Residential Retreat FAQs

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Location and Directions

26870 Moody Road, Los Altos Hills, California 94022   –  Google Map –   (650) 949-8648

: please note that mileage and time estimates cannot account for traffic conditions.

  • From the South Bay: About 20 miles and 35-45 minutes driving time.
    Take I-280 North to El Monte/Moody Road Exit.  Go west to Foothill College and Moody Road. At the intersection of El Monte & Elena (by the Foothill College Fire Station) turn left onto Moody Road and proceed 1.7 miles to Hidden Villa, on the left side of Moody Road.
  • From San Francisco: About 40 miles and 70-80 minutes driving time.
    Take I-280 South toward San Jose. Exit El Monte/Moody Road and go west to Foothill College and Moody Road.
    At the intersection of El Monte & Elena (by the Foothill College Fire Station) turn left onto Moody Road and proceed about 1.7 miles to Hidden Villa, which is on the left side of Moody Road.
  • From the East Bay: About 45 miles and 85-95 minutes driving time.
    Take your best route to I-280 South toward San Jose.  Exit El Monte/Moody Road and go west to Foothill College and Moody Road. At the intersection of El Monte & Elena (by the Foothill College Fire Station) turn left onto Moody Road and proceed 1.7 miles to Hidden Villa, on the left side of Moody Road.

When you arrive at Hidden Villa: Proceed on the access road to the Hostel building on your left. Due to fire regulations, please park by the Hostel for no more than ten minutes to unload your gear and check-in. Cars must then be moved to the designated parking area.

12100 Skyline Blvd, Los Gatos, CA 95030   –  Google Map –  (408) 741-9562


  • From the North Bay: take Hwy 92 (from Hwy 101 or 280) to Skyline Blvd (Hwy 35). Go south on Skyline (toward Santa Cruz), continuing approximately 4.6 miles past the junction of Skyline and Page Mill Road. When you pass a very large boulder on your left, start looking for the Ward Road sign a few hundred feet further on your right. Near the sign, you will also see a mailbox and an entrance gate. Turn right onto Ward Road and continue bearing right down to the bottom of the hill.
  • From the South Bay or Santa Cruz: take Hwy 9 out of Saratoga to Skyline Blvd. Travel north on Skyline (toward San Francisco) about 1.8 miles to Ward Road on the left side of Skyline. Along with the sign for Ward Road, you should see a mailbox, and an entrance gate. (If you pass a huge boulder on your right, you have gone just past Ward Road.) Turn onto Ward Road, go through the gate, and continue to bear right down to the bottom of the hill.

When you arrive at Jikoji: You may park in the 5 space parking area in front of the kitchen/community building if a space is open. Otherwise, please continue down the road to your left and park on the far right side of the road to avoid impeding traffic flow.

Retreat Format

  • What is a typical retreat day like? The teachers for the retreat determine the schedule, so the daily schedule varies from retreat to retreat. However, in general, a typical day is as follows: The day usually starts around 5.30 or 6 a.m. with a morning meditation before breakfast. After breakfast and throughout the day, there are alternating periods of sitting and walking meditation, sometimes interspersed with guided movement. Instructions are given for sitting, walking and eating meditations.  Meals are eaten in meditative silence and each retreatant participates in a daily work meditation period, usually either kitchen or housekeeping duties. There is a Dharma talk each day and periodic individual or group interviews with the teacher. The day usually ends between 9:30 and 10 p.m. The meditation hall is always open for those who wish to continue their practice. Unless specified otherwise, all retreats are in silence.
  • What are teacher interviews? Teacher interviews offer an opportunity to check in with the teacher to discuss your practice or ask any questions you might have. Depending on the teachers, the retreat length, and the number of retreatants, there will be group interviews, individual interviews, or a combination of both.
  • What is Work Meditation? (Also referred as “Yogi Jobs”.)  The daily retreat schedule includes a period of work as meditation practice. Jobs include helping with meal preparation, kitchen cleanup, housekeeping and grounds-keeping. You sign up for your work meditation when you check in at the retreat site.
  • Be aware that because some teachers recommend to keep one’s attention inward during the retreat, once the retreat starts, many retreatants may not look at or acknowledge you as they walk by.

