The allure of expanding the mind is just becoming a reality to resorts.
Alisa Bigham was searching for a fresh start. She had just left a 47-year old marriage and was just trying to understand who she was outside the marriage. She had it in her mind that she needed to get away from everything and go on a personal retreat to have a mental reset of who she really was.
Alisa had read the “How to change your mind” book by Michael Pollan which speaks about the research done into psychedelics and their therapeutic benefits. She became interested in experiencing these benefits herself.
So, she scheduled a retreat at Silo Wellness, which is a resort located in the Montego Bay area of Jamaica.
She became involved in the nighttime activities where people consumed psilocybin mushrooms and also went on several spiritual journeys that sometimes included visions and altering of the mental state.
The taste of these mushrooms is known to usually be quite earthy and bitter, so honey was added to make it a bit tastier for those that needed the extra flavor. After the trip, Alisa said she felt “changed”. It was as if she had found something deep within herself that she didn’t know she had.
Her experience is becoming quite common as a new wave of magic mushroom retreats is offering great surroundings, accommodation, and good food as well as all the spiritual benefits and self-discovery to gain from the psychedelic experience. These spiritual journeys are widely referred to as trips.
At the Soltara Healing Center beside the Gulf of Nicoya in Costa Rica, a resort experience usually costs between $2,600 and $8,900, depending on the length of the stay and the level of comfort requested. The main event in the experience is an intense ayahuasca ceremony that is led by the indigenous Shipibo healers.
The Journeymen Collective in Vancouver is primarily focused on providing the corporate world with spiritual well-being. They have ceremonies involving the use of magic mushrooms in a controlled manner, with about 2 to 5 grams of psychedelics blended with gourmet chocolate. These ceremonies are mainly held at lodges and they work to help executives and business leaders to fall in line with a greater purpose.
The Journeymen Collective was founded by Gary Logan in 2018, along with Robert Grover, his husband. They stated that they aim to ensure that all the guests feel well cared for. They want to care for, guide, nurture, and help out their guests in any way possible. They want all the people to be completely relaxed and be in a state of rest as they take the medicine.
The CEO of Silo Wellness, Douglas Gordon, has stated that his retreat is aligned with bringing change to the ideas people have about luxury. He said it’s all about having a real experience, and they want to attract guests who will put great value on their experiences.
In recent years, there has been a significant turn in the way psychedelics are perceived in public. What people used to view as a recreational drug is now a potentially therapeutic substance that has a wide range of benefits.
Not too long ago, in Netflix’s The Goop Lab, they followed the employees at Gwyneth Paltrow’s website as they took a trip to Jamaica to participate in a psychedelic therapy session that involved a lot of laughing, crying, and several other intense emotions. Joe Rogan, one of the most popular podcasters in the world, is also a huge advocate of ayahuasca. And it seems there is already a lot of money to be made in the psychedelic market, which is projected to be worth about $11 billion by 2027. And the wellness industry continues to boom and grow, with staying physically and mentally healthy becoming a high priority for people now.
A study that was published in late 2020 valued the worldwide tourism industry to be just over $735 billion, and it has been projected that this value would go up to about $1.2 trillion by 2027.
Soltara may not have the five-star luxuries that some other resorts have, but its rooms are still very comfortable, the food is well-prepared, and the pool is top-class. These features might seem to be at odds with the spiritual journey people find there, but there is a sincere reason for that. The chief operating officer at Soltara, Melissa Stangl said that she noticed that clients usually had the common urge to find adventure.
The remoteness of the resort also meant there was a limited clientele. So when Soltara was established in June 2018, it chose the established center of Costa Rica with an area that looks elegant, to help in attracting a wide range of potential customers.
The work involving ayahuasca ceremonies can often be quite uncomfortable, so it’s highly important to provide the guests with a space that they feel completely comfortable in. A place where they do not have any fear about being in a remote region of the jungle. It is when they are relaxed that they will be more open to the benefits of psychedelics.
At Silo, Gordon supervises a retreat that has sessions specifically tailored to each person or group of people participating. They also provide special services for women, fitness enthusiasts, as well as people in the LGBTQ community. These sessions usually cost about $3,995 per person or $6,400 per couple and they are hosted at high-class locations.
By providing his clients with a high-class travel experience, he found that they found it much easier to embrace the core parts of the experience, including the intense mushroom trip. He aims to create a balance that adds up to provide luxury. The intent of the experience is usually set during the introductory rituals and some practices help to make the experience seamless and integrate it into each person’s daily life.
Away from their growing popularity in the public space, psychedelics are still illegal in most countries in the world, and this creates a limited market for this wellness niche. The Netherlands and Jamaica are the main destinations for this therapy because of their liberal laws concerning the use of psychedelics. Some options are coming out of other countries like Mexico, Canada, as well as the United States.
Alisa Bigham, who was a participant in the Silo retreat remembers the experience of sitting on blankets and pillows during her psychedelic trip. She recalled having three during her retreat that lasted for five days. Her retreat was filled with yoga classes and nutrition seminars before the trips that took up her night. She went in with a strong goal in her mind and was able to accomplish it!