day), and the apartment and five cabins for private accommodations ($60/person per night). Accommodates up to nine people, including two facilitators in the apartment and five to seven participants in the cabins. If cabins are available, a small group retreat in WindHill may be upgraded to a full group retreat; please add $20 per additional cabin to the daily rate for WindHill, in addition to the standard overnight rate for cabin accommodations.
Small group retreat in Tree of Life (3-4 people): Accommodates three to four participants ($60/person per night), including the facilitator. Tree of Life may be added to a group retreat reservation for additional accommodations only if the retreat is seven nights or more.
Day retreat in WindHill (up to 20 people): Accommodates up to 20 people, depending on space needs for the group’s activities ($200 for the day).
We welcome informal small groups to enjoy solo retreats side-by-side in individual cabins. If your group intends to gather during your time on retreat, we ask that reserve a designated gathering space suitable to the size of your group. WindHill is available for a fee, and the Yoga Loft at the main office is available at no charge to overnight guests.
Day Retreats in WindHill
For groups seeking a location for day-long contemplative retreats, WindHill is a beautiful setting. The spacious, bright building contains a library, a large living room, a chapel, a meditation loft, and a full kitchen. Surrounding WindHill are trails, ponds, and a prayer labyrinth. WindHill is suited for groups seeking to explore contemplative practices together, rather than business meetings or strategic planning. Due to other events and WindHill use by our solo retreat guests, day retreat availability in WindHill is limited. Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday dates tend to be the best fit, but please inquire about availability. The Fetzer Institute in Kalamazoo, GilChrist’s parent organization, offers a limited number of day retreat reservations free of charge for local non-profit organizations.
We begin taking group retreat requests each May for the following calendar year, looking at all requests together to make the best use of available space. If you’d like to be on the e-mail list to be notified when we open up group requests for the coming year, please get in touch! Retreat inquiries after this initial round of requests are welcome, though space may be limited. All retreats are reviewed on the basis of calendar availability and fit with our work of fostering contemplation in community. Please note that our focus is on contemplative retreats that balance small group time and solitude. We do not tend to host events like strategic planning sessions or trainings unless they have spacious schedules in an intentional spirit of retreat. The general process for booking is:
- The facilitator submits a group retreat request form.
- GilChrist staff reviews the request.
- GilChrist staff contacts the facilitator with proposed dates or a decline.
- If everything aligns, the facilitator returns a completed contract with a deposit to confirm dates.
Contract & Deposit
If we are able to accommodate your group retreat, we request a $100 deposit along with the facilitator contract to reserve and confirm your dates. The deposit will be applied to the balance due for your retreat. If your group cancels after you have submitted the contract, you will forfeit your deposit. A full group retreat may not be downgraded to a small group retreat after the contract has been submitted, so please estimate carefully what size group you intend to recruit. The balance for your retreat is due upon departure by cash or check. Please make all checks payable to the Fetzer Institute.
Planning Your Group's Retreat
Promotion: If your retreat is open to the public, we are happy to list the details on the Fetzer Institute web site. We will make arrangements for this information upon completion of the contract and deposit.
Three weeks before your retreat: Please confirm the total number of participants, cabin assignment requests, and check-in/check-out times for you and your guests. Include a list of the participants’ names, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers (mobile preferred), and emergency contacts, or make sure participants have submitted this info directly to GilChrist staff through the online reservation form. We assume that you will take financial responsibility for the reserved cabins and WindHill after the three-week deadline has passed. Whatever cabins you do not reserve at this point will be offered to other guests who are not part of your group. Please be aware that we may need to alter cabin assignments to accommodate the special needs of others outside your group.
One week before your retreat: Please send a copy of your retreat schedule. At times, our staff may need to access WindHill and we want to avoid disturbing you as much as possible. Please also let us know at this time if you have any special set-up needs for WindHill.
Check-in and check-out: GilChrist has a central parking lot for cars and our staff will greet your guests to help them into their cabins with their belongings and orient them to the grounds. We ask that all first-time guests check in with a staff member for an orientation to the facilities. Guests should plan to check into their cabins at the time of their or their facilitator’s choosing (by 5:00 p.m.) on the first day of your retreat. By advance request, we can have staff available until 6:00 p.m. If some guests are unable to arrive by 6:00 p.m., then we will be available for check-in the following morning at 10:00 a.m. If arrival times change on short notice, we appreciate a phone call to the main office at (269)244-1130 so we know when to watch for arrivals. We are happy to help transport people from their cabins with their belongings at the end of the retreat. We ask that participants check out of their cabins by 2:00 p.m. on the last day of retreat, unless specific arrangements are made by the facilitator or by individual guests.
During your retreat: We ask that facilitators stay on site during their retreats, preferably in the WindHill apartment where a landline phone is available, to tend to the needs of participants. The “in use” sign on WindHill or other signage that you provide may be used to communicate any needs for privacy in WindHill to other individual guests who may be on the property. GilChrist staff is typically on-site 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. on weekdays and an on-call staff person is available for any needs on the weekends.
Departure: Upon departure, we ask all guests to prepare the cabins for the next guests by leaving them in the same condition in which they found them. It is the facilitator’s responsibility to clean WindHill and the apartment. Cleaning supplies, fresh linens, and a departure checklist are available in all guest spaces.