1. The Zen way
The first thing you see as you pull up into the gravel driveway is the stately statue of Buddha – seated, eyes closed, hands clasped in prayer. As soon as you arrive, your personal host appears to whisk you via golf cart to one of the hotel’s 13 minimal yet luxurious cedarwood-clad studios, little standalone cabins laid out around a central swimming pool. From heated floors to an adjustable gas fireplace and in-room mineral soaks to be used in your choice of a hinoki ofuro (Japanese soaking tub) or modern massage bath, every design feature bridges thoughtful hospitality with soothing Zen. The goal is to declutter your space and thus your mind – each room comes with a selection of Japanese teas and a private meditation garden.
2. One with nature
Immerse yourself in the tranquil natural environs – the property is located off the exit of Route 27 in the rural, coastal hamlet of Water Mill, 150km east of New York City. To that end, guided beach walks nearby, which take place in the early morning, encourage tasting the salty air and hearing the sound of the sea. But their principle of fusing nature with man-made experiences isn’t just aesthetic – the property makes uses of solar energy, structured water filtration and geothermal heating and cooling. In the guest studios, Kobe-style white oak bed platforms are crafted by a local designer, mattresses and cotton bedding are provided by eco-friendly small businesses and chairs are made of recycled wood.
3. The retreat experience
Once you’ve settled in, wander down the Japanese-inspired garden walking paths and into the Main Barn, which adjoins the dining room with a lounge lined with artwork and plush sofas. Here, you receive your personalised retreat schedule – all-inclusive itineraries for overnight guests, and half- or full-day spa rituals for day visitors – that includes relaxing activities such as morning tea ceremonies and sound baths in addition to the spa treatments and meals. Participation isn’t mandatory, but meals are served communal style at a long dining table, and you’ll often encounter fellow guests at yoga or post-dinner, to listen to some soothing live music. The shared schedule engenders a communal sense of purpose behind the relaxation, and promises a healing, regenerative retreat rather than a mere vacation.
4. Body and soul healing
The pièce de résistance here is their selection of spa rituals and other healing arts. Booking a massage, facial or body wrap grants you access to infrared, wet and dry saunas, as well as contrasting hydrotherapy plunge pools and a solarium deck overlooking the property’s three acres. Standout offerings on the spa menu include a Clear the Path Massage, which fuses Western and Eastern techniques like hemp-glove exfoliation and gentle cupping therapy, and an anti-ageing Regenerative Facial that uses a 30-minute micro-puncture treatment to activate collagen. Those seeking to heal energy and the soul can opt instead for expert-led reiki, sacred oil and crystal therapies.
5. Natural nourishment
The property’s overall ethos may be understated, but there’s some bona fide Hamptons-worthy star power in the kitchen. Founder Amy Cherry-Abitbol, an erstwhile big law attorney, tapped on Danish chef Mads Refslund (of noma fame) to develop the seasonally oriented, daily-changing culinary program, while former Maison Premiere chef Jacob Clark oversees the kitchen’s daily operations and on-site organic farm. On a recent visit, guests tucked into a lunch spread of skillet-charred cauliflower in a sesame oat milk sauce and paper-thin slices of cucumber concealing slivers of green strawberries. Dinner, meanwhile, is presented in the form of a whimsical do-it-yourself shabu-shabu (Japanese sliced meat hotpot) with fresh vegetables such as broccoli rabe and sweet potato cooked a la minute in tabletop pots of simmering house-made dashi broth.
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This article was originally published in the February 2020 issue of SilverKris magazine