source - Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel Online
Daily Newsletter
Saturday, March 13, 1999
 Article 3 of 6  

For New Age-style Self-Improvement or Just Plain R&R, New York State's Omega Institute Is an Inexpensive Winner
For Northeasterners or those planning to vacation in the neighborhood this spring, summer, and early fall, consider taking a look at the new summer 1999 catalogue about to be issued by a unique "personal growth center" called the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in New York's historic Hudson River Valley. We've written about it before, and find it to be an often profound, occasionally flaky, but always fascinating way to spend a vacation, meeting remarkable people from around the country and expanding one's physical and intellectual horizons in areas both familiar and far-out. And fortunately for the budget-minded, it all comes at a price that's remarkably low even in comparison with other well-known centers of its type, such as California's Esalen and Kripalu in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. Just about to issue its 1999 catalogue for the season lasting April 30 through October 24, 22-year-old Omega is a two-hour drive or train trip from New York City and about four hours from Boston. It's on 80 leafy lakeside acres and attracts marquee names from the arts, sports, sciences, and the New Age movement; just to cite a tiny handful this summer, Meredith Monk is teaching dance, Sharon Olds conducting poetry workshops, and Phil Jackson offering a basketball clinic; others doing their thing here this season include Joan Borysenko, Deepak Chopra, Susan Powter, Robert Bly, and Tito Puente. There's a range of accommodations here -- the cheapest is bring-your-own-gear camping starting at $90 per person for a two-day weekend and $180 for five days (the per diem rate gets cheaper the more days you stay). Tents on platforms with cots and electricity go for $110 and $220 respectively, 8-person dorm rooms for $120/$240, and doubles in cabins start at $205/$385. All these prices include three mostly vegetarian meals per day and activities like yoga, tai chi, meditation, sauna, swimming and canoeing, and evening entertainment. The classes and seminars (referred to as workshops) are not mandatory; you can take a two-day "rest and relaxation" weekend, including one massage, for $130 over and above room and board. Otherwise, weekend workshops on topics from beginning Spanish to American Indian healing start at a low-end range of $150 to $170 and five-day workshops at $260. There are 10-percent tuition discounts for early registration, full-time students, and the over-60 crowd. All in all it's a great deal -- just as long as you don't mind the scent of incense. And you can make it even better by joining the staff for a spell (a minimum of seven weeks), part-time or full-time. In addition to a minimum of $50 a week pay, full-timers get free room and board plus access to various workshops and facilities. For more information on the summer and winter programs, and to order a catalogue, contact Omega at 800/944-1001 or 914/266-4444, or channel its Web site at

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