The cacophony and intrusiveness of modern life and technology have made a stretch of uninterrupted silence into a luxury good. Hard to find, but achievable if you have sufficient financial resources. In luxury wellness travel, silence is the latest trend in mindfulness. Where are the best places and spas to go for a silent vacation? Our correspondent Jillian Tangen has found 10 retreats where you can experience the joy of silence.
Silence is the latest in luxury wellness travel
a quiet moment is hard to find
As a mother of three girls under the age of eight I have a love/hate relationship with silence. Why? Quiet time in my house could mean one of two things. First, that all three kids are playing nicely together. Or second (and more likely), that our girls are up to no good.
Dear reader, whether it’s the first or second reason, I let the girls be. Why would I do that if they are most likely being mischievous? Though I often end up regretting it, I do like the creativity that those unscripted moments bring out. But more importantly, I need those moments of quiet to myself. Though few and far between, the silence gives me some much needed time to relax and re-energize. I think I can safely say that everyone needs that.
silence can be good for your health
And as it turns out, I’m not alone in this belief. Scientific evidence shows that spending time in silence reduces stress and increases overall happiness. One study even revealed that just two minutes of silence actually affects blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.
Silence puts your body in a more relaxed state than other calming noise levels – say, if you were listening to mellow music. Some scientists even suggest that being quiet for longer stretches of time helps regenerate brain cells. Which, as a mom who sometimes feels like she is losing her mind, really makes me feel better about ignoring the mischievous behavior. Small wins, am I right?
the rise of silence tourism
But what if you’re looking for something more than just a few moments of stolen quiet?It turns out that luxury travelers are no longer only in search of beautiful sunsets, historical monuments and succulent meals. They are also in search of some peace and quiet, too.
Enter silence tourism, the latest trend in the wellness world. Today you can find a slew of resorts and retreats that go well beyond basic digital detoxes and relaxing spa services. They’re offering their guests anything from short-term silent activities and spa treatments to full-blown silent retreats lasting up to months at a time.
And thankfully, many of these mindful retreats don’t just give you silence, but also all the luxury amenities you crave with a getaway. But which ones are the best spas for a silent vacation?
best spas and retreats for a silent vacation
So where should you go? Turns out there are a number of ways and places to try out this new trend. So whether you are looking for two minutes or two months, here are ten of the best spas for a silent vacation. They’re the places to head to for the ultimate luxury. Silence.
1. D Hotel Maris
For quiet dabblers who don’t want to go full immersion, the silent beach at the sleek D Hotel Maris in Turkey provides a good intro. While this Mediterranean hotel is home to five private beaches, the silent beach is strictly limited to books, sun and gentle waves. Making it a great spot for rest and reflection. When you’re done, you can enjoy the resort’s other indulgent activities. There’s the spa, a trip on one of the hotel’s private speed boats, or a meal at one of their delicious seafood restaurants.
2. Simple Peace
The ancient Umbrian city of Assisi, Italy is not only the birthplace of Saint Francis, but also the home of Simple Peace. Founders Ruth and Bruce Davis bring together precepts of both Western and Eastern spirituality at their renovated historic monastery. Bruce, a scholar in the teachings of St. Francis, leads mostly silent meditations, while Ruth, a longtime student in Eastern meditation, enriches the silent sessions with guided Tai Chi and “sacred movement” rituals.
Outside of these sessions are one-on-one retreat guidance meetings, hatha yoga classes and several hours for self-exploration in the form of preparing food, journaling, hiking and therapeutic massages. As a bonus, all of the rooms feature fireplaces and terraces that look over the local olive groves.
3. L’Auberge de Sedona
If you are looking for just a dash of quiet in your vacation try the L’Auberge de Sedona overlooking the Arizona Red Rocks. This quaint English cottage-inspired retreat features a “Quiet Mind” spa treatment. It includes a silent massage that incorporates simple breathing techniques to help calm the mind.
4. The Ranch
This luxury retreat in the Santa Monica Mountains is focused on immersive health, weight loss and a tech disconnect from everyday life. With ten hours of mandatory, no options daily exercise, mostly hiking, you will find little time for social media or chit chat at The Ranch.
Fortunately, you’re rewarded each night with a restorative massage and salt bath soak followed by a locally sourced plant-based meal. New to the program this year is “silence time.” Guests are asked to remain silent for the afternoons. The Ranch has also started offering forest bathing, otherwise known as a silent meditative hike.
