Health, vitality and immunity – the pandemic year has taught us the importance of these three words more than ever. Increasing immunity and overall wellness are listed on everyone’s new year’s resolutions lists. As such, figuring out how to start can be an arduous task. A structured retreat or spa experience gently guiding you in the right direction can be the perfect nudge to your wellness journey.
As you embark on your journey to vitality and wellness, here is World Travel Magazine’s selection of 18 retreats worldwide that will help get things off the ground or continue the progress.
Wellness Retreats in Australasia
Aro Ha, Glenorchy, New Zealand
Located in the Southern Alps in New Zealand’s Glenorchy, Aro Ha is a refined wellness retreat that focuses on creating an atmosphere of vitality and rejuvenation for its guests. The programs at Aro Ha are designed to regenerate the body and mind with the idea that good physical and emotional health can be attained through daily habits.
You will be encouraged to switch from technology and the rest of the world and practice and learn mindfulness & healing bodywork. The retreats at Aro Ha emphasize overall wellness and give you the chance to become healthier.
At Aro Ha, Yoga, nutrition and mindfulness are your chance to relax and make peace with your body and soul. Techniques such as hydrotherapy, reflexology and, deep breathing exercises help to reduce stress and strengthen your immunity. When you’re out on one of the many subalpine trails around the retreat, it’s easy for your mind to wander. The natural beauty all around helps take away any stress or cares that may be weighing down and jump-start the healing journey.
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Wellness Retreats in Asia
Ananda In The Himalayas – India
The Anand Spa Resort in Narendra Nagar is the Himalayan Retreat you need to revitalize and rejuvenate your body. Located in the Himalayan foothills, this destination spa has it all. From Ayurvedic Treatments to Healing Experiences, Ananda has holistic remedies for your mind, body and soul.
Housed in the erstwhile Tehri Garhwal Royals Palace, Ananda offers a host of experiences, each rooted in ancient India’s practices. Ayurveda is intrinsic to this spa. It helps guests incorporate changes into their daily life. The Ayurvedic programme is prescribed by the house Ayurveda physician after detailed consultation.
When here, try out the Tibetan Ku Nye Massage that focuses on lymphatic drainage, acupressure and stimulates a free flow of energy within the body.
Vana – Dehradun, India
Vana is a wellness retreat for those looking to restore the equilibrium in their life. You have the chance to shift your focus inwards and attune yourself to your body. Ayurvedic wellness offerings are incorporated in every program, and you can complement your retreat with Sowa Rigpa, the traditional Tibetan medical system, for optimal results.
The wellness of the body and the mind go hand in hand, so here you have the opportunity to strengthen both and bring them up to speed with the other. Detoxifying your body is an integral part of healing the soul, and Panchkarma detox is a great way to venture on that journey. Through consultations with the in-house Ayurvedic doctors, find the perfect detox program for yourself that’ll help you rid yourself of doshas.
Include Yoga to support your physical wellbeing and Sowa Rigpa to support your mental wellbeing when at Vana. Then choose a program, surrender to yourself and boost your wellbeing for the upcoming year.
Six Senses Zil Pasyon – Seychelles
The exclusive resort on the island of Félicité, Six Senses Zil Pasyon, is a paradise where you can be one with yourself and the elements. African inspired treatments that incorporate Félicité’s natural surroundings will help your journey to elevate your wellbeing.
Personalized Wellness is in focus at Zil Pasyon – starting with consultations, Wellness Screenings, to sleep upgrades. “The Wellness Screening” involves non-invasive screening that measures key biomarkers to help you understand what you need most to get a good night’s rest. If you’re losing sleep over sleep, use your personal consultations to rest better by biomarkers tracking and using speciality bedding. Finally, find a program that suits you and rest easier at night knowing that you are in tune with yourself.
Kai Hakone – Kanagawa, Japan
First established in 1914 as a traditional Japanese Ryokan, the Hakone Yumoto Onsen in Kanagawa is a traditional Japanese Hot Springs Inn set along the Sukumo River. Offering lush woodland views and interiors fed with Hakone parquetry, the Ryokan provides an experience fuelled and fed by a 1,200-year-old hot spring.
