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The Sound of Silence

by Rona Berg

Spas are emerging as true sanctuaries, places for contemplation where you can literally turn off the noise

 photo credit: Thomas Hart Shelby

Have you ever tired of the constant buzz that you hear around you? People walking down the street talking into the air, the sound of someone’s cell phone (or yours), the chatter that disrupts your peace and quiet wherever you go?

Modern life is crazy, cluttered and noisy, and all that noise, along with the hum of technology, is contributing to stress. According to the American Psychological Association, 75 percent of adults reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in the past month and nearly half reported their stress has increased in the past year. The American Institute of Stress found 80 percent of workers feel stress on the job and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage it.

Dialing down the noise is something many of us seem to need right now. Of course, mind-body modalities like yoga and meditation, and digital detox, are extremely popular. I’ve been to dinner parties lately where hosts ask their guests to turn over their cell phones for the duration of the meal. But clearly we need more. That is why innovative wellness spas and destinations around the world are surrounding us with silence.

According to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), the first completely “Silent Spa” recently opened at Austria’s Therme Laa Hotel, with a space designed by architect Wolfgang Vanek, who was inspired by places of worship. Germany’s Brenners Park has added “digital kill switches” to create totally silent rooms and Eremito, in Italy, offers silent, candlelit dinners with no WiFi or cell phone service.

Photo Credit: Austria's Therme 

With the growing popularity of “wellness monasteries,” there is the appeal of spas that are inspired by monasteries (and the soul-searching contemplatives who inhabited them), or, like Italy’s Monastero Santa Rosa or Quebec’s Le Monastère, are literally transformed from them.

Always a leader in digital detox, Rancho La Puerta, in Tecate, Mexico, offers limited cell phone service and restricted WiFi, with a cell phone ban in public areas. Now, every Thursday evening, The Ranch also offers a Silent Dinner, free of conversation, so that you can hear yourself think. At L’Apothecary Spa at L’Auberge de Sedona, the Silent Massage offers a facial acupuncture massage while guests practice breathing techniques to quiet the mind, in silence. The Currents Spa at The Cape, a Thompson Hotel in Cabo San Lucas, was designed by architect Javier Sanchez so that the hallways capture the sound of the ocean breeze. No music is piped through public spaces or treatment rooms at the spa, so that guests can enjoy the quiet natural setting in peace, with the calming sound of ocean waves as backdrop.

The Mandarin Oriental featured a one-night Silent Night initiative in December, across its spas worldwide, with spa treatments intended to encourage inner peace and mindfulness. They also launched Digital Wellness Packages, where guests give up cell phones during the duration of their treatment, which may include mindfulness activities like journaling. And, when guests reclaim their phones, they come back with a tip sheet from the Mayo Clinic on how to clear mental chatter and create a healthier, more balanced relationship with technology.

In its 2017 Trends Report, Visit Scotland even highlighted silence in its tourism campaign called “Silence is Tartan/The Deafening Silence of Wellbeing,” positioning the country as one of the quietest places on the continent, and suggesting that businesses promote the health benefits of Scotland by highlighting its peace and tranquility.

According to Chris Greenwood, senior tourism insight manager of Visit Scotland, “Well-being and mindfulness are a growing global movement. By combining the tranquility conveyed by Scotland’s landscape with the quality of the heritage and culture alongside the warmth of welcome, Scotland delivers to the visitor a comprehensive opportunity to embrace natural well-being and mindfulness.”

And a great way to listen to the sound of silence.

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