We had the pleasure of spending Memorial Day weekend doing something we’ve never done before – committing to absolute relaxation and being immersed in our wellbeing. We were invited by Shou Sugi Ban House in Watermill, New York to experience their 5-Day Recharge, an extended wellness retreat offering five days of relaxation, rejuvenation and self-care. Hidden behind a gate revealing a giant Buddha as soon as you enter, the property lives on 3 acres and is comprised of 13 guest studios—all of which are designed by local architect Debbie Kropf as well as an all-female design team.
The first night we had healthy dose of fresh brook trout, seasoned potatoes, and mushrooms. The culinary program was designed in collaboration with Michelin Star Chef Mads Refslund, which allows guests to experience an inventive, plant-rich, seasonal menu, designed to heal and sustain. All the ingredients are locally sourced, organic foods based on hyper-seasonal collaborations with local farmers as well as from on-site gardens. Executive chef Jacob Clark was present for every meal and I loved how passionate he was about the menu, and was a joy to hear about his culinary journey as well as the property’s no waste policy.
Waking up bright and early at 7am, we started everyday with a tea ceremony and a gentle stretching class, followed by a more traditional workout class concentrating on form and functional movement. Honestly it’s been a few years since I properly worked out, so it left me really sore for a few days, but it felt really, really good.
After breakfast we headed to nearby Flying Point Beach for a Guided Beach Walk.
All the rooms are oriented around the main pool and with floor-to-ceiling windows that illuminate a clean aesthetic with natural light. Locally crafted Kobe-style beds are made of white oak, while the chairs are made from recycled wood that complement the monochromatic color palette of stone and biscuit tones. Gas fireplaces in each of the rooms are adjacent to the tokonomas, which are elevated alcoves common in many Japanese residences.
We spent a good amount of time at the spa, where we were blessed with a daily massage. The spa menu was comprised of skin and body care, massage, bodywork and healing arts treatments, such as seeing a Shaman (which hubby actually did!). The spa also had an infrared sauna experience, its own Watsu pool, chromotherapy showers, hydrotherapy plunge pools, a solarium deck, and an indoor-outdoor relaxation lounge. We spent a few hours here each day.
The five days we spent at Shou Sugi Ban House were truly transformative, allowing us to gain mental clarity and physical healing. We learned about the art of meditation and breathing, slowing down and really focusing on the now. I took my first ever yoga classes here, and am now hooked. I am also so thankful to have spent it with great company. We shared every meal with people who were strangers who turned into friends and hope to cross paths with again in the future. Amy and Kathleen, the founders of SSBH, are two of the most inspiring people I’ve met, as well as the people who work there – all such experts and absolutely unapologetic about their craft. We would love to return every year if we could.
Before heading back home, we stopped by Parrish Museum as we’ve been meaning to visit for a few years now. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, it is adjacent to SSBH and houses work by artists from the artist colony of Long Island.