Travel

The Perfect Detox—In the Berkshires

If you’re not counting the epic morning hikes along the mist-shrouded Appalachian trail, the transporting daily massages, the 4 p.m. bone broth “cocktail hour,” or the session with the shamanic dream interpreter, then the homemade cashew milk is the most spectacular thing about Groundsea Fitness, the luxe 4-day detox retreat in Great Barrington, MA. Seriously, the stuff’s frothier than clouds—a straight-up milkshake—and insanely delicious, like the rest of the refined-sugar-, dairy-, and meat-free food they serve. At Groundsea, movement (lots of it) is even more the point than diet, so this isn’t boot camp—you’re never weighed or starved or subjected to the real torture of caffeine elimination. Instead, it’s an all-over reset with great accommodations: There are nine bedrooms (one for each guest) in a modern, light-filled mega-house.

“We upped the fitness game to be more New York-style,” says president and CEO Tracy Gaslow, who launched Groundsea in 2016 with her equally fitness and clean eating-devoted childhood friend, cofounder and vice president Hollie Levy. “We wanted to improve on retreats we’d been on that had minimal fitness.”

“We’re also very portion conscious—it’s at the root of our meal planning, as opposed to calorie counting,” adds Levy. “We offer caffeine because we don’t see the harm in it; ultimately, most people go back to it as soon as they return home.”

So each morning starts at 6:15 a.m. with a dose of Bulletproof coffee, assorted herbal teas, health-supporting tinctures from adored wellness meal-delivery label Sakara Life, along with the option of taking a bracing apple-cider-vinegar shot, purported to help calm inflammation and streamline digestion. The day plays out like this: Serious yoga, rigorous hike, lunch, workout, power walk, massage, fun afternoon activity (one day a cryogenic facial, the next a reflexology session), more yoga, dinner, fun pre-bedtime activity (Shamanic dream interpretation! Aura photography! Acupuncture!), repeat.

The first yoga class at 7:15 a.m. is 45 minutes of body-chiseling poses and flows with Johanna Wise, who drops ideas throughout class— “If the body isn’t challenged, it thinks it’s dying…so challenge it daily”—that are both encouraging in the moment and stick with you.

Splayed in shavasana at the end of class, you’re enlivened—and craving sustenance. Cue one of chef Katie Kennedy Gilligan’s flavor-rich breakfast masterpieces: Carrot-tahini-sweet potato pancakes dolloped with coconut crema and cashew-coconut yogurt parfait studded with nuts. Gilligan’s food is exceptional (a few bites could easily convert a refined carb lover/box-cereal addict into a clean eater) and leaves you satisfied, never stuffed—perfect to gear up for the daily six-mile hike. The climb is real as the majestic wooded surroundings and view from the summit of mount Everett. Hauling ass up this steep mountain: tough and totally worth it.

Cauliflower pizza with walnut Romanesco sauce, delicata squash, and a drizzle of basil aioli is just what you want post-mountain-climb and pre-afternoon fitness class in the property’s beautiful barn-converted gym: burpees, weight lifting on a Bosu ball and lightning rounds of pushups, concluded with a 20-minute power walk.

The afternoon is more leisurely. There are hour-long, in-room massages (if you’re adventurous, try the acro yoga massage, which is like Thai massage—but you’re suspended in the air balanced on the therapist’s legs, which are shooting straight up at 90 degrees; it looks very Cirque du Soleil and feels fantastic), quiet time, luxuriating in the pool or hot tub (weather permitting), reflexology, and cryo-facials (subzero air is whooshed over your face to exfoliate outer skin layers, brighten, and smooth).

Cozy mugs of bone broth (there’s a tasty seaweed-infused vegetarian option, too) tide you over before dinner, which by the start of the late-afternoon yoga class, you’re hankering for. The day’s final meal is something soul-warming like eggplant-olive Bolognese over zucchini noodles or vegan lasagna sprinkled with a rich cashew béchamel. Then, cups of tea in hand, everybody pads into the living room (bring sweats and slippers) and curls up on the couch for one of the meditative nighttime activities: Aura photography; an acupuncturist skilled in identifying which meridian points, for example, might be causing you to feel bloated.

By the end of the night, you can’t wait to cocoon yourself in bed with one of the gorgeous wellness books Groundsea gives to every guest—goop Clean Beauty is a fave. You fall asleep, proud that you scaled a mountain and empowered by the burgeoning abs you have to show for it.

On departure day, Groundsea sends you home with a jar of homemade gluten-free, maple-syrup-sweetened granola to snack on, a Sakara Life salad for dinner, plus one of Gilligan’s soups for lunch the next day. Sadly, there’s no cashew milk included.


A 3-day weekend retreat starts at $3,800; a 4-day midweek retreat starts at $5,500. For more details click here.

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