At the Ryokan, soak in the hot baths with ancient Hinoki Cypress surround you with tea at the traditional teahouse. Then, mix your wellness journey to the Kanagawa prefecture with forest bathing and walking tours.
The Kai Hakone is also an excellent place to learn about the history and the relationship between the concept of hot spring healing and the local population. Enjoy a deep dive into the culture and visit the nearby shrines while keeping the Kai Hakone central for all your local travels.
Fivelements Retreat – Bali, Indonesia
The Fivelements Retreat Bali is a wellness retreat in the quiet village of Mambal, near Ubud, that strives to be eco-conscious. Though it offers traditional Balinese healing and the arts, this resort’s holistic approach will take you on an experience of self-discovery as well.
Healing is an art that has been infused with the Balinese way of life. They encourage us to find greater harmony within ourselves and our surroundings by practising holistic principles like “nurturing” or treating everything as part of one system. Indulge in an ancient, holistic healing tradition that has been passed down for generations. The Balinese-inspired therapies here are administered by traditional healers and use wisdom from the past to improve your well being today.
Melukat rituals are a great way to start your wellness journey. You will sit in meditation and have an ancient water blessing while the temple priest chants mantras over you – creating peace within yourself. Book one of the healing rituals that involve a learned healer using intuitive energy healing to rebalance the body and mind or balance the body’s chakras.
The holistic approach at Fivelements continues with plant-based cuisine and meditation. The guests are also encouraged to partake in yoga classes or enjoy a day by the Ayung River for much-needed relaxation time away from busy schedules. The onsite bathhouses and healing water pools at this destination will make you feel like a new person as they release all the tension from your body, allowing for a fantastic experience.
Chiva-Som Hua Hin – Thailand
The 3 to 5 nights Nature’s Embrace Retreat at Chiva-Som Resort is a chance at detoxifying and destressing within the embrace of nature. Through personal consultations, you can find the perfect concoction of wellness that works for you in restoring mental and physical balance.
Access the water therapy suites to relax and include simple treatments such as oriental scalp massages to more energetic fitness activities to complement your destressing process. In addition, a personalized meal program focussed on natural ingredients, probiotics, and fibre helps complete this balancing act.
The Senior Wellness retreat focuses on anti-ageing through the lens of diet, exercise and lifestyle choices that help preserve health and vitality. Gentle physical activities and biofeedback are at the heart of this retreat in Thailand.
Wellness Retreats in Europe
Schloss Elmau – Krün, Germany
Schloss Elmau is a luxurious wellness retreat in the Upper Bavarian Alps in Germany. Schloss Elmau offers excellent luxury spa breaks for solo travellers, couple’s getaway, families with kids or for a group of friends looking to recharge.
In addition to having a good selection of programs, you can personalize your retreat after consultation with the hotel’s Medical Spa director. The soothing combination of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Yoga will help you rediscover your footing in life. Traditional Chinese Medicine is at the heart of the hotel’s Turtle Spa Concept. Think of Traditional Chinese Medicine as the performance booster when combined with a Five Element Nutritional analysis and Personal Qi Gong for a balanced body and mind.
Schloss Elmau is a haven for wellness enthusiasts. Whether you’re looking to unwind and relax or exercise in pristine nature with family members, there are plenty of spas to choose from that offer something unique – all year round. This retreat offers six separate pools heated by steamy hot water year-round: one outdoor lap pool where folks can cool off after exercising; another located inside as well, which features an Oriental Hamam soaping oneself silly or a Japanese Onsen while surrounded by stunning views of the German Alps.
Valsana Hotel Arosa: Eco Spa and Ski Resort – Arosa, Switzerland
Based in the mountains of Graubünden, the Valsana Hotel Arosa is a true Swiss winter wonderland. With a view of the mountains, you can enjoy a delightfully unique wellness experience at this winter escape.
Health improves with great aromas as you experience wellness enhanced with essential oils during aromatherapy sessions. Adventure is not far away either, with many experiences involving Moving Mountains training, pilates, snow show hiking and TRX Ski Workouts. Through this training, you can move about mountains and experience the richness of pure alpine air by working functional fitness and Yoga.
