• Alumni
Sameena Khan ‘08

Sameena takes an unusual approach to business. Since opening Rukhsana’s Wellness & Heavenly Retreat, she and her parents have weighed most decisions against one simple standard: does it work for us?

While the family of course worries about guest satisfaction, operations, advertising, and budgets, they balance these very real worries with a very sensible approach. If they believe in what they are doing and enjoy doing it, they’ll do it well and the people will come. As for those other parts of the business? That’s where Sameena comes in. She is a one-stop, non-stop business owner and operator. Human resources, marketing, bookkeeping, payroll, guest services, sous chef, yoga and Shirodhara practitioner wrapped into one.

For being so involved, hospitality management was never part of her plan. Looking back, Sameena had never been sure what she wanted to do when she grew up.

At Meadowridge, Sameena discovered and explored many interests. But these interests never seemed to amount to one obvious thing. She played on lots of sports teams, took part in many clubs (notably, fly-fishing with Mr. Noble), and travelled abroad to both Mexico and Japan. A social kid, she also served as the Gryphon Council’s Activities Gryphon. 

“If it wasn’t for Meadowridge, I wouldn’t have gone to university at all. It had a huge impact on me. I still have friends from Meadowridge that I talk to every day, I carry the mannerisms with me that I learned, and I have so many fond memories from my time.”

Still, Sameena admits she was “never academic” and was always unsure what she wanted to study or do. Even where she would study was a last-minute decision. After her post-secondary counsellor Mr. Al Graveson and then-Headmaster Mr. Hugh Burke had helped her meet the prerequisites of a certain school, Sameena changed directions right after her admissions had been secured. “I walked into Mr. Graveson’s office and said, I’m going to [The University of] Guelph!” she laughs, “and he was like, what?!”. Even Guelph, it turns out, was not it. Sameena went for just one semester before deciding to change directions and come home.

Sameena put her plans on hold and gave herself time to figure things out. While helping out with administrative tasks at her father’s business, she also started work as a traffic controller, a role that led her to lead operations at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler, BC. It was after these few years of work and some unforgettable experiences that Sameena had figured out what she wanted to do. Choosing to practice law, Sameena enrolled in a criminology program and started anew. 

Of course, just as her path seemed secure, Sameena’s parents were making plans that would change things up all over again. It was just after Sameena earned her degree that her parents announced they had purchased a property in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Her parents, both business owners—her mom an aesthetician, her father an industrial caterer—had found a property that would let their combined talents and her mother’s love of Ayurveda come to life. They were going to open a wellness bed and breakfast retreat.

Sameena of course took the chance to travel to her parents’ newly purchased property, but never intended to get involved. “I’ll admit, I thought it was all voodoo,” she explains of Ayurveda back then, “I was not into the practice.” 

But after her parents asked her to help with a bit of marketing, she started doing some research to help her write. The more she looked into it, the more she learned. The more she learned, the more interested she became. After attending a Meditation & Yoga retreat with her mom, she was sure. After a couple years of remote work, Sameena packed up her life and moved to Mexico to make the retreat her full-time career.

Now, Sameena can’t imagine life any other way.

With the family contracting out very few things, Sameena and her parents see to all parts of the bed and breakfast retreat. Offering only what they believe in and what they can best provide, the family aligns all parts of the business with their teachings and values. At Rukhsana’s, the food is vegetarian and vegan, the surroundings natural and lush, and the practices holistic and grounded in Ayurveda. Guests can expect to centre themselves through meditation, diet, experience, and rest. Of course, their approach is to never force guests into any one thing. Guests are given the space to discover things on their own, finding what works (or what doesn’t) for themselves. This accessible approach has garnered lots of attention and attracted people from all around the world. 

What is Ayurveda?
From Rukhsana’s Wellness & Heavenly Retreat

Ayurveda is the traditional medicine of India and the oldest recorded holistic healing system, developed more than 5,000 years ago. 

The word Ayurveda is derived from two Sanskrit words: “ayus” meaning life and “veda” meaning knowledge or science. Ayurveda focuses on tools, insights, and information for living a balanced and healthy lifestyle while preventing illness. 

“We don’t pretend to be enlightened; we are still human,” Sameena nods. “We simply talk, share, and follow teachings.” It’s an approach that works. By the third night, regardless of guests’ knowledge or experiences going in, Sameena can see the transformations.

Overseeing all of this, Sameena’s days are as fulfilling as they are diverse. “I love my job,” she brims. Outside of work, Sameena has found a positive work-life balance that she could never have imagined. She has made friends and found a community in her new home. Together, they enjoy going to the gym and finding new outdoor places to explore. Admittedly, Sameena’s Spanish is still a “work in progress,” but she gets by, especially with the help of a handy verb conjugation list she has kept from her Grade 10 Spanish Class.

Upon reflection, this laminated list is like all parts of her Meadowridge experience. Wherever she goes, Sameena takes with her the confidence and values she learned during her time at the school. 

“If it wasn’t for Meadowridge, I wouldn’t have gone to university at all,” she reflects. “It had a huge impact on me. I still have friends from Meadowridge that I talk to every day, I carry the mannerisms with me that I learned, and I have so many fond memories from my time.”

PICTURED PG 15: Sameena with her mother at the Rukhsana’s Wellness & Heavenly Retreat; PG 16: View of the water at the Retreat; PG 17: from left to right, Entrance to the Retreat, Sameena with her family at graduation, and Sameena on a hike in Mexico