For nearly 60 years, Esalen has welcomed guests to the picturesque Big Sur coastline to explore their potential. During these trying times, although our operations will look and feel different, our mission will continue to be the same: to explore and realize human potential through experience, education and research. Delivering on that mission has never been more vital to us and the safety and protection of our guests, faculty and staff is of utmost importance as we all move forward together.
While the information on this page will illuminate the changes and enhancements we have made, the following may also be helpful to plan your visit:
General Reopening and COVID Information
Esalen is reopening in a very special way. This will be a time of calm, far fewer people, private baths overlooking the glorious Pacific Ocean and open grounds to safely enjoy walks, picnics, all manner of games, exercise and relaxation—and the sublime sunsets. We look forward to welcoming you to an even calmer, more relaxed environment for a unique time to disconnect—and to reconnect with yourself and nature.
Esalen’s cozy rooms await you. At this time, we only offer private accommodations in compliance with state and federal guidelines and follow an updated and rigorous cleaning protocol for all rooms. With no hallways or corridors you will easily be able to come and go as you please into the beauty of your room and the scenic Big Sur campus. Your stay includes your accommodations, delicious food, nurturing hot springs, potentially a workshop experience and free Guided Program offerings outside of workshop sessions that can support you in your journey towards your own human potential—a potential that has the possibility to ripple out into the world. Our mission statement and values have not changed.
Food and Meals
The Esalen food experience will still be memorable with the same delicious, nutritious food we have always offered—an inventive mix of organic produce grown on campus and culinary creations of our kitchen staff. With more time and care to prepare meals, our intention is to provide the best food experience possible. Take note of the following:
- We will provide three hearty meals per day.
- We offer both vegan and omnivorous meals, and our meals are designed to be gluten free, light and healthy.
- If your diet is more strict, paleo, keto, macrobiotic, etc. our kitchen will unfortunately not be able to provide a meal under those restrictions.
- Although we are unable to dine communal style or allow self-serve options such as our famous bread bar, we will be providing utensils and fully plated meals in safe disposable containers made from recycled plastics that can be easily enjoyed while social distancing. A picnic on the lawn or on the patio facing the tranquil Pacific Ocean are the perfect settings for your meals.
Workshops and Guided Programs
At this time, there are no indoor programs taking place at Esalen, due to current Monterey County and state COVID regulations. With the highest regard for guest and staff safety and comfort, the following protocols are in effect indefinitely until guidelines are amended:
- Participants are required to use hand sanitizer before and after each session.
- Participants are required to respect 6-foot social distance when moving around campus. Masks are required except when exercising in outdoor yoga or dance classes."
- Workshops and Guided Programs will be held exclusively in the outdoors. Outdoor classrooms are selected with both sun and shade to support overall guest wellbeing. Participants are asked to bring layers and dress accordingly. Inclement weather will cancel classes or the venue may change, day of. Please consult the Guest Services team for the most up-to-date information, once on campus.
- If movement about the outdoor gathering space is required, masks must be worn. Faculty will provide instructions for how to do so safely.
- Each participant will find a yoga mat, 2 blocks and a strap in their room for use throughout their stay— please come prepared.
- Participation in Guided Program classes outside of workshop times is on a first-come, first-served bases. Guests are encouraged to arrive early.
Guided Program activities may a socially-distanced yoga class, an outdoor meditation or a guided walk through the garden. Please be assured: all teachers will follow the outlined sanitation and physical distancing guidelines set forth by Esalen. Movement-based classes will be held outdoors as required by the state and county. Guests are encouraged to bring their yoga mats, props and journals. There are also unlimited self-guided activities to experience, such as:
- Watching whales and the plethora of sea otters that visit us
- Flowing through a mindfulness practice with a new perspective
- Exploring one or several books for purchase in the Conley Bookstore
- Building or enjoying a fire at the firepit outside of the Lodge—all social distancing and face coverings guidelines will be required
- Reading a book on a chair overlooking the ocean on the main lawn or near the Esalen Gardens
- Disconnecting as there is no cell service and very limited access to Internet
Bathing and Massage
One of the most tranquil experiences at Esalen is soaking in our mineral baths. This will continue to be a unique bathing experience and each guest will have a dedicated 45-minute bath time in a tub all to themselves. Note: after one of our Guest Services team members welcomes you to the baths, please enjoy your personal time. Relax, let go, absorb the scenery, breathe. At this time, switching tubs is not an option. We thank you in advance for staying in your designated tub. Prior to the end of your bath experience, a soft chime will alert you, indicating that it is time to vacate your tub so that our staff can sanitize and prepare it for the next guest to enjoy. Meanwhile, you wander back up the hill feeling more relaxed than you may have felt in some time.
