Create a relaxing retreat for family and friends this fall

Erin Thorburn, Tribune News Service on

Published in Entertaining

There’s something about the transition from summer to fall that stirs up a feeling that it’s time to slow down. Maybe it’s the hope of cooler temps, the leaves turning color, or maybe it’s simply the adrenaline crash from activity-filled vacations and back-to-school madness that makes many of us want to hit the pause button.

Whatever the reason for turning down the dial, some of the nation’s most notable specialty, experience-driven hospitality experts have found a way to help us all take a step back and slow down, and share it with the ones for whom we care.

If you’re wondering how you can treat family and friends to a slower yet creative and memorable gathering, take the lead from Audrey Huttert, general manager of Aman Resorts' Amangiri in southern Utah, and Matt Cooley, co-founder of ultra-luxury property and unique-experience-driven Cloth & Flame. Both are virtuosos in curating exceptional experiences that encompass the art of slowing down.

“The beating heart of our experiences is their ability to slow down and encourage connection between the people present and the place being visited,” Cooley says. “Take the party somewhere new. If you are two to four people, it’s a picnic. For larger groups, most parks allow some kind of private event reservation, but the trick is to ask about the spaces that they aren’t thinking of.”

Rather than settling for the park’s gazebo, for example, Cooley suggests asking about dining/gathering spots off the beaten path — think a gorgeous field, dock or forested clearing.

“For parties at home, turn off the Wi-Fi, and put everything on the table at once so people can linger and aren’t in and out of their seats,” he says.


One of the ways to promote a seamless, slowed-down experience for your guests, according to Huttert, is to take clear and focused measure of what would be most beneficial to them.

“We welcome guests as friends in our own home,” she says, “so the whole experience really is seamless from time of booking all the way to time of departure. They really have absolutely nothing to worry about. They just need to guide us a little bit on what the purpose of their visit is and the experience team takes over.”

Relaxation opportunities abound at Amangiri, consisting of anything from yoga out on the desert rocks and crystal sound baths in the spa, in addition to wildlife workshops and jewelry-making classes.

As your own “experience team,” consider narrowing your relaxation retreat to one major activity and allow the rest of the entertaining time to entail less activity.


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