Retreats at the Old Mermaids Sanctuary

"At the Old Mermaids Sanctuary, reality is part fairy tale, part magic, and all Sonoran Desert. Stories are everywhere here. Come find yours."

You can now stay at the Old Mermaids Sanctuary by going through airbnb.

Here are the details:

As some of you know, about 14 years ago, Mario and I started going to writing retreats at a place in the Sonoran Desert during the winter. The second year we were there, I wrote Church of the Old Mermaids. We called the place where we stayed the Old Mermaids Sanctuary because it wasn't a public retreat so we were being discreet, and we called it that because the setting for the novel was modeled after the Sanctuary. We loved the place and were heartbroken when it was sold about 5 years ago. This winter, in December 2018, when we were staying at a friend's place, we heard that the Sanctuary was up for sale. I called our realtor, and she called around, but as far as she could tell, it was not up for sale.

About 10 days later on a Sunday, I said to Mario and my sister (who was visiting) that I had to go out to the Sanctuary. This was kind of silly because you can't see the house or anything from the road. It's just a dirt road in a cul de sac. But they were game, so we drove out to the cul de sac (which was nearly an hour from our friend's place). And there was a for sale at the end of the drive! I stopped the car, jumped out, and phoned my realtor. She called me back and said the place was not officially up for sale yet, and it wouldn't be until Tuesday. I begged her to ask the other agent to let us see it before it went up for sale. The realtor wouldn't do it unless we were pre-qualified (which I understood), so we arranged for that to happen.

The next day, we went out to the Sanctuary. Mario and I walked around the place hand in hand, half the time in tears because we were so glad to be back. We knew it was crazy. We had never owned a house before. We didn't have the money to buy it outright so the only chance we would have to purchase the place would be through a mortgage, which we had never wanted to do. But we looked at each other as we walked the grounds, and we nodded. Without figuring out a budget or anything—which is unusual for us; we are very careful spenders, and we don't debt—without figuring out anything, we went back to the realtor's office and told her, "Make an offer." A few hours later, the owners said yes. On December 31, we became the owners of the Old Mermaids Sanctuary, at least unofficially.

After that, we had a horrible month of getting the mortgage and dealing with panic and fear over what we had done. I wasn't too worried. I had a part-time telecommuting job, and Mario had enough time in to retire from his job. We could do this! After we got the mortgage, we went home and packed. Soon enough, we left our life in Washington state after 30 plus years and traveled to the Sanctuary. We were ecstatic to be back, and we started working right away.

We wanted to make the two studio apartments available to others who needed a sanctuary or retreat, so we set about creating the Wayward Arts Retreats. Not long after we were here, my job of 25 years decided I had to be a full-time resident of Washington state in order to continue working for them. So my job went away in a puff of smoke. Although I was not happy about this turn of events, we figured this would give us more incentive to write and open the Sanctuary up to others. We are ready to go!

I've pasted in the wording of the flyer, but you can go to our airbnb site and see some photos. One thing we don't mention in the flyer is that once a retreatant gets here and we show them around, they are on their own. They don't have to see us or talk to us. :-) We came here for 11 winters and rarely saw the managers. You can truly be in your own space and place during your retreat.

Arts Retreats
at The Old Mermaids Sanctuary

The Old Mermaids Sanctuary is an enchanting and legendary desert retreat in the lovely and exotic landscape of the Sonoran desert. Designed for and by creative people, it is the perfect place to work or take a quiet and magical vacation.

The Wayward Arts Retreats at the Old Mermaids Sanctuary, owned and operated by writers Kim Antieau and Mario Milosevic, offers a sanctuary to creative and caring types who want to write, paint, recharge, or relax in a setting of peace and breath-giving beauty on four and a half acres of Sonoran desert. Something about this place inspires and fosters creativity and deep magic. The Wayward Arts encompasses all the arts: writing, visual arts, music, dance, acting, puppetry, caregiving, and more.

This is the land where Terri Windling, Delia Sherman, Ellen Kushner, Charles de Lint, MaryAnn Harris, Charles Vess, Ellen Klages, and many others came to do their art, writing, and music. Kim Antieau wrote 11 novels here, including Church of the Old Mermaids, which was inspired by this sanctuary.

The natural surroundings—cacti of all kinds, palo verde trees, agave plants, hummingbirds, owls, bobcats, lizards, coyotes, rabbits, javelinas, and roadrunners—just seem to get the creative juices flowing.

The Sanctuary, with two studio apartment spaces for The Wayward Arts Retreats, sits at the rural east end of Tucson, Arizona, nestled between the beautiful Rincon and Catalina mountains. The retreats are a short drive (or a long walk) from The Saguaro National Park East, a dazzling plant and animal refuge that is home to a vast network of scenic hiking trails. Visitors are also a short drive away from the cultural and culinary delights of Tucson, for those times when only an urban experience will do.

At The Wayward Arts Retreats, visitors can choose to stay in The Bobcat House, a cozy studio in the barn with a double bed, bathroom with shower, kitchen with microwave, two-burner stove, and fridge, along with dishes and pots and pans. Or they can stay in The Casita, a larger studio with a queen bed, a bathroom with a tub and shower, kitchen with full fridge, two-burner stove, microwave, and pots and pans and dishes, along with table and chairs, and a desk and chair.

Visitors also have access to the onsite pool, an onsite washer and dryer, and the storied Quail House, a writing/art space tucked into the cacti. Artists are welcome to use the empty barn or the outside corral (where the former owner created his sculptures) as studio spaces.

Beauty, peace, and quiet reign here. Besides this being an amazing creative space, it is nearly always perfect weather for photography, hiking, and bird watching.

For people with allergies or multiple chemical sensitivities: The Wayward Arts Retreats were created with you in mind. No harsh chemicals are used when cleaning. No pesticides are needed or used anywhere on the property. Cotton linens are washed in an eco-friendly scent-free detergent. The mattresses are made from 100% organic cotton. No recent remodeling has taken place, and when we do have to fix something, we make certain we use zero-VOC materials. No domestic animals of any kind are allowed (since the owners have sensitivities, too). We have HEPA filters available in each apartment, and the amazing Austin Bedroom Machine (which filters just about everything) is available in the Casita if desired. Smoke-free. Fragrance-free. Pet-free.

At the Old Mermaids Sanctuary, reality is part fairy tale, part magic, and all Sonoran Desert. Stories are everywhere here. Come find yours.

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