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Head out to the great outdoors for skiing at sunrise, indulge in Avalanche Rescue Training, Ice bathing, mountain ‘snurfing’, and Telemark Skiing. But, of course, no trip to Switzerland is complete without breaking out the cheese fondue set and dipping your favourite bread into gooey goodness. The opportunities, just like the snow, are endless.
Monchique Resort & Thermal Spa – Algarve, Portugal
Located in the mountains, the Monchique Resort and Thermal Spa is the perfect spot to recuperate and revitalize. Spending time outdoors and with nature is a great way to restore balance within the body. Far away from the city, you can promote positive emotions in your body through experiences of tranquillity in nature.
This is not your average wellness retreat. You’ll be surrounded by unspoiled forested mountains and enjoy the pretty town of Caldas de Monchique, known for its thermal waters nearby. The resort is now part of a large international company that owns Vila Monte and Praia Verde. The two activities in the morning are yoga sessions followed by trail running, while at lunchtime, there are healthy cooking classes on offer with walking tours to the town centre.
You can enjoy spa treatments such as thermal circuits drawing from Monchique’s natural surroundings or sensorial showers, which include salt walls sauna facilities along with other indoor poolside activities – all this whilst being surrounded by nature every moment.
The ‘Monchique Us’ spa day for you and your partner or the ‘All about me’ spa day will boost energy and revitalize. In addition, sports in the great outdoors are an excellent stress booster and focus enhancer – cycle or play golf, enjoy an afternoon at the Santa Clara Dam, and surf, paddle and horse ride, all at the Monchique resort.
Vilalara Thalassa Resort – Porches, Portugal
With access to a beach and a place dedicated to your optimal wellbeing, a holiday becomes the healthiest thing for your body at the Vilalara Thalassa Resort in Portugal. You’ll be situated between 11 hectares of seaside garden with access to one of the world’s best Thalassotherapy centres.
Thalassotherapy refers to the use of seawater in cosmetic and health treatment. It is very helpful in getting in shape, quitting smoking, destressing and treating a bad back, all through specialized therapies. Thalassotherapy for the back will help you mitigate pain, restore your muscles to their natural, relaxed states and help with joint mobility.
For the anti-smoking program, adding acupuncture and homoeopathy will promote a nicotine detox. Naturally, water and ocean activities are a must with the ocean so close by. You can wash away your stress with standup paddling, kayaking, and snorkelling. You can even watch birds in their natural habitat and learn more about the art of being free.
Wellness Retreats in North America
Palamaia, The House of Aia – Quintana Roo, Mexico
Palamaia is a spectacular tropical paradise surrounded by freshwater cenotes located between the jungle and the Caribbean Sea in the Yucatan Peninsula. For a relaxing holiday in the sun with spiritual and ancient practices to promote overall wellbeing, their spa in the jungle will be the centre of your healing journey.
The resort offers a wide variety of retreats and healing experiences to choose from. The traditional dances and Chi Kung will help you explore your subconscious to understand your body better. You can destress and regenerate with gong baths, the Cacao Ceremony Mayan Cleansing Rituals and the Ritual of Transmutation. This retreat is your rite of passage to a healthier and fuller life.
Chablé Yucatán – Chocholá, Yucatán, Meixco
The Chablé Yucatán is a royal Mayan retreat in Chocholá, Yucatán, right in the lap of luxury and nature. The happiness program at the hotel will help customize your wellness experience and spend a blissful vacation. Upon arriving, all you have to do is complete the “Bliss List” – a simple list of things that bring you joy in life – it is the key to your personalized itinerary.
Focus on inviting positive energy into your life and help your body feel better inside at a cenote. In the heart of the jungle, peace and restoration come through Mayan ceremonial rituals. Wellness Golf is for you if the preference is for wellness that comes from a more athletic route. Then, you can actively pursue your happiness and experience true bliss, all while making your body stronger.
Four Seasons Sensei Lana’i – Hawaii
The Sensei Lanai’ is an adults-only wellness enclave located within the pine-covered mountains of the Hawaiian island of Lanai’. Curate your journey with wellness consultations, treatments and programs to find what you need the most and works the best for you, all of this amidst the spirit of old Hawai’i, surrounded by local boutiques, restaurants and art galleries.
