Help me find a wellness retreat without any woo
May 10, 2015 1:23 PM   Subscribe

My wonderful wife needs to get away from everything and enjoy a week of high quality, woo-free me time this summer — but where?

We're hopeless at finding good holiday ideas, so I'd love to hear your recommendations for a really good retreat. Complicating factors / extra information:

She'd like a combination of active and contemplative activities — some kind of mindfulness / meditation thing mixed with some physical exercise. However, she loathes all the spiritual bullshit that tends to accompany yoga, does not want to detox, and hates hates hates spa treatments and massages.

We live in North Europe, and she'd prefer not to spend more than 4 or 5 hours on a plane.

Nowhere too hot, please — preferably less than 30ºC average at the end of July / start of August.

Nowhere "unsafe" — she doesn't want to get caught up in the next Tahrir Square.

Must be vegetarian-friendly, ideally the food will be kind of incredible.

Being able to enjoy time alone (without hiding in a hotel room) is absolutely crucial - no "come on gang, let's all have fun!" stuff.

Budget isn't limitless, but this is worth spending good money on.

She prefers a more down to earth feel than super luxury indulgence stuff.

Here's an example of something that sounds pretty decent (the Egyptian one with the snorkelling pic).


That's it.
posted by ZipRibbons to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Kripalu, in western Massachusetts. Love this place, and in the summer she can go hiking, swimming, etc. also many beautiful places t/out to meditate. Food is INCREDIBLE. She can be as social as she likes. She can or cannot go to yoga. It's wonderful. There is woo stuff there, but you are in no way pushed in to it. (And most woo is people there on a woo program. Your wife should do the Rest and Retreat, which is very individual). I go there and read, hike, do yoga (great workout), eat amazing food, read some novels, go to the hot tub at night, and talk to NO ONE.
posted by namemeansgazelle at 2:36 PM on May 10, 2015 [12 favorites]

Seconding Kripalu, on preview namemeansgazelle said it all.
posted by anthropophagous at 2:37 PM on May 10, 2015

If Christianity of the contemplative and love your neighbor sort is not too woo for her, Iona retreats are supposed to be amazing.
posted by hydropsyche at 2:42 PM on May 10, 2015

Best answer: La Santa in Lanzarote. I haven't been there, but I have a friend who loves it and goes there every time she needs to regain sanity. No woo at all. There are a lot of activities, but I don't think my friend would go there if there were no options for being alone. The reason I haven't been there is that for me, there must be a tiny bit of culture in my holidays, and the Canaries are really low on that.

I have been to Therme Vals, and I love it. The spa itself and it's services are great, but the big thing is the location in a valley very, very high up in the Swiss alps. Hikes up there are life-saving. It is so peaceful and friendly and a good balance of the possibility of being alone with nature, yet on marked paths with stops so you don't have to be a climber/explorer to experience it. There are a number of different choices of hotel rooms, and B&Bs in the lovely village. The food is good, and there are vegan options - the Swiss take their vegan and vegetarian food seriously. They are a spa, but you know, you are not forced to take any treatments.

Another place I might return to is Luso in Portugal. I haven't been there for 20 years, but still I think my experience then might be valid: it is not as perfectly well-managed as Vals, at all, but it is also a lot cheaper which I would translate into a bit more luxury - although I agree on the down-to-earth thing. And it is the same combination of a water spa /retreat with really lovely hiking and excursion possibilities. The altitude is not as high as in Switzerland, thus it is warmer, but the woods are lush and shady. I checked the hotels I stayed at then: the Grande Hotel de Luso and the Bussaco Palace. The latter is much more charming, but also a little crazy. I noticed on the page I linked, that they send people to the spa in Curia rather than to nearby Luso. Maybe Curia is worth a look? In Portugal in general, food can be a challenge if you don't eat fish. And I can't see if they have yoga/mindfulness classes.
posted by mumimor at 3:13 PM on May 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I can personally recommend Serenity Retreats in Greece (run by a Brit). Everything (yoga, massages, hikes, boat trips) is optional; yet there if you want it in a relaxed not overly-woo environment that is comfy yet reasonable level spend.
posted by mollymillions at 5:01 PM on May 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Esalen is very similar to Krapalu. However, Esalen is a little more spiritual and has a lot of history as a place. The scenery is jaw dropping; the food is vegetarian and out of control delicious; the hot baths are unforgettable. There are a lot of quiet places to mediate and just chill. Because of this a lot of writers come here.

I truly believe this is a place you need to experience once in your lifetime - that's how strongly I feel about special this place is.
posted by pando11 at 6:25 PM on May 10, 2015 [7 favorites]

Best answer: This might not be the right fit, but, to avoid the woo, what about something more like an organized adventure trip for women? This is an American company, but, just to give you an idea, this summer trip to Iceland sounds lovely.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:23 AM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I live in a port city so I don't know if this is viable for you/your wife, but my ideal would be to get on a cruise. Sleep when I want to, wander down to the buffet when I want to, join activities when I want to, or just lie in the sun with a book. Sounds like heaven to me.
posted by vignettist at 1:38 PM on May 11, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks very much for your suggestions! Mrs ZipRibbons is inspired... now all she has to do is make a decision.

Please feel free to make more suggestions. They don't necessarily have to be "a retreat" — we really liked bluedaisy's idea of a trip to Iceland.
posted by ZipRibbons at 1:24 AM on May 12, 2015

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