There is a large metal bowl on the bar in Creacon Wellness Retreat’s meditation room – at least, what was once the bar, when Creacon Wellness Retreat was a mere B&B – that is purported to contain the water used to wash the body of Sathya Sai Baba, an Indian guru, before his burial. As water bowls go, it’s not the murkiest I’ve seen (I do, after all, own a dog); it looks a little like water that has had some dust or ash float into it over time. It smells, well, like water. I checked.
What is Creacon Wellness Retreat?
It’s not what I expect to find in the Wexford guesthouse which, since its 20-room expansion in 2016, has served as a home away from home for visitors looking for rest, respite and spiritual rejuvenation. Originally a rustic inn in the sunny southeast, Creacon Wellness Retreat was established by Derek O’Neill and his late wife Linda as “a serene haven that nurtures your complete wellbeing – spirit, mind and body“.
I’ve been invited, with a friend, to experience Creacon Wellness Retreat for myself. We’re staying for two nights in a twin room and are welcome – and encouraged – to take part in as many of Creacon’s scheduled classes as we’d like throughout our stay. Our meals are included and we’ll also be treated to a body treatment.
I’ve been to a few wellness spaces, not to mention their five-star hotel equivalents, but Creacon Wellness Retreat is an entirely different animal. It’s less like staying in a fancy hotel and more like staying in the home of a really house-proud friend (who won’t allow you to lift a finger for the duration of your stay).
The rest of the guests are staying longer than we are; one gentleman has been here since Monday (we arrive on Thursday afternoon), and is just about to commence his three-day juice detox. Still, he takes his meals with us – guests are encouraged to mingle at mealtimes, which, at first, I do grudgingly.
More than the sum of its parts
The food is nothing to write home about, really – although perhaps I say this as someone who eats out a lot and has therefore been spoiled. Our room is comfortable, tidy and super clean, with a lovely view over the front garden (top) and courtyard. But what’s really interesting – and compelling – about Creacon Wellness Retreat are the people.
We never quite establish exactly who is a guest at the retreat, and who is an employee. Suzanne arrives to dinner one evening and we begin chatting like fellow guests; later, she administers my Swedish massage, with the addition of Tibetan singing bowls, for an experience I can neither describe nor, I suspect, ever experience again. It’s incredible.
Afterwards, she begins to talk to me about my life – me, an avowed skeptic – and touches on several issues I’ve been obsessing over. “You need to forgive – either someone else, or yourself,” she says. “Something much better is coming for you, I can feel it.” I start to cry; she rubs my back. In that moment, I feel an intense love for her.
The following morning, Jonathan Keenan leads us in a session of Five Tibetans Yoga. It’s the first time I’ve ever practised yoga with a teacher who’s this relaxed and chatty; he drops the F-word several times, laughing (but not apologising) about it. There is a distinct feeling of relaxation, notwithstanding the challenge I experience in some of the poses (which look, of course, easy). I feel an intense love for Jonathan, too.
That night, Suzanne leads us in a guided meditation. Approximately 13 of us pile into the yellow rose room (above), which was the late Linda O’Neill’s favourite in the house, as Suzanne reads to us passages pertaining to letting go, to connections, to allowing our bodies to feel relaxed, in this moment and of this moment. My friend, later, asks me, “what colour did you see?!” Despite how profound I’m finding the entire thing, I am disappointed to report that I saw no colours. I wonder if Suzanne will come and read to me each night before bed when I am rich.
Would I go back?
There are very few hotel stays in Ireland I’ve taken that I would then go back and pay for – I suppose mostly because I consider I’ve now experienced them (for free!) and they are usually pretty expensive. A two-night stay at Creacon Wellness Retreat, including a treatment, would set you back €196 (per person sharing). That’s less than €100 each per night. It’s incredible value (so yes, I would go back).
And that’s before I even get to the crux of the matter: Creacon Wellness Retreat is the first of these kinds of experiences I’ve indulged in and emerged somehow changed. I’m not sure I believe that water was used to wash Sai Baba. I’m not sure I believe that meditation is the key to enlightenment, or that anyone really sees colours (sorry, Linners) when they meditate. I’m not sure I believe that Suzanne could really see into my life to analyse my stresses and anxieties. For once, I’m not sure what I believe. Creacon Wellness Retreat turned me from a wellness atheist to a wellness agnostic – and if that’s not a step in the right direction, I don’t know what is.
I stayed at Creacon Wellness Retreat for two nights as a guest. See the website for rates, deals and special offers. All opinions are my own.
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