Retreats and Getaways

From the indulgent to the spartan, the solitary to the salacious, these outings have a physical and spiritual dimension.


The sea-swept vista, the autumn storms, or the biodynamic garden would be attractions enough, but Hollyhock also offers a learning center with programs that focus on well- being, wisdom practices, arts and culture, and business, activism, and leadershipthe themes of the establishment's mission. The center is also a wondrous place to unwind and stretch even without any classes on mushrooms or painting. You can give the gift of a peaceful getaway with gourmet vegetarian meals and optional activities such as bodywork and kayak trips. Everything at Hollyhock is designed to bring out the best of one's heart and soul. Nightly room rates run between US$44 and US$153 per person and include meals. Restorative getaways start at US $140 for two nights, and program prices vary. P.O. Box 127, Manson's Landing, Cortes Island, BC V0P 1K0 Canada. 800-933-6339, JOANNE GARRETT


Silence is the golden rule often invoked during retreats at this Buddhist center dedicated to meditation, contemplation, and studyand, yes, non-Buddhists are welcome. Silence creates the opportunity to simplify the daily routine, quiet the mind, and focus inward. You can choose a specific retreat (such as Buddha's Path to Happiness, Memorial Day Insight, or Mindfulness) for a gift, but be certain it makes a good fit. Retreats usually include sitting and walking meditation, talks by the teacher, and time for questions. The center, 125 miles south of Seattle, has a gas-fired sauna and an organic garden. Retreatants are asked to assist with daily chores, such as chopping vegetables or sweeping floors, which helps keep fees lowrates vary, but you can figure on roughly $50 a day for the program and room and board. 373 Agren Road, Castle Rock, WA 98611. 888-465-9118, J.G.


Breitenbush has a plan for you, and that plan includes 180-degree water, rustic cabins, and organic food. The ever-popular Oregon spa entered off-peak season on Nov. 1, which means nightly rates from $40 to $80 (depending on the day and whether you need a bathroom in your cabin). Enjoy the sweat lodge, the titular hot springs, the meditation and yoga sessions, and the fabulous vegetarian meals three times a day (all included in the nightly rate). Despite the stereotypes associated with Breitenbush, it's not just a place for aging hippies; the spa is a godsend for anyone who craves a bit of emotional renewal. Just think: An enlightened retreat in the Oregon forest might make a nice gift for you and your spirit-sharing life partner. P.O. Box 578, Detroit, OR 97342. 503-854-3314, NEAL SCHINDLER


Don't know what to get the woman in your life? Here's one ironclad rule: You will not fail with a gift certificate to a spa. You particularly will not fail if it's for the Olympus Women's Health Club. Women from all over make the pilgrimage to Olympus for its exotic, Korean-derived layout: One area is devoted to hydrotherapy, with hot, cold, and mineral pools, while another features a heated room filled with stones, salt, sand, and herbs. Just using those areas, for a reasonable $25, can happily fill a day. But there are also more intensive spa services available, including massages, body wraps, and paraffin treatments (from $20 to $80, with combination gift packages available). A pleasing Korean cafe, attached to the spa, tops off the experience. 8615 S. Tacoma Way, Lakewood, WA 98499. 253-588-3367, NINA SHAPIRO


Originally a Jesuit-only retreat center, Nestucca Sanctuary opened its doors 15 years ago to spiritual seekers of all kinds, especially those wishing to "deepen their relationship with God"whether that God is conceived in Catholic or nondenominational terms. Located on the Nestucca River, south of Pacific City on the Oregon coast, the refuge is teeming with flora and fauna, an ideal setting to walk in the woods and be contemplative. With no phoneyes, you read correctlyand no schedule, except for daily liturgy at 5 p.m. with the Rev. Andy Dufner (if you wish to participate), Nestucca is a haven, in the plainest terms, for those wishing to be quiet and still. Cost is $10 per retreatant per day. For more information or to make a reservation, write to the Rev. Andy Dufner, S.J., Nestucca Sanctuary, P.O. Box 670, Pacific City, OR 97135. SAMANTHA STOREY


If your significant someone would enjoy a romantic getaway that's free and uninhibited, perhaps you could treat him or her to a weekend at this woman-owned nudist recreation center near the Olympic National Forest. Probably best to wait until the weather warms up, but they do have Christmas and New Year's parties scheduled. The Greek-themed, 4-acre resort has three cabins (Eros, Aphrodite, and Europa), with winter rates that run from $65 to $100 a night ("$70 for second couple sharing lodging"). Amenities include kitchens, TVs, and VCRs with "romance videos," as well as an RV park. There's also a fire pit, an indoor hot tub, and a community lounge with a dance floor. (Reservations are required.) Shelton, WA. 360-426-7116, http://arcadia.home. sprynet. com. MARK D. FEFER


"Massage" is a funny word: Prefixed by the word "Swedish," it conjures up images of a white-clad Nurse Diesel pummeling and twisting you into shape; suffixed with the word "parlor," it signifies passive exercise of quite a different sort. Body Electric, a nearly 20-year-old organization based in Oakland, Calif., splits the difference, purging traditional massage of its clinical overtones and erotic massage of its furtive ones. Body Electric teaches "erotic massage" as a kind of spiritual as well as physical discipline, a form of body exploration that can be practiced solo, in couples (same or mixed gender), or in large groups, and which definitely includes orgasm (though not necessarily, for men, ejaculation) in its catalog of techniques.

Body Electric started out pretty much strictly gay-oriented, with a strong element of safe sex and therapy for the HIV-positive, but it's branched out over the years, with women's groups and mixed-gender group classes joining the roster of activities. Introductory workshops are offered periodically in the Puget Sound area, with ongoing classes and get-togethers for those who find fulfillment in the practice. Over the Dec. 5-7 weekend, for instance, a coed workshop on "Power, Surrender, and Intimacy" will explore S/M techniques ($350). For local events and classes, call 206-322-0179 or visit ROGER DOWNEY

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