The Wisdom of Winter (and why we close for the winter).
As we prepare to open for our sixth season, we wanted to share a bit about winter before we say goodbye.
We, too, had a romantic view of what it would be like to experience Duende during the winter. Thoughts of a fire burning in the chill air while bathing in a hot tub together under the confetti of snow falling down upon us. Sounds steamy, right?
Let me just tell you the truth… Being located at the mouth of the Lagodekhi National Reserve and surrounded by an astounding amount of beautiful nature at the base of the Caucasus Mountains is romantic, but winter is humid, cold, and not as nostalgic as we imagined. It’s nothing like the dry, dreamy feeling of being in Gudauri, Bakuriani, or other regions of Georgia. It’s subtropical. Though the winters seem mild at first sight, they are chilly because of the humidity that stays in the air. Once that humidity gets in your bones, it takes hours to warm up again. And since our intention, for your stay at Duende, is to be filled with warm sensations – this was the initial reason we decided to not open during the winter.
But, as we have discovered over the years, nature had her own intentions for us anyway. As, our “mentor”, to create this special place -here are some of the iwisdoms she has guided us to become cozy with during the winters’.
Small bits of goodness require attention.
Whether a guest has shared with us a desire or has given us their appreciation for what we do, we are always lending our attention to what is being shared or shown to us. From the small details of how a guest experiences their stay at Duende to the nature-inspired meals, it all has bloomed from our attention on the guest and the nature experience. Both have equally shaped how Duende has become the true nature of what our hearts desire: to feel safe, loved, and in peace.
Everything is Nature – Inspired
First, we pulled from the nature of love when we decided to build love-nests for people to connect and be present with each other during their stay. Then, it was the nature of change that inspired us to operate as a seasonal experience. We accepted the reality of the colder months and allowed them to transform us into better humans offering heart-led service to the guest experience when Spring arrives. Next, though subtle, it was the nature of nature – herself – that offered us newfound ways of stewardship. We began to build a relationship with her, learning her characteristics, how we could support her, and how she supports us. This relationship has invoked many of the beautiful things we do and how we do them at Duende. Truly, and perhaps a bit corny, we are absolutely in a love affair with Mother Nature.
Less is More
We have both been raised in supportive western countries that offer much of what we “need” through our relationship with consumerism. When we decided to move to the forest, there was a large learning curve between how we believed we had to care for ourselves (and others) through the services of others and how little we knew about caring for the basic needs of life on our own. Living in a rural area limits the consumer abundance that seemed to be all we knew. Learning from the locals and nature has shown us that all we need is here in Khiza. We get to grow, forage, and source the food we eat + serve here. The beautiful thing is, the joy that we experience during the process of learning and interacting with complete curiosity + innocence in a world that offers so much is magic.
The forest does not hide her cycles, her growth, her death, or her magnificent bloom…She simply allows for whatever is going to happen, is and will be. Over the past nine years we have watched the forest, the river, the guest demographic, the business model, and ourselves change. As we continue to change, we grow in a way that is more authentic to who we are. We are two people learning how to live rooted in love. We speak, act, and serve from that love. Also, we are hosts for nature. Through Duende, we aid in connecting the natural world with the guest. We offer this through nature experiences and unique invitations.
For us, winter is a time to rest and allow space from all that we do during the season. Once that space has been created it never ceases to amaze us what inspiration arises. When we first began this project, we thought we were building a few air bnb’s. Never could we have imagined we would be creating an experience where people would connect with the nature of who they are and the nature that surrounds them.
We are excited to open. We’ve created many new experiences, including solitude retreats, a kitchen garden growing over 150 varieties of medicinal and tasty ingredients, romantic rituals for couples, and a whole new four course wild – mostly vegetarian – :”rural” dining menu. Let the new season begin.