October 7, 2022

Future Found Sanctuary: Wellness retreat in one of the most diverse places on earth

Situated on the continent where humankind emerged, in one of the world’s most biodiverse areas, amidst the light and nurturing energy exuding from the ancient Table Mountain, resides a newly opened luxury hotel Future Found Sanctuary. The luxury hotel comprises two private villas that can be booked exclusively or by room. The property’s location is both grounding and expansive, stripping away the complexities of modern life and connecting guests with the natural, indigenous world. 

The seven-acre estate includes a sensorium spa and steam room, fitness centre, yoga studio, sound healing studio, pools, gardens, and an extensive array of services ranging from massage to Tai Chi. 

We sat down with Romy Paull, Wellness Director at Future Found Sanctuary, to learn about her wellness journey, the hotel’s philosophy and the experiences available to guests at the property. 

What is your story and background? 

From an early age, I was a bit of a nonconformist. I would question the concepts and constructs we, as a society, were expected to align with, especially through my high school years at an all-girls convent. I was always drawn to mysticism and similar philosophy and felt that the purpose of life was to experience everything for ourselves, as opposed to being told how to be and what to believe. I struggled with the way our lives were defined and the over-consumption and industrialisation of nature’s living produce. I always felt like we were living against nature’s logic and ways, which is why we find ourselves in this current climate. 

I started studying every practice and book I could find on ancient wisdom and began a deep spiritual journey, veering away and returning to it time and again. I especially found my practices in Hatha Yoga (‘Ha’ meaning sun and ‘Tha’ meaning moon, symbolic of the dual and non-dual realities of existence) and Buddhist meditation liberating before I became a devout Ashtanga yoga practitioner for many years. 

After school, I studied production design in film and media and went on to work in stadium theatre and then eventually specialised in experiential marketing. I would create and produce customer experiences for brands that were integrative, meaningful and engaging. I was more drawn towards creating events, spaces and encounters that utilised all the senses to bring people into the present. Such experiences would invoke certain feelings, consequently connecting the customer to the true essence of the brand. 

Eventually, in 2012, when I found myself burnt out at the age of 28 because of work and lack of self-care, I took myself on a silent retreat for 10 days. It was there, in the silence, in watching the noise of my mind surface in awareness, where things started to shift in me. I was still so passionate about creating meaningful, embodied experiences; however, I was conflicted by supporting huge international brands that were pillaging the earth to mass-produce products that people did not really need.

In 2013, I decided to delve deeper into my healing and began working with plant medicine alongside West African and Amazonian indigenous healers while travelling the world. I began to experience even bigger realisations about the way we work and live that needed to shift, and this was mirrored by the increasingly urgent climate crisis. 

I left my job and stayed with my son at home in 2014, after which I started teaching yoga, mindfulness and meditation full-time. I did several teacher training and apprenticeships. Soon, wellness became my passion, and I began to realise that my well-being was not only for my own benefit but for the benefit of my son, the people around me and my relationship with nature. In fact, the more I began to heal the ancestral trauma within me and bring the unconscious into the light, the more my son flourished and the more my life started to shift. My impact on the world became more tangible. I saw my immediate world as a mirror, reflecting my state within, and I imagined what would happen if everyone began to awaken and heal – what would the collective impact look like then? 

I started to live with an intention, as opposed to living with unconscious programming and conditioning that was instilled in me but was definitely not of me. I furthered my studies with indigenous healers and became zealous about the re-emergence of indigenous wisdom – and ultimately, the most sustainable, conscious and regenerative way of living and being. I started to see the parallels between all the ancient texts – the Vedas, the Tantras, the Tao – and this more embodied natural way of living, in a reciprocal and respectful relationship with nature. I then understood that there were many universal truths across these cosmologies and simple diverse ways of practising them. Spirituality is not about transcending this life on earth but learning how to live here in the right relationship with ourselves, others and the planet. 

I came to realise that the answers we have been seeking to some of our biggest societal and climate problems already exist in nature and that both science and ancient wisdom study the behaviour of nature, but through different lenses. It became obvious that one of the biggest problems we have been facing was disconnection – from ourselves, from one another and from nature. Indigenous tribes, like the Khoi Khoi in South Africa, formulated their language using the sounds they heard in their natural environment; deep listeners connected to the elements to learn and survive. Sadly, colonisation disconnected them from their culture and even their language. 

The primary objective behind colonisation was to acquire wealth at the expense of social and cultural divides. This stemmed from a real ‘lack’ mentality. Nature teaches us that life is abundant and regenerative and by working together as individual threads in the tapestry of an entire ecosystem, where everyone plays a critical role, there will be more than enough for everyone to not only survive – but also thrive. 

One of the tribes from the Amazon that I work with is called the Huni Kuin people. Only in recent years have they decided to leave their home and travel the world to share their wisdom, medicines and prayers, as they too can no longer live purely in reciprocity with the earth due to logging and pollution. They intend to share the healing so that collectively, we can learn to live in a less extractive and more regenerative way, which will benefit us all. Like all the ancient texts, they teach us that we are in fact, not separate from one another – or from nature. 

Last year, I did a course in biomimicry under the tutelage of the late Claire Janisch who was an absolute pioneer in the field, not just here in South Africa but worldwide. Meeting Claire, a chemical engineer-turned-biomimic, inspired us to start looking up to nature to reimagine a whole new way of regenerative living and health as these things intersect.

How did you integrate that into the hotel?

We wanted to design a unique hospitality experience that was imbued with wellbeing. We  envisaged our sanctuary as the ‘guru’ by providing the perfect conditions to slow down and realign with nature’s pulse, to connect to our true inner power and live in an awakened and regenerative state. In biomimicry, we call it ‘creating conditions conducive to life’. By aligning with nature’s rhythms, we honour time for everything – time to move and do, time to nourish and heal, time to slow down and reflect and time to rest. We aim to honour the concept of wholeness through our wellness philosophy by healing, balancing, and nourishing all aspects of the being – body, mind, heart, and spirit.

At the heart of our brand experience and philosophy, we created our own Wheel of WholeBeing, which was inspired by a Native American medicine wheel, something I spent a year studying in 2017 / 2018. A medicine wheel is sometimes also referred to as a sacred hoop – reflective of our circular and regenerative philosophy, and the circular nature of life. It represents all the dimensions of health and aspects of life, including the directions, cycles and seasons, stages, elements, and beings that co-create the whole ecosystem of life on earth. 

From our Wheel of WholeBeing, we crafted our sanctuary experience with the perspective of ‘slow travel’ in order for guests to become more present with themselves. We aim to achieve this by connecting people to nature – to the elements, through highly sensory experiences and to align their stay with the flow of nature. Our intention is to create a regenerative sanctuary promotive of  wellbeing, a place to feel awakened, connected and inspired. 

Becoming regenerative as a whole is cultivated throughout our land and processes. We grow our own food, or alternatively source vegetables from local initiatives like ‘Love in a Bowl’ as well as regeneratively farmed meat and eggs from responsible partners such as ‘Farmer Angus.’ We recycle every component of waste that we can, we compost, have worm farms and nurture the natural ecosystem with owl boxes and insect hotels. Working with a professional beekeeper, we keep five beehives on the property, with only excess honey harvested three times per year. Water in the villas is sourced from the ancient underground aquifer, with the goal to only use rainwater collected in tanks for the gardens. We have an incredible head gardener, Cherise Viljoen, who also consults for Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. Cherise is helping us cultivate more indigenous and water-wise plants throughout the property. Old timber and alien trees are upcycled. The next project on the horizon is increasing our energy efficiency.  Having recently become members of ‘Regenerative Travel’, we are working towards a zero-waste policy and learning the imperfect practice of living more regeneratively as a whole. 

Implementing this philosophy into our organization, we strive to provide responsible and purposeful products and services. We ensure inclusivity by partnering with local regenerative partners as well as women and community-owned businesses wherever possible. All of our amenities are sourced from a local, woman-owned business, created to be sustainable, ethical and natural. A passionate and knowledgeable local ceramicist was contracted to design and make our amenities range, housing the cruelty-free, organic products in handmade and unique pieces.

I am also learning about regenerative leadership, inspired by my recent biomimicry read called “Teeming” by Dr, Tamsin Woolley-Barker. The book speaks into nature’s superorganisms, explaining how we can incorporate their organisational and design principles into an infinitely thriving business. Working toward creating this kind of culture, I have recently started mindfulness classes with our garden and hospitality teams as I’d really like to develop a conscious culture internally with a team that feels resourced and supported. 

Tell us about the guest experience? What can’t they get anywhere else? 

Besides the fact that the exquisite design is the brainchild of our founder and visionary, Jim Brett – a highly successful New York retail executive who was largely responsible for the success of brands such as Anthropology and West Elm, we’ve created a unique and authentic sanctuary experience woven with wellbeing. 

We’ve accomplished this by honouring and fine tuning our most distinctive elements – our sense of place and the land that sits on the back of Table Mountain – one of the most biodiverse places in the world, our timeless luxury and elemental design, our authentic storied service and our immersive, sensory sanctuary experience.

Each stay includes complementary yoga and mountain hikes, freshly harvested whole foods from our gardens or ethically sourced from our regenerative partners, mineral water from the ancient underground aquifer and access to our incredible spa and natural plunge pool.

Our aim is to personalise each guest experience from the pre-arrival questionnaire, which includes an option for a personalised jet lag tool kit created by Dr. Dale Rae from the University of Cape Town, as well as pillow, spa and wellness menus. We have a dedicated concierge service as well as a Wellness Director – me, to design your journey with your intention in mind. 

The Future Found ethos of attention to detail has resulted in our own functional fragrances in collaboration with our Scent Specialist, Agata Karolina, made from local, indigenous plants grown on the property. Our ‘Rise’ scent is comprised of the Indigenous Cape snow bush, selected for its stimulating and invigorating effects, as well as Spearmint, Rosemary and Eucalyptus. The purpose of this scent is to help clear our minds, raise our spirits and sharpen our senses, a perfect preparation for the day. You will find this scent diffused throughout the spaces in the morning. Our ‘Rest’ scent is infused into our linen spray to encourage a deep, restorative sleep. 

Along with these scents, we have created teas, elixirs, meditations, foods, spa treatments and experiences to optimise this natural way of being. All of these elements are subtly and intentionally used throughout the cycle of the day. 

It’s important to note that although wellbeing is interwoven into the fabric of who we are as a sanctuary, we are not prescriptive in any way. It is our intention to create the conditions conducive to well-being in the most subtle and universally respectful ways. The objective is to curate an environment for our guests to connect deeply to their own needs, immersed in nature – whether that be to rest and curl up with some incredible local South African Wines and great food, to get active and explore some authentic, local experiences, or whether it is to drop deep into a chrysalis of healing and transformation – we are equipped to respond to our each guests’ individual desires and needs.

