Country & Town House – Spa Trek

It took Mike Dickson 71 years to find his inner yogi, but now he’s a convert thanks to Sen Wellness.

I don’t ‘do’ yoga. I’m a man who, let’s say, would be in a Covid concern group and downward dog has never been part of my daily ritual. That is until I went to Sen Wellness Centre in Sri Lanka at the beginning of last year. So hooked am I that I’m hotfooting it there as soon as lockdown lifts.

It was Sam Kankanamge, founder of the Sen Wellness Centre, who persuaded me to go. An osteopath who also runs a holistic healthcare clinic in London’s Wimpole Street, he’s just one of those intuitive, gentle types with a genuine interest in people. ‘You will lose weight and it will be a wonderful way to reset your mind and body for the New Year,’ he told me. He sensed that I was stressed and knackered. I sensed I was sold.

On the first morning, I met the beautifully-sari-swathedDr Waruni for an initial medical consultation. She prescribed a bespoke programme of Ayurvedic medicine and treatments – and then the revelations began. Each day started at 5.30am with a soft whisper of ‘tea’ outside my cabana, after which I wandered sleepily down to the yoga deck to watch the sunrise and wake up my limbs and lymphatic system with some yoga flow guided by a remarkably competent teacher, who knew just how far a 71-year-old’s limbs might bend.

A breakfast of fresh coconut, fruit and salad was my reward, eaten with fellow guests. Meat, fish, coffee, a cold beer or a chilled glass of Sauvignon blanc were out of the question at mealtimes, usurped by tisanes, fresh juices, gallons of water and a nutrient-rich vegetarian regime, giving the digestive system a much-needed break.

But it was the treatments that really blew my mind. With an average of four a day – an astonishing 21 in total – these mind- and body-changing therapies were carried out by some of the loveliest therapists I have ever met. All parts of the body were massaged, from head to toe, along with herbal baths, cleanses, inhalations and such a variety of manipulations that no two treatments were ever the same.

Come evening, it was time to head to the yoga shala again, this time for guided meditation, mantra chanting and a long savasana to settle us for a sweet night of dreams. The internet is only available for two one-hour sessions a day, so there’s no chance of losing hours of your time online either (this is a good thing, my friends).

I stayed in this cocooning, nourishing place for eight days, by which time I’d lost four kilos – and felt unbelievably well, clear of eye and cool of mind. After the travails of 2020, I simply cannot wait to return and give myself over to their healing hands and happy hearts. It’s more than a present to myself now – it’s an essential.


READ Any joyful or spiritual book you’ve always meant to read.

DO Talk to all your fellow guests – they will be as fascinating as you are.

SMILE Thank and make a great fuss of all the staff, they are very special.

PLANT Fifty per cent of the mangrove trees required to offset the carbon emissions of your air travel – the Sen Wellness Foundation pledges to donate the other 50 per cent.

Written by Mike Dickson for Country & Town House magazine January/February 2021 issue.

Find the article on p. 46 of the digital issue.


Coming from a lineage of healers, Lina works with somatic embodiment, breathwork, energetic healing, sound, and naturopathic nutrition. She channels her practice into words and thoughts to share with you. Her warmth and radiant energy will capture you through her words

