55000 Highway 1
Big Sur, California
Keywords: Wellness, Beauty See all and suggest more
First reviewed by Tablet
More than a spa, slightly less than a way of life, the Esalen Institute offers pure sensory indulgence; new-age philosophy entirely optional.
Esalen dates back from the 60's -which means they were pioneers when western mentalities "awakened" to eastern spirituality and traditions. Many leaders of the eastern explorations have been there. It is a place where you can stay (the rooms are appropriately understated and often you will share them with people you don't know) and spend as much time as you want attending any of the multiple programs (yoga, etc.) going on year long ... or just go to the hot springs, get massages and enjoy nature. Esalen has retained its authenticity, and an unparalleled, untouched setting. You must be a member to stay, but access to the hot springs and massages is open few a few hours around lunch time to people who are not staying there - if you call in advance. The Spa/hot springs area is on the rocks with the waves crashing below. You cannot be shy about being naked in public.I am highly skeptical about the value you get for your money in the myriads of spas popping up everywhere ... how can so many people suddenly become wellness experts able to command outrageous fees? ... but I simply love Esalen. It has the substance missing from most of the other places and the fact that it lies in one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world does not hurt. Becoming a member is not expensive.
Make sure you book your bodyworks/massage appointment well in advance. It's a way to discover this place because you're only allowed in if you have a reservation for something.