Please note: at this time, Esalen will not be offering massage. Out of compliance with the county, state and federal guidelines, guests are not allowed to use the massage tables at the baths to give each other a backrub or massage. This also is not permitted anywhere on Esalen grounds.
Over the past few months, we have worked meticulously to implement new safety protocols to ensure the health and well-being of our guests. We are closely working with Monterey County officials and monitoring government policy changes, both on a national and local level. We are also following the information and guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state of California and Monterey County.
This is our highest priority. Please note the following protocols that have been set in place to ensure your safety:
- Check-in time is between 2:00 and 6:00 p.m. For safety reasons, we are unable to allow guests to arrive on property before 2:00 p.m.
- At this time, Esalen no longer offers shuttle service to or from campus.
- When checking in at the gate, you and every passenger in your car will be greeted by one of our Guest Services Representatives and have their temperatures taken. You will be asked to fill out a questionnaire about COVID-19 symptoms and any recent travels. Please wear a mask during this process.
- You are welcomed on campus after you pass the temperature check (below 101) and finish the questionnaire of sudden onset of COVID-19 symptoms, including recent exposure to the virus.
- We recommend that you review the questionnaire in advance to ensure you will be allowed onto the campus.
- Please note that our primary concern is for the health and safety of our guests, faculty and staff. Therefore, aside from hiking, guests are not allowed not to come and go from campus.
Social Distancing: While on campus, guests and faculty are mandated to practice social distancing by standing at least 6 feet away from other groups, including while standing in lines, using the elevator or moving around the property. Tables in the Lodge and other physical layouts will be arranged to ensure appropriate distancing.
Face Masks: Under a new statewide mandate, all guests, employees and faculty are required to wear face coverings on campus to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. (Face coverings are not required while eating or exercising, such as during a yoga class when on a mat 6 or more feet apart.) Face coverings are required:
- Inside of, or in line to enter, any indoor public space
- While outdoors in public spaces when it’s not feasible to maintain a physical distance of 6 feet from others
Yoga Mats, Props and Blankets: Guests will find a yoga mat, 2 blocks and a strap in their room for use throughout their stay.
Office and Conley Bookstore: A plethora of retail items will still be available for purchase, including sweatshirts, hats, chocolate, drinks and more. However we encourage guests to bring journaling, writing materials, a yoga mat, props and/or blanket. Take note of the following safety protocols:
- There will be a designated entrance and exit to the Conley Bookstore. Look for the arrows that are 6 feet apart, which indicate which way to move through the bookstore.
- At this time, “testers” and card decks will not be available to sample or peruse.
- We will no longer accept cash.
- Guests no longer need to turn in room keys to the office upon check-out. Please leave your room key in the guest room upon check-out.
Art Barn: The Art Barn will not be open at this time due to limited space and county, state and federal guidelines.
Meditation Hut: The Meditation Hut will not be open at this time due to limited space and county, state and federal guidelines.
Pool: The pool will remain open to guests and faculty. All social distancing protocols shall be observed while swimming or sitting in the pool area.
Cleaning Products and Protocols
Esalen uses EcoLab Peroxide Multi Surface Cleaner and Disinfectant, and Scrub Free Bathroom Cleaner, which meet EPA guidelines, are approved for use and are effective against viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. Daily cleaning logs have been created and will be inspected regularly by management. The following guidelines have been implemented:
Public Spaces and Communal Areas: The frequency of cleaning and sanitizing has been increased in all public spaces with an emphasis on frequent contact surfaces including, but not limited to:
- Front desk check-in counters
- Elevator and elevator buttons
- Door handles
- Public bathrooms
- Room keys and locks
- Stair handrails
- Dining surfaces and seating areas
Guest Rooms: As we implement industry-leading cleaning and sanitizing protocols to clean guest rooms, staff will pay particular attention to high-touch items including:
- Toilet seats
- Door and furniture handles
- All bathroom handles
- Light switches
- Luggage racks and flooring
Laundry: All bed linen and laundry will continue to be washed at a high temperature and in accordance with CDC guidelines.
Photo credit, top: Len Lehman