Health Travel Magazine - Digest 2024

5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Wellness Retreat

It goes without saying – the plight for wellness is on the rise. As lives become busier and more demanding, we find ourselves disconnected, which can often lead to unhealthy habits and imbalanced lifestyles. Exercise, sleep and eating plenty of fresh greens is widely known to be the first step to regain balance, but nowadays wellness takes the form of retreats and experiential holidays, directly centred on physical and emotional wellbeing.

Yoga retreat at Chable Maroma, Mexico

Wellness Retreats Explained

So, what exactly is wellness and how can we achieve it through a luxury wellness retreat? Here is our handy list of top 5 things to consider when choosing whether a wellness retreat is right for you.

1. What is a wellness retreat?

It’s more than a luxury spa hotel

Whilst a wellness holiday often includes a luxury hotel with spa or fitness facilities, a retreat offers far more than a pool and massage. Wellness retreats incorporate a designed programme combining activities and therapies led by expert practitioners. Decide what area of your health and wellness you wish to focus on and start researching what hotels can support this development. From immersive programmes to relaxed breaks to refresh, the spectrum of retreats welcomes in those deep into their spiritual practice or simply those wishing to spark a new fitness routine.

If you’re hoping to dust off the cobwebs and try something new, adventurous retreats focus on experiences in the wide outdoors. At Health Travel, we believe that wellness can be achieved through both immersive treatments and reconnection with nature. Imagine trekking with a trained mountaineer, meditating with Bhutanese monks or surfing on hidden beaches and returning each day to rejuvenating therapies.

Luxury retreats push the boundaries of wellness with experiences that amaze and inspire. Our team work directly with you to create tailor-made getaways, thrill-seeking adventures and remarkable retreats to expand the mind and awaken the soul.

Adventure wellness holidays in Chile

2. Which type of retreat is better?

Holistic vs Science-led Therapies

Holistic therapies use non-invasive methods to focus on improving overall health through five key pillars: physical, mental, spiritual, social and emotional. Holistic wellness retreats believe that all five should be nurtured to achieve a balanced lifestyle.

Health professionals consider aspects of both emotional and spiritual wellbeing before recommending treatments to heal physical and mental health. This may be done through nutritious meal plans, meditation, massage, or even thalassotherapy, all of which is offered at Lefay Resort and Spa Lago di Garda in Italy. A holistic approach is a way to get back in touch with yourself, and really divulge in your thoughts, emotions and overall health needs.

World-leading therapies at Lefay Resort & Spa Lago di Garda

Alternatively, conventional treatments specifically target one area using a science-based approach to healing. With the use of innovative technology, doctors can discover more ways to help you reach your peak health. Treatments at Grand Resort Bad Ragaz in Switzerland include body scans, dermatology sessions and cosmetic surgery. This modernised approach is suitable for enhancing appearance, understanding your body, and bringing back self-confidence.

3. How long do I need?

Weekend Breaks vs Extended Wellness Programmes

Both your personal goals and daily lifestyle often dictate the length of a wellness programme. If time is limited, a quick weekend getaway can be the swift reboot you need. Thankfully all of our retreats at Health Travel offer full flexibility in length to fit around your unique self. During your time away, health professionals often provide you with bespoke fitness schedules and nutritious meal plans to optimise your experience.

Some retreats recommend a longer stay than others to achieve best results and to deeply engrain into routines back at home, particularly weight management and mental health support. Extended wellness programmes can also target highly stressful lifestyles through reconnecting and deep relaxation, inspiring ways to devote time and energy to your wellbeing.

If your lifestyle is too demanding for an extended holiday, then a weekend getaway can still provide fantastic results. Getting away from the routine to try new foods, meet new people and relax in a luxury hotel greatly improves your emotional state, helping to refresh and refocus after your time away.

Whether you’re a natural athlete or not, fitness and even gentle movement is encouraged during any retreat to release endorphins and making you feel renewed. For a fitness retreat, the 3 or 6 day programme at Nescens Bootcamp in France offers muscular awakening sessions, long walks, and anti-aging treatments such as cryotherapy.

To guide your personal wellness journey, our team of wellness experts are at hand to craft your tailor-made programme based around your goals. Let’s start the conversation.

Nescens Bootcamp at La Reserve Ramatuelle, France

4. Wellness retreats as a couple, with friends or solo travel

Wellness retreats can be experienced alone, with friends or family, or even with your partner – each has their own benefits and offer a new perspective on the experience.

Solo travel provides an irreplaceable opportunity to fully disconnect from daily life, and for some, get out of the comfort zone. Spending each day focusing on rest, health, emotions and mental wellbeing may help unlock some profound insights about yourself and the world around you. This is a rewarding way to fully focus on you and your transformation.

For some retreats, as a solo traveller you will be brought into a community of likeminded wellness-seekers. These experiences such as group hikes, mindfulness workshops and yoga classes can encourage people to open up and connect on a far deeper level than we see in the bustle of daily life. In the US, Canyon Ranch Lenox and Mi Amo and The Ranch Malibu are three hotels that encourage solo travellers to meet through adventures out in nature.

Luxury retreats out in nature at Canyon Ranch Lenox

For many, embarking on a wellness retreat with a friend or loved one creates everlasting shared memories. Whether its taking a wildlife trek in Costa Rica or enjoying a massage side-by-side during a couple’s wellness retreat in Bali, there’s plenty of ways to reconnect together.

If there your travel companion is not as motivated by the idea of a retreat, there are plenty of luxury wellness hotels that allow for you to throw yourself into your tailored programme whilst your partner can kick back and relax. In the Caribbean, Secret Bay balances holiday time with the option for flexible holistic health retreats, including health consultations, yoga, reflexology and dermatology. Meanwhile, your partner can dip in the cliffside private pools and relax by secluded beaches.

Holistic Health retreat at Secret Bay, Dominica

5. Can I drink alcohol on a retreat?

Choosing a retreat that’s right for you

Don’t worry – a wellness retreat doesn’t always mean going teetotal.

There’s a world of retreats with packages varying in intensity, each guided by your preferences and wellness goals, however some are certainly more structured than others. For fitness and weight-loss retreats, medical professionals and nutritionists will support you throughout your stay with fitness classes and special meals created specifically for your needs. Most of the hotel’s we partner with have well-stocked bars and world-class dining, however for a transformative journey towards your best shape, then a structured dietary plan would be recommended.

On the flip side, there are also plenty of luxury wellness hotels that combine retreats with the finer things in life. Wine and Wellness brings together good wine, culture and outstanding wellness programmes in the vineyard-peppered hillsides of Portugal’s Douro Valley. Relaxed spa retreats at the Gilpin Lakehouse, set in the UK’s Lake District, boast Michelin-star dining and lakeside lodges with private hot tubs. We’re a strong believer that hard work should not go unrewarded!

Vineyard yoga at Six Senses Douro Valley

Written by: Alyssa Migliazza