A health and wellness nature retreat is being planned in Shenandoah County.
The retreat, which would be located south of Star Tannery, would offer wellness activities for adults such as hiking, swimming, art, pottery, yoga, meditation, massage, forest bathing, coaching, survival skills, team-building and games. Guests would be served healthy eating options while detaching from technology for a minimum of three nights.
“This is not a place where you come and go,” said Mike Marburg, founder and CEO of Wellmore Partners LLC, the company heading the project.
Simply Shenandoah, a 550-acre expanse of “pristine forest” at 1815 Turkey Run Road, is under contract by Wellmore Partners. The land is zoned Conservation (C1), which allows for a rural resort with a special use permit, the company writes at its website, www.thenatureretreat.com.
“The retreat will operate year-round,” the site explains. “We plan to apply for a special use permit in June 2019 and open in spring 2022.”
On Sunday, the community is invited to learn more about the resort at a 12:30 p.m. educational session in the Strasburg Town Square at 174 E. King St.
Marburg, a former Wall Street investor who lives in Ashburn, said Thursday he had the idea for the wilderness retreat after his family faced some personal challenges he said everyone likely faces at one point or another.
“What helped us in a meaningful way is doing the types of things that I want to offer at the retreat,” he said. “I’m very motivated, and I also had the drive and the money to hunt around.”
He considered retreats in Arizona, California, Mexico and Costa Rica, “to search for this type of environment where I could recharge and I could grow.”
Afterward, he realized, “We ought to have something like this in this area.”
A native of Maryland, Marburg said he’s spent time in the Shenandoah Valley and thought it would provide a beautiful location for a restful and healthful getaway. Finding land near Star Tannery, he approached the county to see what officials were looking for in a business that might bring more tourists to the area.
When county officials expressed an interest in diversifying the county’s tax base to allow for more tourism, he said, “This made a wonderful fit.”
“[The county] seems like a perfect match for this type of wellness tourism,” he said. “It’s part of an industry that’s exploding. People are increasingly interested in experiences. … Experiences instead of materialism.”
While the retreat would increase tax dollars through tourism, Marburg said that doesn’t mean residents should worry about an influx of people to the valley. It would have as little physical impact as possible on the land and local communities, producing little noise and not using bright lighting that would detract from the night sky.
Marburg said encouraging guests to remain on site during their stay will also serve to minimize additional traffic on area roads, and that periods of recommended silence at the campus will help preserve the peace of the forest.
“We want to preserve the local heritage and not be intrusive,” said Marburg, who plans to live onsite with his wife and three children once the retreat is finished.
The retreat is expected to create more than 130 full- and part-time jobs such as food service professionals, activity guides, service staff and healing professionals.
“We’re really trying to be thoughtful and hear what people have to say,” Marburg said, anticipating Sunday’s educational session in Strasburg. “We will be presenting a site plan at the public hearing next month.”
For more information on the retreat, visit www.thenatureretreat.com.