Country & Town House – Spa Trek

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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.

GO WITH THE FLOW

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.

Sam Kankanamge

Sam Kankanamge BSc (Hons) Osteo, DPO, Dip.Acu is an exceptional, world renowned healthcare professional, with over 25 years-experience transforming patients’ health, and has been called ‘the best back specialist in the country’ by The Times (2014).

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Sonia M
Sonia M
18:02 20 Jun 22
Everything at the highest level.A unique, authentic place at the highest level.Atmosphere, ambience, food, treatments, doctors, yoga, accommodation - ideal place for retreat for body, soul and mind.5 nights there is an absolute minimum:)Thank you Sen Wellness Sanctuary and see you soon
Grant Munro
Grant Munro
00:09 19 Jun 22
Sam and the team and SEN Wellness have done a fantastic job of creating a space for healing, rejuvenation and connecting to natureI spent 10 days at the sanctuary in April and to this day I am still struggling to put the experience in to words that could do it justice..!The whole experience there was truly magical - from the location and immersion in nature, the daily structure, community with other guests, the food, yoga and cacao ceremony. Not only was there opportunities to experience and heal during the stay but I also felt there was so much I was able to learn and take away / take back in to 'normal' life to continue the process.Litsa - the yoga teacher during our stay - was incredible at holding space and taking the group where they needed to go as a collective and really opened my eyes to another depth of yoga that I didn't know existed.I'd recommend SEN Wellness Sanctuary in a heartbeat and felt privileged to witness and be a small part of the the transformations I saw in people through their stay. Thank you!
Thanu Yakupitiyage
Thanu Yakupitiyage
16:48 18 May 22
Sen Wellness Sanctuary was exactly what I needed to start my healing journey with myself. I did the 7 day package (and honestly kind of wish I had done the 10 day instead.) I came to Sen feeling the stress and trauma of the last 3 years of the pandemic and working long hours at a remote job for an international NGO. I came with the intention to focus on my health issues, recommit to a yoga and meditation practice, and explore with ayurvedic practitioners some of my health issues that had developed due to stress. I am happy to say I got what I came for.The staff of the sanctuary - from the front desk coordinators and managers to the ayurvedic doctor to the ayurvedic practitioners, and service staff and cooks were so kind and helpful, attending to any issue that might arise. In particular I'd like to thank Dr. Harnika (the doctor), Madhu & Neeranjana (front desk coordinators), Prema (who served tea every morning), Rupika (my ayurvedic practitioner), and all the other ayurvedic practitioners and wait staff boys who helped serve food, clean rooms, etc.I also had consultations with Sam Kankanamge, the founder, at my request ahead of booking to discuss some of my needs, as well as with Davia, an international coordinator. I found everyone to be very responsive, which I appreciated.The yoga instructor, Litsa, who led the morning and evening yoga classes and meditation during my stay was incredible and I learnt a lot from her practice and really appreciated my one-on-one with her. The use of sound meditation/healing via the use of a gong was really amazing as well. Litsa really helped to focus those of us at the retreat on our healing journey. She was a real rock. Her yoga practice is really spiritual, nurturing, and also high intensity, which I really enjoyed. (Note that the yoga practitioners rotate, so I'm speaking towards the person who was there during my stay.)The ayurvedic treatments and acupuncture were divine and a lot of care was taken to do them well. I felt relaxed and refreshed after all of them.As someone of Sri Lankan descent who now lives in the United States, it was really healing for me to get the kind of care I wanted in my mother country. I felt really taken care of and respected, and I'm glad I invested in myself by coming to this retreat.I also appreciated the international nature of the retreat - and made many lovely friendships through the experience with other guests who were there at the same time. There's a special kind of bonding and relationship building that happens from eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner together with all the guests at one long table, which I appreciated.The food served at the retreat is super healthy - a lot of typical Sri Lankan dishes, primarily vegan. I enjoyed the variety in the menus. I even enjoyed the juice cleanses I partook in.If you're looking for a typical "holiday" that's not what you're going to get here. This felt like a very spiritual and intentional sanctuary, particularly for people who are trying to heal themselves and take care of themselves. Having done the research before heading to Sen, I got exactly what I was hoping for and more -- be prepared to put in work and to be committed to the journey.In addition, Rekawa Beach, which is a few minutes walk from the Sanctuary is one of the most stunning and tranquil beaches I have ever seen. While it isn't necessarily safe to swim, it was really healing to go there early morning and evening to watch sunrises and sunsets. This is a turtle nesting beach and it was truly a joy to watch massive turtles lay their eggs on the beach, a once in a lifetime opportunity.I also really enjoyed a boat ride through Rekawa Lagoon, the sounds of the mangroves, and the sweet monkeys who watch you from the trees when you do yoga in the shalet.While it's a difficult time for Sri Lanka, I highly encourage people to support the economy, invest in your own well-being and healing, and experience this very intentional and caring retreat.
Zulkatro Duque
Zulkatro Duque
09:16 12 May 22
