The team behind The Well in New York City has opened its first holistic wellbeing retreat outside the US at the Hacienda Alta Gracia in the tropical foothills of Costa Rica’s Talamanca Mountains.
Adopting an integrative, holistic approach, the Costa Rican development sits on a 180-acre site in Pérez Zeledón with the property – part of the Auberge Resort Collection – encompassing a spa, a working coffee farm, 50 hacienda-style villas, organic vegetable gardens and stables.
According to VP of development, Vivianne Garcia-Tunon, the retreat is unique in the world. “The Well at Hacienda AltaGracia celebrates Pachamama, or Mother Earth, as the master healer,” she explains. “With the universal healing power of nature at the forefront, the destination pays homage to the Costa Rican environment and its healing energy, which delivers transformative retreats to guests.
“The experience is brought to life by medical practitioners and through the delivery of custom spa services, daily programming, fitness classes and a calendar of seasonal retreats,” she says. “We’ve designed an indoor and outdoor wellness centre that unifies the physical, mental and spiritual, with unique energy and intention to revitalise guests.”
Garcia-Tunon has worked in wellness the industry for over 20 years – for brands including ESPA, Mandarin Oriental and GHM – and is also an interior designer, nutritionist and licensed massage therapist.
Her role in realising the project involved overseeing pre-opening; starting with design consulting, OS&E, concept development, recruitment, treatment protocols, start-up and training.
The heart of the 20,000sq ft (1,858sq m) eight-treatment room wellness facility is Casa de Agua, a greenhouse-style pool and heat therapy room overlooking rolling hills and a canopy of tree-tops.
All wellness journeys at the retreat begin here, where guests are immersed in a five-step purifying ritual using Costa Rican clay to prepare them to receive the benefits of their selected therapy.
“We’re bringing our integrative approach to wellbeing to the Talamanca Mountains, where we're amplifying the power of healing through nature,” says Garcia-Tunon. “Guests are surrounded by the natural landscapes of Costa Rica and have access to best-in-class services and adventure, all under one breathtaking space for a true sensory and healing experience.”
Programming ranges from craniosacral therapy to rituals inspired by Central American healing methods using local flowers and herbs, as well as binaural sound therapy, astrology sessions, forest-bathing and access to touchless recovery technology.
The Well has also curated a selection of restorative activities for guests, such as equine therapy, lunar gong baths and silent breakfasts, to help them connect to Hacienda AltaGracia’s core philosophy, which is community, a sense of belonging and the connecton of visitors and locals.
To complete the offering, certified health coaches are on hand to educate and support guests in pursuit of their individual wellness goals. They conduct a thorough health history review with each guest before creating a personalised experience that can include recommendations for mindful movement classes, appointments with practitioners, dietary support and integrated treatments and programmes.
Garcia-Tunon reveals that the opening of this first international location marks the start of The Well’s global rollout: “We’ve got an exciting expansion plan that includes a second location in Central America, as well as properties in the UK and four more in the US [Florida, California, Texas and Colorado],” she says.
The rainforest retreat at Hacienda AltaGracia joins the brand’s existing portfolio; its flagship New York location and its latest opening at Auberge Resort Collection’s Mayflower Inn & Spa, in Connecticut.
“Costa Rica was a natural choice for The Well due to the country's commitment to health, wellness, sustainability and preservation of the natural environment,” says Garcia-Tunon.
“We’re delighted to be opening our first international location and the largest wellness centre in Central America, close to one of the few Blue Zones in the world.”