Is it time for a wellness vacation—one where you spend time destressing and focusing on your mental and physical well-being? According to recent research from the Global Wellness Institute, wellness travel is an estimated $816 billion market and is expected to explode to $1.1 trillion by 2025.
During the decade before the pandemic, people had already started rethinking what they wanted from travel, questioning the century-old model of indulging in excessive food and alcohol and getting too little sleep at tourist-crushed destinations. Today, these manic getaways are being replaced by slower, more mindful experiences, with health and safety front and center.
Enter the Wellness Vacation
Today’s wellness resorts offer healthy food, ultra-comfortable bedding, soft lighting and well-filtered air and water. These properties have wellness built into their DNA, including fitness activities such as yoga, tai chi, hiking and biking…relaxation and meditation practices…spa treatments…and culinary classes and nutrition counseling. Some even offer medical testing and counseling. And many are situated on large pieces of land that allow for social distancing and vigorous outdoor activities.
Many wellness resorts are all-inclusive and have a variety of activities scheduled for every hour of the day. But that doesn’t mean you have to engage in strenuous physical activity if you don’t want to. You can take relaxation classes, lounge by the pool and book spa services to boost your health. Benefits: A Cedars-Sinai Hospital study revealed that a 45-minute massage significantly reduces levels of stress hormones and strengthens immunity. Other research has found that massage therapy, mudpacks and mineral-water baths can lower blood pressure and heart rate, as well as relieve head, back and neck pain.
WHERE TO GO
Wellness resorts (also called “destination spas”) are found throughout the US and the world. You can go for a day, a few days, a week or more. Many can be booked for extended stays (so-called wellness sabbaticals), and there is a trend toward residences and second homes attached to wellness resorts.
What about price? A wellness vacation can be expensive, given the luxury accommodations, fitness and stress-reducing programs, farm-to-table cuisine and spa services. But the cost can be comparable to visiting Disney World with the family or a trip to Europe.
Some notable properties in the US…
Canyon Ranch—Lenox, Massachusetts…Tucson, Arizona…Las Vegas…and Woodside, California. One of the original spa resorts, Canyon Ranch was created with wellness in mind. Guests can select from 14 pathways that include personalized services based on wellness intentions. Examples: Optimize your health and habits…age well and live longer…reach a healthy weight. You also can book a medical-based immersive experience called “Pathways Plus,” that revolves around a battery of diagnostic services to zero in on targeted health improvements. CanyonRanch.com
Miraval Resorts—Lenox, Massachusetts…Tucson, Arizona…Austin, Texas. Another pioneering spa resort, now owned by Hyatt Hotels, Miraval Resorts helps guests create a balanced life. Each property reflects its location. The Massachusetts resort is situated amidst the Berkshire Mountains and offers hiking and biking alongside wooded and lakeside trails, kayaking and paddleboarding, and cross-country skiing. Miraval is well-known for its equine therapy, a mindfulness experience involving horses. MiravalResorts.com
The Lodge at Woodloch, Hawley, Pennsylvania. A luxurious spa resort, The Lodge at Woodloch is in the Pocono Mountains, just over two hours from New York City. Activities include hiking…kayaking or paddleboarding on a small pond…biking…relaxing under a hydromassage waterfall…doing a hot-cold room circuit to boost circulation…creating art…or taking a cooking class. TheLodgeAtWoodloch.com
Chateau Elan Winery and Resort, Braselton, Georgia. This unique North Georgia resort, also a winery, features a chateau-style inn that overlooks 3,500 acres of vineyards, hills and forests. You can play golf or tennis…take holistic wellness classes such as meditation and yoga…hike and bike. Afternoon tea, picnics and fireside s’mores are always on the menu, and there are several restaurants on the property. ChateauElan.com
Destination Kohler, Kohler, Wisconsin. The Kohler plumbing company is well-known for its Kohler Waters Spas, featuring hydrotherapy treatments such as water-based massages, Vichy rod showers (vertical bars that pour warm water over your body as you lay on a massage table) and therapeutic bathing pools. Accommodations available at the main property in Wisconsin range from three- to five-star hotels. Golf, yoga, indoor cycling and fitness classes are signature offerings. Kohler Waters Spas also are located in Lincoln Park and Burr Ridge, Illinois…Green Bay, Wisconsin…and St. Andrews, Scotland. DestinationKohler.com
Lake Austin Spa Resort, Texas. This secluded resort—just 40 rooms—is in the Texas Hill Country 30 minutes from Austin. The focus is on lake activities, including boating, kayaking and paddleboarding…and floating yoga, stretching and meditation classes. All of the traditionally styled rooms have views of the lake. Pets are allowed. LakeAustin.com
The Ranch Malibu, California. This West Coast 200-acre resort was voted Travel & Leisure’s #1 destination spa in the US for 2022. The strict group-oriented program includes daily four-hour hikes, guided low-impact exercise classes, massages and plant-based meals. The Ranch Private program can be tailored to meet your fitness levels. The resort limits the number of guests to just 25 per stay…a minimum seven-day stay is required running from Sunday to Saturday. There is no cell phone service, nor are there TVs in rooms and Wi-Fi access is limited. The Ranch Italy (which offers four-day stays) takes place at the medical-wellness retreat Palazzo Fiuggi, a historic property less than 50 minutes from Rome. TheRanchMalibu.com
MODERATELY PRICED RESORTS
Le Monastère des Augustines, Québec City, Québec, Canada. A monastery hidden in the middle of Old Québec that is now a wellness center, Le Monastère welcomes people of all faiths, cultures and beliefs. Wellness activities include silent, meditative walks through the Old City, gentle yoga classes and holistic wellness assessments. Meals focus on healthy, mindful eating. Breakfast is silent. Monastere.ca/en
Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, Stockbridge, Massachusetts. This iconic yoga center is the place for yoga and meditation classes—numerous styles of each practice are offered daily—hiking and vegetarian/vegan dining (all meals are served buffet-style, and breakfast is silent). Some poultry and fish are included. Accommodations range from bunk beds in a communal room with a bathroom down the hall to private rooms in the new Annex building. The astoundingly beautiful property is just up the road from the famed Tanglewood concert center. Kripalu.org
Red Mountain Resort, Ivins, Utah. This desert canyon resort, within an hour’s drive of Zion National Park, offers the ultimate back-to-nature vacation. Hiking and e-biking are top activities, along with yoga and stretching classes. Guest rooms and villas are available with views of the Utah mountains. You can book an all-inclusive package or opt for accommodation-only rates. RedMountainResort.com