Belief Retreat Portugal - Hosts Experience

The Belief Retreat is an intimate and immersive experience for wedding creators and today we want to share with you the behind the scenes! One of the most special things we plan every year for the Retreat is to have local hosts to help us to create amazing and memorable moments. 


Why have local hosts? Because there is no better way to discover the place we are going to, if not from the perspective of someone who loves and lives in the city!


But first, how do we choose our host or hosts for the Belief Retreat?

One of Belief's non-negotiable values is to celebrate and learn from each other, so to become a Belief Retreat host, the wedding creator has to be part of the Belief Community! 


This year the challenge was bigger as this edition was supposed to happen in 2020, and because of everything, we had to change plans. And we did it! We had a special virtual retreat in 2020 and now in November, we spent a week together in the beautiful Lisbon, Portugal for the in person retreat.


Today we have the honour to have our hosts and co-host of this year retreat sharing some thoughts about how it was for them! Rui Mota Pinto, Ana Cesar de Almeida e Regina Martins. 

Before we continue, we would like to say a big thank you to Rui Mota Pinto, who said yes even before we went to Panama for the Belief Retreat in 2019. We had no idea what we would live together for the next two years, but we are glad we had him by our side. Thank you Rui! <3

It was Rui who introduced us to Ana Almeida in 2019, and more recently to Regina Martins. Ana became also a host of the event last year and did an amazing job with Rui, and Regina co-hosted the Retreat as well helping us specially with the Two+Us.


Now let’s get down to business! 



1 - The Belief Retreat was the first event we did for members after an intensive 18 months  because of the pandemic. There are a lot of pictures of people hugging and having a great  time. How was it for you, as the host, to be able to create those special moments for them? 


Rui: First it was a huge challenge. Just imagine creating an event to receive Wedding and event  Planners from all over the world that some of them literally already saw everything.  Then we had almost two years without the retreat and the bar was really high because the  expectation was huge and because the last Retreat done in Panama was really fantastic and the  bar was set high. 


So when I starting creating the Concept for this event i had one thing in my mind that was like  “the main rule” - I cannot expect to surprise this persons because they already saw everything” Next me and Giovana Duailibe from day one defined that this was to be a very Organic event  where most of all we wanted people to reconnect, to be together, to bring back that feeling of  closeness and intimacy that the Pandemic took away. We wanted to be as organic as possible and  focused on the connection, on sharing, on simply being together, on creating bonds. Another thing I asked Giovana, and i will be forever thankful to her for accepting, was to allow me  to do a Concept Retreat, were I could be as creative as possible and where i could deliver some  out of the box experiences, taking people to “enter in my creative world” and making them  understand a bit more of my creations and inspirations. 

And this I know was really challenging for Belief. For the first time a Retreat was done having a  Concept as guideline and everything was specifically created at that time, at that place, with that  environment and mood having this concept as creative base. Everything had a reason to be as it  was. 

So “Saudade” was born.  

But again the challenge was huge because I needed to find ways not only to create the “wow  factor”, but at the same time allow people to reconnect, to be together. So the days were created  exactly having that organic side in mind and growing in experiences, being each day more intense  and immersive.  

From day one “Lisbon Welcomes You” to day two “Lisbon Embraces You” to day three “Lisbon  provokes You” everything was created to make people feel close to each other, to be sharing, to  create stronger bonds but at the same time show them Portugal and the Portuguese soul and  mood. In the end we all left our hearts in Lisbon with the amazing fourth day “Fall in Love in  Lisbon” with the Two + Us Wedding from Margarida & José. 


Ana: The pandemic removed our hugs, brought us worries and difficulties, in business and personally.

The Belief Retreat was the opportunity to say "We survived" and we are restored, because we are stronger together. And it was with this strength of will that we were motivated to create

special moments, which conferred joy, happiness, peace, humour, harmony,

Creativity. In short... to have hosted this event, it was simply amazing!

2 - Bolinho de bacalhau, queijadas, doces moles, and a lot of amazing food were part of the  menu. How was it for you to incorporate the Portuguese culture in the program in a way  people could really taste the real Portuguese gastronomy? 


