WELLNESS TRAVEL CONTINUES AS A HOT TREND AS PEOPLE REALIZE BURNOUT IS NOT ON THEIR BUCKET LIST. NO LONGER TRENDY TO BRAG ABOUT BEING TOO BUSY, TODAY’S ULTIMATE LUXURY IS BEING ABLE TO TAKE A WELLNESS VACATION THAT DEDICATES TIME TO SELF-CARE AND REJUVENATION. WITH SO MANY AMAZING WELLNESS TRAVEL OPTIONS OUT THERE, CHOOSING YOUR OWN ADVENTURE HAS NEVER BEEN SO FUN. NOT SURE WHERE TO START? LISTED BY GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION, HERE ARE MY TOP WELLNESS VACATIONS TO CONSIDER.
Split Apple, Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand
A hideaway built high above the Tasman Bay inside Abel TasmanNational Park, Split Apple, a 3-room wellness retreat, often has a long wait-list. Retired Dr. Lee Nelson, whose passion is longevity and his wife Pen, a functional food chef, are the owners who not only embody the wellness philosophy they offer, but cater to each traveller essentially making it feel like you are a very pampered guest in their own home.
Build your time at Split Apple to resemble an intensive retreat complete with blood tests, nutritional classes, and meditation or simply book for a luxurious getaway and enjoy high-end spa treatments and a lot of time spent outdoors soaking in the spectacular healing baths.
Asaba, Izu City, Japan
No one does understated luxury quite like the Japanese. A 90-minute train ride south west of Tokyo you’ll find the Zen, meditative Ryokan of Asaba. Family run for the past 510 years, from the moment you slip into your yukata, (an indoor kimono) you’ll feel the stress slide away. The inn’s traditional tatami rooms separated by shoji screens are sparsely decorated, but large and most overlook the stunning hillside connecting you directly to nature.
Ryokans are known for the lavish offering of food, and the seasonal menu at Asaba features local selections. Choose to eat seated on the floor of your room or if traveling with friends, a private dining experience can be arranged. With alkaline hot spring water available in your own private bath or the option to soak in the public Onsen, it will be hard to you to leave this quiet paradise.
Fivelements, Bali, Indonesia
Sink into award-winning 5-star luxury at this eco-conscious wellness retreat. Inspired by ancient Balinese traditions, programming is led by masters and fused with the latest wellness treatments. Having just 9 rooms makes for an intimate experience and allows you to customize a program such as a detox, rejuvenation, or culinary retreat.
Begin your stay with a healing consultation and work with the knowledgeable staff to craft the best treatment course to guarantee results. Book Balinese massages, energy sessions, bathing rituals, meditation and yoga sessions to fill your time away from home. Meals are divine and promise only the best plant-based, raw vegan living foods available.
The Banjaran, Ipoh, Malaysia
Spilling out over a lush 17-acre valley surrounded by hot springs, geothermal caves, and limestone hills, sits this award-winning resort. An oasis of calm for those seeking a time-out, it’s the perfect place to seclude yourself and lose track of time. Anti-ageing facials, Chinese medicine treatments including acupuncture and cupping, Ayurvedic massage, hibiscus body scrub, and fitness classes – the list of wellness programs is endless.
The standout at The Banjaran is the hot spring and cave circuit. From geothermal pools to a steam cave to an ice bath, and meditation and crystal caves, it’s hard to imagine wanting to leave. This self-contained sanctuary aims to focus on your health enhancement, anything that encourages a change for the better toward a healthier lifestyle.
Presence, Chiang Mai and Koh Lanta, Thailand
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include Pravassa’s latest group wellness tour on this list. Having visited Thailand numerous times since my first trip in 2004, you’ll benefit from the strong local relationships I’ve cultivated which give you insider access. Curated by yours truly, this 10-day immersive experience begins with the local Loy Krathong the lantern festival, in Chiang Mai celebrated alongside the owner of our hotel.
Throughout the vacation you’ll be treated to daily yoga and mindfulness meditation sessions, led by Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy Lena Franklin, spend time with rescued elephants, and learn to cook healthy Thai food during a private cooking class. Once we head to the spectacular island of Koh Lanta, you’ll spend days beachside at an award-winning boutique resort when we’re not snorkeling through marvelous limestone outcroppings.
Niraamaya, Kerala, India
The name translates into ‘a sense of well-being’ and Niraamaya, located in Kerala, the home of Ayurveda, evokes a luxuriously healing atmosphere. Flanked by two isolated beaches, this wellness retreat delivers bespoke experiences for the discerning traveller. Book yourself at stay in the most prestigious room, The Octagon, which has panoramic views of the Arabian Sea and an outdoor rain shower from which to view the twinkling stars.