From a wellness perspective, we have spent the last 18 months developing our WholeBeing method to providing  personalised retreats with a navigational network of experts, as well as group retreat experiences, launching next year. This was formed with the idea that each individual is unique and requires a particular approach to wellbeing including their  likes, needs and lifestyle considerations.

Our hope is that our guests will leave feeling connected and inspired to make small shifts toward a healthy, joyful and more regenerative way of life, whatever that means for them as an individual. We believe in the ‘Butterfly Effect’ – when the right intention can inspire seemingly small shifts internally and can ripple out into the world, for a greater collective transformation. 

Tell us about the guest experience? What can’t they get anywhere else? 

Besides the fact that the exquisite design is the brainchild of our founder and visionary, Jim Brett – a highly successful New York retail executive who was largely responsible for the success of brands such as Anthropology and West Elm, we’ve created a unique and authentic sanctuary experience woven with wellbeing. 

We’ve accomplished this by honouring and fine tuning our most distinctive elements – our sense of place and the land that sits on the back of Table Mountain – one of the most biodiverse places in the world, our timeless luxury and elemental design, our authentic storied service and our immersive, sensory sanctuary experience.

Each stay includes complementary yoga and mountain hikes, freshly harvested whole foods from our gardens or ethically sourced from our regenerative partners, mineral water from the ancient underground aquifer and access to our incredible spa and natural plunge pool.

Our aim is to personalise each guest experience from the pre-arrival questionnaire, which includes an option for a personalised jet lag tool kit created by Dr. Dale Rae from the University of Cape Town, as well as pillow, spa and wellness menus. We have a dedicated concierge service as well as a Wellness Director – me, to design your journey with your intention in mind. 

The Future Found ethos of attention to detail has resulted in our own functional fragrances in collaboration with our Scent Specialist, Agata Karolina, made from local, indigenous plants grown on the property. Our ‘Rise’ scent is comprised of the Indigenous Cape snow bush, selected for its stimulating and invigorating effects, as well as Spearmint, Rosemary and Eucalyptus. The purpose of this scent is to help clear our minds, raise our spirits and sharpen our senses, a perfect preparation for the day. You will find this scent diffused throughout the spaces in the morning. Our ‘Rest’ scent is infused into our linen spray to encourage a deep, restorative sleep. 

Along with these scents, we have created teas, elixirs, meditations, foods, spa treatments and experiences to optimise this natural way of being. All of these elements are subtly and intentionally used throughout the cycle of the day. 

It’s important to note that although wellbeing is interwoven into the fabric of who we are as a sanctuary, we are not prescriptive in any way. It is our intention to create the conditions conducive to well-being in the most subtle and universally respectful ways. The objective is to curate an environment for our guests to connect deeply to their own needs, immersed in nature – whether that be to rest and curl up with some incredible local South African Wines and great food, to get active and explore some authentic, local experiences, or whether it is to drop deep into a chrysalis of healing and transformation – we are equipped to respond to our each guests’ individual desires and needs.

From a wellness perspective, we have spent the last 18 months developing our WholeBeing method to providing  personalised retreats with a navigational network of experts, as well as group retreat experiences, launching next year. This was formed with the idea that each individual is unique and requires a particular approach to wellbeing including their  likes, needs and lifestyle considerations.

Our hope is that our guests will leave feeling connected and inspired to make small shifts toward a healthy, joyful and more regenerative way of life, whatever that means for them as an individual. We believe in the ‘Butterfly Effect’ – when the right intention can inspire seemingly small shifts internally and can ripple out into the world, for a greater collective transformation. 

Tell us about the guest experience? What can’t they get anywhere else? 

Besides the fact that the exquisite design is the brainchild of our founder and visionary, Jim Brett – a highly successful New York retail executive who was largely responsible for the success of brands such as Anthropology and West Elm, we’ve created a unique and authentic sanctuary experience woven with wellbeing. 

We’ve accomplished this by honouring and fine tuning our most distinctive elements – our sense of place and the land that sits on the back of Table Mountain – one of the most biodiverse places in the world, our timeless luxury and elemental design, our authentic storied service and our immersive, sensory sanctuary experience.

Each stay includes complementary yoga and mountain hikes, freshly harvested whole foods from our gardens or ethically sourced from our regenerative partners, mineral water from the ancient underground aquifer and access to our incredible spa and natural plunge pool.

Our aim is to personalise each guest experience from the pre-arrival questionnaire, which includes an option for a personalised jet lag tool kit created by Dr. Dale Rae from the University of Cape Town, as well as pillow, spa and wellness menus. We have a dedicated concierge service as well as a Wellness Director – me, to design your journey with your intention in mind. 

The Future Found ethos of attention to detail has resulted in our own functional fragrances in collaboration with our Scent Specialist, Agata Karolina, made from local, indigenous plants grown on the property. Our ‘Rise’ scent is comprised of the Indigenous Cape snow bush, selected for its stimulating and invigorating effects, as well as Spearmint, Rosemary and Eucalyptus. The purpose of this scent is to help clear our minds, raise our spirits and sharpen our senses, a perfect preparation for the day. You will find this scent diffused throughout the spaces in the morning. Our ‘Rest’ scent is infused into our linen spray to encourage a deep, restorative sleep. 

Along with these scents, we have created teas, elixirs, meditations, foods, spa treatments and experiences to optimise this natural way of being. All of these elements are subtly and intentionally used throughout the cycle of the day. 

It’s important to note that although wellbeing is interwoven into the fabric of who we are as a sanctuary, we are not prescriptive in any way. It is our intention to create the conditions conducive to well-being in the most subtle and universally respectful ways. The objective is to curate an environment for our guests to connect deeply to their own needs, immersed in nature – whether that be to rest and curl up with some incredible local South African Wines and great food, to get active and explore some authentic, local experiences, or whether it is to drop deep into a chrysalis of healing and transformation – we are equipped to respond to our each guests’ individual desires and needs.

From a wellness perspective, we have spent the last 18 months developing our WholeBeing method to providing  personalised retreats with a navigational network of experts, as well as group retreat experiences, launching next year. This was formed with the idea that each individual is unique and requires a particular approach to wellbeing including their  likes, needs and lifestyle considerations.

Our hope is that our guests will leave feeling connected and inspired to make small shifts toward a healthy, joyful and more regenerative way of life, whatever that means for them as an individual. We believe in the ‘Butterfly Effect’ – when the right intention can inspire seemingly small shifts internally and can ripple out into the world, for a greater collective transformation. 

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October 7, 2022

Future Found Sanctuary: Wellness retreat in one of the most diverse places on earth

Situated on the continent where humankind emerged, in one of the world’s most biodiverse areas, amidst the light and nurturing energy exuding from the ancient Table Mountain, resides a newly opened luxury hotel Future Found Sanctuary. The luxury hotel comprises two private villas that can be booked exclusively or by room. The property’s location is both grounding and expansive, stripping away the complexities of modern life and connecting guests with the natural, indigenous world. 

The seven-acre estate includes a sensorium spa and steam room, fitness centre, yoga studio, sound healing studio, pools, gardens, and an extensive array of services ranging from massage to Tai Chi. 

We sat down with Romy Paull, Wellness Director at Future Found Sanctuary, to learn about her wellness journey, the hotel’s philosophy and the experiences available to guests at the property. 

What is your story and background? 

From an early age, I was a bit of a nonconformist. I would question the concepts and constructs we, as a society, were expected to align with, especially through my high school years at an all-girls convent. I was always drawn to mysticism and similar philosophy and felt that the purpose of life was to experience everything for ourselves, as opposed to being told how to be and what to believe. I struggled with the way our lives were defined and the over-consumption and industrialisation of nature’s living produce. I always felt like we were living against nature’s logic and ways, which is why we find ourselves in this current climate. 

I started studying every practice and book I could find on ancient wisdom and began a deep spiritual journey, veering away and returning to it time and again. I especially found my practices in Hatha Yoga (‘Ha’ meaning sun and ‘Tha’ meaning moon, symbolic of the dual and non-dual realities of existence) and Buddhist meditation liberating before I became a devout Ashtanga yoga practitioner for many years. 

After school, I studied production design in film and media and went on to work in stadium theatre and then eventually specialised in experiential marketing. I would create and produce customer experiences for brands that were integrative, meaningful and engaging. I was more drawn towards creating events, spaces and encounters that utilised all the senses to bring people into the present. Such experiences would invoke certain feelings, consequently connecting the customer to the true essence of the brand. 

Eventually, in 2012, when I found myself burnt out at the age of 28 because of work and lack of self-care, I took myself on a silent retreat for 10 days. It was there, in the silence, in watching the noise of my mind surface in awareness, where things started to shift in me. I was still so passionate about creating meaningful, embodied experiences; however, I was conflicted by supporting huge international brands that were pillaging the earth to mass-produce products that people did not really need.

In 2013, I decided to delve deeper into my healing and began working with plant medicine alongside West African and Amazonian indigenous healers while travelling the world. I began to experience even bigger realisations about the way we work and live that needed to shift, and this was mirrored by the increasingly urgent climate crisis. 

I left my job and stayed with my son at home in 2014, after which I started teaching yoga, mindfulness and meditation full-time. I did several teacher training and apprenticeships. Soon, wellness became my passion, and I began to realise that my well-being was not only for my own benefit but for the benefit of my son, the people around me and my relationship with nature. In fact, the more I began to heal the ancestral trauma within me and bring the unconscious into the light, the more my son flourished and the more my life started to shift. My impact on the world became more tangible. I saw my immediate world as a mirror, reflecting my state within, and I imagined what would happen if everyone began to awaken and heal – what would the collective impact look like then? 

I started to live with an intention, as opposed to living with unconscious programming and conditioning that was instilled in me but was definitely not of me. I furthered my studies with indigenous healers and became zealous about the re-emergence of indigenous wisdom – and ultimately, the most sustainable, conscious and regenerative way of living and being. I started to see the parallels between all the ancient texts – the Vedas, the Tantras, the Tao – and this more embodied natural way of living, in a reciprocal and respectful relationship with nature. I then understood that there were many universal truths across these cosmologies and simple diverse ways of practising them. Spirituality is not about transcending this life on earth but learning how to live here in the right relationship with ourselves, others and the planet. 

I came to realise that the answers we have been seeking to some of our biggest societal and climate problems already exist in nature and that both science and ancient wisdom study the behaviour of nature, but through different lenses. It became obvious that one of the biggest problems we have been facing was disconnection – from ourselves, from one another and from nature. Indigenous tribes, like the Khoi Khoi in South Africa, formulated their language using the sounds they heard in their natural environment; deep listeners connected to the elements to learn and survive. Sadly, colonisation disconnected them from their culture and even their language. 

