23 Jul The Legacy of Skylonda Lodge
The rich biodiversity and dynamic history of Skylonda Lodge combine to make it a space unlike any place in the world. From ancient shamans to modern science, we’ve taken the best of the past and blended it with future trends to bring you a cutting-edge retreat experience.
But where did it all begin?
Before there was a lodge, there was the land. Legend has it that the Skylonda site is located on sacred ground, that is part of a minor energy vortex that animates a certain kind of special energy. You can see the results of this energy throughout our legacy. Decades of remarkable individuals and experiences visited Skylonda throughout the years, both natural and supernatural, and some say that it’s related to the spiritual energy that exists in the terra and trees.
Where are we?
Skylonda Lodge is located on the San Francisco Peninsula in the small, vibrant town of Woodside, tucked away on top of the Santa Cruz Mountains. These mountains (and the San Francisco Bay region in general) are home to one of the world’s most abundant displays of biodiversity.
Along the 26 nature reserves in the Skylonda neighborhood, you’ll see 100s of bird species like the Stellar blue jay and red-tailed hawk, and wildlife like mule deer, foxes, rabbits, grey squirrels, chipmunks, and salamanders. There are also active families of mountain lions and bobcats throughout the mountain range — but don’t worry — encounters with these cats are rare and we’ll be sure to fully prepare you for safety during your visit. These animals are experienced throughout an environment that is dense in beautiful plant life like the giant redwood, pine and oak trees and meadows filled with wild strawberries, orange California poppies and vibrant patches of wildflowers.
Together, these plants and animals are sure to stir a sense of wonder and awe in the beauty of nature.
The Land Before Time
The Woodside area was originally home to the Ohlone tribal groups who had distinguished medicine people among their tribe practicing herbal medicine and shamanic healing. Ohlone engaged in ritualistic dancing, ceremony, and singing and were also believed to be able to tell and influence the future, bringing about both fortune and misfortune in the community.
18th & 19th Centuries: The Move toward Modern
In 1769 Spanish explorers searching for San Francisco Bay camped at a site near Woodside. This began the era of Spanish missionaries, the Gold Rush, the harvesting of first-generation Redwood trees to build San Francisco’s original homes. They laid the foundation for the emergence of the cult-classic destination spa known as The Lodge at Skylonda.
1993-2003: The Good Old Days
While many celebrities and high-profile people were indulging in drugs and disco elsewhere, some were retreating at the lodge to rest and recover.
The original Lodge at Skylonda opened in May 1993 and was best known for 365 days of hiking, world-class chefs, star-studded cooking classes, leading-edge spa treatments (like Shirodhara Massage and Facial Acupuncture), and customized Perrier-Jouët champagne beauty products. It was ranked #3 spa in the US by Conde Nast Traveller and #1 in California.
The original lodge was made out of Ponderosa pine — log-cabin style, like something you find in Yosemite — from trees sourced throughout the Santa Cruz mountains.
The Lodge at Skylonda was a popular destination for famous musicians, actors, and film producers. Celebrities frequently stayed for days, weeks, and even months. Spontaneous jam sessions in the Great Room were a frequent occurrence. Guided hikes were led by a wily elder Irishman who liked to live life to the fullest and often encouraged guests to join his crazy antics like licking banana slugs found along the trails.
The Lodge at Skylonda was nothing short of spectacular and was known far and wide as a place that changed people’s lives.
2003-2014: The Peaceful Years
Skylonda entered its next chapter in 2003, when it was reimagined as spiritual retreat center — the Stillheart Institute. During this period, the property underwent it largest physical transformation.
Before construction, a classical feng shui master was hired to evaluate and enhance the property to capture the energy of the area and protect the forest. Every detail was handled with pristine precision.
An energetically aligned entrance was added to the lodge, as well as a parking garage with a garden roof. Twenty-four luxury tree-houses were added around the perimeter of the lodge in the redwood canopy. The tree house piers and front gate were set to specific degrees known as Precious and Jewel lines. These special degrees, only 48 altogether bring a special sense of abundance to the site — a quality that is often felt and remarked upon by guests.
Stillheart Institute operated as a spiritual sanctuary for more than a decade. During this time, it hosted global leaders (like Jon Kabat Zinn) with the intention of serving all humanity by offering educational programs to stimulate self-inquiry, transformation, and personal growth.
2014 – present: The Skylonda Lodge Revival
Reimagined by current owner Ray Blatt, Skylonda Lodge promises to help you become physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and fully engaged in work and life.
Ray purchased the property in 2014 with a vision to create a business that marries the many virtues of Skylonda’s history — healing through nature, creative expression, community gathering, spiritual sanctuary, and intentional transformation — with the modern wellness movement. The many components of well-being we value come together in the Skylonda Lodge Program.
Ray hand-picked a team of experts in Nutrition, Fitness, Wilderness Hiking, Positive Psychology and Holistic Medicine to deliver our retreat program because he knows that while the hardware is important, it’s the software — the people behind the business — that make the business bloom.
We’ve seen this over and over again during our first year in business delivering the Skylonda Lodge Program as our employees use their expertise to connect, guide, and inspire our guests. Together, we hold space for visitors to address their deepest needs, hopes, and aspirations and provide a clear framework for a well-being mindset in which to nurture one’s intentions of self-care and self-development.
We act as a catalyst in the onset of each individual’s personal transformation from where they are now to where they want to be in the future. And we provide actionable tips and tools for each component of wellness while introducing guests to the essential concepts and language of holistic wellness so that they can begin to thinking in terms of well-being.
The energy on site during retreats is abundant. The results are electric. And we’re just getting started.
What’s in store for the future?
Well, you’ll just have to stick around and find out, but we promise it won’t be boring. Skylonda is always full of surprises. Find up first hand by joining us in retreat.