I travel quite a bit and I’ve had the opportunity to stay in many different kinds of lodgings from modest campgrounds and simple motels to five and six-star boutique hotels and resorts. But the accommodations, spa, and other guest buildings at the Art Of Living Center in Boone, North Carolina were simply just disappointing.
Deciding to not be a travel snob, I acclimated to my weathered accommodations and focused on the program ahead instead. I have to say that it still bothered me a little though, that I had paid a hefty sum for our (just okay and circa eighties décor) room.
After checking into our room, we took a hike on the nature trail that lead down to the spa. Treating ourselves, next we booked some appointments for during our stay. The rates of each treatment were fairly typical, but after touring the spa itself, it appeared this building also needed some rejuvenation.
I later noticed that all the buildings (hotel and residences, dining hall, meditation halls, and yoga rooms) needed some renovation and updating. I got the impression that the center obviously didn't make guest comfort a priority and the money towards workshop tuition wasn't being put towards renovating the place.
Our first meal was dinner and after a day of travel, we were starving. I knew to expect an all-vegan menu, and the food was not too bad. Lots of healthy greens and alternative proteins, with a bit of an Indian cuisine twist. What I didn’t anticipate was the cafeteria-style décor of the dining hall. Metallic buffet tables, rows and rows of worn tables and chairs on an aged carpet, sparse outdoor seating, and a do-it-yourself camp like cleaning station. The website didn’t show any of this. Only images of chef-inspired dishes that seemed to be created in a Michelin Star restaurant. Kind of misleading, to say the least.
Apart from the views and natural setting, right from the start, I was feeling a little discouraged about the retreat center because it looked so new and inviting on the website, but in person, it was just...eh.