The primary objective behind colonisation was to acquire wealth at the expense of social and cultural divides. This stemmed from a real ‘lack’ mentality. Nature teaches us that life is abundant and regenerative and by working together as individual threads in the tapestry of an entire ecosystem, where everyone plays a critical role, there will be more than enough for everyone to not only survive – but also thrive. 

One of the tribes from the Amazon that I work with is called the Huni Kuin people. Only in recent years have they decided to leave their home and travel the world to share their wisdom, medicines and prayers, as they too can no longer live purely in reciprocity with the earth due to logging and pollution. They intend to share the healing so that collectively, we can learn to live in a less extractive and more regenerative way, which will benefit us all. Like all the ancient texts, they teach us that we are in fact, not separate from one another – or from nature. 

Last year, I did a course in biomimicry under the tutelage of the late Claire Janisch who was an absolute pioneer in the field, not just here in South Africa but worldwide. Meeting Claire, a chemical engineer-turned-biomimic, inspired us to start looking up to nature to reimagine a whole new way of regenerative living and health as these things intersect.

How did you integrate that into the hotel?

We wanted to design a unique hospitality experience that was imbued with wellbeing. We  envisaged our sanctuary as the ‘guru’ by providing the perfect conditions to slow down and realign with nature’s pulse, to connect to our true inner power and live in an awakened and regenerative state. In biomimicry, we call it ‘creating conditions conducive to life’. By aligning with nature’s rhythms, we honour time for everything – time to move and do, time to nourish and heal, time to slow down and reflect and time to rest. We aim to honour the concept of wholeness through our wellness philosophy by healing, balancing, and nourishing all aspects of the being – body, mind, heart, and spirit.

At the heart of our brand experience and philosophy, we created our own Wheel of WholeBeing, which was inspired by a Native American medicine wheel, something I spent a year studying in 2017 / 2018. A medicine wheel is sometimes also referred to as a sacred hoop – reflective of our circular and regenerative philosophy, and the circular nature of life. It represents all the dimensions of health and aspects of life, including the directions, cycles and seasons, stages, elements, and beings that co-create the whole ecosystem of life on earth. 

From our Wheel of WholeBeing, we crafted our sanctuary experience with the perspective of ‘slow travel’ in order for guests to become more present with themselves. We aim to achieve this by connecting people to nature – to the elements, through highly sensory experiences and to align their stay with the flow of nature. Our intention is to create a regenerative sanctuary promotive of  wellbeing, a place to feel awakened, connected and inspired. 

Becoming regenerative as a whole is cultivated throughout our land and processes. We grow our own food, or alternatively source vegetables from local initiatives like ‘Love in a Bowl’ as well as regeneratively farmed meat and eggs from responsible partners such as ‘Farmer Angus.’ We recycle every component of waste that we can, we compost, have worm farms and nurture the natural ecosystem with owl boxes and insect hotels. Working with a professional beekeeper, we keep five beehives on the property, with only excess honey harvested three times per year. Water in the villas is sourced from the ancient underground aquifer, with the goal to only use rainwater collected in tanks for the gardens. We have an incredible head gardener, Cherise Viljoen, who also consults for Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. Cherise is helping us cultivate more indigenous and water-wise plants throughout the property. Old timber and alien trees are upcycled. The next project on the horizon is increasing our energy efficiency.  Having recently become members of ‘Regenerative Travel’, we are working towards a zero-waste policy and learning the imperfect practice of living more regeneratively as a whole. 

Implementing this philosophy into our organization, we strive to provide responsible and purposeful products and services. We ensure inclusivity by partnering with local regenerative partners as well as women and community-owned businesses wherever possible. All of our amenities are sourced from a local, woman-owned business, created to be sustainable, ethical and natural. A passionate and knowledgeable local ceramicist was contracted to design and make our amenities range, housing the cruelty-free, organic products in handmade and unique pieces.

I am also learning about regenerative leadership, inspired by my recent biomimicry read called “Teeming” by Dr, Tamsin Woolley-Barker. The book speaks into nature’s superorganisms, explaining how we can incorporate their organisational and design principles into an infinitely thriving business. Working toward creating this kind of culture, I have recently started mindfulness classes with our garden and hospitality teams as I’d really like to develop a conscious culture internally with a team that feels resourced and supported. 

Tell us about the guest experience? What can’t they get anywhere else? 

Besides the fact that the exquisite design is the brainchild of our founder and visionary, Jim Brett – a highly successful New York retail executive who was largely responsible for the success of brands such as Anthropology and West Elm, we’ve created a unique and authentic sanctuary experience woven with wellbeing. 

We’ve accomplished this by honouring and fine tuning our most distinctive elements – our sense of place and the land that sits on the back of Table Mountain – one of the most biodiverse places in the world, our timeless luxury and elemental design, our authentic storied service and our immersive, sensory sanctuary experience.

Each stay includes complementary yoga and mountain hikes, freshly harvested whole foods from our gardens or ethically sourced from our regenerative partners, mineral water from the ancient underground aquifer and access to our incredible spa and natural plunge pool.

Our aim is to personalise each guest experience from the pre-arrival questionnaire, which includes an option for a personalised jet lag tool kit created by Dr. Dale Rae from the University of Cape Town, as well as pillow, spa and wellness menus. We have a dedicated concierge service as well as a Wellness Director – me, to design your journey with your intention in mind. 

The Future Found ethos of attention to detail has resulted in our own functional fragrances in collaboration with our Scent Specialist, Agata Karolina, made from local, indigenous plants grown on the property. Our ‘Rise’ scent is comprised of the Indigenous Cape snow bush, selected for its stimulating and invigorating effects, as well as Spearmint, Rosemary and Eucalyptus. The purpose of this scent is to help clear our minds, raise our spirits and sharpen our senses, a perfect preparation for the day. You will find this scent diffused throughout the spaces in the morning. Our ‘Rest’ scent is infused into our linen spray to encourage a deep, restorative sleep. 

Along with these scents, we have created teas, elixirs, meditations, foods, spa treatments and experiences to optimise this natural way of being. All of these elements are subtly and intentionally used throughout the cycle of the day. 

It’s important to note that although wellbeing is interwoven into the fabric of who we are as a sanctuary, we are not prescriptive in any way. It is our intention to create the conditions conducive to well-being in the most subtle and universally respectful ways. The objective is to curate an environment for our guests to connect deeply to their own needs, immersed in nature – whether that be to rest and curl up with some incredible local South African Wines and great food, to get active and explore some authentic, local experiences, or whether it is to drop deep into a chrysalis of healing and transformation – we are equipped to respond to our each guests’ individual desires and needs.

From a wellness perspective, we have spent the last 18 months developing our WholeBeing method to providing  personalised retreats with a navigational network of experts, as well as group retreat experiences, launching next year. This was formed with the idea that each individual is unique and requires a particular approach to wellbeing including their  likes, needs and lifestyle considerations.

Our hope is that our guests will leave feeling connected and inspired to make small shifts toward a healthy, joyful and more regenerative way of life, whatever that means for them as an individual. We believe in the ‘Butterfly Effect’ – when the right intention can inspire seemingly small shifts internally and can ripple out into the world, for a greater collective transformation. 

October 7, 2022

Future Found Sanctuary: Wellness retreat in one of the most diverse places on earth

Situated on the continent where humankind emerged, in one of the world’s most biodiverse areas, amidst the light and nurturing energy exuding from the ancient Table Mountain, resides a newly opened luxury hotel Future Found Sanctuary. The luxury hotel comprises two private villas that can be booked exclusively or by room. The property’s location is both grounding and expansive, stripping away the complexities of modern life and connecting guests with the natural, indigenous world. 

The seven-acre estate includes a sensorium spa and steam room, fitness centre, yoga studio, sound healing studio, pools, gardens, and an extensive array of services ranging from massage to Tai Chi. 

We sat down with Romy Paull, Wellness Director at Future Found Sanctuary, to learn about her wellness journey, the hotel’s philosophy and the experiences available to guests at the property. 

What is your story and background? 

From an early age, I was a bit of a nonconformist. I would question the concepts and constructs we, as a society, were expected to align with, especially through my high school years at an all-girls convent. I was always drawn to mysticism and similar philosophy and felt that the purpose of life was to experience everything for ourselves, as opposed to being told how to be and what to believe. I struggled with the way our lives were defined and the over-consumption and industrialisation of nature’s living produce. I always felt like we were living against nature’s logic and ways, which is why we find ourselves in this current climate. 

I started studying every practice and book I could find on ancient wisdom and began a deep spiritual journey, veering away and returning to it time and again. I especially found my practices in Hatha Yoga (‘Ha’ meaning sun and ‘Tha’ meaning moon, symbolic of the dual and non-dual realities of existence) and Buddhist meditation liberating before I became a devout Ashtanga yoga practitioner for many years. 

After school, I studied production design in film and media and went on to work in stadium theatre and then eventually specialised in experiential marketing. I would create and produce customer experiences for brands that were integrative, meaningful and engaging. I was more drawn towards creating events, spaces and encounters that utilised all the senses to bring people into the present. Such experiences would invoke certain feelings, consequently connecting the customer to the true essence of the brand. 

Eventually, in 2012, when I found myself burnt out at the age of 28 because of work and lack of self-care, I took myself on a silent retreat for 10 days. It was there, in the silence, in watching the noise of my mind surface in awareness, where things started to shift in me. I was still so passionate about creating meaningful, embodied experiences; however, I was conflicted by supporting huge international brands that were pillaging the earth to mass-produce products that people did not really need.

In 2013, I decided to delve deeper into my healing and began working with plant medicine alongside West African and Amazonian indigenous healers while travelling the world. I began to experience even bigger realisations about the way we work and live that needed to shift, and this was mirrored by the increasingly urgent climate crisis. 

I left my job and stayed with my son at home in 2014, after which I started teaching yoga, mindfulness and meditation full-time. I did several teacher training and apprenticeships. Soon, wellness became my passion, and I began to realise that my well-being was not only for my own benefit but for the benefit of my son, the people around me and my relationship with nature. In fact, the more I began to heal the ancestral trauma within me and bring the unconscious into the light, the more my son flourished and the more my life started to shift. My impact on the world became more tangible. I saw my immediate world as a mirror, reflecting my state within, and I imagined what would happen if everyone began to awaken and heal – what would the collective impact look like then? 

I started to live with an intention, as opposed to living with unconscious programming and conditioning that was instilled in me but was definitely not of me. I furthered my studies with indigenous healers and became zealous about the re-emergence of indigenous wisdom – and ultimately, the most sustainable, conscious and regenerative way of living and being. I started to see the parallels between all the ancient texts – the Vedas, the Tantras, the Tao – and this more embodied natural way of living, in a reciprocal and respectful relationship with nature. I then understood that there were many universal truths across these cosmologies and simple diverse ways of practising them. Spirituality is not about transcending this life on earth but learning how to live here in the right relationship with ourselves, others and the planet. 

