Wouldn’t it be nice if you could trade in that stressful budget meeting for a stress-relieving facial or swap your eminent deadlines for easy-going nature walks?
Turns out you can, and not worry about getting fired for it. Hope Springs Institute, located in the Appalachian foothills of Peebles, Ohio, is a woman-focused retreat center devoted to promoting healthy minds, bodies and spirits in a peaceful, wooded setting.
“People talk about the feel of the land, the energy they feel when they show up. Groups that come here have a high respect for the land. They appreciate that we are trying to be in a right relationship with the earth,” founder Suzanne Stevens says.
Hope Springs is not your typical retreat center. The non-profit institute began as a women’s center in 1995 and evolved into its current mission in 2000. It’s a place various groups have used for educational workshops, workplace retreats, commitment ceremonies, writing and yoga retreats, family reunions and dance workshops.
It caters to groups from 12 to 30, who have exclusive access to its 130-acre facility. The center has four lodging areas, which house 30 beds. Its signature 1,500 square feet octagonal studio is a place used for reflection, quiet meetings, meditation and more. The building’s wide space, high ceilings, skylights and maple hardwood floors are the perfect place for supporting artistic expression and thought, Stevens says.
The Spirit House, a smaller facility, is another rounded space with a sunken fire pit and art designed to stimulate thought and contemplation. But among the centers most unique features is not what they’ve done with the land, but how they’ve left much of it natural.
“Most of the 130-acres has been set aside and will never be touched with permanent building structures. People who come here fall in love with the land and feel a relationship with the earth. They can’t imagine going anywhere else,” Stevens says.
The center may be best-known for its healthful approach to feeding guests. It specializes in vegetarian and light meat cooking. Meals are served in a community gathering setting.
“The goal is to support [groups’] being in right relationship with food and to have it be healthy. It’s definitely one of our competitive advantages,” Stevens says.
Along with the retreat offerings, Hope Springs has its own special events and workshops. Coming up is the Writing Retreat for Women, from Jan. 16 to 18. The retreat costs $350, and includes room and board, as well as workshop supplies.
For those looking for a longer-term commitment and who want to develop their leadership skills, the center will soon begin its Women’s Leadership Collaborative. This is a three year commitment that will kick off March 25 to 29. Meetings are twice a year and participants will explore intensely social and personal issues through various means, including mediation, art, music yoga, healthful eating, group exercises, astrology and more. The price ranges.
Hope Springs is a 90 minute drive southeast of Cincinnati. For more information about the center or upcoming retreats or to schedule a group outing, call (937) 587-2605.
Photo: Courtesy of Hope Springs Institute