But don’t spend all your time here as the award-winning spa can create packages that address stress management, weight-loss, skincare, and more. Want to maximize your time at Niraamaya? Dr. Arun Aravind, who heads the spa will gladly set up a Skype session prior to your arrival so you can craft the perfect experience.
Shanti Maurice, Chemin Grenier, Mauritius
Nestled in 36 acres of tropical gardens on the southern edge of the island is Shanti Maurice, paradise found if you’re looking to indulge body, mind, senses, and soul. A turquoise sea, sugar white beaches, and verdant forests are just some of the reasons to visit this well-being resort as the property prides itself on allowing guests to experience the best of Mauritian culture.
Greet the morning with a dip in your suite’s infinity pool or gazing up at the skies from your open air shower as you decide if kayaking, sailing, Pilates, or an Ayurvedic consultation is how to want to spend your day. Be sure to make your way back in time for the sunset barbeque where the food is prepared from the grounds of the resort and sourced from local fishermen and accompanied by the sounds of local musicians.
Monteverdi, Tuscany, Italy
I have yet to find another wellness property as breath-taking as the village of Castiglioncello del Trinoro. The owners of Monteverdi had a vision for a secluded property and they restored an entire 900-year-old village to create this unparalleled luxurious experience. Each stylish room is large and created in simple, chic, lavishness with neutral colour palates and the finest fabrics available.
The charming staff is on hand to book you into Etruscan mud body mask treatments or organize a truffle hunt in the surrounding hills. If you prefer to spend time on your own, after a morning workout in the state-of-the-art gym, head out to explore the local wineries of the Montepulciano area.
Areias do Seixo, Torres Vedras, Portugal
What was once an abandoned chicken farm is now a dream retreat carefully crafted to feel warm and homey yet evokes a whimsical vibe. The property’s 14 dwellings are a labour of love with polished cement floors and pebble walls, exposed wood beams, soft quilts, and wood-burning stoves. Each room features hand-selected decor from Morocco, India, and Europe, and is scented with natural incense and oils.
Villas are equipped with multiple bedrooms and a gourmet kitchen so you can summon the chef to prepare an organic meal to be enjoyed in the privacy of your outdoor patio, set against the stunning backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean. Venture to the spa and enjoy the Turkish bath, Ayurvedic treatments, and yoga classes during the week or borrow a bicycle and take a picnic lunch to the beach.
Blackberry Farm, Tennessee, USA
At the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee is the last place you might expect to find a hotel that often tops the list of best inns in the world. Spanning over 9,000 acres, the farm employs it’s own butcher, baker, and cheesemaker along with a distiller, forager, and preserve maker. Once a family home, this expansive resort now boasts 62 guest rooms made up of estate rooms, hill cottages, and houses dotting the terrain and designed with English country home furnishings.
Forest bathing, yoga, and signature spa treatments allow you to focus on wellness during your stay. If getting hands-on is more your thing, the resort offers cooking classes, truffle hunts, gardening classes, as well as the opportunity to help care for the animals that make up this majestic getaway.
Jicaro Island, Isletas de Granada, Nicaragua
A little off-the-beaten-path on a private island in Lake Nicaragua, you’ll find this top eco-resort. Don’t let the sustainability factor fool you. The solar powered property, made up of 9-two story private houses, all of which have spectacular views of the lake, has welcomed many a Hollywood celebrity during its time.
Globally inspired, locally sourced food is prepared daily in an open kitchen where you can take part in a cooking class. The inhouse yoga instructor offers classes lakeside daily and the variety of spa treatments aim to help you reconnect to yourself. And with part of the hotel’s mission to actively contribute to the local community, you’ll head to bed happy knowing your wellness stay has positively impacted the education and clean water availability for the locals.
Pravassa has been creating and personally vetting wellness vacations for the past 7-years. All of the vacations are built upon a 5-tenet wellness philosophy; Breathe, Move, Mindfulness, Experience and Nourish. Itineraries can be organised in a group or on customised basis. The group settings are rounded out with a guest wellness educator (yoga instructor, chef, massage therapist, etc.) as well as a Pravassa wellness concierge. The customWELL itineraries connect the travellers with local wellness talent as requested by the client’s needs where Pravassa works one-on-one with guests to tailor-make wellness vacation to any of the specialty destinations. Pravassa.com