Haute RE Magazine

Travel is all in the mind

Real healing begins when we leave everything behind


here was a time when a vacation was just that — empty days that could be filled with beautiful beaches or sightseeing checklists. A slight pause in our lives … and then we jumped right back to where we left off. In fact, thanks to our phones, few people even achieved that hoped-for hiatus.

Nowadays, texts, posts, emails and calls pursue us wherever we go so that vacations can feel like work by any other name. A new movement in the hospitality world is asking us to take the road less travelled next time we book our annual leave — they are suggesting that we actively heal our minds and bodies rather than merely stepping off the treadmill.

The breakthrough insight for the cofounder of Healing Hotels, Anne Biging, is that we can never get away from our own selves. When we pack our suitcases, we are bringing so much invisible baggage with us. To have a truly healing experience, we need to find ways to connect with our deepest needs and leave everything else behind.

“Fifteen years ago, we founded Healing Hotels of the World with the vision to combine healing and hospitality, enabling travel guests to become whole in body, mind and soul. Since then, with 90+ partner hotels around the globe, we have been bringing this vision to life. The world needs healing,”

says Anne Biging CEO and Co-Founder, Healing Hotels of the World

At Healing Hotels, there’s no single magic formula. Instead, a broad range of approaches is on offer: fasting, Ayurvedic detox, yoga, lifestyle coaching, weight loss, sound and sleep therapy. The best way to find out what works for you is to speak to a Healing Concierge who can help you to choose the best option.

Haute looked into three very different experiences that show the choice of healing hospitality available around the world.

The first Augustinians came to Quebec in 1639. Photo Credit: Healing Hotels
Le Monastère des Augustines, Quebec City where heritage meets simplicity. Photo Credit: Healing Hotels

Mindfulness in a monastery

Quebec City is steeped in history. But we often experience it as a mere observer. At Le Monastère des Augustines we are immersed in the past in a way that seems to wash away our modern cares. The first change you will notice is the silence — peace and quiet at Le Monastère feel as solid as Quebec’s city walls. In this atmosphere of safety and security, stress just melts away. 

Living in the former cloister of North America’s first hospital, it’s easy to feel your spiritual strength return with help from a mindful menu, massage therapies and an in-house apothecary. You can choose either an authentic monastic room with antique furniture, or a more contemporary space — either way, you’ll connect with a centuries-old commitment to personal growth.

Golden Door helps guests commune with nature Photo Credit: Healing Hotels

Rewilding the mind

Out in the old ranchlands between the Pacific coast and the Mesa Grande lies The Golden Door, inspired by the ancient Japanese inns known as ryokan. Voted #1 Spa in the World by Condé Nast, ‘the Door’ — as its guests come to know it — has been a haven for Hollywood stars for decades. 

Set in 600 acres of native hills, meadow and citrus groves, the Door encourages guests to allow their minds to wander free from the restrictions of modernity, with only 40 guests on site at any time. Water is integral to the experience, with a retro sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi, two swimming pools, and a Watsu (water-shiatsu) therapy pool. Everything is personalized from garden-to-table meal plans to hikes, workouts and mindfulness sessions. The Zen-like atmosphere extends to the rooms which are single-occupancy, adults-only temples of contemplation.

Haveli is a traditional Mughal manor house Photo Credit : Healing Hotels

Mind music

The spa at Vedaaranya Haveli combines the power of music with a distinctively Indian approach to health and wellness. Vibrational healer Dr Shruti Nada Poddar has created Nada Vibronics, a sound therapy designed to de-stress and reinvigorate the mind. As might be expected in the heart of Rajastahn, the cuisine is entirely vegetarian, with vegan options. The culture of the region permeates your stay, with Yogic and Ayurvedic experts on hand at all times, and unique experiences such as folk dancing with local performers and musicians.

Just 10 charming rooms, lavishly painted with frescoes by regional artists and craftspeople, the haveli is a traditional mansion house from the days of the Mughal Empire. Each room is highly distinctive, opening out onto a traditional courtyard bathed in sunlight but with deep shade on all sides. The haveli is a perfect, human-scale introduction to the complex and sophisticated healing practices of India’s multicultural heritage.