I came to realise that the answers we have been seeking to some of our biggest societal and climate problems already exist in nature and that both science and ancient wisdom study the behaviour of nature, but through different lenses. It became obvious that one of the biggest problems we have been facing was disconnection – from ourselves, from one another and from nature. Indigenous tribes, like the Khoi Khoi in South Africa, formulated their language using the sounds they heard in their natural environment; deep listeners connected to the elements to learn and survive. Sadly, colonisation disconnected them from their culture and even their language. 

The primary objective behind colonisation was to acquire wealth at the expense of social and cultural divides. This stemmed from a real ‘lack’ mentality. Nature teaches us that life is abundant and regenerative and by working together as individual threads in the tapestry of an entire ecosystem, where everyone plays a critical role, there will be more than enough for everyone to not only survive – but also thrive. 

One of the tribes from the Amazon that I work with is called the Huni Kuin people. Only in recent years have they decided to leave their home and travel the world to share their wisdom, medicines and prayers, as they too can no longer live purely in reciprocity with the earth due to logging and pollution. They intend to share the healing so that collectively, we can learn to live in a less extractive and more regenerative way, which will benefit us all. Like all the ancient texts, they teach us that we are in fact, not separate from one another – or from nature. 

Last year, I did a course in biomimicry under the tutelage of the late Claire Janisch who was an absolute pioneer in the field, not just here in South Africa but worldwide. Meeting Claire, a chemical engineer-turned-biomimic, inspired us to start looking up to nature to reimagine a whole new way of regenerative living and health as these things intersect.

How did you integrate that into the hotel?

We wanted to design a unique hospitality experience that was imbued with wellbeing. We  envisaged our sanctuary as the ‘guru’ by providing the perfect conditions to slow down and realign with nature’s pulse, to connect to our true inner power and live in an awakened and regenerative state. In biomimicry, we call it ‘creating conditions conducive to life’. By aligning with nature’s rhythms, we honour time for everything – time to move and do, time to nourish and heal, time to slow down and reflect and time to rest. We aim to honour the concept of wholeness through our wellness philosophy by healing, balancing, and nourishing all aspects of the being – body, mind, heart, and spirit.

At the heart of our brand experience and philosophy, we created our own Wheel of WholeBeing, which was inspired by a Native American medicine wheel, something I spent a year studying in 2017 / 2018. A medicine wheel is sometimes also referred to as a sacred hoop – reflective of our circular and regenerative philosophy, and the circular nature of life. It represents all the dimensions of health and aspects of life, including the directions, cycles and seasons, stages, elements, and beings that co-create the whole ecosystem of life on earth. 

From our Wheel of WholeBeing, we crafted our sanctuary experience with the perspective of ‘slow travel’ in order for guests to become more present with themselves. We aim to achieve this by connecting people to nature – to the elements, through highly sensory experiences and to align their stay with the flow of nature. Our intention is to create a regenerative sanctuary promotive of  wellbeing, a place to feel awakened, connected and inspired. 

Becoming regenerative as a whole is cultivated throughout our land and processes. We grow our own food, or alternatively source vegetables from local initiatives like ‘Love in a Bowl’ as well as regeneratively farmed meat and eggs from responsible partners such as ‘Farmer Angus.’ We recycle every component of waste that we can, we compost, have worm farms and nurture the natural ecosystem with owl boxes and insect hotels. Working with a professional beekeeper, we keep five beehives on the property, with only excess honey harvested three times per year. Water in the villas is sourced from the ancient underground aquifer, with the goal to only use rainwater collected in tanks for the gardens. We have an incredible head gardener, Cherise Viljoen, who also consults for Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. Cherise is helping us cultivate more indigenous and water-wise plants throughout the property. Old timber and alien trees are upcycled. The next project on the horizon is increasing our energy efficiency.  Having recently become members of ‘Regenerative Travel’, we are working towards a zero-waste policy and learning the imperfect practice of living more regeneratively as a whole. 

Implementing this philosophy into our organization, we strive to provide responsible and purposeful products and services. We ensure inclusivity by partnering with local regenerative partners as well as women and community-owned businesses wherever possible. All of our amenities are sourced from a local, woman-owned business, created to be sustainable, ethical and natural. A passionate and knowledgeable local ceramicist was contracted to design and make our amenities range, housing the cruelty-free, organic products in handmade and unique pieces.

I am also learning about regenerative leadership, inspired by my recent biomimicry read called “Teeming” by Dr, Tamsin Woolley-Barker. The book speaks into nature’s superorganisms, explaining how we can incorporate their organisational and design principles into an infinitely thriving business. Working toward creating this kind of culture, I have recently started mindfulness classes with our garden and hospitality teams as I’d really like to develop a conscious culture internally with a team that feels resourced and supported. 

Tell us about the guest experience? What can’t they get anywhere else? 

Besides the fact that the exquisite design is the brainchild of our founder and visionary, Jim Brett – a highly successful New York retail executive who was largely responsible for the success of brands such as Anthropology and West Elm, we’ve created a unique and authentic sanctuary experience woven with wellbeing. 

We’ve accomplished this by honouring and fine tuning our most distinctive elements – our sense of place and the land that sits on the back of Table Mountain – one of the most biodiverse places in the world, our timeless luxury and elemental design, our authentic storied service and our immersive, sensory sanctuary experience.

Each stay includes complementary yoga and mountain hikes, freshly harvested whole foods from our gardens or ethically sourced from our regenerative partners, mineral water from the ancient underground aquifer and access to our incredible spa and natural plunge pool.

Our aim is to personalise each guest experience from the pre-arrival questionnaire, which includes an option for a personalised jet lag tool kit created by Dr. Dale Rae from the University of Cape Town, as well as pillow, spa and wellness menus. We have a dedicated concierge service as well as a Wellness Director – me, to design your journey with your intention in mind. 

The Future Found ethos of attention to detail has resulted in our own functional fragrances in collaboration with our Scent Specialist, Agata Karolina, made from local, indigenous plants grown on the property. Our ‘Rise’ scent is comprised of the Indigenous Cape snow bush, selected for its stimulating and invigorating effects, as well as Spearmint, Rosemary and Eucalyptus. The purpose of this scent is to help clear our minds, raise our spirits and sharpen our senses, a perfect preparation for the day. You will find this scent diffused throughout the spaces in the morning. Our ‘Rest’ scent is infused into our linen spray to encourage a deep, restorative sleep. 

Along with these scents, we have created teas, elixirs, meditations, foods, spa treatments and experiences to optimise this natural way of being. All of these elements are subtly and intentionally used throughout the cycle of the day. 

It’s important to note that although wellbeing is interwoven into the fabric of who we are as a sanctuary, we are not prescriptive in any way. It is our intention to create the conditions conducive to well-being in the most subtle and universally respectful ways. The objective is to curate an environment for our guests to connect deeply to their own needs, immersed in nature – whether that be to rest and curl up with some incredible local South African Wines and great food, to get active and explore some authentic, local experiences, or whether it is to drop deep into a chrysalis of healing and transformation – we are equipped to respond to our each guests’ individual desires and needs.

From a wellness perspective, we have spent the last 18 months developing our WholeBeing method to providing  personalised retreats with a navigational network of experts, as well as group retreat experiences, launching next year. This was formed with the idea that each individual is unique and requires a particular approach to wellbeing including their  likes, needs and lifestyle considerations.

Our hope is that our guests will leave feeling connected and inspired to make small shifts toward a healthy, joyful and more regenerative way of life, whatever that means for them as an individual. We believe in the ‘Butterfly Effect’ – when the right intention can inspire seemingly small shifts internally and can ripple out into the world, for a greater collective transformation. 

Future Found Sanctuary: Wellness retreat in one of the most diverse places on earth

Words by
Romy Paull

Contact SIANA Today

Contact your personal SIANA travel tailor today to start planning your next adventure. As a boutique travel agency specialising in tailor-made itineraries, we leave no stone unturned to create the most memorable holiday that meets your unique needs and desires.

Enquire Now
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Situated on the continent where humankind emerged, in one of the world’s most biodiverse areas, amidst the light and nurturing energy exuding from the ancient Table Mountain, resides a newly opened luxury hotel Future Found Sanctuary. The luxury hotel comprises two private villas that can be booked exclusively or by room. The property’s location is both grounding and expansive, stripping away the complexities of modern life and connecting guests with the natural, indigenous world. 

The seven-acre estate includes a sensorium spa and steam room, fitness centre, yoga studio, sound healing studio, pools, gardens, and an extensive array of services ranging from massage to Tai Chi. 

We sat down with Romy Paull, Wellness Director at Future Found Sanctuary, to learn about her wellness journey, the hotel’s philosophy and the experiences available to guests at the property. 

What is your story and background? 

From an early age, I was a bit of a nonconformist. I would question the concepts and constructs we, as a society, were expected to align with, especially through my high school years at an all-girls convent. I was always drawn to mysticism and similar philosophy and felt that the purpose of life was to experience everything for ourselves, as opposed to being told how to be and what to believe. I struggled with the way our lives were defined and the over-consumption and industrialisation of nature’s living produce. I always felt like we were living against nature’s logic and ways, which is why we find ourselves in this current climate. 

I started studying every practice and book I could find on ancient wisdom and began a deep spiritual journey, veering away and returning to it time and again. I especially found my practices in Hatha Yoga (‘Ha’ meaning sun and ‘Tha’ meaning moon, symbolic of the dual and non-dual realities of existence) and Buddhist meditation liberating before I became a devout Ashtanga yoga practitioner for many years. 

After school, I studied production design in film and media and went on to work in stadium theatre and then eventually specialised in experiential marketing. I would create and produce customer experiences for brands that were integrative, meaningful and engaging. I was more drawn towards creating events, spaces and encounters that utilised all the senses to bring people into the present. Such experiences would invoke certain feelings, consequently connecting the customer to the true essence of the brand. 

Eventually, in 2012, when I found myself burnt out at the age of 28 because of work and lack of self-care, I took myself on a silent retreat for 10 days. It was there, in the silence, in watching the noise of my mind surface in awareness, where things started to shift in me. I was still so passionate about creating meaningful, embodied experiences; however, I was conflicted by supporting huge international brands that were pillaging the earth to mass-produce products that people did not really need.

In 2013, I decided to delve deeper into my healing and began working with plant medicine alongside West African and Amazonian indigenous healers while travelling the world. I began to experience even bigger realisations about the way we work and live that needed to shift, and this was mirrored by the increasingly urgent climate crisis. 

