This post is sponsored by Booking.com. Use this link for $30 off any Booking.com stay!
Last week I had the awesome opportunity to spend a few days at The Art of Living Retreat Center in Boone, North Carolina as part of a partnership with Booking.com. This solo trip couldn’t have come at a better time and I was so grateful for a three days of rest, quiet and mindfulness at this late stage in pregnancy. I have a feeling those kind of days might be few and far between in the coming year! 🙂
BOOKING.COM’S “BOOK THE U.S.” LIST
Before I get into a full recap of my experience at The Art of Living Retreat Center, let me fill you in on Booking.com. They connect travelers with the world’s largest selection of amazing places to stay. You can find everything from apartments to luxury resorts to B&Bs to rustic lodges and much, much more. They offer nearly 1.7 million properties in 228 countries and territories worldwide.
On March 7 Booking.com launched a new “Book the U.S.” List which features their most unique destination in all 50 states. The Art of Living Retreat Center was picked as North Carolina’s destination and I got to visit it to share all about my experience with you!
I highly suggest that you check out the “Book the U.S.” List. There are some really incredible and unique destinations! Examples include treehouses, railroad cars, yurts, lighthouses, tiny houses, caves and more. It’s a fun list to browse through! Apparently you can even stay at the Empire State Building in NYC. Who knew!?
There is also a really cool contest going on where you can enter to win the ultimate job of “Chief Booking Officer.” The winner will receive $50,000 and be tasked with staying at as many of the “Book the U.S.” properties as they can in a 50-day period. You can enter here!
Ready to plan your own Booking.com adventure? Use this link for $30 off your stay!
MY EXPERIENCE AT THE ART OF LIVING RETREAT CENTER
The Art of Living Retreat Center is an easy two-hour drive from Charlotte. One of my favorite things about living in Charlotte is how quickly you can be in the Western North Carolina mountains.
I traveled on a rainy day and as I drove into the mountains a dense fog reduced visibility and daylight making for an eerily peaceful arrival.
The Art of Living Retreat Center and the Shankara Ayurveda Spa are nestled at the top of a mountain ridge. The drive up is easy and scenic. It’s just 15 minutes or so from the quaint mountain towns of Boone and Blowing Rock.
Here is a picture from The Art of Living Retreat Center’s Facebook page that shows you their stunning location in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Check in was easy and I was in my room within minutes of arriving. The Art of Living Retreat Center offers a variety of accommodations including hotel rooms which have all the features of a typical hotel room, retreat rooms which are more stripped down and apartments for longer stays.
My room was simple but clean and had everything I needed including beautiful mountain views, a desk, a fridge, a TV and delicious smelling aromatherapy bath products. I always feel like it’s worth mentioning the shower and this one was great. It had updated shower heads that featured great pressure and temperature.
I appreciated having a fridge in my room and stopped by ALDI on the way to the Retreat Center to stock up on some snacks and drinks for the room.
The snack stash. If I stayed again, I would probably bring a little more, including options to have breakfast in my room just so I didn’t have to drive or walk to the dining hall and could relax in the mornings.
My room was located in the spa building which is where all of the hotel-style rooms are. The spa building is currently undergoing renovations to expand the size of it as well as to include an Ayurvedic kitchen on-site for those on Ayurvedic cleanse programs according to what the staff told me.
One of my favorite perks of the spa building was this awesome tea lounge that was located on the first floor. I stopped by multiple times a day to make coffee or tea.
Loved the presentation of the loose tea as well as the descriptions of what was in them and the benefit they had for the body and mind.
Once I got settled into my room, I headed back to the main building for a meditation class before dinner. The classes are small and intimate. This one had 3 attendees. We did a guided meditation as well as some pranayama, or breath work. The Art of Living Center has all sorts of props to make meditation more comfortable from chairs to bolsters to blankets and more.
The Center offers breakfast, lunch and dinner in their dining hall. All meals are vegetarian (most vegan), many gluten-free and no alcohol is served although they say you are welcome to have it in your room should you choose.
I apologize for the terrible picture but the lighting was not good for food photos at night. Here was my dinner on the first night. Everything was homemade and very flavorful.
After dinner I went back down to the meditation/yoga room for a Kirtan session. Kirtan is a led chanting/singing experience where you call and response short songs/mantras.
The Kirtan was about 45 minutes long and we sang quite a few songs call and response style. There were people playing tambourines, drums, shakers and someone on a harmonium. I personally love mantra repeating and kirtan but don’t get to do it often. It was a totally relaxing and feel-good experience.
The next morning I awoke to find it snowing outside of my window! I picked a very cold, gray and windy few days to visit!
After enjoying coffee and some quiet time in my room, I had breakfast in the dining hall before a yoga session.
In the daylight the dining hall offers panoramic views of the mountains. I can only imagine how stunning it must be when the trees are green and the sun is shining.
I ended up being the only one in attendance for the yoga class but it was a wonderful experience. My instructor, Kim, has been teaching yoga for over 20 years and is also an Ayurvedic practitioner. She spent a few minutes talking to me about what was going on in my life, my pregnancy and my body and tailored the practice to that. It was a hatha-style practice where she had me focus on breath and only 80% effort. It was very slow and very quiet but honestly one of the best and most healing yoga experiences that I have had in a very, very long time. I swear that session with Kim alone was worth the trip. What a treat for me to get a private yoga experience with someone so seasoned and beautiful.
After yoga I stayed for a meditation session and then went back to the dining hall for lunch.
Here’s a more well-lit photo of the vegan food offered at The Art of Living Retreat Center.
My afternoon was all about the spa! I was really looking forward to experiencing the Shankara Spa. All of the treatments are based in Ayurveda. Unfortunately, there was a very limited number of treatments that were offered for pregnancy so I went with a 90-minute massage and 60-minute facial.
They offer all sorts of interesting treatments such as Basti Joint Rejuvenation, Nasya Clear Breath Support, Abhyanga Detoxifying Warm Oil Massage, Marma Replenishing Energy Treatment and many more. Check out their menu of services.
You can also schedule a consultation with an Ayurvedic practitioner to learn more about your dosha and how to design an Ayurvedic daily routine that matches with your health goals.
The spa relaxation room was so cozy and inviting and offered views of the mountains.
My treatment room was no less stunning and I really enjoyed two and a half hours of stillness and pampering with my massage and facial.
I mean, how can you not feel at peace spending hours being rubbed on with this view?
After my treatments, I made myself a cup of tea and hung out in my room until heading to the dining hall for one last vegan dinner. I’ll spare you the dark picture!
My post-dinner activities both nights included hot showers and downtime in my room. I spent time writing, reading and watching HGTV (<– always when I’m in hotels!).
I slept in on my final morning and then packed up to head back to Charlotte. It was a quick trip but one that I won’t soon forget. What a blessing to have such a quiet and serene retreat such a short distance from Charlotte. I’d love to return when the weather is nicer and I can spend more time outside soaking up sunshine and fresh mountain air.
The biggest thank you to Booking.com and The Art of Living Retreat Center for this special getaway.
If you’re interested in learning more about The Art of Living Center, visit their website. You can design your own relaxing stay or choose from one of the retreats or special programs that they offer. Options include everything from silent meditation retreats to Ayurvedic cleanses to happiness retreats to yoga retreats and more.
Let me know if you have any questions! And don’t forget that you can get $30 off your own Booking.com stay through this link! Including the AOLRC!
Do you enjoy solo travel?
Which of the “Book the U.S.” List properties would you most like to experience?
Are you familiar with Ayurveda? If so, what’s your dosha?
Have you ever attended a meditation or yoga retreat?