Sangha Retreat by Octave is blazing the trail for a progressive new movement—quantum wellness. Here’s what that means and how to achieve it
Quantum wellness is the belief that enhanced consciousness has the ability to positively affect every aspect of one’s life, from the way we handle business to cultivating deeper connections in our relationships—both with others and ourselves. One of the biggest advocates for this is billionaire Frederick Chavalit Tsao, the founder of Sangha Retreat by Octave in Suzhou, China.
Sangha is Tsao’s vision of a utopian future—a wellness ecosystem that goes beyond traditional spa or retreat offerings, where ancient healing modalities and modern medicine come together in the name of human optimization—and includes physical fitness, mental clarity and consciousness awakening. Spread across 19 hectares and built over picturesque lakes and canals just 15 minutes by bullet train from Shanghai, Sangha is an expansive resort that comprises luxury accommodation, a clinic, a spa and on-site dining helmed by chef Paul Then, who was previously stationed at the two-Michelin-starred Cuisine Cuisine in Hong Kong.
“We know when we are well, and we are only well when all is well. This means that our family, friends, community, business, society and environment must be well for us to feel wholly well,” explains Tsao, author of Quantum Leadership: New Consciousness In Business. “We are entering an era with a new paradigm. This is the paradigm of Quantum Leadership, where all people must become the CEO of their own life. We need to take responsibility for our holistic wellbeing and for a purposeful life, mindfully lived.”
A Global Shift In Consciousness
There’s no denying the significant shift towards mindfulness around the world in recent years, as ancient healing practices are increasingly being seen with the same reverence as modern medicine; practices like yoga, meditation and reiki—previously shut down as “hippie nonsense”—are more in demand than ever, and increasingly validated by science.
But science and spirituality are often conflicting ideologies—so how do you bring the two together so that they can coexist and not conflict? I posed this question to Jamie Waring, managing director of wellness at Sangha, when we met at the Global Wellness Summit in Singapore.
“For the first time, you’re touching a population of left-brain, objective scientists who are realising there’s truth to things like traditional Chinese medicine and meditation. Quantum really just means subatomic—as small as you can get—and what we’re finding is proof that there’s a materiality to consciousness. It’s a real tipping point,” says Waring. “From a wellness perspective, this opens up different frontiers because you’re bringing real data points to spiritual experiences. The potential to unify and go deeper into this is profound and exciting.”
Human Optimisation—The Natural Way
A typical wellness journey at Sangha begins with a comprehensive health evaluation at its One Clinic, where guests can choose to look at specific areas or opt for full-body diagnostics. Using state-of-the-art technology, everything from toxicity, such as mercury loading, to energy blockages within the body can be measured.
“Our philosophy at Sangha is rooted in traditional Chinese medicine, which is an approach to life, as opposed to Western medicine, where more often than not you wait until you’re sick to go to a doctor,” explains Waring. “The ancient wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine is about prevention—making sure your chi, or energy, is flowing in a way that you feel healthy and balanced. Quantum wellness is realising that everything, humans included, are pure energy, and energy is potential.”
A bespoke wellness plan is then developed by the centre’s experts. The plan includes nutritionally balanced meals, healing treatments and exercise. “One of our goals at Sangha is to give people tools that they go back into their life with that allow them to have a better centre of being and [help them] feel at one with themselves. It’s about re-skilling and reframing so they can move forward,” says John Reed, COO of Sangha.
As the old saying goes, it takes a village, and although rooted in Chinese medicine, Sangha has a well-rounded team that includes leading physicians, Ayurvedic practitioners, energy healers, nutritionists, physiotherapists, life coaches and mindfulness professionals.
Sangha is Tsao’s vision of a utopian future— a wellness ecosystem that goes beyond the spa
“If you’re a first-time wellness traveller, or perhaps a bit sceptical, we want to be able to offer something that’s approachable and relatable. We have people who come to just relax and do some spa treatments, which is perfectly fine, too. After all, being relaxed and de-stressed is a form of wellness in itself. But we can also facilitate people to go as deep as they want to go,” says Waring.
The spectrum of what’s available at Sangha is broad—with everything from medical-based offerings such as chiropractic treatments and bio-resonance to reiki and other forms of energetic healing. There’s also a seasonal schedule of fitness activities and mindfulness classes designed around the body’s circadian rhythm. “We believe that most lifestyle change happens in the mind, which is why life coaching and meditation are a key part of supporting our guests through this journey,” says Waring.
Sangha’s wellness facilities include multiple movement studios for yoga, Pilates and tai chi, and a dedicated meditation dome, which hosts regular mindfulness practices, including sound healing. There’s also a sprawling, 64,000sqft subterranean spa, which houses a 12-stage hydrothermal circuit, rhassoul and hammam chambers, a salt cave and a Watsu pool.
Designed With Purpose
From a design perspective, every element of Sangha serves a purpose and aids in the healing process, even in the most subtle of ways. Following the philosophy of “living with intent,” Calvin Tsao, a high-profile, award-winning architect based in New York (and Frederick’s brother) designed Sangha according to Feng Shui principles. For example, guests will find plenty of rounded edges as opposed to right angles, to allow for better flow of energy throughout the property, and crystals are placed under every bed for resonance. As for aesthetics, a soothing palette and locally sourced materials, such as reclaimed wood and stone, define Sangha’s design. Everything is
done thoughtfully, with as little environmental impact
Mindful minimalism plays an important role not just in Sangha’s aesthetics, but as a physical reminder of the powerful effects that removing unnecessary excess can have on our mental and spiritual wellbeing.
“Spirituality is a journey back within yourself and that’s getting back to what?” muses Wearing. “Getting back to nothing—to a place of pure potential. When you feel well, what do you feel? Nothing. When you’re feeling unwell, you feel everything—pain in your knee, your back, headaches, you’re congested. You feel sick. It is the same with emotional and spiritual health. Mindfulness is about negation, going back to the source and bringing us back to our most authentic self.”