I left my job and stayed with my son at home in 2014, after which I started teaching yoga, mindfulness and meditation full-time. I did several teacher training and apprenticeships. Soon, wellness became my passion, and I began to realise that my well-being was not only for my own benefit but for the benefit of my son, the people around me and my relationship with nature. In fact, the more I began to heal the ancestral trauma within me and bring the unconscious into the light, the more my son flourished and the more my life started to shift. My impact on the world became more tangible. I saw my immediate world as a mirror, reflecting my state within, and I imagined what would happen if everyone began to awaken and heal – what would the collective impact look like then? 

I started to live with an intention, as opposed to living with unconscious programming and conditioning that was instilled in me but was definitely not of me. I furthered my studies with indigenous healers and became zealous about the re-emergence of indigenous wisdom – and ultimately, the most sustainable, conscious and regenerative way of living and being. I started to see the parallels between all the ancient texts – the Vedas, the Tantras, the Tao – and this more embodied natural way of living, in a reciprocal and respectful relationship with nature. I then understood that there were many universal truths across these cosmologies and simple diverse ways of practising them. Spirituality is not about transcending this life on earth but learning how to live here in the right relationship with ourselves, others and the planet. 

I came to realise that the answers we have been seeking to some of our biggest societal and climate problems already exist in nature and that both science and ancient wisdom study the behaviour of nature, but through different lenses. It became obvious that one of the biggest problems we have been facing was disconnection – from ourselves, from one another and from nature. Indigenous tribes, like the Khoi Khoi in South Africa, formulated their language using the sounds they heard in their natural environment; deep listeners connected to the elements to learn and survive. Sadly, colonisation disconnected them from their culture and even their language. 

The primary objective behind colonisation was to acquire wealth at the expense of social and cultural divides. This stemmed from a real ‘lack’ mentality. Nature teaches us that life is abundant and regenerative and by working together as individual threads in the tapestry of an entire ecosystem, where everyone plays a critical role, there will be more than enough for everyone to not only survive – but also thrive. 

One of the tribes from the Amazon that I work with is called the Huni Kuin people. Only in recent years have they decided to leave their home and travel the world to share their wisdom, medicines and prayers, as they too can no longer live purely in reciprocity with the earth due to logging and pollution. They intend to share the healing so that collectively, we can learn to live in a less extractive and more regenerative way, which will benefit us all. Like all the ancient texts, they teach us that we are in fact, not separate from one another – or from nature. 

Last year, I did a course in biomimicry under the tutelage of the late Claire Janisch who was an absolute pioneer in the field, not just here in South Africa but worldwide. Meeting Claire, a chemical engineer-turned-biomimic, inspired us to start looking up to nature to reimagine a whole new way of regenerative living and health as these things intersect.

Contact SIANA Today

Contact your personal SIANA travel tailor today to start planning your next adventure. As a boutique travel agency specialising in tailor-made itineraries, we leave no stone unturned to create the most memorable holiday that meets your unique needs and desires.

Enquire Now

How did you integrate that into the hotel?

We wanted to design a unique hospitality experience that was imbued with wellbeing. We  envisaged our sanctuary as the ‘guru’ by providing the perfect conditions to slow down and realign with nature’s pulse, to connect to our true inner power and live in an awakened and regenerative state. In biomimicry, we call it ‘creating conditions conducive to life’. By aligning with nature’s rhythms, we honour time for everything – time to move and do, time to nourish and heal, time to slow down and reflect and time to rest. We aim to honour the concept of wholeness through our wellness philosophy by healing, balancing, and nourishing all aspects of the being – body, mind, heart, and spirit.

At the heart of our brand experience and philosophy, we created our own Wheel of WholeBeing, which was inspired by a Native American medicine wheel, something I spent a year studying in 2017 / 2018. A medicine wheel is sometimes also referred to as a sacred hoop – reflective of our circular and regenerative philosophy, and the circular nature of life. It represents all the dimensions of health and aspects of life, including the directions, cycles and seasons, stages, elements, and beings that co-create the whole ecosystem of life on earth. 

From our Wheel of WholeBeing, we crafted our sanctuary experience with the perspective of ‘slow travel’ in order for guests to become more present with themselves. We aim to achieve this by connecting people to nature – to the elements, through highly sensory experiences and to align their stay with the flow of nature. Our intention is to create a regenerative sanctuary promotive of  wellbeing, a place to feel awakened, connected and inspired. 

Becoming regenerative as a whole is cultivated throughout our land and processes. We grow our own food, or alternatively source vegetables from local initiatives like ‘Love in a Bowl’ as well as regeneratively farmed meat and eggs from responsible partners such as ‘Farmer Angus.’ We recycle every component of waste that we can, we compost, have worm farms and nurture the natural ecosystem with owl boxes and insect hotels. Working with a professional beekeeper, we keep five beehives on the property, with only excess honey harvested three times per year. Water in the villas is sourced from the ancient underground aquifer, with the goal to only use rainwater collected in tanks for the gardens. We have an incredible head gardener, Cherise Viljoen, who also consults for Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. Cherise is helping us cultivate more indigenous and water-wise plants throughout the property. Old timber and alien trees are upcycled. The next project on the horizon is increasing our energy efficiency.  Having recently become members of ‘Regenerative Travel’, we are working towards a zero-waste policy and learning the imperfect practice of living more regeneratively as a whole. 

Implementing this philosophy into our organization, we strive to provide responsible and purposeful products and services. We ensure inclusivity by partnering with local regenerative partners as well as women and community-owned businesses wherever possible. All of our amenities are sourced from a local, woman-owned business, created to be sustainable, ethical and natural. A passionate and knowledgeable local ceramicist was contracted to design and make our amenities range, housing the cruelty-free, organic products in handmade and unique pieces.

I am also learning about regenerative leadership, inspired by my recent biomimicry read called “Teeming” by Dr, Tamsin Woolley-Barker. The book speaks into nature’s superorganisms, explaining how we can incorporate their organisational and design principles into an infinitely thriving business. Working toward creating this kind of culture, I have recently started mindfulness classes with our garden and hospitality teams as I’d really like to develop a conscious culture internally with a team that feels resourced and supported. 

Tell us about the guest experience? What can’t they get anywhere else? 

Besides the fact that the exquisite design is the brainchild of our founder and visionary, Jim Brett – a highly successful New York retail executive who was largely responsible for the success of brands such as Anthropology and West Elm, we’ve created a unique and authentic sanctuary experience woven with wellbeing. 

We’ve accomplished this by honouring and fine tuning our most distinctive elements – our sense of place and the land that sits on the back of Table Mountain – one of the most biodiverse places in the world, our timeless luxury and elemental design, our authentic storied service and our immersive, sensory sanctuary experience.

Each stay includes complementary yoga and mountain hikes, freshly harvested whole foods from our gardens or ethically sourced from our regenerative partners, mineral water from the ancient underground aquifer and access to our incredible spa and natural plunge pool.

Our aim is to personalise each guest experience from the pre-arrival questionnaire, which includes an option for a personalised jet lag tool kit created by Dr. Dale Rae from the University of Cape Town, as well as pillow, spa and wellness menus. We have a dedicated concierge service as well as a Wellness Director – me, to design your journey with your intention in mind. 

The Future Found ethos of attention to detail has resulted in our own functional fragrances in collaboration with our Scent Specialist, Agata Karolina, made from local, indigenous plants grown on the property. Our ‘Rise’ scent is comprised of the Indigenous Cape snow bush, selected for its stimulating and invigorating effects, as well as Spearmint, Rosemary and Eucalyptus. The purpose of this scent is to help clear our minds, raise our spirits and sharpen our senses, a perfect preparation for the day. You will find this scent diffused throughout the spaces in the morning. Our ‘Rest’ scent is infused into our linen spray to encourage a deep, restorative sleep. 

Along with these scents, we have created teas, elixirs, meditations, foods, spa treatments and experiences to optimise this natural way of being. All of these elements are subtly and intentionally used throughout the cycle of the day. 

It’s important to note that although wellbeing is interwoven into the fabric of who we are as a sanctuary, we are not prescriptive in any way. It is our intention to create the conditions conducive to well-being in the most subtle and universally respectful ways. The objective is to curate an environment for our guests to connect deeply to their own needs, immersed in nature – whether that be to rest and curl up with some incredible local South African Wines and great food, to get active and explore some authentic, local experiences, or whether it is to drop deep into a chrysalis of healing and transformation – we are equipped to respond to our each guests’ individual desires and needs.

From a wellness perspective, we have spent the last 18 months developing our WholeBeing method to providing  personalised retreats with a navigational network of experts, as well as group retreat experiences, launching next year. This was formed with the idea that each individual is unique and requires a particular approach to wellbeing including their  likes, needs and lifestyle considerations.

Our hope is that our guests will leave feeling connected and inspired to make small shifts toward a healthy, joyful and more regenerative way of life, whatever that means for them as an individual. We believe in the ‘Butterfly Effect’ – when the right intention can inspire seemingly small shifts internally and can ripple out into the world, for a greater collective transformation. 

Project Feature
• Issue no. 1

Future Found Sanctuary: Wellness retreat in one of the most diverse places on earth

Words by
Romy Paull
November 22, 2022
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Situated on the continent where humankind emerged, in one of the world’s most biodiverse areas, amidst the light and nurturing energy exuding from the ancient Table Mountain, resides a newly opened luxury hotel Future Found Sanctuary. The luxury hotel comprises two private villas that can be booked exclusively or by room. The property’s location is both grounding and expansive, stripping away the complexities of modern life and connecting guests with the natural, indigenous world. 

The seven-acre estate includes a sensorium spa and steam room, fitness centre, yoga studio, sound healing studio, pools, gardens, and an extensive array of services ranging from massage to Tai Chi. 

We sat down with Romy Paull, Wellness Director at Future Found Sanctuary, to learn about her wellness journey, the hotel’s philosophy and the experiences available to guests at the property. 

What is your story and background? 

From an early age, I was a bit of a nonconformist. I would question the concepts and constructs we, as a society, were expected to align with, especially through my high school years at an all-girls convent. I was always drawn to mysticism and similar philosophy and felt that the purpose of life was to experience everything for ourselves, as opposed to being told how to be and what to believe. I struggled with the way our lives were defined and the over-consumption and industrialisation of nature’s living produce. I always felt like we were living against nature’s logic and ways, which is why we find ourselves in this current climate. 

I started studying every practice and book I could find on ancient wisdom and began a deep spiritual journey, veering away and returning to it time and again. I especially found my practices in Hatha Yoga (‘Ha’ meaning sun and ‘Tha’ meaning moon, symbolic of the dual and non-dual realities of existence) and Buddhist meditation liberating before I became a devout Ashtanga yoga practitioner for many years. 

After school, I studied production design in film and media and went on to work in stadium theatre and then eventually specialised in experiential marketing. I would create and produce customer experiences for brands that were integrative, meaningful and engaging. I was more drawn towards creating events, spaces and encounters that utilised all the senses to bring people into the present. Such experiences would invoke certain feelings, consequently connecting the customer to the true essence of the brand. 

