The last few years have been a lot; a lot for most of us. For me, I had so many life changes all converge at the same time. It all happened in 2020: A pandemic, a twin high risk pregnancy, a home purchase and gut renovation, a career pivot and so much more that I can’t even begin to get into on here. And with all those changes, came their own unique stresses and pressures. My response to stress has always been to do anything but address it: stay busy, stay distracted, don’t acknowledge the anxiety or fears.

And so it is interesting that when the opportunity came to visit Shou Sugi Ban House, I did not immediately realize that this was an opportunity to take some real time for me, to allow myself a chance to open myself to an honest opportunity for wellness and introspection. And maybe if I had taken the time to think of what Shou Sugi could truly offer me in a meaningful way, I would have stayed away, because avoidance has been my go to. But instead, I distracted myself with the “superficial” or rather aesthetics I saw online and I was excited because I was going to be in beautifully and thoughtfully designed space.


So let’s start there, Shou Sugi Ban House is indeed a beautiful property. From the moment you pull into the graveled driveway of the property and drive past the evergreen trees and Japanese cherry trees, you feel that you are in a completely different place from the town you just left behind. The self-described sanctuary is actually just that and it shows in all the design decisions made. You can tell they really took the time to think of the guest experience and this attention permeates all parts of the property, from the main barn to the guest studios and the spa, meditation and relaxation rooms.

The clean, minimal aesthetic of the rooms lends itself to clarity of mind, free from chaos, clutter or overstimulation. And in keeping with being a wellness retreat, you’ll find the things that your body and mind needs: fruit selection, teas, bath soaks and none of the things that have a hold on us on the outside – Television, iPads etc. In fact, one of the first recommendations I was given was to put my phone away, something I mostly held true to. I gave myself 30minutes in the morning and evenings to check on my family, email and to capture a few bits of my experience and then I put my phone away.


I was able to try 4 different experiences during my stay: A massage, sound therapy, meditation and Energy Healing Breathwork with Nicholas Pratley. I’m an experienced receiver of massages, it’s the one thing I do pretty much anywhere in the world I travel to, and I have to say my therapist was right up there with the best of them. On the other hand, I have always struggled with meditation and was quite frankly a little hesitant about my 3 other treatments. So you can imagine my surprise, to having emotional breakthroughs in every single one of them. I was particularly unprepared for the breath-work with Nicholas but he immediately set me at ease and not only encouraged me to relax through the process but explained that there was no right or wrong way to do this. I am one of those people who anytime I try anything new, spend most of the time worrying if I’m doing it correctly. it probably did take me a few minutes to start to relax and to start to get into the pace and intention of the breathwork we did. And I can’t even begin to explain what I felt, the weight of the past 2 years, emotions that had been held in, I couldn’t explain the tingles, I couldn’t explain the tears, but I felt it, I felt energy moving through my body and I felt heaviness leaving my body. It’s just hard for me to put in words but this to me is what Shou Sugi Ban House is about. You can come relax in a beautiful space and eat amazingly prepared meals (designed with Michelin starred chefs) and just that would be brilliant. And I’ve done a lot of that, that’s the bulk of what I do when I travel. But to me what really makes Shou Sugi Ban House unique is how it brings all of that together with this intense focus on treatments and experiences that go beyond the superficial. And that’s what I’m looking for more of these days and that why I would return.

Last but not least, every single person I encountered including the owner just moved with such a unified purpose of making sure that every guest felt really taken care of, really seen. The easiest way to describe that energy is kindness. And sometimes you can worry about whether that most human element can get lost in a place like this. But that’s the energy that powers this place. That is what I left with.



  1. STAY HAMPTONS: SHOU SUGI BAN HOUSE - Bakers Field Black Magazine

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