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Longevity Living with Gucci Westman at Hacienda AltaGracia

Editorial makeup artist and founder of the clean luxury beauty brand Westman Atelier, Gucci Westman spent a restorative getaway in Hacienda AltaGracia with her close friend, Ashley Brokaw, during the resort’s Summer of Longevity” series. The interactive program, which explores the pillars of the Blue Zone philosophy, is a journey that blends ancient wellness practices of the Nicoyan region with soul-stirring therapeutic treatments, whole foods and energetic movement and breathwork.

“I woke up at 5:30 every morning because our days were so full and I didn’t want to miss a thing! I wish we had come for at least five days because there is so much to do.”
—Gucci Westman

What drew you to Hacienda AltaGracia for a friends getaway?

I had never been to Costa Rica and I’d always wanted to go. So many of my close friends have been to Hacienda AltaGracia and told me I’d love it since I am really interested in wellness and longevity–I’m not the type of person to go lie on the beach. I enjoy being active and Hacienda AltaGracia has a thoughtful assortment of activities that honor wellbeing, from breathwork and meditation classes to hiking and horseback riding.

What did you find most memorable about the resort’s Summer of Longevity Series?

I spent three hours talking to Lauren Ferioli, the resort’s longevity specialist. Everyone who works at AltaGracia is unbelievably passionate and dedicated, but also very knowledgeable. We could have talked forever! Every month, AltaGracia explores one of the pillars of the Blue Zone philosophy, which are key factors that help people live longer and healthier lives. Our conversation went in so many directions, but one of the most important reminders for me was how being at ease is essential to longevity. It was such an impactful exchange that I booked a post-trip session with her.

You described the River Bath experience as magical. Tell us about it.

The spa’s Visiting Master, Anisha Chaves, was my therapist for this experience. I met her down by the river next to a large waterfall–it was just breathtaking. The ceremony started with a cold plunge in the river, and then she walked me to a natural stone pool of river water that was heated by a firepit–it all felt so organic. Then, she guided me through a water therapy called “Janzu,” which uses the element of flow to relax and harmonize the body. She intuitively guided me for about an hour and a half while I floated in the water. It felt very similar to a Watsu treatment, where you feel like you’re floating in a womb or in space. I remember thinking: “My family and friends need to experience this.” It was so freeing and peaceful. We finished the ceremony drinking Costa Rican butterfly pea tea, which was a very cleansing mix of flowers that had this beautiful blue color. She explained its cognitive-enhancing properties and how in local ancient traditions, it’s believed to have transformative power. 

“It felt like I was in Narnia.”
—Gucci Westman

What are some of the wellness classes you enjoyed?

The breathwork class was very powerful. Ashley and I both have very busy and demanding schedules, and we agreed the session helped us tune out any extraneous noise in our minds and come into our presence. There was a body mapping meditation class that combined color visualization with a body scan, which I taught my three children when I got home. And there was another clinic where we learned techniques to release fascia (a layer of connective tissue below the skin) by applying a series of muscle resistance combined with breathwork in a way that increases mobility throughout the body. I’ve been using these techniques in my daily life, especially while sitting on airplanes!

Food is a big part of longevity. What was your culinary experience like at AltaGracia?

The first night we arrived we got to experience Cienfuegos, which features a Costa Rican horse show and open fire cooking and family-style dining. It was so special to share dinner with local farmers and people from the community. It felt very authentic.

The food at AltaGracia is sensational. I am a vegetarian and so I often ordered an off-menu salad with black beans and hot sauce—I was in heaven. The hot sauce was made with scotch peppers, which I’d never even heard of before. They are so flavorful and delicious. I already ordered scotch pepper seeds to plant in my garden at home! Which pales in comparison to the resort’s edible garden filled with passionfruit and guava trees–and every vegetable you can imagine. Corn, beans and squash are typical ingredients in the regional diet and eating those staples felt very nourishing.

Can you share details about your beauty routine during this trip?

I exfoliated quite a bit. It felt like I was shedding old skin, letting in this newness, which I think was an effect of the river bath ritual experience. I also spent extra time on my skincare routine using our hydrating skincare activator serum, and relished the feeling of how nourishing everything was at the resort. I didn’t wear a ton of makeup, just enough to even out my skin tone with a bit of foundation and powder bronzer. At night, I kept it minimal as well—a very natural look to reflect the surroundings. 

Do you have any packing trips for travelers to Hacienda AltaGracia?

I thought it was going to be hotter than it was, so I packed a lot of light dresses. I wish I had packed more pants. I only had one pair of workout leggings that got dirty on a hike and I would have loved another pair to wear to yoga class. I recommend packing a few bathing suits because you spend a lot of time in and out of the water. I brought hiking boots but my sneakers were perfectly adequate for the hiking trails, so I could have saved a little room in my suitcase by ditching the boots.