Eventually, in 2012, when I found myself burnt out at the age of 28 because of work and lack of self-care, I took myself on a silent retreat for 10 days. It was there, in the silence, in watching the noise of my mind surface in awareness, where things started to shift in me. I was still so passionate about creating meaningful, embodied experiences; however, I was conflicted by supporting huge international brands that were pillaging the earth to mass-produce products that people did not really need.

In 2013, I decided to delve deeper into my healing and began working with plant medicine alongside West African and Amazonian indigenous healers while travelling the world. I began to experience even bigger realisations about the way we work and live that needed to shift, and this was mirrored by the increasingly urgent climate crisis. 

I left my job and stayed with my son at home in 2014, after which I started teaching yoga, mindfulness and meditation full-time. I did several teacher training and apprenticeships. Soon, wellness became my passion, and I began to realise that my well-being was not only for my own benefit but for the benefit of my son, the people around me and my relationship with nature. In fact, the more I began to heal the ancestral trauma within me and bring the unconscious into the light, the more my son flourished and the more my life started to shift. My impact on the world became more tangible. I saw my immediate world as a mirror, reflecting my state within, and I imagined what would happen if everyone began to awaken and heal – what would the collective impact look like then? 

I started to live with an intention, as opposed to living with unconscious programming and conditioning that was instilled in me but was definitely not of me. I furthered my studies with indigenous healers and became zealous about the re-emergence of indigenous wisdom – and ultimately, the most sustainable, conscious and regenerative way of living and being. I started to see the parallels between all the ancient texts – the Vedas, the Tantras, the Tao – and this more embodied natural way of living, in a reciprocal and respectful relationship with nature. I then understood that there were many universal truths across these cosmologies and simple diverse ways of practising them. Spirituality is not about transcending this life on earth but learning how to live here in the right relationship with ourselves, others and the planet. 

I came to realise that the answers we have been seeking to some of our biggest societal and climate problems already exist in nature and that both science and ancient wisdom study the behaviour of nature, but through different lenses. It became obvious that one of the biggest problems we have been facing was disconnection – from ourselves, from one another and from nature. Indigenous tribes, like the Khoi Khoi in South Africa, formulated their language using the sounds they heard in their natural environment; deep listeners connected to the elements to learn and survive. Sadly, colonisation disconnected them from their culture and even their language. 

The primary objective behind colonisation was to acquire wealth at the expense of social and cultural divides. This stemmed from a real ‘lack’ mentality. Nature teaches us that life is abundant and regenerative and by working together as individual threads in the tapestry of an entire ecosystem, where everyone plays a critical role, there will be more than enough for everyone to not only survive – but also thrive. 

One of the tribes from the Amazon that I work with is called the Huni Kuin people. Only in recent years have they decided to leave their home and travel the world to share their wisdom, medicines and prayers, as they too can no longer live purely in reciprocity with the earth due to logging and pollution. They intend to share the healing so that collectively, we can learn to live in a less extractive and more regenerative way, which will benefit us all. Like all the ancient texts, they teach us that we are in fact, not separate from one another – or from nature. 

Last year, I did a course in biomimicry under the tutelage of the late Claire Janisch who was an absolute pioneer in the field, not just here in South Africa but worldwide. Meeting Claire, a chemical engineer-turned-biomimic, inspired us to start looking up to nature to reimagine a whole new way of regenerative living and health as these things intersect.

How did you integrate that into the hotel?

We wanted to design a unique hospitality experience that was imbued with wellbeing. We  envisaged our sanctuary as the ‘guru’ by providing the perfect conditions to slow down and realign with nature’s pulse, to connect to our true inner power and live in an awakened and regenerative state. In biomimicry, we call it ‘creating conditions conducive to life’. By aligning with nature’s rhythms, we honour time for everything – time to move and do, time to nourish and heal, time to slow down and reflect and time to rest. We aim to honour the concept of wholeness through our wellness philosophy by healing, balancing, and nourishing all aspects of the being – body, mind, heart, and spirit.

At the heart of our brand experience and philosophy, we created our own Wheel of WholeBeing, which was inspired by a Native American medicine wheel, something I spent a year studying in 2017 / 2018. A medicine wheel is sometimes also referred to as a sacred hoop – reflective of our circular and regenerative philosophy, and the circular nature of life. It represents all the dimensions of health and aspects of life, including the directions, cycles and seasons, stages, elements, and beings that co-create the whole ecosystem of life on earth. 

From our Wheel of WholeBeing, we crafted our sanctuary experience with the perspective of ‘slow travel’ in order for guests to become more present with themselves. We aim to achieve this by connecting people to nature – to the elements, through highly sensory experiences and to align their stay with the flow of nature. Our intention is to create a regenerative sanctuary promotive of  wellbeing, a place to feel awakened, connected and inspired. 

Becoming regenerative as a whole is cultivated throughout our land and processes. We grow our own food, or alternatively source vegetables from local initiatives like ‘Love in a Bowl’ as well as regeneratively farmed meat and eggs from responsible partners such as ‘Farmer Angus.’ We recycle every component of waste that we can, we compost, have worm farms and nurture the natural ecosystem with owl boxes and insect hotels. Working with a professional beekeeper, we keep five beehives on the property, with only excess honey harvested three times per year. Water in the villas is sourced from the ancient underground aquifer, with the goal to only use rainwater collected in tanks for the gardens. We have an incredible head gardener, Cherise Viljoen, who also consults for Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. Cherise is helping us cultivate more indigenous and water-wise plants throughout the property. Old timber and alien trees are upcycled. The next project on the horizon is increasing our energy efficiency.  Having recently become members of ‘Regenerative Travel’, we are working towards a zero-waste policy and learning the imperfect practice of living more regeneratively as a whole. 

Implementing this philosophy into our organization, we strive to provide responsible and purposeful products and services. We ensure inclusivity by partnering with local regenerative partners as well as women and community-owned businesses wherever possible. All of our amenities are sourced from a local, woman-owned business, created to be sustainable, ethical and natural. A passionate and knowledgeable local ceramicist was contracted to design and make our amenities range, housing the cruelty-free, organic products in handmade and unique pieces.

I am also learning about regenerative leadership, inspired by my recent biomimicry read called “Teeming” by Dr, Tamsin Woolley-Barker. The book speaks into nature’s superorganisms, explaining how we can incorporate their organisational and design principles into an infinitely thriving business. Working toward creating this kind of culture, I have recently started mindfulness classes with our garden and hospitality teams as I’d really like to develop a conscious culture internally with a team that feels resourced and supported. 

Tell us about the guest experience? What can’t they get anywhere else? 

Besides the fact that the exquisite design is the brainchild of our founder and visionary, Jim Brett – a highly successful New York retail executive who was largely responsible for the success of brands such as Anthropology and West Elm, we’ve created a unique and authentic sanctuary experience woven with wellbeing. 

We’ve accomplished this by honouring and fine tuning our most distinctive elements – our sense of place and the land that sits on the back of Table Mountain – one of the most biodiverse places in the world, our timeless luxury and elemental design, our authentic storied service and our immersive, sensory sanctuary experience.

Each stay includes complementary yoga and mountain hikes, freshly harvested whole foods from our gardens or ethically sourced from our regenerative partners, mineral water from the ancient underground aquifer and access to our incredible spa and natural plunge pool.

Our aim is to personalise each guest experience from the pre-arrival questionnaire, which includes an option for a personalised jet lag tool kit created by Dr. Dale Rae from the University of Cape Town, as well as pillow, spa and wellness menus. We have a dedicated concierge service as well as a Wellness Director – me, to design your journey with your intention in mind. 

The Future Found ethos of attention to detail has resulted in our own functional fragrances in collaboration with our Scent Specialist, Agata Karolina, made from local, indigenous plants grown on the property. Our ‘Rise’ scent is comprised of the Indigenous Cape snow bush, selected for its stimulating and invigorating effects, as well as Spearmint, Rosemary and Eucalyptus. The purpose of this scent is to help clear our minds, raise our spirits and sharpen our senses, a perfect preparation for the day. You will find this scent diffused throughout the spaces in the morning. Our ‘Rest’ scent is infused into our linen spray to encourage a deep, restorative sleep. 

Along with these scents, we have created teas, elixirs, meditations, foods, spa treatments and experiences to optimise this natural way of being. All of these elements are subtly and intentionally used throughout the cycle of the day. 

It’s important to note that although wellbeing is interwoven into the fabric of who we are as a sanctuary, we are not prescriptive in any way. It is our intention to create the conditions conducive to well-being in the most subtle and universally respectful ways. The objective is to curate an environment for our guests to connect deeply to their own needs, immersed in nature – whether that be to rest and curl up with some incredible local South African Wines and great food, to get active and explore some authentic, local experiences, or whether it is to drop deep into a chrysalis of healing and transformation – we are equipped to respond to our each guests’ individual desires and needs.

From a wellness perspective, we have spent the last 18 months developing our WholeBeing method to providing  personalised retreats with a navigational network of experts, as well as group retreat experiences, launching next year. This was formed with the idea that each individual is unique and requires a particular approach to wellbeing including their  likes, needs and lifestyle considerations.

Our hope is that our guests will leave feeling connected and inspired to make small shifts toward a healthy, joyful and more regenerative way of life, whatever that means for them as an individual. We believe in the ‘Butterfly Effect’ – when the right intention can inspire seemingly small shifts internally and can ripple out into the world, for a greater collective transformation. 

October 7, 2022

Future Found Sanctuary: Wellness retreat in one of the most diverse places on earth

Situated on the continent where humankind emerged, in one of the world’s most biodiverse areas, amidst the light and nurturing energy exuding from the ancient Table Mountain, resides a newly opened luxury hotel Future Found Sanctuary. The luxury hotel comprises two private villas that can be booked exclusively or by room. The property’s location is both grounding and expansive, stripping away the complexities of modern life and connecting guests with the natural, indigenous world. 

The seven-acre estate includes a sensorium spa and steam room, fitness centre, yoga studio, sound healing studio, pools, gardens, and an extensive array of services ranging from massage to Tai Chi. 

We sat down with Romy Paull, Wellness Director at Future Found Sanctuary, to learn about her wellness journey, the hotel’s philosophy and the experiences available to guests at the property. 

What is your story and background? 

From an early age, I was a bit of a nonconformist. I would question the concepts and constructs we, as a society, were expected to align with, especially through my high school years at an all-girls convent. I was always drawn to mysticism and similar philosophy and felt that the purpose of life was to experience everything for ourselves, as opposed to being told how to be and what to believe. I struggled with the way our lives were defined and the over-consumption and industrialisation of nature’s living produce. I always felt like we were living against nature’s logic and ways, which is why we find ourselves in this current climate. 

