After spending time at a spa retreat, you'll probably come back with great nails, glowing skin and a hankering for fatty foods. But after spending time at one of Long Island's many religious and spiritual retreat houses, ideally, you may come away with a shiny new attitude and deeper self-understanding.
WHAT TO EXPECT Long Island's retreat houses are not places for pampering in the Paris Hilton mode. Rooms usually are modest, food is simple but tasty. The locations are remote but beautiful. Cell phones probably won't work. Ditch the heels and designer dresses. Think comfort, long walks and time spent sitting and reflecting.
DAILY ACTIVITIES You may spend time meditating, sorting out what's going on in your life or in pursuing a closer relationship with God.
WHO GOES Most retreat houses are for adults. They're often coed but usually don't offer a bed big enough for a couple. If you need guidance in your spiritual journey, help is provided. And you don't have to be of a particular denomination to participate.
WHERE TO FIND THEM
Cormaria Retreat House: 77 Bay St., Sag Harbor, 631-725-4206, cormaria.org . Cost: $35 a day (includes lunch), $75 overnight, $175 weekends
Nestled on 18 acres of bayfront property, Cormaria, a Catholic retreat house, is staffed by the Religious Order of the Sacred Heart of Mary and has been a retreat house for 60 years. Ideal for those who want to reconnect with themselves and their spiritual side. Food is simple but healthful. Besides weekend retreats for groups, there are programs for people who want to spend the entire time in quiet.
Little Portion Friary, Society of St. Francis: 48 Old Post Rd., Mount Sinai, 631-473-0553, s-s-f.org . Cost: $5-$15 for day programs (cost of meals), $75-$125 overnight
Brother Tom Carey says participants "experience beautiful solitude in [an] attractive setting or participate in the communal way the Franciscans live." No, you won't be digging potatoes or mucking stalls, but you can enjoy a simpler, spiritual and helping way of life. They have prayers four times a day and Mass daily. You also can opt for individual spiritual direction or walk the labyrinth to encourage meditation, prayer and introspection.
St. Ignatius Jesuit Retreat House: 251 Searingtown Rd., Manhasset, 516-621-8300, inisfada.net . Cost: $40-$60 for day programs, from $245 for weekend-long retreats
This Catholic institution offers an extensive list of classes and meditation. Programs range from yoga, Zen meditation and religious renewal to overcoming addiction and Valentine's Day sessions for couples. You can participate in all, some or none of the programs.
Tabor Retreat Center: 60 Anchor Ave., Oceanside, 516-536-3004, taborretreatcenter.org Cost: $50-$75 day, from $130 a night
The center offers a wide menu of daily programs, all with a religious component, ranging from meditation to grief assistance to spiritual journeys of self-discovery. All are designed to help participants strengthen their relationship with God.
Seminary of Immaculate Conception: 440 West Neck Rd., Huntington, 631-423-0483, icseminary.edu . Cost: $77 overnight; $90 building use fee for a group
This is a program geared toward religious groups and company retreats, not individuals.
Science of Spirituality Meditation Center: 79 County Line Rd., Amityville, 631-691-7100, sos.org . Cost: Free
At this non-denominational center, there's weekly meditation session from noon to 1 p.m. Sundays, followed by a spiritual program (in English and Spanish). A vegetarian lunch follows There are meetings in Hindi covering meditation 8:30-10 p.m. Wednesdays, which conclude with a vegetarian dinner. Most retreats are for newcomers, offering teaching and guidance in the technique of meditation.
St. Gabriel's Spiritual Center for Youth: 64 Burns Rd., Shelter Island Heights, 631-749-0850, saintgabes.org . Cost: $45 day, $125 overnight, $150 for three-day retreat (groups only)
Housed on 24 acres on Coecles Harbor, the "iGod, are you plugged in?" program is designed to help middle- and high schoolers explore their relations with God, family and self in a secure faith-based environment. Structured programs include ice breakers, discussions, built-in free time and daily Mass. All activities are mandatory.
Camp DeWolfe, The DeWolfe Center: 408 Northside Rd., Wading River, 631-929-4325, campdewolfe.org . Cost: $250 Monday-Friday day camp, $525 one-week overnight camp
In the summer, this Episcopal Church in America-affiliated program is a children's summer camp. From September to June, it's a retreat center for all ages. In addition to religious retreat programs, DeWolfe offers adventure programs, education and seashore ecology.
HOUSE OF PRAYER
Villa Immaculata: 3560 Sound Ave., Riverhead, 631-727-5122. Cost: Donation for day use, $45 for overnight stay
This is a house of prayer, not a retreat house, which means it's primarily used for reflection and solitude by those who are on a spiritual journey as opposed to seeking addiction treatment. Overnight stays for parties of six or fewer can be arranged by appointment.