Vacation for the world weary

Forget the kayaking package, followed by a full spa treatment the day after bouncing around in a boat on a fishing expedition.

Forget the kayaking package, followed by a full spa treatment the day after bouncing around in a boat on a fishing expedition.

Lots of Vancouver Island resorts offer those seaside amusements, but others are opting for the other end of the spectrum — quiet, meditative, thoughtful.

This is a part of the country with a reputation for embracing organic food and mysticism. These days, some hippy-era retreats of me-centred contemplation have keyed their offerings to a wired world in deep recession.

John Shields, executive director of Haven on Gabriola Island, says that despite the economic downturn, his facility’s month-long program for couples in August has already 40 participants registered — just about full capacity.

It’s not always that full, he says.

“As (people’s) anxiety goes up, their interest in coming to Haven to work with their personal demons really does continue,” Shields says.

“I think there might be a direct correlation between tougher economic challenges and people’s need to have more resiliency and have more ability to respond to life’s challenges.”

The retreat’s signature month-long self-exploration program is also booking up. The Come Alive program runs 20 times per year and encourages participants to use breathing, relaxation and group-circle techniques.

It is “an opportunity to unblock your energy, discover your resources and realize your full potential,” says the Haven’s website.

Adds Shields: “It’s exhilarating work.”

When the Hollyhock retreat was first established on Cortes Island in 1982, the focus was similarly on inner work. But these days, Hollyhock bills itself as offering “learning holidays.”

It’s more about “bringing what people learn back home and putting it to practical use, rather than just gaining your own personal insight,” says Greg Osoba, Hollyhock’s marketing director.

 
 
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