Where To Go To Reboot Your Life
Indoor Pool in the Spa at Six Senses, Duoro Valley. Photograph by Mr John Athimaritis, courtesy of Six Senses
In simpler times, long before “wellness” became common parlance, a spa holiday was all it took to revive the spirit. Now, however, political, financial and environmental turmoil have created an appetite for something more meaningful than a deep tissue massage and ambient whale music.
Instead, many of us are seeking transcendental experiences, the kind that (fingers crossed) irreversibly change the trajectory of our lives and cause us to question everything. We crave indigenous ritual and ancient wisdom, psycho-spiritual development and, perhaps most of all, cultural immersion. It follows, then, that spa managers have been replaced with shamans, therapists with Zen masters and breakfast buffets with, you know, green juice and yoga and stuff.
Transformative journeys used to require arduous pilgrimages to remote locations that were offered without the convenience of room service. Today, finding yourself can be a softer and altogether more luxurious experience. Here, we highlight six of the most life-affirming and lavish journeys a man can make.
Reevaluate your priorities
The Dome at MasQi. Photograph by Mr Javier de la Torre Sebastian, courtesy of MasQ
Hidden deep in the Serra Mariola Natural Park, between Alicante and Valencia, MasQi is a boutique operation that offers esoteric healing to the layman. Here you can enjoy sound baths, daily yoga, macrobiotic meals and a range of therapies that fuse Chinese medicine with more modern practices, such as kinesiology and quantum healing. Address physical or emotional obstacles with its signature psycho-bioenergetic therapy or commit to a personalised 21-day Change Your Life programme, which promises to replace errant habits with virtuous ones while helping you achieve personal goals.
Mix with the locals
Breakfast in a Cave at Gagliano del Capo, Puglia, Italy, October 2018. Photograph by Mr Renaud Khane, courtesy of 700,000 heures
700,000 Heures, Japan
Permanent addresses are a burden for the modern nomad. 700,000 Heures – named after the amount of time the average human spends on Earth – moves location every six months, temporarily transforming private properties in far-flung corners of the world into five-star boutique retreats. Dreamed up by Mr Thierry Teyssier, the theatre designer turned hotelier behind Dar Ahlam in Morocco, this members’ club is about immersive experiences curated by people who know the region intimately. Previously, you would have found Mr Teyssier, the master of ceremonies, at Gagliano del Capo, Salento, on the southern-most tip of Italy. For 2020, there’s two new locations, and they’re both in Japan: a temple in Koyasan, in Wakayama, and in a traditional house in Ine, a peaceful fishing village north of Kyoto.
Detox body and mind
Raag Therapy in the Bodhi Tree Room. Photograph courtesy of Vana
Panchakarma is Sanskrit for “five actions”, a thorough and often gruelling detoxification programme rooted in Ayurveda that rebalances body and mind through nutrition, herbs, cleansing rituals and treatments. It is recommended after an exhaustive consultation and must be “followed religiously and in its entirety, with the prescribed minimum of 21 days”, according to the experts at Vana, a £40m development in the forests of the Himalayas. If the commitment and intensity of panchakarma seem overwhelming, there are shorter retreats on offer, many of which draw on Sowa Rigpa, a centuries-old medical system from Tibet that aims to treat illness and disorder by balancing the elements in the body. You can also deepen your knowledge of Indian wisdom, including Vedanta (one of the most prominent schools of Sindy philosophy), with one of its visiting masters.
Journey on (or in) a spiritual plane
AMAN Private Jet. Photograph courtesy of AMAN
Aman resorts in Asia
The Aman Group has an unrivalled reputation for creating exclusive and exquisitely designed properties in exotic locations without disturbing the beauty of the land that surrounds them. If anything, the group engages in vital conservation projects and contributes to community initiatives, which makes it something of an anomaly in the luxury sector. So, what could be better than a stay at an Aman resort? Well, a stay at eight Aman resorts, according to Remote Lands, a specialist operator that has created a 17-day “mindful and cultural journey” that includes stops at Aman outposts in China, Bhutan, India and Sri Lanka. The journey is led by Mr Shantum Seth, a renowned Zen master in the mindfulness Buddhist lineage who will introduce you to the spiritual traditions of each country. Highlights include a hike up to Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan, safaris in India and a private Airbus ACJ318 to take you from one place to the next.
Gain perspective in space
Iridium-8 Mission, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Photograph courtesy of Space X
The race into space is well under way with Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and SpaceX leading the way. Virgin Galactic published pictures of its departure lounge at Spaceport America in 2019 and Blue Origin hopes to start crewed test flights of its New Shepard craft this year. There are even plans for the Von Braun Rotating Space Station, a space hotel complete with bars, restaurants and private residences, to open in 2027. If all goes well, aspiring cosmonauts could enjoy a life-changing sub-orbital journey with Virgin Galactic within the next few years. Flights are all booked up, but we expect more of the £200,000 tickets to be released soon.
Buy yourself more time
Exterior of Six Senses, Duoro Valley. Photograph by Mr John Athimaritis, courtesy of Six Senses
Six Senses Douro Valley, Portugal
Discerning oenophiles and petrol heads will recognise the Douro Valley for its fortified wine and flailing switchbacks respectively. But deep in the valley of this Unesco World Heritage site is Six Senses, a holistic spa with a preventive medicine programme that promises a complete mind-body reboot. The Grow A New Body programme fuses cutting-edge neuroscience and biology with shamanic healing for slower, more conscious ageing. The week-long retreat, devised in collaboration with Dr Alberto Villoldo, a bestselling psychologist, medical anthropologist and expert in neo-shamanism, includes a full health screening, neuro-nutrients, oxygen altitude-training sessions, IV drips and LED sessions for mitochondrial repair, as well as energy healing sessions and traditional spa treatments. No word on whether the exceptional local wines will offset the benefits.