I've gotta get away right now. I just can't take it anymore... Have
your thoughts run along these lines lately? Retreating from the
world when things get to be too much is a primal motivation for
Not every trip is a retreat, but every retreat is a trip away
from something, even if it's only from the hubbub of a
family-filled kitchen into the empty bedroom upstairs. You don't
have to go very far, but you do have to go somewhere else.
Still, a retreat usually requires some quiet and solitude, and
it's easier to find these conditions away from home.
Understanding this motivation can help you sell such products as
spas -- certainly one of my favorite places to retreat to.
Indulging in such treatments as reflexology (a therapeutic foot
massage) at these palaces of self-pampering, you eventually reach a
nirvana-like state of "spa brain." That's when you're wearing an
idiotic grin, and your body and mind both resemble the texture of a
At Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires, guests are allowed to indulge
in a childish pleasure: coming to dinner straight from their
massages, without changing out of their terrycloth robes.
My most fulfilling retreats, however, involve a little more
effort on my part. When I go to Kripalu, a yoga center
coincidentally located in the same town as Canyon Ranch (Lenox,
Mass.), my body starts to ache from doing yoga twice a day.
The place was previously a Jesuit monastery, and it shows.
Accommodations are sparse. The bathroom is down the hall, and we
sleep in small, not-very-comfortable beds.
All this may sound like self-deprivation hell. But the benefits
are heavenly. Doing yoga usually brings a feeling of special
well-being to me, but the effect is short-lived, maybe an hour or
so. But doing yoga twice a day for three or four days, those
peaceful feelings build up until I come away ready to face my life
again. And that's the ultimate point of retreating, isn't it?
Other great escapes
W e asked agents to tell us their favorite destinations to
escape to when things becomes a little too crazy and frenzied.
Lucy Hirleman, owner of Berkshire Travel in Newfoundland, N.J.,
snatches quiet time in some unlikely places. For example, while
cruising, she chills out on "a balcony of the ship."
Also, she said, "forget about the shows, dinner and casinos. I
could spend a whole week in my cabin with a bunch of good books and
"And believe it or not, I find old cathedrals, churches and
synagogues to be very peaceful and relaxing (as long as there are
no crowds). Early morning and late afternoon are the best times."
Such places "seem to encourage serenity and introspective
Anastasia Mann, chairman of Mann Travel in West Hollywood,
Calif., also snatches peace in non-traditional venues. For example,
she finds it's "nice to get on a plane for a long flight," where
she can collect her thoughts without being interrupted by phone
For Diane Moore, "It's always Hawaii -- and Maui in particular."
Moore, vice president of Vacations Plus in New Berlin, Wis., loves
to sit by the ocean.
"The other place I love to go is the Grand Canyon," she said.
"If you find the right spot, you hear almost a white sound that
helps you really relax."
Far, far away....
For Meta Butler Hunt, owner of Meta Butler Hunt Travel in
Austin, Texas, the perfect retreat is one where she gets away from
the trappings of civilization. The destination doesn't have to be
one particular place, but there's just one requirement: It has to
have a culture that is very different from ours. She prefers
"someplace remote, like India, Morocco or Ecuador."
The benefits of such a trip? "You start
looking at the world in a different way," she said.
"You don't think about clients or airplane seats; these things
don't seem to matter in the big picture.
"The little things you stay awake worrying about don't bother
you, and you start getting some perspective."
For example, "Last January we were in a very remote part of
Ecuador looking for rare birds. We were totally away from
everything, hiking and trekking."
Another recent trip Hunt took was to a remote part of Nepal.
Hunt's daughter had just given birth to a son, and this message
took a circuitous route to get to Hunt because she was so far from
civilization. Hunt's daughter telexed Katmandu, and the message was
eventually delivered on horseback to the nearby village.
But that's what Hunt loves. "My goal is to get to places that
don't have the comforts we have and to see how other people live.
It's soothing to me."
Capri is the perfect retreat for Anastasia Mann, chairman of
Mann Travel in West Hollywood, Calif. "It's so natural and
charming," she said. "There are no cars; you walk the cobblestoned
There's also the lure of "rocky beaches; simple, casual
restaurants, and shopkeepers you get to know year after year. It
becomes a community you feel you're at home in, in a wonderful
environment. It's a beautiful little escape."