I started studying every practice and book I could find on ancient wisdom and began a deep spiritual journey, veering away and returning to it time and again. I especially found my practices in Hatha Yoga (‘Ha’ meaning sun and ‘Tha’ meaning moon, symbolic of the dual and non-dual realities of existence) and Buddhist meditation liberating before I became a devout Ashtanga yoga practitioner for many years. 

After school, I studied production design in film and media and went on to work in stadium theatre and then eventually specialised in experiential marketing. I would create and produce customer experiences for brands that were integrative, meaningful and engaging. I was more drawn towards creating events, spaces and encounters that utilised all the senses to bring people into the present. Such experiences would invoke certain feelings, consequently connecting the customer to the true essence of the brand. 

Eventually, in 2012, when I found myself burnt out at the age of 28 because of work and lack of self-care, I took myself on a silent retreat for 10 days. It was there, in the silence, in watching the noise of my mind surface in awareness, where things started to shift in me. I was still so passionate about creating meaningful, embodied experiences; however, I was conflicted by supporting huge international brands that were pillaging the earth to mass-produce products that people did not really need.

In 2013, I decided to delve deeper into my healing and began working with plant medicine alongside West African and Amazonian indigenous healers while travelling the world. I began to experience even bigger realisations about the way we work and live that needed to shift, and this was mirrored by the increasingly urgent climate crisis. 

I left my job and stayed with my son at home in 2014, after which I started teaching yoga, mindfulness and meditation full-time. I did several teacher training and apprenticeships. Soon, wellness became my passion, and I began to realise that my well-being was not only for my own benefit but for the benefit of my son, the people around me and my relationship with nature. In fact, the more I began to heal the ancestral trauma within me and bring the unconscious into the light, the more my son flourished and the more my life started to shift. My impact on the world became more tangible. I saw my immediate world as a mirror, reflecting my state within, and I imagined what would happen if everyone began to awaken and heal – what would the collective impact look like then? 

I started to live with an intention, as opposed to living with unconscious programming and conditioning that was instilled in me but was definitely not of me. I furthered my studies with indigenous healers and became zealous about the re-emergence of indigenous wisdom – and ultimately, the most sustainable, conscious and regenerative way of living and being. I started to see the parallels between all the ancient texts – the Vedas, the Tantras, the Tao – and this more embodied natural way of living, in a reciprocal and respectful relationship with nature. I then understood that there were many universal truths across these cosmologies and simple diverse ways of practising them. Spirituality is not about transcending this life on earth but learning how to live here in the right relationship with ourselves, others and the planet. 

I came to realise that the answers we have been seeking to some of our biggest societal and climate problems already exist in nature and that both science and ancient wisdom study the behaviour of nature, but through different lenses. It became obvious that one of the biggest problems we have been facing was disconnection – from ourselves, from one another and from nature. Indigenous tribes, like the Khoi Khoi in South Africa, formulated their language using the sounds they heard in their natural environment; deep listeners connected to the elements to learn and survive. Sadly, colonisation disconnected them from their culture and even their language. 

The primary objective behind colonisation was to acquire wealth at the expense of social and cultural divides. This stemmed from a real ‘lack’ mentality. Nature teaches us that life is abundant and regenerative and by working together as individual threads in the tapestry of an entire ecosystem, where everyone plays a critical role, there will be more than enough for everyone to not only survive – but also thrive. 

One of the tribes from the Amazon that I work with is called the Huni Kuin people. Only in recent years have they decided to leave their home and travel the world to share their wisdom, medicines and prayers, as they too can no longer live purely in reciprocity with the earth due to logging and pollution. They intend to share the healing so that collectively, we can learn to live in a less extractive and more regenerative way, which will benefit us all. Like all the ancient texts, they teach us that we are in fact, not separate from one another – or from nature. 

Last year, I did a course in biomimicry under the tutelage of the late Claire Janisch who was an absolute pioneer in the field, not just here in South Africa but worldwide. Meeting Claire, a chemical engineer-turned-biomimic, inspired us to start looking up to nature to reimagine a whole new way of regenerative living and health as these things intersect.

How did you integrate that into the hotel?

We wanted to design a unique hospitality experience that was imbued with wellbeing. We  envisaged our sanctuary as the ‘guru’ by providing the perfect conditions to slow down and realign with nature’s pulse, to connect to our true inner power and live in an awakened and regenerative state. In biomimicry, we call it ‘creating conditions conducive to life’. By aligning with nature’s rhythms, we honour time for everything – time to move and do, time to nourish and heal, time to slow down and reflect and time to rest. We aim to honour the concept of wholeness through our wellness philosophy by healing, balancing, and nourishing all aspects of the being – body, mind, heart, and spirit.

At the heart of our brand experience and philosophy, we created our own Wheel of WholeBeing, which was inspired by a Native American medicine wheel, something I spent a year studying in 2017 / 2018. A medicine wheel is sometimes also referred to as a sacred hoop – reflective of our circular and regenerative philosophy, and the circular nature of life. It represents all the dimensions of health and aspects of life, including the directions, cycles and seasons, stages, elements, and beings that co-create the whole ecosystem of life on earth. 

From our Wheel of WholeBeing, we crafted our sanctuary experience with the perspective of ‘slow travel’ in order for guests to become more present with themselves. We aim to achieve this by connecting people to nature – to the elements, through highly sensory experiences and to align their stay with the flow of nature. Our intention is to create a regenerative sanctuary promotive of  wellbeing, a place to feel awakened, connected and inspired. 

Becoming regenerative as a whole is cultivated throughout our land and processes. We grow our own food, or alternatively source vegetables from local initiatives like ‘Love in a Bowl’ as well as regeneratively farmed meat and eggs from responsible partners such as ‘Farmer Angus.’ We recycle every component of waste that we can, we compost, have worm farms and nurture the natural ecosystem with owl boxes and insect hotels. Working with a professional beekeeper, we keep five beehives on the property, with only excess honey harvested three times per year. Water in the villas is sourced from the ancient underground aquifer, with the goal to only use rainwater collected in tanks for the gardens. We have an incredible head gardener, Cherise Viljoen, who also consults for Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. Cherise is helping us cultivate more indigenous and water-wise plants throughout the property. Old timber and alien trees are upcycled. The next project on the horizon is increasing our energy efficiency.  Having recently become members of ‘Regenerative Travel’, we are working towards a zero-waste policy and learning the imperfect practice of living more regeneratively as a whole. 

Implementing this philosophy into our organization, we strive to provide responsible and purposeful products and services. We ensure inclusivity by partnering with local regenerative partners as well as women and community-owned businesses wherever possible. All of our amenities are sourced from a local, woman-owned business, created to be sustainable, ethical and natural. A passionate and knowledgeable local ceramicist was contracted to design and make our amenities range, housing the cruelty-free, organic products in handmade and unique pieces.

I am also learning about regenerative leadership, inspired by my recent biomimicry read called “Teeming” by Dr, Tamsin Woolley-Barker. The book speaks into nature’s superorganisms, explaining how we can incorporate their organisational and design principles into an infinitely thriving business. Working toward creating this kind of culture, I have recently started mindfulness classes with our garden and hospitality teams as I’d really like to develop a conscious culture internally with a team that feels resourced and supported. 

Tell us about the guest experience? What can’t they get anywhere else? 

Besides the fact that the exquisite design is the brainchild of our founder and visionary, Jim Brett – a highly successful New York retail executive who was largely responsible for the success of brands such as Anthropology and West Elm, we’ve created a unique and authentic sanctuary experience woven with wellbeing. 

We’ve accomplished this by honouring and fine tuning our most distinctive elements – our sense of place and the land that sits on the back of Table Mountain – one of the most biodiverse places in the world, our timeless luxury and elemental design, our authentic storied service and our immersive, sensory sanctuary experience.

Each stay includes complementary yoga and mountain hikes, freshly harvested whole foods from our gardens or ethically sourced from our regenerative partners, mineral water from the ancient underground aquifer and access to our incredible spa and natural plunge pool.

Our aim is to personalise each guest experience from the pre-arrival questionnaire, which includes an option for a personalised jet lag tool kit created by Dr. Dale Rae from the University of Cape Town, as well as pillow, spa and wellness menus. We have a dedicated concierge service as well as a Wellness Director – me, to design your journey with your intention in mind. 

The Future Found ethos of attention to detail has resulted in our own functional fragrances in collaboration with our Scent Specialist, Agata Karolina, made from local, indigenous plants grown on the property. Our ‘Rise’ scent is comprised of the Indigenous Cape snow bush, selected for its stimulating and invigorating effects, as well as Spearmint, Rosemary and Eucalyptus. The purpose of this scent is to help clear our minds, raise our spirits and sharpen our senses, a perfect preparation for the day. You will find this scent diffused throughout the spaces in the morning. Our ‘Rest’ scent is infused into our linen spray to encourage a deep, restorative sleep. 

Along with these scents, we have created teas, elixirs, meditations, foods, spa treatments and experiences to optimise this natural way of being. All of these elements are subtly and intentionally used throughout the cycle of the day. 

It’s important to note that although wellbeing is interwoven into the fabric of who we are as a sanctuary, we are not prescriptive in any way. It is our intention to create the conditions conducive to well-being in the most subtle and universally respectful ways. The objective is to curate an environment for our guests to connect deeply to their own needs, immersed in nature – whether that be to rest and curl up with some incredible local South African Wines and great food, to get active and explore some authentic, local experiences, or whether it is to drop deep into a chrysalis of healing and transformation – we are equipped to respond to our each guests’ individual desires and needs.

From a wellness perspective, we have spent the last 18 months developing our WholeBeing method to providing  personalised retreats with a navigational network of experts, as well as group retreat experiences, launching next year. This was formed with the idea that each individual is unique and requires a particular approach to wellbeing including their  likes, needs and lifestyle considerations.

Our hope is that our guests will leave feeling connected and inspired to make small shifts toward a healthy, joyful and more regenerative way of life, whatever that means for them as an individual. We believe in the ‘Butterfly Effect’ – when the right intention can inspire seemingly small shifts internally and can ripple out into the world, for a greater collective transformation. 

Wellness & Spas

Future Found Sanctuary: Wellness retreat in one of the most diverse places on earth

Words by
Romy Paull
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Situated on the continent where humankind emerged, in one of the world’s most biodiverse areas, amidst the light and nurturing energy exuding from the ancient Table Mountain, resides a newly opened luxury hotel Future Found Sanctuary. The luxury hotel comprises two private villas that can be booked exclusively or by room. The property’s location is both grounding and expansive, stripping away the complexities of modern life and connecting guests with the natural, indigenous world. 

The seven-acre estate includes a sensorium spa and steam room, fitness centre, yoga studio, sound healing studio, pools, gardens, and an extensive array of services ranging from massage to Tai Chi. 