General Retreat Information

  • How can I get IMC retreat information? Retreat schedules and descriptions can be found in our newsletter and on the IMC website. Registration for all IMC retreats opens four months before retreat commencement. You can download the registration material from the website, or contact the registrar for a hardcopy, if you do not have internet access.
  • What time do retreats begin and end? Usually, retreat check-in is between 3 and 6 p.m. on the first day, and the retreat ends by 1:30 p.m. on the last day. Some retreats vary in time and might include lunch on the last day. Times for your specific retreat are listed in your registration materials and on the IMC website.
  • Can I arrive early on the day my retreat begins? Please plan to arrive during the check-in period.  Since retreats are held in rented locations, they may have other activities scheduled before our check-in begins.
  • Is it possible to stay extra nights before or after a retreat? Extra nights before or after a retreat, if available, need to be arranged directly with the facility.
  • Can I sit less than the full retreat? You are required to attend the full retreat.  Any request for late arrivals or early departures must be approved by the teacher(s) before the retreat.
  • Can I do a self-retreat? IMC does not offer self-retreats.
  • Is there a number where I can be reached during the retreat in case of emergency? Note your retreat’s location and please only use these numbers in case of an emergency.  Inform anyone who might call you that phone answering is spotty and that the answering machine is usually only checked once daily.
    • Hidden Villa: (650) 949-8648
    • Jikoji: (408) 741-9562
  • Can I practice yoga during the retreat? You can practice yoga outside the meditation hall keeping mindful of avoiding distracting fellow retreatants.  The meditation hall cannot be used as it is needed for sitting meditation during all hours.
  • Can I have a package sent to me while I’m on retreat? If you have a need to receive a package while on retreat, please inform the Retreat Manager when you arrive.  Here are the facility addresses:
    • Hidden Villa – 26870 Moody Road; Los Altos Hills, California, 94022
    • Jikoji Zen Retreat Center12100 Skyline Blvd; Los Gatos, CA 95030
  • Can I be a volunteer at the retreat? We have opportunities for people who live in the Bay Area to volunteer as retreat managers and registrars. Arrangements must be made well in advance due to the training required.  Contact the IMC volunteer coordinator at IMC.VolunteerDirector@gmail.com if you would like to learn more.
  • Can I attend a retreat as a commuter? The teachers determine whether they will accept commuters for each retreat. Please contact the Retreat Registrar regarding whether commuters are being accepted.
  • How does the waiting list work? When a retreat fills, the Registrar starts a waiting list. If a cancellation occurs, (s)he notifies the next applicant on the waiting list along with the time deadline required to respond.  During the week before the retreat, a very quick response is needed. If you wish to be taken off the waiting list, please contact the Registrar whose contact information is listed in your information packet.
  • How do I get on a waiting list for a retreat that is full? Send in the registration forms and deposit check. Upon receipt, the Registrar will add you to the waiting list and give you notification of your status.  Your deposit check will be returned if you need to decline a wait list slot.
  • If I’m on a waiting list for a retreat, what are my chances of getting in? It depends upon how many cancellations are received. Sometimes, waiting lists move very quickly and last-minute cancellations happen regularly. The less lead time you require, the better your chances are of getting into a retreat.
  • What is a lottery retreat? For retreats where we expect demand to exceed available space, a lottery might be used to select retreatants. Please see retreat printed material or website for dates of any retreat that will have a lottery. Instructions will be included with the registration forms.  Lottery retreats will be listed in printed materials and on our website.
  • Is it okay to lie down during sittings in the hall? Yes, please place your pad near the back or side of the meditation hall.
  • Can I use my CPAP machine? Is there a place to plug it in? Yes, but make arrangements with the registrar.

