Industry figure Greg Payne is behind a series of four- to seven-night ‘transformational’ wellness retreats that are due to launch at a hillside hideaway in Provence this month.
Payne, who’s worked for leading spa operators such as Aman and InterContinental, has spent the last two years consulting on the project for Villa La Coste. He’s brought together specialists in genetics and meditation, cranial sacral therapy, acupuncture, aromatherapy and yoga – who have more than 20,000 hours of experience each in their field.
“The retreats we’ve chosen are specifically and deliberately branded,” said Payne. “Everything we’re working with is a traditional modality which is rooted in medical practice.” He added that he’s intentionally picked experts who don’t “do the hotel circuit” and are busy with their own practices.
Running first, from 21-27 April is the Bodhimaya Rest and Restore retreat, which is based on science-based gut-healthy menus, meditation and yoga. Biomarker testing is offered pre-arrival so the programme can be customised, and focuses can include weight loss, body cleansing, release from stress and burnout or simply resting. Another 10-night Bodhimaya retreat based on genetics and meditation will be available at the end of September.
Body, Mind & Soul, a retreat based on acupuncture, aromatherapy and cranial osteopathy (and including two sessions of each), will be held in May and October.
Meanwhile, yogi Eyal Chehanowski will host retreats in June and November. Chehanowski has two leading yoga studios in Israel and is a structural integration (Rolfing) therapist. His approach, which combines bodywork and yoga, has been designed to create myofascial change and reinforces improved posture and range of movement.
The master in residence in July will be cranial sacral therapist Leonid Sebeloff, who will help people with a number of ailments, including headaches, neck and back pain, stress and physical trauma. Soboleff is a master teacher of cranial sacral therapy with over 25 years experience, including 10 years at the Esalen Institute in California.
With 28 suites, Villa La Coste is a boutique hotel set within an organic vineyard. The destination is famous for its architecture and contemporary art installations. It’s an “abundant” and “powerful” setting for the retreats, said Payne.
"We never really get the chance to press the pause button and have a chance to reset,” he said. “A retreat should offer the time and space for treatments to process, to enable people to reflect and truly appreciate the beauty of life. And as we go through that process, we’re gaining awareness and we’re given the opportunity to shift our perspective.”
Payne also consulted on an eight-treatment room spa, which opened at Villa La Coste last year. Its concept is developed around salt scrubs, aromatherapy and seven different types of muds/clay. Payne worked with product and treatment specialist Denise Leicester, founder of Ila, to create the menu.
By mid 2018, Villa La Coste will add a thermal area – with a salt sauna, steamroom, hammams, dry float and Vichy shower rooms – to complete the offering.