We sat down with Romy Paull, Wellness Director at Future Found Sanctuary, to learn about her wellness journey, the hotel’s philosophy and the experiences available to guests at the property. 

BOOK YOUR STAY NOW

What is your story and background? 

From an early age, I was a bit of a nonconformist. I would question the concepts and constructs we, as a society, were expected to align with, especially through my high school years at an all-girls convent. I was always drawn to mysticism and similar philosophy and felt that the purpose of life was to experience everything for ourselves, as opposed to being told how to be and what to believe. I struggled with the way our lives were defined and the over-consumption and industrialisation of nature’s living produce. I always felt like we were living against nature’s logic and ways, which is why we find ourselves in this current climate. 

I started studying every practice and book I could find on ancient wisdom and began a deep spiritual journey, veering away and returning to it time and again. I especially found my practices in Hatha Yoga (‘Ha’ meaning sun and ‘Tha’ meaning moon, symbolic of the dual and non-dual realities of existence) and Buddhist meditation liberating before I became a devout Ashtanga yoga practitioner for many years. 

After school, I studied production design in film and media and went on to work in stadium theatre and then eventually specialised in experiential marketing. I would create and produce customer experiences for brands that were integrative, meaningful and engaging. I was more drawn towards creating events, spaces and encounters that utilised all the senses to bring people into the present. Such experiences would invoke certain feelings, consequently connecting the customer to the true essence of the brand. 

Eventually, in 2012, when I found myself burnt out at the age of 28 because of work and lack of self-care, I took myself on a silent retreat for 10 days. It was there, in the silence, in watching the noise of my mind surface in awareness, where things started to shift in me. I was still so passionate about creating meaningful, embodied experiences; however, I was conflicted by supporting huge international brands that were pillaging the earth to mass-produce products that people did not really need.

In 2013, I decided to delve deeper into my healing and began working with plant medicine alongside West African and Amazonian indigenous healers while travelling the world. I began to experience even bigger realisations about the way we work and live that needed to shift, and this was mirrored by the increasingly urgent climate crisis. 

I left my job and stayed with my son at home in 2014, after which I started teaching yoga, mindfulness and meditation full-time. I did several teacher training and apprenticeships. Soon, wellness became my passion, and I began to realise that my well-being was not only for my own benefit but for the benefit of my son, the people around me and my relationship with nature. In fact, the more I began to heal the ancestral trauma within me and bring the unconscious into the light, the more my son flourished and the more my life started to shift. My impact on the world became more tangible. I saw my immediate world as a mirror, reflecting my state within, and I imagined what would happen if everyone began to awaken and heal – what would the collective impact look like then? 

I started to live with an intention, as opposed to living with unconscious programming and conditioning that was instilled in me but was definitely not of me. I furthered my studies with indigenous healers and became zealous about the re-emergence of indigenous wisdom – and ultimately, the most sustainable, conscious and regenerative way of living and being. I started to see the parallels between all the ancient texts – the Vedas, the Tantras, the Tao – and this more embodied natural way of living, in a reciprocal and respectful relationship with nature. I then understood that there were many universal truths across these cosmologies and simple diverse ways of practising them. Spirituality is not about transcending this life on earth but learning how to live here in the right relationship with ourselves, others and the planet. 

I came to realise that the answers we have been seeking to some of our biggest societal and climate problems already exist in nature and that both science and ancient wisdom study the behaviour of nature, but through different lenses. It became obvious that one of the biggest problems we have been facing was disconnection – from ourselves, from one another and from nature. Indigenous tribes, like the Khoi Khoi in South Africa, formulated their language using the sounds they heard in their natural environment; deep listeners connected to the elements to learn and survive. Sadly, colonisation disconnected them from their culture and even their language. 

The primary objective behind colonisation was to acquire wealth at the expense of social and cultural divides. This stemmed from a real ‘lack’ mentality. Nature teaches us that life is abundant and regenerative and by working together as individual threads in the tapestry of an entire ecosystem, where everyone plays a critical role, there will be more than enough for everyone to not only survive – but also thrive. 

One of the tribes from the Amazon that I work with is called the Huni Kuin people. Only in recent years have they decided to leave their home and travel the world to share their wisdom, medicines and prayers, as they too can no longer live purely in reciprocity with the earth due to logging and pollution. They intend to share the healing so that collectively, we can learn to live in a less extractive and more regenerative way, which will benefit us all. Like all the ancient texts, they teach us that we are in fact, not separate from one another – or from nature. 

Last year, I did a course in biomimicry under the tutelage of the late Claire Janisch who was an absolute pioneer in the field, not just here in South Africa but worldwide. Meeting Claire, a chemical engineer-turned-biomimic, inspired us to start looking up to nature to reimagine a whole new way of regenerative living and health as these things intersect.

How did you integrate that into the hotel?

We wanted to design a unique hospitality experience that was imbued with wellbeing. We  envisaged our sanctuary as the ‘guru’ by providing the perfect conditions to slow down and realign with nature’s pulse, to connect to our true inner power and live in an awakened and regenerative state. In biomimicry, we call it ‘creating conditions conducive to life’. By aligning with nature’s rhythms, we honour time for everything – time to move and do, time to nourish and heal, time to slow down and reflect and time to rest. We aim to honour the concept of wholeness through our wellness philosophy by healing, balancing, and nourishing all aspects of the being – body, mind, heart, and spirit.

At the heart of our brand experience and philosophy, we created our own Wheel of WholeBeing, which was inspired by a Native American medicine wheel, something I spent a year studying in 2017 / 2018. A medicine wheel is sometimes also referred to as a sacred hoop – reflective of our circular and regenerative philosophy, and the circular nature of life. It represents all the dimensions of health and aspects of life, including the directions, cycles and seasons, stages, elements, and beings that co-create the whole ecosystem of life on earth. 

From our Wheel of WholeBeing, we crafted our sanctuary experience with the perspective of ‘slow travel’ in order for guests to become more present with themselves. We aim to achieve this by connecting people to nature – to the elements, through highly sensory experiences and to align their stay with the flow of nature. Our intention is to create a regenerative sanctuary promotive of  wellbeing, a place to feel awakened, connected and inspired. 

Becoming regenerative as a whole is cultivated throughout our land and processes. We grow our own food, or alternatively source vegetables from local initiatives like ‘Love in a Bowl’ as well as regeneratively farmed meat and eggs from responsible partners such as ‘Farmer Angus.’ We recycle every component of waste that we can, we compost, have worm farms and nurture the natural ecosystem with owl boxes and insect hotels. Working with a professional beekeeper, we keep five beehives on the property, with only excess honey harvested three times per year. Water in the villas is sourced from the ancient underground aquifer, with the goal to only use rainwater collected in tanks for the gardens. We have an incredible head gardener, Cherise Viljoen, who also consults for Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. Cherise is helping us cultivate more indigenous and water-wise plants throughout the property. Old timber and alien trees are upcycled. The next project on the horizon is increasing our energy efficiency.  Having recently become members of ‘Regenerative Travel’, we are working towards a zero-waste policy and learning the imperfect practice of living more regeneratively as a whole. 

Implementing this philosophy into our organization, we strive to provide responsible and purposeful products and services. We ensure inclusivity by partnering with local regenerative partners as well as women and community-owned businesses wherever possible. All of our amenities are sourced from a local, woman-owned business, created to be sustainable, ethical and natural. A passionate and knowledgeable local ceramicist was contracted to design and make our amenities range, housing the cruelty-free, organic products in handmade and unique pieces.

I am also learning about regenerative leadership, inspired by my recent biomimicry read called “Teeming” by Dr, Tamsin Woolley-Barker. The book speaks into nature’s superorganisms, explaining how we can incorporate their organisational and design principles into an infinitely thriving business. Working toward creating this kind of culture, I have recently started mindfulness classes with our garden and hospitality teams as I’d really like to develop a conscious culture internally with a team that feels resourced and supported. 

Tell us about the guest experience? What can’t they get anywhere else? 

Besides the fact that the exquisite design is the brainchild of our founder and visionary, Jim Brett – a highly successful New York retail executive who was largely responsible for the success of brands such as Anthropology and West Elm, we’ve created a unique and authentic sanctuary experience woven with wellbeing. 

We’ve accomplished this by honouring and fine tuning our most distinctive elements – our sense of place and the land that sits on the back of Table Mountain – one of the most biodiverse places in the world, our timeless luxury and elemental design, our authentic storied service and our immersive, sensory sanctuary experience.

Each stay includes complementary yoga and mountain hikes, freshly harvested whole foods from our gardens or ethically sourced from our regenerative partners, mineral water from the ancient underground aquifer and access to our incredible spa and natural plunge pool.

Our aim is to personalise each guest experience from the pre-arrival questionnaire, which includes an option for a personalised jet lag tool kit created by Dr. Dale Rae from the University of Cape Town, as well as pillow, spa and wellness menus. We have a dedicated concierge service as well as a Wellness Director – me, to design your journey with your intention in mind. 

The Future Found ethos of attention to detail has resulted in our own functional fragrances in collaboration with our Scent Specialist, Agata Karolina, made from local, indigenous plants grown on the property. Our ‘Rise’ scent is comprised of the Indigenous Cape snow bush, selected for its stimulating and invigorating effects, as well as Spearmint, Rosemary and Eucalyptus. The purpose of this scent is to help clear our minds, raise our spirits and sharpen our senses, a perfect preparation for the day. You will find this scent diffused throughout the spaces in the morning. Our ‘Rest’ scent is infused into our linen spray to encourage a deep, restorative sleep. 

Along with these scents, we have created teas, elixirs, meditations, foods, spa treatments and experiences to optimise this natural way of being. All of these elements are subtly and intentionally used throughout the cycle of the day. 

It’s important to note that although wellbeing is interwoven into the fabric of who we are as a sanctuary, we are not prescriptive in any way. It is our intention to create the conditions conducive to well-being in the most subtle and universally respectful ways. The objective is to curate an environment for our guests to connect deeply to their own needs, immersed in nature – whether that be to rest and curl up with some incredible local South African Wines and great food, to get active and explore some authentic, local experiences, or whether it is to drop deep into a chrysalis of healing and transformation – we are equipped to respond to our each guests’ individual desires and needs.

From a wellness perspective, we have spent the last 18 months developing our WholeBeing method to providing  personalised retreats with a navigational network of experts, as well as group retreat experiences, launching next year. This was formed with the idea that each individual is unique and requires a particular approach to wellbeing including their  likes, needs and lifestyle considerations.

Our hope is that our guests will leave feeling connected and inspired to make small shifts toward a healthy, joyful and more regenerative way of life, whatever that means for them as an individual. We believe in the ‘Butterfly Effect’ – when the right intention can inspire seemingly small shifts internally and can ripple out into the world, for a greater collective transformation. 

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