Retreat Registration

  • How do I register for a retreat? If you wish to register, you can download registration forms as Word files from the IMC website. If you cannot download the forms, please contact the Registrar, who will email or mail them to you.
  • Can you save me a spot in a retreat? We cannot hold a spot in a retreat without completed registration forms and a deposit check.
  • How do I know if I’m accepted into the retreat? When your registration forms and deposit check are received, you will receive an email confirmation from the Registrar. If you do not have email access, the Registrar will contact you by phone.
  • Can I re-register if I have already cancelled? Yes.  If there is room in the retreat, you will be given a place in the retreat. However, if the retreat is already full, you will be placed on the next spot on the waiting list.
  • The registration materials say the retreat is offered on a dana basis. What does this mean? See the next bullet point on Retreat Cost/Payments/Deposits/Dana.
  • Retreat Cost/Payments/Deposits/Dana: Continuing in the ancient Buddhist tradition, the retreat and teachings are offered freely. In turn, retreatants are afforded an opportunity to support those transmitting the dharma by offering donation (dana) to the Teacher(s) and Cook(s).  In addition, operating expenses, including facility rental and all food, are paid from dana previously received by IMC’s Retreat Fund. At the end of the retreat, you can donate to the Fund so retreats can continue to be offered to future retreatants on a dana basis. If dana is offered by check, please write only one check using the “memo” space to indicate what portion is to be given to the Teacher, the Cook, and the Retreat Fund.

    We do require a deposit check with your registration. If you attend the retreat or cancel in before the cancellation date indicated in your registration material, this check will be returned to you.  It will not be returned if you register and do not attend the retreat or if you do not cancel by the cancellation date.


  • What do I do if I need to cancel? Please notify the Registrar by email or phone as soon as you know that you are unable to attend.
  • Do I lose my deposit if I have to cancel? If you cancel before the refund date stated in your registration materials, your deposit is fully refundable.  If you cancel after this stated date, your check will be donated to the IMC Retreat Fund.
  • Can I transfer my deposit to another retreat? No.
  • Can I transfer my deposit to my partner or another person? No.


What are the accommodations like?

Hidden Villa:

Cabins: Accommodations are rustic, multi-person cabins, with electricity.  There is a central bathhouse with showers, sinks and toilets. Hidden Villa provides beds, pillows, and blankets. The blankets are heavy wool so you may want to bring something lighter. If you sleep in a cabin, you must bring your own single sheets or you may rent a single sheet set for $2 for the entire retreat. Retreatants who do not camp are lodged in a cabin/dorm with other retreatants, so you may encounter snoring. Since space limitations prevent us from providing special accommodations with respect to snoring, please bring earplugs if you think you might be disturbed. Hidden Villa has strict rules regarding bedding. To help avoid introducing unwanted critters into the cabins, sleeping bags may not be used in the cabins and rented bedding may not be used in tents.
Tent Spaces: There are about 7 tent sites available on a first-come, first-served basis. Most sites are small and a few are on wooden platforms adjacent to the cabins.  Staking tents is generally not possible. You will need to bring your own gear, including sleeping bag, pillow, and/or blankets. Be prepared for cold night temperatures and possible rain.


Jikoji provides dormitory style accommodations. A few of the dormitories have an attached bathroom, however, most do not. All dorm rooms have electricity. For those who want to be under a roof but not in a dormitory, there is space for sleeping bags and mats on the decks of some buildings and in the zendo. Sleeping mats taken from a dormitory may not be used on the deck unless you bring a tarp to put under it. All sleeping gear on a deck or in the zendo must be removed during daytime hours. There is also a lot of beautiful space to camp. Given the limited dorm space, when you register, you need to let the registrar know whether you will need dorm space.

Sleeping Gear: Bring a sleeping bag or sheets and blankets, as well as a pillow. There are some sleeping mats available in the dormitories, but if you have one of your own, please bring it to insure we have enough. If you plan to camp, please bring whatever camping equipment you will need.