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Mithi Thaya
Mithi Thaya
Heaven on earth. A must-visit if you wish to disconnect and self-connect.
Elaine Lynskey
Elaine Lynskey
The most nourishing, relaxing and healing week I have ever experienced in the most beautiful setting!! 7-day Ayurvedic and Yoga retreat left me feeling like a new person. I will definitely be returning.
Jill Long
Jill Long
My two trips to the Sanctuary were equally special. Both were in January, one in 2016 and then again in 2020. It was a perfect way to start the year. The sheer beauty of this part of Sri Lanka is restorative in itself, but when coupled with the luxury and care of the Sanctuary, it becomes a deeply healing experience. I will go back again as soon as I can.
Di Sherlock
Di Sherlock
I arrived exhausted and frazzled from a flight that had lost my bag in transit with the clothes I left London in and raging sinuses from the plane's insanely fierce aircon. Within days the sinus infection was healed with Ayurveda. This was the start of a 10 day healing journey that was pure magic. I stayed in an eco cabana - bed super comfy! - waking up to amazing birdsong. The nature here is lush (bring your mozzie spray!) , the complex open and airy, the food delicious (mainly veggie). Everyone on the team - from the Ayurvedic doctors and practitioners, the amazing manager, the chef and his crew, the yoga teachers to the boys who do the cleaning know what they're doing and radiate positive energy. Days are structured but the vibe is relaxed, open and easy. The Cacao ceremony was amazing. The Fire ceremony also. I'd go back in a heartbeat.
Emma Chadwick
Emma Chadwick
I came to the sanctuary at a difficult time for me personally. I came home feeling mentally and physically restored. It was just the tonic for me.The sanctuary is set in a beautiful and peaceful location, a stone’s throw from the sea and never-ending empty beaches.I loved the daily yoga sessions - I had a brilliant teacher the week I was there - which has an open front so we often saw monkeys swinging by.But it were the Ayurvedic treatments and meals, made with fresh local produce, that were out of this world.The communal dining is such a great idea, particularly if you come on your own like I did. And the sanctuary is run by a fantastic and caring team who went out of their way to make my experience truly unforgettable.I really do hope to return again one day.
Sen Wellness is really a Sanctuary where you can really connect back to you, your body and nature. The 10 days Spring Retreat was so fantastic, the breathing, moving and the food was always great. The location is far off from everything and you pretty much have the beach to yourself. All the animals like baby turtles, monkeys, squirrels, peacocks combined with nature was just magical. Also all the staff took great care of everyone induvidually. I will definitly be back!!
Lara Y
Lara Y
My husband and I stayed at Sen Wellness Retreat for 11 days in February 2023. We highly recommend Sen Wellness. It is not a resort, it’s a true retreat. Our stay was an absolute dream come true. From the moment we passed through the gate, took our shoes off, and set our feet on the grounds, we found ourselves in a serene atmosphere that washed away all the stress and worries of everyday life. It was an absolute peaceful heaven with calming sounds of the ocean and nature. We stayed in eco-cabana. The blend of natural materials and elements with simple but modern amenities created a perfect balance between rustic charm and contemporary luxury. The room was daily cleaned and had everything we needed for our stay. After meeting with doctor on the first day, our Ayurvedic treatments were tailored to our individual needs, and they were the best part of the experience. Our yoga teacher Thilini was local and made our yoga sessions very meaningful, connecting our body and mind. We still do yoga with her over Zoom ever since we returned home. In a week, we had a new teacher Megan coming. She wasn’t local but she had an extensive knowledge about Ayurveda, local culture and she was great too. The people we had a pleasure of meeting during stay were from all over the world and truly exceptional. The best part was having all meals together around the table and having conversations. Every meal was a delightful journey of flavors and nourishment. The food had many varieties and left us both satisfied and intrigued to try more. Thilini explained to us each food ingredients and shared many stories and information about the local culture. She even took us to the beach late at night for stars gazing and listening to the sounds of the ocean. The staff was very caring, attentive, and tried to provide the best service. By the time we had to leave, we felt so much genuine care and felt like a part of a close-knit community. After returning home, I had a question about medicine for the doctor. Davia sent my question to Dr. Harnika and she replied to me. We left retreat feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, deeply relaxed, and with determination to change our lifestyle.
Rahela Rajh
Rahela Rajh
My time at SEN Wellness Sanctuary for the Ayurvedic retreat was an incredibly relaxing experience. The immersion in pure nature, the sights and sounds of flora and fauna wildlife, and the rejuvenating Ayurvedic treatments made it a standout wellness sanctuary worldwide. Daily yoga and meditation sessions, as well as a meeting with a monk, added a spiritual dimension. The wholesome meals were a delight, and the romantic boat ride they arranged for our wedding anniversary was unforgettable. The staff's warmth and dedication created a peaceful, welcoming atmosphere that truly fostered a deep connection with nature. The private beach felt like a personal paradise, offering an exclusive bond with the ocean and sand. My stay at SEN Wellness Sanctuary was truly transformative.
Ghurair Shaikh
Ghurair Shaikh
Our time at SEN Wellness Sanctuary was like discovering a whole new world during the Ayurvedic retreat. Every second felt like a soothing melody of relaxation and refreshment for both of us. Being surrounded by untouched nature was like a dream, with all sorts of plants and animals creating a calming atmosphere. The Ayurvedic treatments were like magic, making this place stand out as one of the best wellness spots globally.Each day, we got to do calming yoga and meditation. We even met a monk, which was pretty cool and added a special vibe to our days. The food was delicious and healthy, giving us energy and making us smile. The cherry on top was a romantic boat ride on our anniversary, showing how much they cared about our happiness.The staff was incredibly friendly and worked hard to make the place feel like a peaceful escape. It was like they understood how much we needed to connect with nature. The private beach felt like our own little paradise, where the waves and sand seemed to give us their full attention.And guess what? We're already planning our next visit to SEN Wellness Sanctuary. Our stay changed us in a big way. It felt like we were woven into a beautiful story that mixed nature's beauty, calming activities, and friendly vibes. This experience is something we'll always remember and it inspires us to bring more harmony and renewal into our lives.
I was looking to fill my cup with good energy and that’s exactly what I got from Sen Wellness. Highlights for me were the delicious healthy food, the setting surrounded by nature and a protected nesting-turtle beach, the soothing Ayurvedic treatments and the daily yoga/ meditation sessions in peaceful settings or gentle dips in the seaside pool. The staff are superb, treating you like family in their lovely home. The cabanas were super comfortable and had everything I needed. Bring lots of insect repellent, camera storage for all the baby turtles you might witness, and a positive attitude and you’re golden. Worth the three-hour trip from Colombo!
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