This Vacation Is a Real Trip
Bloomberg Businessweek|August 23, 2021
Psychedelic experiences are beginning to play an integral role at luxury resorts
Max Berlinger

Alisa Bigham was looking for a new beginning. She’d recently left her marriage of 47 years and was trying to understand who she was outside of that union. “I kept having the thought, ‘You just need to go on a retreat and get away from everything,’ ” she says. “My intention was a reset of who I am, something that could bring me a big transformation.”

Bigham, 64, had read Michael Pollan’s book How to Change Your Mind, which chronicles the new research into psychedelics and their medicinal properties. She came away from it interested in exploring those possibilities for herself.

So she booked a retreat at Silo Wellness, which operates in Jamaica’s Montego Bay resort community. She was drawn to its nightly ceremonies, during which participants take psilocybin mushrooms and, led by local Rastafarians, embark on a series of transcendental journeys that might include visions and an altered emotional state.

These mushrooms can have a bitter, earthy taste, so honey was also provided for those who wanted a chaser. After the first trip, she felt profound, fundamentally changed. “Like I had found my superpower,” she says.

Bigham’s experience is becoming more and more common as a new breed of the retreat is offering not only the lush surroundings, pleasant accommodations, and well-prepared food of high-end vacations but also the spiritual healing and metaphysical self-discovery of guided, plant-based psychedelic experiences. Colloquially they’re called trips, though most practitioners prefer the term “journey.”

At the all-inclusive Soltara Healing Center, set amid 22 acres near the Gulf of Nicoya in Costa Rica, stays run from $2,600 to $8,900, depending on the length and room style. The main event of the itinerary, which ranges from 5 to 12 nights, isn’t a boozy luau or snorkeling excursion but an ayahuasca ceremony led by native Shipibo healers.

In Vancouver, the Journeymen Collective focuses on imparting spiritual well-being into the corporate world. Their guided mushroom ceremonies—in which 2 to 5 grams of psychoactive fungi are blended with gourmet chocolate—are held at local lodgings and aimed at helping business leaders and executive teams align their companies with a greater purpose.

Gary Logan founded the Journeymen Collective in 2018 with his husband, Robert Grover, and says their goal is to make guests feel taken care of. “We want to cradle you, nurture you, and guide you through this process,” he says. “We want people to relax and rest into the medicine, not worry if there’s a tarantula on their face.”

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