Hotels & Resorts

What’s Your Pleasure? Time to Try a Sexual Wellness Retreat

The hottest new personal-development trend? Sexual wellness programming. Jancee Dunn tries her hand at something sensual. 

Shou Sugi Ban House

Courtesy of Shou Sugi Ban House

By Jancee Dunn

Aug 3, 2022

I STRETCHED OUT on the couch across from sex and intimacy coach Juliet Lippman as she shared a preview of “The Sensual Lover,” a private 90-minute workshop for women at Shou Sugi Ban House (rooms from US$1,690, workshop US$350) in the Hamptons town of Water Mill, New York. She put on sultry music, bidding me to close my eyes, take deep breaths, and “envision opening a door to your most magical place, where you feel your most sensual and alive self.” 

Barn House, Shou Sugi Ban House sexual wellness retreat
Barn House. Courtesy of Shou Sugi Ban House

I told her I had just returned from Chile’s dreamy Atacama Desert. “Perfect,” she cooed. “Connect with that self. She’s wild, she’s free!” Lippman smiled serenely. “Now, gently stroke your body and give yourself permission to feel that pleasure.” From there we moved to a series of exercises designed to make my life “feel much juicier.” 

This workshop is the first of many at Shou Sugi Ban that are designed to encourage guests to explore health through a more intimate lens, the hotel’s creative director, Jodie Webber, told me. 

Shou Sugi Ban House sexual wellness retreat
Courtesy of Shou Sugi Ban House

Lippman’s workshops are part of a broader wave of new classes and retreats that center around sexual wellness, a major growth area in the travel industry, said Susie Ellis, CEO of the Global Wellness Institute. “There’s been a lot of cultural taboo-toppling around sexuality in the past few years.” At the same time, “wellness at many retreats has moved beyond stress reduction to more expert-based experiences, so a retreat with a sex expert can be almost like taking a mini grad class.” 

A 2022 survey of more than 16,000 U.S. adults from industry analysts MindBody found that nearly 30 percent are “very likely” to try a sexual retreat or sex-centric wellness activities, such as workshops and group therapy sessions. Properties like the St. Regis Punta Mita, in Mexico, and the W Hotel Brisbane, in Australia, have taken note—both recently offered sessions with a resident sexologist. 

Sponsored by Tourism New Zealand
Couple Meditation Wall at Canyon Ranch Lenox sexual wellness retreat
A couple meditating on a wall at Canyon Ranch Lenox. Courtesy of Canyon Ranch

For couples curious to explore intimacy together, Canyon Ranch (doubles from US$1,150) resorts in Lenox, Massachusetts, and Tucson, Arizona, offer workshops in a relaxed, low-pressure environment. Amy Hawthorne, the company’s director of mental health and wellness, explained that activities involve “taking a risk and practicing vulnerability,” whether that means talking with a therapist or building a deeper bond by doing a ropes course as a pair. 

Yoga Deck at Six Senses Ibiza, Six Senses sexual wellness retreat
Yoga deck at Six Senses Ibiza. Courtesy of Six Senses

Six Senses Ibiza (doubles from US$1,100, retreat US$4,239),in Spain, will be hosting a retreat centered on women’s sexual wellness this fall to be led by Nicola Finley, an internal-medicine physician at the University of Arizona. The “Pleasure Principles Retreat” will weave recent wellness research into individual reflection and group-work activities, ranging from journaling to physical movement, for attendees to discover more about intimacy and self-love— giving exhilarating new meaning to the phrase “the pleasure is all mine.” 

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