I’ve never felt so alive for such a long time! All thanks to my decision to visit Sen Wellness Sanctuary. I have been on autopilot with my daily life, work & even breathing for the longest time I could remember!Sen Wellness had helped me appreciate having a healthy routine, learn to love Yoga and understand the importance of breathing.The sanctuary is a real epitome of inner peace! All the staff both from London office & in Sri Lanka were oh so lovely! And the guests I was with during my stay were all so awesome! The country itself is gorgeous! All these helped make my stay all worth the while..Because of my experience, I can say that I will definitely do this again! I highly recommend that you try this out :)
Tatjana Winter
Tatjana Winter
07:35 26 Apr 22
Ich war im März dort und habe das 10 Tages Spring Awakening Retreat mitgemacht. Alles in allem war es großartig. Ich habe einen sehr stressigen Alltag und das Retreat hat mir sehr geholfen mich wieder auf mich zu besinnen, abzuschalten und vor allem auch nachhaltig neue Routinen mit in meinen Alltag zu nehmen. Das Team ist großartig - super kompetent, super freundlich und super hilfsbereit. Es gibt nichts, das nicht möglich gemacht wird. Die Ausstattung ist hell und freundlich, Betten super gemütlich, das Essen ist phantastisch, die Ayurveda Ärztinnen super kompetent und ich hatte noch nie bessere Massagen als dort. Ich bin wirklich rund um begeistert und werde definitiv noch einmal wiederkommen. Die Lage ist abseits vom Trubel an einem naturbelassenen und geschützten, kilometerlangen Strand (an den sich kaum Menschen verirren). Morgens sieht man sogar Schildkröten ins Meer wandern. Also, top!
Zine Jemmali
Zine Jemmali
16:49 23 Apr 22
Most special and magical place !!The sanctuary is totally immersed in Nature in between a stunning wild beach hosting sea turtles and a large lagoon.The entire team is really amazing, extremely kind and super talented. The food is healthy, delicious and all meals are prepared with local products.The cabanas are super confortable, peaceful and perfectly neat.Had the most amazing experience I highly recommend ✨
Hoori J.
Hoori J.
12:52 07 Apr 22
I am a Holistic Health Practitioner, and I also work in the HR department of a not-for-profit institution. I found out about Sen Wellness Center through AFAR. I decided to fly to Sri Lanka from Washington D C to visit this Sanctuary. Upon my arrival at 11:30 p.m. I was received with a warm and kind smile from Maduro. From the moment you step into this Sanctuary you are treated with compassion and kindness. The manager and his entire staff are always attentive and caring, making sure all of our need were met. The food is nutritious and wholesome made by a chef who is always smiling. The Ayurveda Doctor, and the healing hands of the staff during the Ayurveda treatments, and last but not least the kind voice of an elderly lady who would wake us up at 5:30 with a warm cup of tea.All of the three yoga teachers were good. In particular, Flame! She is extraordinary, knowledgeable, and inspiring... During a meditation around a fire, she was able to open the hearts of nine strangers so that they were able to see the beauty and strength within each other and complement each other. This was an amazing attribute to everyone who came to this Sanctuary to get closer to their inner Self.My experience from this visit is that this is truly a Sanctuary, and I am grateful to everyone from the staff in the office in London, UK, to everyone in Sri Lanka.I was fare welled at 4:30 a.m., again, with a kind and warm smile from Maduro.Thank you!
Manuela
Manuela
11:09 30 Mar 22
People from all over the world who are looking for peace and relaxation meet here, together with monkeys ;-), turtles, peacocks ..... and a fantastic, huge sea with a deserted beach.Everyone will find what they are looking for: a wonderfully designed retreat, dreamlike nature, soothing treatments, very well guided asanas and pranayamas, relaxation .... and fine food!We enjoyed it very much! Thank you!
Silvana Kopani
Silvana Kopani
08:02 23 Mar 22
Must visit this amazing place, a great yoga 🧘🏾‍♀️ healing & spiritual also a delicious vegan food. Thank you Sen Wellness team 🤍🙏🤍
Nadia Mathew
Nadia Mathew
16:30 10 Mar 22
A magical gem set amongst the Rekewa lagoon and the Indian Ocean. Sen Wellness has been an extraordinary experience that I will cherish.I reached out to Sen Wellness when I was going through a pit in my life and was in search of self-direction and self-love. I was beyond grateful for the opportunity and collaboration that Sam, Davia and Camilla had offered me in order for me to visit the sanctuary and make this trip possible. They didn’t have to do that but they did and they are incredibly generous for it ♥️I was looking forward to visiting the sanctuary for the weeks before and all that I had hoped for had exceeded all my expectations! From their very kind staff, the lovingly prepared meals, the in-depth Ayurvedic treatments, the relaxing nature and the luxury accommodation. This really is the place to be if you need reawaken yourself or find yourself.I felt welcomed right away and the team is very inclusive of the guests with it’s family-type of community. My first friend in the sanctuary was Fiametta who is an amazing yoga instructor and retreat host. She really made my stay exceptional and she picked me up even when I was mentally down at times and always gave me the reassurance to uplift me. What a star she is! ⭐️If you are in search of something, or if you feel lost or need a break from the stresses of reality. Sen Wellness Sanctuary is the place with all the tools to help you put yourself back together. You have the amazing staff to help you, the Ayurvedic treatments to heal you, the other like-minded guests to support you and the perfect location to build you.I’m ever so blessed to have come here. Every sunset was golden by sea. Every smile was beautiful to see. I left the Sanctuary feeling the best version of myself. Thank you for this great experience and I am very lucky to have come ♥️
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