If you crave adventure, well, all the peace and tranquillity at the resort is matched by their offerings of adventure. Try your hand at scuba diving, horseback riding, golfing and sailing. Aquatic bodywork and the Sensei Optimal Well-being program ensure that Hawai’i, wellbeing, sports and peace are all yours to enjoy as you please.
Castle Hot Springs – Arizona, USA
Castle Hot Springs is an oasis in the Arizona desert, perfect for an epic adventure and a hot springs experience. These deep rock hot springs have been popular from native Americans to frontier ranchers. Natural Hot Springs, Yoga, meditation and a wide range of massages await you at this desert hideaway. A steaming soak in the natural Hot Springs with mineral-rich water will soothe the body and soul.
Relax your muscles, rejuvenate your spirit and channel energy all in one soak by adding the Cold Stone Face Massage. For something more robust, the Sonoran Desert Transformation is recommended. A brisk dry brushing to stimulate blood flow and gently exfoliate, a purifying clay wrap along with a face & scalp massage and intense moisturizing treatment and a reflexology foot massage boosts circulation and overall wellbeing.
If you prefer the great outdoors, farm tours and desert e-bike tours will help you find yourself in the lap of nature.
Blackberry Mountain – Tennessee, USA
Located in the heart of nature in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, Blackberry Mountain is a wellness adventure retreat that needs to be on your travel radar. Every experience here includes wellness, outdoor adventure and cuisine are connected through nature and art.
At this retreat in the mountains, it is all about enjoying the simple pleasures in life in a refined manner leading to fulfilling experiences. Every moment here is an invitation for personal development. Outdoor activities here include hiking, biking, fly fishing, kayaking, canoeing, off-roading in a 4×4 and horseback riding. The stays are also memorable due to the unique accommodations – from stone cottages, stylish mountain homes, watchman cabins, and treehouses.
Curated wellness experiences include Forage, where you begin with an 80-minute hike followed by a 50-minute Herbal Remedy Session and an 80-minute Herbal Poultice Massage. This personalized all-day experience offers a comprehensive plan for relaxing and healing. This will help you boost your overall holistic health and find your creative presence.
The Miraval Berkshires Resort and Spa – Lenox, Massachusetts
The Miraval Berkshires Resort and Spa is your destination for healing the whole self and engaging in the present moment -a simple task that we take a lifetime to master. You can peacefully detach yourself from the world in this digital device-free area. No phone calls, no work emails, or social media to give you FOMO. Just you, and the woodlands, together on a journey to truly connect with yourself.
You can choose from personal retreats that include Pilates and Fitness, Water and winter activities, golf to something extraordinary such as Beekeeping experiences and creative expression. For expecting parents looking to destress the body and gain strength before welcoming your baby, the specifically curated programs for pregnant women will help you settle better into your body as it undergoes the process of creating life.
Placencia Naia Resort – Placencia, Belize
Located in a private reserve on the Placencia Peninsula, the Placencia Naia resort is spread across 19-acres of gorgeous beachfront. The Naia Spa is a hidden sanctuary within this Caribbean paradise. So naturally, a space like that calls for the best experience for healing and rejuvenation.
The idea of wellness can be a difficult concept to define. For some, it might involve sprawling out on the beach with their favourite book and brunch selection from room service while they lounge in between dips into ocean water- but not everyone has time for this. So if you’re looking for more immersional experiences that provide isolation or privacy with minimally invasive travel plans, Naia is ready instead. Each private house at the resort sits by itself along pristine coastlines, so there’s plenty of space dedicated just towards your needs: whether seeking tranquillity alone.
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With the pandemic placing the onus of everybody’s physical and emotional wellbeing on the mother’s shoulders, a wellness break that helps them destress and regroup is the call of the day. The “Zoom Mom Detox Package” involves a lagoon kayaking tour and daily spa experiences to help prevent burnout. Deep stretching, Primival Salt Stone Massages and Mystic lights help keep the muscles flexible and work out those stress knots.
© This article was first published online in Jan 2022 – World Travel Magazine.