Four new wellness retreats, from cycle to psychedelic
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
Mastering the fine art of flowers in Japan
One for the Japanophiles: Ikebana Projects – a collective that curates art collaborations and bespoke events celebrating ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement – is launching its first retreat this coming October. For five days, the collective’s three founders and just 10 guests will delve into the aesthetics, traditions and key principles of ikebana by examining its history in art and architecture – and of course, via numerous hands-on designing experiences.
From meditative workshops with monks at Mount Koya to designing sessions inspired by contemporary art (at a Tokyo gallery), it will mine Toyko’s prettiest green spaces along with some stunning private homes and estates, while immersing guests in the world of chadō (way of tea), kōdō (incense appreciation) and zazen under the guidance of Japanese masters. 1-6 Oct, from €5,060 per person
A detox alla toscana
Monteverdi Tuscany – the hotel deep in the south of the region, sensitively integrated into the picturesque medieval hilltop village of Castiglioncello del Trinoro – may already be a familiar name: besides the sleek Ilaria Miani-designed interiors and sweeping Val d’Orcia views, it has an on-site arts centre and signature cultural programming season going for it. In November, it’s adding wellness to the agenda, with a seven-day holistic retreat that will focus on soft, not scary, detoxing.
There will be detoxifying facial treatments, lymphatic drainage massages, regenerative body treatments, daily yoga and meditations, and bespoke menus created by chef Giancarla Bodoni (she’ll also teach classes based on the produce-forward cooking traditions of the area). Biotype anamnesis (a deep-dive overall ageing assessment) will also be on offer. Monteverdi’s newly renovated wellness centre will act as headquarters. monteverdituscany.com, 12-19 November, from €11,640 for seven nights
Cycling away the stress, in Crete and Spain
For a retreat into beautiful landscapes, moving at the speed of “slow” travel, consider two new itineraries – the first of which will explore the backroads of Crete, the second the coast of Spanish Basque Country – being offered over from May to October by The Slow Cyclist. On Crete, cyclists will traverse the island from north to south, riding ebikes (to make those scenic, winding ascents a bit less arduous) and learning about the island’s multi-layered history of conquest and civilisation, from Minoan, Greek and Roman through to Byzantine and 15th-century Venetian.
The Basque Country itinerary, meanwhile – it’s the outfitter’s first foray into Spain – is a five-night, mountains-to-coast journey, which takes in everything from viticulture (at Rioja) to architecture (at Bilbao) and, of course, food (the route passes through San Sebastian, but we’re betting you eat splendidly the whole way through). theslowcyclist.com, from £2,995 per person
A mind-expanding mountain hideaway in Mexico
Finally, for a retreat of the consciousness-expanding sort – very much the wellness focus of the moment – consider looking to Tepoztlán, in the Mexican state of Morelos, which is where Tandava has its flagship premises. Tandava specialises in small-group and one-to-one journeys utilising Bufo Alvarius 5-MeO-DMT, a tryptamine psychedelic found in several plant species, and secreted from the glands of the Colorado River (Bufo Alvarius) toad. Unlike the multi-hour marathon trips facilitated by ayahuasca or LSD, 5-MeO-DMT’s effects usually last less than an hour (the average trip is around 20 minutes long); but as with psilocybin and some other psychedelics, users report seismic shifts in their consciousness, outlook and sense of wellbeing.
At Tandava, guests stay in the comfort of clean, spacious rooms in the lush mountains just outside Cuernavaca; there are meditation and yoga rooms, and Turkish steam saunas and pools for the enjoying. The staff, which includes medical professionals, psychedelic integration specialists (who help guests process their experiences before they return to their daily lives) and meditation leaders, oversee every aspect of guests’ engagement – starting, as all legitimate psychedelic retreats should, with a preliminary interview process and extensive review of personal and medical histories (any place that doesn’t require this prior to a guest’s arrival is to be avoided). Tandava is currently collaborating with University College London on a brain-imaging study of synthetic 5-MeO on retreat patients, as part of the educational and clinical training platform that its founder, Joel Brierre, runs. In August it will host its first BIPOC retreat, with a focus on ancestral healing. tandavaretreats.com, from $2,495 for a five-day retreat.