(DailyExpertNews) — Everyone has their own way of dealing with heartbreak. Some turn to their friends for support, some turn to TV streaming services, and some turn to ice cream.
But what if you could check yourself into an alcohol- and tech-free haven for a long weekend of “transformation therapy” and scenic views, all with the goal of healing your broken heart?
Launched in late 2021, the residential retreats are designed specifically for women and will be held in Barsham Barns, a private residence on the coast of the British county of Norfolk.
The Heartbreak Hotel was conceived by Haddon, who took a break from practice after her mother’s death and found herself rethinking the way therapy is traditionally practiced.
‘Heartbreak connects us’
The Heartbreak Hotel is run by psychologist Alice Haddon (left) and author and life coach Ruth Field.
Haddon says she listened to a radio show about romantic fraud and realized there were few services available to women struggling to overcome different kinds of heartbreak.
She began exploring the possibility of a “radical” new concept in transformational therapy that could provide exactly what women, dealing with all forms of heartbreak, really needed within a group setting.
“We believe heartbreak connects us to the essence of what it is to be human, and that our vulnerability is also the birthplace of compassionate change and bold creativity,” Haddon said in a statement.
Haddon then went on to assemble an all-female team, and Field, one of her oldest friends, soon came aboard.
“We see the retreat as an intensive care unit for the heart: hot water bottles, blankets, hot drinks, crackling fires, nobody lifts a finger, everyone is so fully cared for that they can indulge in the therapy,” Field tells DailyExpertNews travel.
The retreats, which run from Friday to Monday, can be attended by up to eight women at a time.
“A space is being created, which is very safe, in which these women are taken on this journey,” adds Field. “It’s really a reshuffle and self-discovery, away from the heartbreak and into a new way of being.
“So they’re liberated from, not just their heartbreak, but all kinds of structures that women often get lost in, like service to others and all the other roles that we have. [women] have to deal with.
“Trauma can get trapped in the body and we have an EMDR specialist come in and work on releasing that trauma for our guests.” EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy, is a technique for unlocking and defusing painful memories.
Designed especially for women, the three-day retreats are held in the British county of Norfolk.
Aside from intensive group therapy sessions, those checking in at the Heartbreak Hotel will also benefit from a menu of plant-based, heart-healing nutritious (and delicious) meals “designed to inspire and nourish your broken heart,” as well as fireplace gatherings and walks along some from the beautiful beaches of Norfolk.
“The location is very important,” says Field. “Being by the sea and taking daily trips to the beach are also absolutely crucial.
“That feeling of the vastness of the ocean and the smell of the sea, all of that is so good for healing. It really helps release stress — cortisol levels drop.
“And of course the heartbreak is also a period of intense stress on the body, so we spend quite a lot of time dealing with that in an organic way.”
The Heartbreak Hotel’s first two retreats, titled “Moving Beyond Betrayal” and “Healing Your Heartbreak,” focused on romantic heartbreak and guest feedback has been extremely positive.
The team makes it a point to bring together women who have had similar experiences.
“That’s how group therapy seems to work best,” explains Field. “They can identify with each other in such a way that you can really identify with someone who has had a similar experience [to you] and it keeps it very specific.”
Those interested in attending any of the Heartbreak Hotel retreats should complete a detailed questionnaire, which can be found on the website, to indicate why they wish to participate.
Once submitted, a “long call” is set up between the potential guest and Haddon or Field to assess their suitability.
“We spend quite a bit of time putting together the right guests for each retreat,” says Field. “We never send anyone away, but we have often referred women to other therapeutic services, for example if they are not suitable for the retreat.”
Technology and alcohol-free
Up to eight women can attend the tech- and alcohol-free retreats at the same time.
According to Field, the absence of cell phones and alcohol is extremely important to ensure that guests really open up during the intensive group therapy sessions.
“They have to stick with their feelings, and anything that keeps them from doing so isn’t considered valuable in terms of their journey,” she says, before explaining that each guest gets about eight hours of therapy a day in the group.
“There are also those daily trips to the beach,” she adds. “There’s not a huge amount of free time in between all this. It’s pretty intense, deeply therapeutic work.”
The retreats cost £2,500 (about $3,275) each.
Haddon and Field are currently exploring potential retreats that focus on areas such as sibling rivalry, menopause, and coping with the loss of a loved one.
But whatever their reason for checking in, the team ultimately has the same goal for every broken-hearted guest who walks through their doors.
“Our mission at The Heartbreak Hotel is for all of our guests to feel strong and free to act according to their own love values and needs,” said Haddon.
In 2021, Swedish bed manufacturer Hastens opened the world’s first Hastens Sleep Spa Hotel in Coimbra, Portugal, dedicated to providing guests with a good night’s sleep.