  • Can I have a single room? Single room space is very limited, and might or might not be available on a given retreat. We cannot guarantee anyone a single room, even for medical reasons.
  • Can I be in a dorm room with a bathroom? At Hidden Villa, there are no rooms with bathrooms.  At Jikoji, we will do our best to accommodate your requests.  However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to assign you to a dorm room with a bathroom, even for medical reasons. Dorms are assigned as male or female based on the number of men and women requesting dorm space.  Given the male/female ratio, (which can change right up to the last minute of the retreat) there might not be a dorm room with a bathroom available for your gender.


  • What are meals like? Nutritious, balanced vegetarian meals are served, primarily using organic ingredients. When dairy or wheat products are served, alternatives are provided. Since we cannot accommodate individual food preferences, please plan to eat the meals that are served. However, for those with medical dietary restrictions and/or a need to supplement meals with supplies you bring, a refrigerator and microwave are available. There is limited storage space for dry goods and refrigerated items, so please be mindful of other retreatants who may require storage space. We do our best to provide alternatives to address the needs of those with medically necessary restricted diets. If you have such restrictions, please inform the Registrar on your application form.  Tea and hot water are available throughout the day.
  • Will coffee be available during the retreat? We offer a cereal ‘substitute coffee’ drink. Coffee is only offered if donated by a retreatant. If you would like regular coffee, please bring it with you, either instant or pre-ground along with a filter.
  • I must eat meat. What should I do? You can bring pre-cooked canned meat or fish or deli-style meats. There are cupboards and a refrigerator with very limited storage in the kitchen. There are no facilities for cooking meat.

Personal Items to Bring

  • Clothing for all weather conditions. There are usually large temperature swings between day and night so bring appropriate comfortable clothing including light garments for daytime and jackets and long pants for evening.  Also bring an umbrella and rain gear. At Hidden Villa, meals are eaten on a non-enclosed, screened porch, and breakfast begins before dawn.
  • Protection from poison oak. Poison oak is common in the wooded areas of the grounds and near some tent spaces. Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and Technu Soap can help protect you if you are allergic or sensitive.
  • This is a “do-it-ourselves” retreat. There is no common pool of back-up supplies and no one to make a run into town. Please pack accordingly:
    • Flashlight
    • Personal toiletry items, shaving equipment.
    • Personal needs and Medical supplies.  Tylenol/aspirin, cough drops, eye drops and chapstick.
    • Sunglasses and sunhat for walking outdoors.
    • Unscented toiletries, sunscreen, and insect repellant
    • Alarm clock – non-ticking (illuminated is helpul)
    • Earplugs if you are sensitive to noise
    • Shawl or wrap for the mediation hall
    • Hat
    • Flip flops for shower room.
    • Optional inside “slipper” shoes or extra warm sox. (No shoes in meditation hall.)
    • Water bottle and/or thermos cup
    • Bedding: See “Accommodations” section above.
    • Scented Products: Being mindful of some people’s allergies or sensitivities, please do not bring or wear scented cosmetics, soaps, or other products, including “natural” scents.
  • What if I forget to bring something to the retreat? Please pack carefully.  There are no on-site supplies and the facilities are remote from shopping areas.  There may not be a manager on-site during the retreat.
  • Do I need to bring my own meditation cushion? Bring your own cushion or bench and zabuton or mat. The meditation hall floor is hard. Chairs may be available.  IMC will provide a few zabutons and sitting gear for emergency use.
  • Will I be able to do laundry? The center laundry facilities are generally not available to retreatants.
  • Getting to and from the retreat: See LOCATION AND DIRECTIONS
  • Is it possible to get a ride to the retreat? Yes.  Carpooling is strongly encouraged to conserve both precious resources and limited parking space at each facility.  Approximately three weeks before your retreat, you will receive an email from the Registrar with information on carpooling along with participant emails and phone numbers.