Travel: Stressed-out yuppie, it's time to heal thyself (with a bit of holistic help)

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The Independent Travel
IF YOU feel that that your soul is in need of a spot of inner development you are by no means confined to Cortijo Romero (above). So- called "alternative holidays" can be found almost anywhere. The growing list of options includes staying in a monastery, taking a specially tailored "community and learning" trip or spending a few days in a New Age Retreat or Meditation Centre. And these days the customers are more likely to be stressed yuppies rather than old-style hippies. Upmarket options now come with expert "facilitators" to guide you to spiritual sanity.

Greece

The Skyros Centre (tel: 0171 267 4424) and Atsitsa are two alternative holiday resorts in Greece designed to change your attitudes and promote a holistic approach to life. Activities range from windsurfing and dance to yoga and dreamwork. You can also enjoy the delights of a sunny, scented Greek island in your spare time. Two-week holidays cost from pounds 495 to pounds 795 (excluding flights).

Turkey

Huzur Vadisi, Turkey (tel: 01545 570742). Between May and October, this quiet rural corner of Turkey is home to a number of courses in relaxation and self-healing, as well as more concrete subjects (such as poetry, painting and Middle Eastern dance). One week all-inclusive holidays (except flights) are from below pounds 300.

India

The kind of people who made Goa famous as a hippie hangout are still drawn to the area, though they have been pushed out of their original haunts by mass tourism.

These days the holy Hindu places attracting the mellow crowd include Hampi, a riverside settlement 125 miles inland, and Gokarn, on the coast to the south. Gokarn, blessed with holy connotations, white sand and palm trees, is a great place to spend a low-budget and very alternative winter.

Spain

Ibiza may not be the first place to spring to mind for a spiritual retreat, but there is some very strenuous yoga going on in the interior of the island, courtesy of Windfire Yoga (fax: 00 3471 333254). In an old Spanish farmhouse between Sant Miquel and Sant Mateu, you can exert yourself on a macrobiotic diet with one of the leading British yoga teachers, Godfrey Devereux. After dark you drink in the scent of surrounding orange groves.

The Monastery of Lluc in Mallorca (tel: 00 34 71 517025), close to Pollenca, is the largest monastic complex on the island. Accommodation is well organised, with self-contained apartments including kitchen and dining-room. In summer you may need to book in advance and you'll pay less than pounds 20 a night.

Britain

The Findhorn Foundation (tel: 01309 690203/690311), about 10 miles west of Elgin, is a former caravan site converted into a community, which includes an arts centre for hundreds of people. The emphasis is on sustainable living, spiritual therapies and holistic healing. Thousands visit each year. You can camp or bring your caravan, and B&B accommodation is available.

Gaia House, (tel: 01626 333613). This non-profit-making meditation centre requires complete silence (there is no talking even in the corridors and dining halls, and reading and writing are discouraged). Teacher-led retreats range from a weekend to 10 days. The diet is simple and vegetarian. Fees are about pounds 15 a day (plus one hour of housework).

US

In the US, New Mexico is the most popular area for those wishing to detoxify the system and find natural harmonies matching the rhythm of the native American. Taos, in particular, is a centre for artists and writers and there are several retreats dotted around.

However, one of the most famous retreats is Esalen (tel: 001408 667 3000) near Santa Cruz in California. It's hard to imagine finding greater expertise on personal development, yoga or alternative therapies. Weekends, including housing, food and tuition cost $425 (pounds 265); five-day sessions cost $795 pounds 500). If you are in the States, check out the listings in Transformative Adventures, Vacations and Retreats, published by New Millennium.

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