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Heartbreak Hotel opens in the UK


(CNN) — Everyone has their own way of dealing with heartbreak. Some turn to their friends for help, some turn to TV streaming services, and some turn to ice cream.

But what if you could check into an alcohol-free, tech-free retreat for a long weekend of “transformational therapy” plus scenic views, all with the goal of healing your broken heart?

The Heartbreak Hotel, run by counseling psychologist Alice Haddon and author and life coach Ruth Field, offers just that.

Launching in late 2021, the residential retreats, designed specifically for women, take place at Barsham Barns, a private home on the coast of the UK county of Norfolk.

The Heartbreak Hotel was envisioned by Haddon, who had stopped practicing after her mother’s death and found herself rethinking the way therapy is traditionally implemented.

“Grief Connects Us”

The Heartbreak Hotel is run by psychologist Alice Haddon (left) and author and life coach Ruth Field.

Katie Wilson

Haddon says she was listening to a radio show about dating fraud and realized there were few services available for women struggling to overcome different types of grief.

She began exploring the possibility of a “radical” new concept of transformational therapy that could provide exactly what she thought women dealing with all forms of grief really needed in a group setting.

“We believe that grief connects us to the essence of what it is to be human, and that our vulnerability is also the cradle of compassionate change and bold creativity,” Haddon said in a statement. communicated.

Haddon then put together an all-female team and Field, one of his oldest friends, soon came on board.

“We see the retreat as an intensive care unit for the heart: hot water bottles, blankets, hot drinks, crackling fires, no one lifts a finger, everyone is cared for so completely so they can indulge in therapy. .,” Field told CNN Travel.

The retreats, which take place from Friday to Monday, can be attended by a maximum of eight women at a time.

“This space is created, which is very safe, in which these women are taken on this journey,” adds Field. “It’s really a realignment and a discovery of self away from grief and into a new way of being.

“So they’re freed, not just from their grief, but from all kinds of structures around which women get lost most of the time, like service to others and all the other roles that we [women] have to manage.

“Traumas can get stuck in the body and we have an EMDR specialist who comes in and works to release that trauma for our guests.” EMDR, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, is a technique for unlocking and defusing painful memories.

Beach visits

Heartbreak Hotel opens in the UK

The three-day retreats take place at Barsham Barns, a luxury house on the coast of the British county of Norfolk.

Barn Chaucer

Along with intensive group therapy sessions, those who check into the Heartbreak Hotel will also enjoy a menu of nutritious (and delicious) plant-based, heart-healing meals “designed to inspire and nourish your broken heart.” , as well as meals by the fire. gatherings and walks along some of Norfolk’s beautiful beaches.

“Location is very important,” Field says. “Being by the sea and making daily trips to the beach are also absolutely essential.

“That feeling of the vastness of the ocean and the smell of the sea, it’s all so good for healing. It really helps release stress – cortisol levels go down.

“And of course heartbreak is also a time of intense stress for the body, so we spend a lot of time working with that organically.”

The Heartbreak Hotel’s first two retreats, named “Moving Beyond Betrayal” and “Healing Your Heartbreak” center on romantic heartbreak and guest feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

The team makes it a point to bring together women who have gone through similar experiences.

“That’s how group therapy seems to work best,” says Field. “They can relate to each other in this way that you can really relate to someone who has had a similar experience. [to you] and it remains very specific.”

Those interested in participating in one of the Heartbreak Hotel retreats must complete a detailed questionnaire, which can be found on the website, indicating why they would like to participate.

Once this has been submitted, a “long call” is set up between the potential guest and Haddon or Field to assess their suitability.

“We spend a lot of time trying to select the right guests at each retreat,” Field says. “We never turn anyone away, but we have often referred women elsewhere, to other therapeutic services for example, if they were not suitable for the retreat.”

Technology and alcohol-free

Heartbreak Hotel opens in the UK

Up to eight women can attend the tech-free and alcohol-free retreats at a time.

Barn Chaucer

According to Field, the absence of cell phones and alcohol is extremely important when it comes to ensuring that guests really open up during intensive group therapy sessions.

“They have to sit with their feelings, and anything that takes them away from that isn’t considered valuable in terms of travel,” she says, before explaining that each guest will receive about eight hours of therapy a day. . the group.

“There are also these daily trips to the beach,” she adds. “There’s not a lot of free time in between. It’s quite intensive and deep therapeutic work.”

The retreats cost £2,500 (about $3,275) each.

Haddon and Field are currently exploring potential retirements focused on areas such as sibling rivalry, menopause, as well as the loss of a loved one.

But whatever their reason for checking in, the team ultimately has the same goal for every heartbroken guest who walks through their doors.

“Our mission at The Heartbreak Hotel is that all of our guests leave feeling strong and free to act on their own values ​​and loving needs,” Haddon says.

In 2021, Swedish bed manufacturer Hastens opened the world’s first Hastens Sleep Spa hotel, dedicated to providing guests with a good night’s sleep, in Coimbra, Portugal.

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