7 Wellness Journeys for a Cultural Experience

April 8, 2020 by Allison Reiber DiLiegro

With dim, warmly lit rooms and intoxicating scents, spas invite total escape. When the destination itself is intoxicating, however, you might not want to escape it. Many of our properties around the world offer wellness experiences that allow you to dive deeper into the culture while you’re being pampered.


Wellness is at the core of Hidden Doorways. While we practice mindfulness at home, we are delighted to share with you cultural wellness journeys from our clients around the world. Immerse yourself in the healing powers of ancient Chinese wisdom to Bhutanese chanting and singing bowls, shamanism and more. Here are a few cultural wellness experiences that offer a cultural education, a unique sense of place and an escape, if only from your worries.

1. Traditional Dotsho at Six Senses Bhutan

Thimphu, Bhutan


Perhaps it’s Bhutan’s dedication to “Gross National Happiness” or the crisp, clear air, – the country is carbon negative – but a sense of wellbeing pervades this mountain kingdom. Six Senses Bhutan features five lodges scattered across the country. Each spa has its own unique focus, helping guests to connect with themselves and heal holistically as they travel throughout the country. As each spa turns to local culture for inspiration, the wellness journeys welcome guests to connect more deeply with the country.


A wonderful example is the Traditional Dotsho experience at Six Senses Thimphu. The treatment begins with Bhutanese chanting and singing bowls, which promote stillness, wellbeing and happiness. From there, guests are invited to slip into a traditional hot stone bath. In this treatment, mineral-rich river stones are heated for hours and added to the water one by one. This heats the water gradually, allowing the body to adjust and encouraging purification. Khempa, a Bhutanese medicinal herb, is added to the bath to release muscle pain and stiffness.

2. Ancient Chinese Wisdom at SANGHA Retreat by Octave Institute

Suzhou, China


SANGHA Retreat by Octave Institute is a wellness haven just outside of Shanghai. The destination retreat is home to a team of experts in Western medicine and Eastern wisdom. Aside from body treatments in the 65,000-square-foot spa, there are lectures, Qigong classes and more.


Carefully crafted for business leaders, the Quantum Leadership program has the power to transform. The founder of SANGHA Retreat, Frederick Chavalit Tsao, believes that raising our consciousness doesn’t only benefit our personal well-being – it can also have a profound impact on one’s business. This program teaches leaders to change who they are on an intuitive level – to find their chi, as Chinese tradition would say – so they can inspire creativity and collaboration and excel in rapidly changing environments. He also believes that, “well-being is an alignment and unification process that shouldn’t be measured. The minute you start to measure it, or compare yourself to others – whether one is spending more or less time meditating, eating meat or being vegan, smoking or not – you will lose direction. Just keep on the right path.”


For guests curious about diving deeper into Chinese culture, another transformative journey is the Ancient Chinese Wisdom program. The program is based upon Huangdi Neijing, the ancient Chinese medical text that includes more than 2,000 years of medical knowledge. Specialists use Huangdi Neijing along with Western medicine to assess a guest’s current state of health. A diagnosis is based upon Yin-Yang, the Five Elements and the Laws of Nature. When combined with Acupuncture, the program offers deep healing and a rich understanding of Chinese medical wisdom.

3. Reiki and Shinrin-Yoku at Shou Sugi Ban House

Water Mill, New York-The Hamptons


Set on more than three acres of nature in the Hamptons, Shou Sugi Ban House is a Japanese-inspired wellness destination with an inspired list of wellness offerings. The property was founded by Amy Cherry-Abitbol, a longtime Hamptons resident who spent years living in Japan. In addition to a variety of healing rituals and body treatments, she brought a few Japanese-inspired treatments for guests to experience.


The first is Reiki, a Japanese technique for balancing energy using the body’s Qi, or life force. In the treatment, a practitioner lightly places their hands on the body to facilitate healing. In doing so, they bring the physical, emotional and spiritual self to a balanced state of wellbeing. Another offering is Japanese art of Shinrin-Yoku, or “forest bathing.” This meditative walk, guided by a therapist, invites guests to receive what the forest has to offer and what nature is trying to tell us.

4. The Mystic World of the Kallawayas by Crillon Tours

Lake Titicaca, Bolivia


Crillon Tours arranges bespoke itineraries through Bolivia, a beautiful, off-the-beaten-path destination that’s rich with culture. They promote sustainable tourism by supporting local communities and working to preserve Bolivia’s ancient traditions and Andean heritage. One such experience is visiting the shamans, or spiritual healers, who traditionally worked in the Andes.


Crillon Tours offers an experience called The Mystic World of the Kallawayas, which brings guests to visit the shamans of the Andes by night to learn about the natural medicines they use. According to shamanic wisdom, it’s essential to heal the soul before the body can be healed. Guests will be blessed by a shaman and participate in a sacred reading.

5. Song of Heaven Ritual at Chablé Resort

Yucátan Peninsula, Mexico


Set in a leafy jungle on the Yucatan Peninsula, Chablé Resort offers an inspired wellness program rooted in Mayan mysticism. The spa itself is built around a cenote, a natural cave filled with mineral-rich waters. While the influence of Mayan heritage is evident from the moment guests arrive, the best way to experience it is through the Chablé Spa Journeys. Each one blends traditional rituals and advanced therapeutic methods, yet has its own energy and aesthetic depending upon the guest’s desires.


One of these is the Song of Heaven Ritual, which honors the connection between divine wisdom and our own position in the universe, as celebrated in Mayan cosmology. This treatment calls upon the wisdom of nature to regain balance. How? Therapists use a range of specialized vibratory therapies along with tones, percussion and chants to shift the energy. The treatment leads into an aromatherapy anointment and a Chablé Closing Ritual, which honors the circle of life.

Ayurveda Therapy, Shirodhara


6. Banyan Tours & Travels



As the birthplace of yoga, Ayurveda and certain styles of meditation, India is a haven for cultural wellness seekers. Banyan Tours & Travels, the most respected operator in India, arranges bespoke itineraries through all corners of this large and varied country. Depending upon the destination, they are always able to incorporate an authentic wellness element into an itinerary.

One of the richest regions for wellness seekers, however, is Kerala. Set on the southwestern coast of India, this lush, lesser-visited state is where some believe Ayurveda originated. One of the best places to dive into the discipline is The Carnoustie Ayurveda and Wellness Resort. Guests are welcome to take part in traditional Ayurvedic detoxes and remedies, as well as yoga and naturopathy. All the while, they’re welcome to enjoy sweeping views of the Arabian Sea and delicious, healthy vegetarian cuisine. For those seeking more in-depth treatments with the Ayurvedic doctors, 14- to 21-day retreats can be arranged.

7. At Home With Six Senses



Of course, in the current times of COVID-19, these journeys feel a bit far-flung. Luckily, Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas is bringing their acclaimed wellness programming straight to you. The new At Home With Six Senses program is available entirely online. Their in-house wellness experts are leading online tutorials, posting videos and publishing stories that support the pillars: Mindfulness, Eat, Sleep, Move, Live Naturally and Connect. A good place to start? Six Senses Global Head of Yoga Dorelal Singh has been offering meditation sessions on Facebook Live. You can find the full At Home With Six Senses programming via their social media channels, newsletter and at their website here.



There’s more unique wellness where this came from. Contact Hidden Doorways mail@hiddendoorwaystravel.com to learn more about our destination spas and wellness properties.

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