|Saturday, March 13, 1999
|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
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 www.omega-inst.org.
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