5. Ponant Cruises
A new series of cruise ships from Ponant encourages no talking, but not complete silence, with the underwater multi-sensory Blue Eye lounge. Here, passengers can unplug and listen instead to the deep water sounds coming from within a three mile radius of the ship.
The cruise line enlisted contemporary music composer and sound design expert Michel Redolfi to develop hydrophones that transmit the natural symphony of the sea into the lounge. Guests are invited to relax and sit in Body Listening Sofas that each discreetly vibrate in unison with the sounds of the ocean, creating an underwater encounter guests can see, hear and feel. How cool is that?
6. Bali Silent Retreat
If you are going to practice silent meditation, why not do it someplace with beautiful views and delicious food?Head to Indonesia for one of the best spas for a silent vacation. Surrounded by rice paddies, the Bali Silent Retreat is in a lush setting, featuring hot springs and daily visits to nearby Buddhist temples. Here you will find no set daily schedule. Instead, guests are encouraged to practice silence on their own terms. Guests are invited to try any number of the retreat’s daily activities, including its New Earth Cooking class. There, guests learn to make healthy dishes with ingredients from the property’s medicine garden. There are also stargazing platforms for nighttime meditation and healing arts sessions. While most visitors stay for a week or more, there are day passes should you want a quick respite.
7. Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Set in the secluded hills of West Marin County in California, Spirit Meditation Center is a refuge for those seeking time to simply enjoy the moment. Visitors join in silent sitting, walking, eating and work meditations in addition to Dharma talks and one-on-one sessions for more personalized needs. Meditation programs cover everything from drop-in classes to day-long events to silent retreats ranging from three days to two months. If that’s all too much, you could just try one of the introductory courses offered online, which teaches the basics of silent meditations.
Situated in the Swiss Alpine playground of Gstaad is the elegant Alpina. It’s definitely one of the best spas for a silent vacation. Guests here have the option to replace speaking with silence, creating a rather non-traditional way of experiencing the often bustling Alps. Guests who choose to partake wear a “silent badge” on their clothing to show employees and other guests that they do not want to be contacted verbally. They relinquish all technology in favor of mountain views and indulgent treatments and activities.
9. Insight Meditation Society
The centerpiece of Insight Meditation Society’s wooded rural 200-acre property is its beautifully restored brick mansion, known as the retreat’s main “campus.” Guests at the Barre, Massachusetts location leave their phones behind to embrace the Indian Buddhist traditions of vipassana and metta, which are believed to enhance concentration, fearlessness, happiness and a greater ability to love. In practice, this involves a combination of seated and walking meditation – all in silence, of course. IMS also offers a separate Forest Refuge, set a few miles deeper into the countryside, for longer-term retreats.
10. Yobaba Lounge
Yobaba Lounge is a beautifully-styled Chateau in the medieval French village of Chalabre. It’s best known for its rotation of intense yoga retreats and the delicious food that accompanies them. It’s one of the best ways to experience silence in luxury wellness travel. Each of the retreats offered here include a period of “noble silence” which lasts from 8:30P to midday the following day. If that’s not enough quiet time for you, the owners just launched silent weekends, where no speaking at all is permitted for the duration of your stay.
other ways to experience silence in luxury wellness travel
There are other ways to tap into the trend of silence in luxury wellness travel. Walking a labyrinth, forest bathing, yoga and meditation are all silent ways to calm your mind. Interestingly, sound therapy is also becoming more widespread – while it’s the opposite of silence, the right kind of noise can also have a calming effect.
So, whether you decide to embark on one of these silence adventures or not, remember that mere five minutes of quiet a day can have a positive impact on your brain and your health. As hard as that may be, be sure to try steal yourself a few moments of peace and quiet no matter the chaos around you – your head and heart will thank you.
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Jillian Tangen is the Head of Research at Dandelion Chandelier. Formerly, she was a Senior Research Analyst at McKinsey & Co and Analyst at Shearman & Sterling. She is an avid fan of Nordic design, having owned an independent lifestyle store and sales agency focused on emerging Scandinavian design. Jillian lives in NYC and is married with three young children. She loves cross country skiing, the New York Rangers, reading, travel and discovering new brands.
Join our community
For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier newsletter. And see luxury in a new light.