Rui: Food is one of Portuguese DNA. One of the most amazing ADN. We are known for having some of  the best foods in the world and for the Portuguese food is part of who we are. It is hard to think of Portugal without the food, Portuguese without food or even a moment in Portugal where food is  not present. In a family gathering, in a business meeting, during our work day, even when we “just  go for a walk” we end up eating something. It is part of who we are. 

Portugal's relation with the sea is old and that is shown in what we eat. Fish is always present. Also we are one of the best wine producers in the world so wine is also important for us. I do believe to fully understand Portugal and the Portuguese you need to taste our food, to enjoy  our wine, and to enjoy the times we spend at a table with food and drink. It is probably  our biggest way of socializing in Portugal is the food. 

So for me it was really important to give to all participants that side of us as people. To show them a  bit of our food, our way. It was important to make them feel the coziness of doing business drinking a glass of wine with an outstanding view to Lisbon. 

When I sat with all the catering partners our aim was trying not to repeat any protein offering  traditional food and elements in an elegant and adapted way to serve in an event like this.  I do honestly feel we did it. From National oysters, to the famous cod, to fresh fish, to black pork  and other tradicional elements, and having a very special offer every day when the participants  arrived at the hotel. 

From day one we did a “gastronomic sweets journey” to all the countries offering each day one  famous and tradicional “Doce Conventual” (Conventual sweet) that is done only in Portugal.  From north to south we offered some of the best Conventual sweets so participants could taste this  unique and tasteful Portuguese tradition. In the end food is just one more way to show Portugal. And that was what we did. 


Ana: For Portuguese culture, the meal time is a special moment. Our cuisine is exceptional and it would not make sense not to share what our chefs prepare with such generous and delicious ingredients. It would be impossible not to incorporate typical dishes and sweets so typical of Portugal.

Our desire was to make Portugal known, in what the country has to offer.

The strategy of including gastronomic moments in work sessions, in addition to promoting the comfort that food provides, was also to bring discoveries and incorporate the "good being" at the table that so characterises us as a people.

3 - Each day had a concept, and wedding creators went from a spiritual celebration at the  river until an immersive creative experience on the last day. How do you think these  experiences can help attendees to improve their creativity and business? 

The full idea of this Retreat was to create a Concept Retreat. When I accepted the challenge to  host the Belief Retreat in Portugal the idea was showing a bit of how I create my  work. Happily and gratefully Giovana Duailibe accepted without hesitation and I know this trust  she showed me helped in creating this event full of experiences. 

The idea was to have experiences connected to each day concept and experiences that will grow  in intensity, creating each day more expectations for what would happen next. Day one “Lisbon Welcomes you” with “Flow” a tour in a boat in Tagus River , a ride in a Lisbon  Tram, a work session “Inspiring View” in a Lisbon Rooftop and a party “Fate” in a Lisbon Venue  with Fado, musicians from different spectrum and performing artists. 

Day two: “Lisbon Embraces You” started with “Lisbon Unveiled” , a Historic Team adventure with  Tuk Tuk that took everyone to some historic points in Lisbon to know the city. The afternoon was all  about Portuguese flavours with “Soul Tastes” taking the participants to an Olive Oil Tasting and a  Unique Gin Creation. 

The day ended with an outstanding experience “Tasty Dinner” where everyone was transported to  an experience dinner with all moments were presented with different moods, garments and were  like in a theater or ballet or show the dinner was served and hosted by a character that welcomed each moment. I had the honor to be that character and host these moments and it was really an  outstanding experience. 

Day Three is probably the one that most represents my “creative world”. Without limits, where  everything is possible and makes sense, and where inspiration comes from the most unexpected  places. “Lisbon Provokes You” was the mojo. 

It all began with a Blind Cake Tasting “Sweet Temptation” that led to a work session moment  “Hosts Speed Dating Sessions” in the most unexpected place: a provocative room. The lunch was full of experiences with a Wine, sushi and liquor tasting. 

