Table of Contents
- Food & Beverages
- What to Bring
- What Not to Bring
We have prepared this information to help you plan for a successful retreat at Wonderwell Mountain Refuge. We look forward to welcoming you in the near future. Please review the following information thoroughly in addition to any emails that have been sent regarding the retreat for which you registered.
Wonderwell has a total of 11 bedrooms and 1 dormitory. Altogether we can accommodate 34 people in-house. During group retreats of 15 or more people, most accommodations will be in rooms with twin beds with one or two roommates. Shared accommodations are segregated by gender unless you designate a wish to stay with a friend or partner of another gender.
Although shower and toilet facilities are private, the dormitory bathroom may share a sink with another gender. The dormitory is equipped with a white noise machine, but you may also wish to bring earplugs if you are a light sleeper.
All rooms with showers are located on the second or third floors. A ground floor bedroom has two twin beds and a half-bath.
Each bed is provided with a pillow, a blanket, and a bedspread. Out of concern for energy and water conservation, we ask that guests bring their own sheets and towels. In the event that you forget to bring sheets and towels, you may rent a set for $10 donation.
Originally built as a 3-season vacation villa, Wonderwell’s rooms can be drafty at times; each room may vary in temperature depending on the season. Fans and heaters are available in the closet of each room. Please bring anything else that you need for your comfort (suggested items are listed below).
In order to ensure that everyone who wishes to attend a retreat as a resident on-site may do so, we generally assign queen bed rooms to couples. Occasionally, during group retreat programs, private rooms may become available. If you would like to be placed on a waitlist in case of this eventuality, please indicate this in your registration. Please note: We do not generally offer private rooms. If a private room does happen to become available, applicants will be informed in the order they appear on the waitlist.
In warm weather months, up to eight campsites are available on the grounds.
Nearly every guest room at Wonderwell has its own bathroom and shower. Guests in Satori have access to a private toilet and sink area, but share the shower with another room (on another floor level).
There is a single half-bath located on the ground floor between the dining area and the meditation hall. During large group retreats we request that overnight guests use the facilities in their rooms in order that commuters may have access to this restroom.
For large retreats May through September, port-o-lets will be available on the grounds for all commuters and campers. We also request that those staying in-house make available their shower facilities to provide convenient access for dormitory dwellers and campers.
There are many places at Wonderwell to curl up with a cup of tea, a good book, or to meditate. The meditation hall is available most times for personal practice between group sessions. During warmer months, our porches afford a comfortable space from which to meditate on the gorgeous sky and mountain views. During winter months, guests can relax by the fire in the small dining room or in the green living room.
While at Wonderwell, we encourage you to take your practice outdoors anytime of year.
In the front yard, enjoy the mandala garden, where you will find a simple labyrinth for walking meditation or a place to sit and contemplate the mandala principle.
To the south side of the building are raspberry and blueberry bushes, a Wonderwell summer treat. And to the north side of the building, the old Wonderwell barn still stands.
Behind the refuge, acres of open pasture followed by a forested watershed invite year-round opportunities for connecting deeply with the sacred earth.
You may also wish to explore Philbrick Hill and its surrounding country roadways on foot or by bicycle. Please plan your route and sign out/in on the white board in the shoe room if you venture beyond eyesight of the building. Within a short drive of Wonderwell are many moderate hikes as well as lake swimming.
Please be aware that the northeast has a high incidence of Lyme disease transmitting ticks. Information is provided onsite for prevention and intervention. The following website is also a recommended as an educational resource to support safe trekking at Wonderwell: tickencounter.org.
If you are participating in a retreat as a commuter you are included in all meals. Please inform the contact person for your retreat if you do not intend to eat onsite. Though Wonderwell and its staff cannot certify or guarantee these options, the following list of nearby accommodations has been provided to us through recommendations of past commuters:
The following are economical and highly rated:
(~20 minute drive; up to 30 minutes in winter)
New London, NH
(15 to 20 minute drive)
(15 to 20 minute drive)
sunapeenhrental.com – two bedroom apartment sleeps 6
We serve a variety of healthy and tasty homemade meals with gluten-free and vegan options available.* If you have special dietary needs, we encourage you to bring any supplemental items you may need. We supply a refrigerator and storage space, along with a microwave oven. Please see below regarding food sensitivities.
No food is permitted in the bedrooms. There are tea and coffee stations in the dining room area. Tea is available 24 hours a day. We ask that you do not bring drinks into bedrooms. We have a small housekeeping staff so your assistance is most appreciated. No food or beverages, except beverages in closed containers, are permitted in the Meditation Hall.
Natural Dharma Fellowship has chosen to create Wonderwell Mountain Refuge as an alcohol-free environment to support the health and well-being of all of its guests. Alcohol is not permitted on the premises except upon prior arrangement for private group retreats. During special Vajrayana feast practices alcohol is permitted in the main meditation hall only.
*Does not apply to personal retreats.
As Natural Dharma Fellowship’s home for deep retreat, Wonderwell resonates with the practice of deep silence, contemplation, and meditation. You are strongly encouraged to unplug from email and other computer or cell phone related activities. Each group retreat has its own discipline, which includes varying levels of silence. Whatever the practice of your group, we ask that guests be respectful of the contemplative atmosphere of the Refuge and any other groups that may be present. Should the need arise to make a phone call or check email, this may be done outside down the road or in your car. Please do not bring or use portable radios, CD, or tape players without earphones.
During all solo retreats we ask that you observe Noble Silence so that the resident staff can support your retreat context. In between group programs, Noble Silence is observed from 9:00 pm to 7:45 am by resident staff.
