In our mind, a spiritual resort is a place where you can go out of mind. A place that’s therapeutic not just for your body but your most over-worked and over-heated organ in this mad, mad world — your brain. A spiritual resort is a place that chills your brain organ to the point that it releases itself from its compulsion to think.
Here is our ranking of the top 9 resorts on North America’s West Coast, ranging from Vancouver Island in the north to Carlsbad, CA in the south:
1. Harbin Hot Springs, Middletown, CA: Three hours north of San Francisco, this new age community features the only real mineral hot springs in the vicinity of Napa Valley wine country. Equally noteworthy, it is the birthplace of a deeply-somatic therapy called watsu, a word conflated from “water” and “shiatsu”. Think Swedish massage meets reiki meets hypnosis trance — in water. Watsu is as powerful as it gets.
This year, for the first time, Harbin has opened the doors to these domes that look like they’re out of the movie, Dune, to outside guests. To book a room, go here.
Cost: $60 – $160 per night.
Fine print: Harbin is an out-there scene, not some yuppie weekend-massage spa — cell phones, computers, booze and drugs are verbotten.
2. The Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA: Call it the cradle of West Coast civilization. Founded in the 1960s, it was here that figures like Joseph Campbell, Abraham Maslow, Fritz Perls and an Episcopal priest-turned-Zen Buddhist named Alan Watts fused eastern mysticism with modern psychology. They seeded mega-trends ranging from Gestalt Therapy to Star Wars.
If physical place is the dominant force that shapes your experience then nothing compares to Esalen. Its sandstone cliff-hanger mineral baths are fed by a spring on the beach that in earlier centuries were a healing force for the coastal Esselen Indians. Today’s baths are open all night long, and nude lounging is welcome. Entranced by the moon, stars and breakers five stories below, visitors from around the world take full advantage of both options.
Cost: $105 – $180 per night.