Before dinner the participants were surprised by a Mentalist at the “Unblock Your Mind” experience  followed by “Taste the limits” , a cocktail experience inspired in Saudade. 

The day ended in a mind blowing experience dinner “ABSURDUM '' where everyone was  transported to a crazy show and to a mood that I felt at home. The Retreat experiences ended  literally entering “my creative world” and felt a bit of my creative process. Without  limits, where artists are essential, where movement, irreverence, music, rhythm and a bit of craziness  is all time present. 

As a famous Portuguese poet, Fernando Pessoa, said  “ The value of things is not in the time they last but in the intensity they happen'' And i do strongly believe and apply this in my work and in my creations: it is not about if it last for  one, two or three hours or more. It is mainly about how intense it is and how deep we can  provoke feelings and emotions. 

If this can help attendants to improve their creativity: Without a doubt. I think this was a way to  show them that even the craziest idea can be adapted to a wedding. That there should be no  limits. That more than an amazing picture or scenario, a wedding is an experience. That Love is  about emotions. That in every element, in every sound, in every scenario, in every taste or smell in  our lives it is an inspiration. That we need to grab all that surrounds us in every single moment and  thing : Can I use this for an event? Or How can I adapt this to that party? 

I really think in this sense these experiences offer different points of views, different feelings, emotions and mood that can probably be readapted to each one's reality. 

If that can make their business grow? I don't know. Our business is all about our night market. Who  are the people that “buy us”? And we need to understand if something is doable for that client.  If our client is ready for this kind of experience. Because some clients' expectations are far from  this experience.  

What I do believe is that more than the exact experience itself the attendant should take the  concept of doing experiences. Of creating their own experiences, having their clients DNA as  reference and adapting to their own reality. If they do that, they really believe they can improve  business. 


Ana: In fact, each day provided an increase in emotions and creativity.

To transpose it to the business issue, each session had a very specific inspiration, with previously outlined objectives.

Essentially, the intention was to create several analyses, from a moment of reset, of everything that the pandemic brought to our business, to ways of looking at business, whether by the way we deal with customers, or by creativity. Important issues were also worked on, such as teamwork, cooperation, planning management, task sharing, creativity and problem solving.

All actions were intended to lead us to reflect on the way we conduct our activity and whether we can do it differently, so that the results achieved are more successful.

4 - What was for you, as the host, the biggest challenge in welcoming people from 9  different countries for the Belief Retreat 2021? 


Rui: Like when we do a wedding we need to start with a premise: “we cannot satisfy everyone equally.  There will be people that like the decor more, others that will love the animation, others that will  take music as the best part or others that are all about the food.” 

Maybe my experience in the field helped me on this because I always have this premise in my  head. I will not be able to satisfy everyone equally at all times. So having this in mind from day one  I knew some of the participants would love the boat, others would love the “tasty dinner”  experience, others would be blown away by the “ABSURDUM” dinner for example, and others  would expect more business meetings. This event is very specific because we are gathering  people from different generations, from different cultures, from different backgrounds and with  different experiences. So the idea that it is possible to create something during 4 days that everyone  will love at all times is completely wrong. Accepting this was probably what helped me to create  things that I already knew some of the participants would not love or at least they would feel  strange about it. 

So the challenge was first of all to create moments and experiences that could be a 3 way vector: Show our country and our culture and traditions, create moments for sharing, for connection and for bonding, create wow experiences that could transport everyone to “my creative world” and to what  inspires me to create the weddings I do. 

The challenge is really hard because we have to think on all the specifics of every one. Age,  tastes, background, experience, country of origin, expectations on the retreat (because everyone  comes for a different reason).  

So to find the balance between all this and at the same time offer that 3 vector idea event was for  sure the hardest challenge.  

I do think the way this Retreat was managed really helped on this. 

Having me as the creator of the concept, Giovana as the mind behind the Retreat with all the  knowledge of previous editions all time connecting with me and preparing everything with the  participants and helping me to adapt the crazy ideas to the reality of the Retreat, and then adding  Ana Almeida and Regina with a more peaceful and romantic vision of an event was really amazing  and worked very well because all together we were able to create this Concept that joined all  these visions together and really worked out and ended in what i believe was an amazing Retreat.