There are no phones or wi-fi in guest bedrooms. You may provide our main telephone number to those who may need to reach you: (603) 763.0204. If you receive a non-emergency phone call, we will post the message on the guest message board. If you receive an emergency message, we will find you and deliver it promptly. If at any time during your retreat you have a personal emergency (related to your own or a family member’s health) please contact the retreat manager immediately.
Wonderwell is a smoke-free facility and grounds. No smoking is permitted in the building or anywhere on the premises.
Dress at Wonderwell is relaxed and informal. Guests should bring clothes (and shoes) that are comfortable and modest. Shorts and tee shirts are fine. Be sure to bring clothes that are appropriate for hiking so you can enjoy the trails. In the autumn and winter months bring layers, as the temperature may fluctuate dramatically.
We love animals but cannot accommodate pets.* We permit certified companion dogs for impaired guests — please notify the Retreat Manager a month before your arrival so we can accommodate you.
*Note: Wonderwell is sometimes visited by the spiritual director’s two spirited Pomeranian companions.
While we strive to provide a completely fragrance free environment at Wonderwell, even some natural products we use do have some subtle scents. If you are extremely fragrant sensitive please email us is in advance of your retreat and include this information in the special needs section of your registration. We will do our best to accommodate you.
Mail is transferred through the Springfield post office. A staff member picks-up incoming/outgoing mail at least once every other day. We do not have postage stamps or “metered stamps” available for sale so please plan accordingly. Letters are received and collected from the table by the green living room.
Please refer to our Payments & Cancellations page.
During personal retreats we ask retreatants to be aware of the spaces they inhabit and take care to leave each space uplifted and refreshed before leaving the area. (For example, please return cushions and pillows to their original location and please clean up after using the kitchen or dining spaces.) Caretaking your retreat allows for an integration of practice into the moving, doing, and relating that is part of our day-to-day lives. It is considered an extension of the deep work we engage with on the cushion or mat in the meditation hall.
Most group programs request retreatants to participate in various caretaking practices at the retreat. You may be assigned a Yogi Job (work practice) in advance or upon checking in for your retreat. This job will not require more than one hour per day. None of the jobs involve heavy manual labor and few require special skills. Some examples include dish washing, teacher attendant, pot washing, fire tending, bathroom cleaning, and general cleaning of common rooms. In the warmer months, we often need help with outside work.
Specific instructions about caring for the space are clearly posted. Please read carefully.
Retreats normally begin with registration on opening day from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. We ask that guests arrive during this time to check in, receive their room and job assignments (if applicable), and get oriented to the building. Dinner is usually served from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. with an orientation to follow.
*For solo retreats please notify a staff member 24 hours in advance of your arrival and upon arrival please make contact with him or her.
Retreats end between noon and 2 pm on closing day and usually include breakfast and lunch. We ask that guests check out before 3 p.m. Any unclaimed personal belongings left at Wonderwell by guests will be held in lost and found for 2 months and then given to charity.
*For solo retreats the departure day must be discussed in advance of your retreat. As you are aware of your anticipated departure time or if you plan to leave the premises for more than 12 hours during your stay, please notify staff.
Wonderwell’s meals are provided by one of our many talented sangha chefs.* As much as possible, we select local and organic foods to provide a well-rounded and nutritious meal. Lunch and dinner contain a main entree, two side dishes, and salad greens. For most meals, each dish on the buffet table will have card that lists all ingredients in that dish.
Because we are a retreat center, we are set up to provide meals to groups, not to individuals. Menus are based on what is in season and in the market. Because of this, we are not able to accommodate individual needs. We invite guests to bring what they think they will need to supplement their diet. We offer a refrigerator and shelf space for storage. We also have a microwave and toaster for guests to heat food. We do not have a stove or blender for guests.
Even on a limited diet most people find they can eat much of what is offered on the buffet. If there are particular items served at a meal that are suitable for a guest with a restricted diet, at the end of meals (after everyone has been served) the guest can go back through the line and take more of whatever agrees with them to add to the next meal. Please identify yourself to a staff person the first night at dinner and he/she will show you where extra food is available.
If a retreatant has a severe allergy, please let staff know well before the retreat so the kitchen can make plans. Also, make sure to bring your EpiPen or an equivalent medicine. The kitchen asks us to let anyone with allergies know they cannot guarantee that certain foods have not been contaminated before arriving on site.
*Does not apply during solo retreats.
- Comfortable shoes and clothing for sitting, yoga, hiking, etc.
- Indoor slippers
- Bath towel
- Appropriate night wear
- Twin sheet set w/pillowcase, unless otherwise notified that you have a queen bed
- Personal medications
- Unscented toiletries
- An alarm clock (most retreats do not offer wake up bells)
- Lightweight luggage, most rooms are accessible via staircase
- Flash-light or headlamp (if you want to read after lights out in shared rooms)
- Ear plugs
- Sealed liquid container (if you plan to drink in the Meditation Hall)
- Notebook and pen
- Yoga mat (if the retreat has a yoga component)
- Candles or incense to burn
- Perfumed products
- Drugs or alcohol
- Pets – unless certified companion dogs (papers must be provided in advance of arrival)
- There are no locks on the bedroom doors so plan accordingly in terms of bringing valuable items with you.
We look forward to supporting your retreat. Please note that additional information specific to your retreat will be sent via email from the registrar prior to your retreat. Upon your arrival a welcome folder is provided that also includes the above and other details. Please take care to read each time you comes as some of the information may have changed.