Ana: It was extremely motivating to welcome Beliefers of different nationalities.

The variety of cultures and habits was taken into account in all planning.

This was even the motto for one of the parties, in which the dress code should represent the essence of each country.

5 - What are the things you will cherish forever as the Host? 

Rui: This is probably the most difficult question to answer, because there is so much. But I would say perhaps the possibility that Belief gave me to show a bit of my country, a bit of  “my people” and a bit of my creative world. This event has that special vibe of allowing us as hosts  to put a bit of our personality, a bit of our way of thinking on events. It is not a standard conference  model, so it offers this incredible possibility for us to be creative if we want and to do something  completely different from the year before. And I do honestly think that is the beauty of the Belief  Retreat as a host. So for me being able to show my country to all these  amazing people was very special. 

Finally for sure the cheeriest memories are the connection, and warmth of everyone. To be close  to all these amazing people once again was amazing and to do it in “my place” in “my world” was  something I will never forget. 


Ana: For me, what I most value about the experience of being Host of the Belief Retreat 2021 is having connected with so many different people and feeling that, in the end, we will all know the meaning of "Saudade".

6 - On the last day we had a special Two+Us edition with Margarida and Jose. Here at Belief,  we are already working on the next editions for 2022 and can't wait to make other couples'  dreams come true. How important for you was to participate, and be the host, of the  Portugal edition? And if you could leave a message for future creators who will be  participating in the future, what would you say? 


Rui: Two + Us is special. For me it is a bit hard to talk about this project because I always get really  emotional about it. The first edition was really something very special and changed a lot in me as a person. Gave me a new perspective on a lot of things and it is for sure one of the most  emotional moments i ever lived in my life. I had already been the  host of Two + Us in Portugal so this was my second experience as a Two + Us host. But if you think  it is different or easier, or less emotional, forget it. The feeling of being there working and giving  our heart to make a dream come true to a couple is something unique.  

To participate in the Two + Us is honestly not a matter “importance” or not. It is much bigger  than that. It is about us giving back. It is about us creating an impact in someone's life and in the  long run in the world. It is all about us receiving a lot in our hearts. It is all about us learning so  much with this experience. In Two + Us  I don’t care if I am the host or if I simply am there washing the floor. It really doesn’t matter. I am  just one more piece in the puzzle to make the dream happen. And it was the same with Margarida  and José. If I could leave a message for all the other planners that are preparing the Two + Us i would say  to enjoy all the emotions and to be prepared emotionally for this. 

I would say to embrace this as it is: giving back. Just that. No expectations of any kind of return.  Get everyone involved. Bring the community to the project. This is not something to expect publicity, or stage presence. Margarida and José Wedding and mainly organized by Regina. And I am so happy with that. What I receive back is so big that everything else has no importance. So for me the best advice i can give is: give yourself fully! Open your heart and just do whatever  your heart feel is the right thing to do! And believe me people will follow you if they feel you are  there with all your heart and with no “hidden agendas”. 

The Two + Us premise is “This is not about us! This is all about giving back and about the couple's dream” So just give yourself to it!


Ana: The emotion and happiness of the couple Margarida and José are the best form of expression that a solidarity event can have.

From my perspective, businesses should have a social responsibility component.

Being part of a project, like Two+Us, and being an active part of it, is also a commitment to Society. Above all, when a set of Wedding Planners and suppliers come together to fulfill the dream of a couple, which, due to various obstacles, had not yet happened, it demonstrates that this group of people, rethink their posture, behavior and conduct and put into practice attitudes that promote the well-being of others.

Having hosted this event in Portugal brings me deep gratitude and happiness.

My word to the future creators is:  embrace this project with great affection and allow them to feel socially responsible for Love!



Our special thank you to Rui Mota Pinto, Ana Cesar de Almeida and Regina Martins for all the dedication and great work.

If you want to join us for the next edition of the Belief Retreat, registration is now open for 2022! We are going to Mexico! Learn more

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