While we’re spending time sheltering in place, I’ve been looking a lot at domestic, close-to-home getaways. But, I can’t stop my daydreaming or wanderlust – so I’ve also been working on my bucket list for when the world returns back to normal. In this next blog series I am going to be sharing properties, destinations and activities that are high on my to do list, within my three favorite travel niches: Wellness, Adventure and Celebration.
When we come out of this crisis, we’re all going to need a healthy dose of wellness travel to get our minds and bodies back on track. Below are 25 amazing properties around the world that I’d recommend for such a trip.
1 – BLACKBERRY MOUNTAIN – The iconic Relais & Chateaux property, Blackberry Farm, unveiled its wellness property in 2019. Located just down the road in Walland, TN, Blackberry Mountain has a completely different vibe, with cottages nestled in the woods or overlooking the mountains, plentiful outdoor activities, daily scheduled fitness classes and healthy dining options.
2 – CANYON RANCH – One of the original wellness getaways, I love Canyon Ranch‘s holistic approach to health. I had the opportunity to stay at their Tucson property a couple years ago, so now I am very eager to try their original Lenox location, as well as the newly opened Woodside Retreat, set just south of San Francisco among the California redwoods.
3 – MIRAVAL – Canyon Ranch’s frenemy, Miraval also has three locations in the US – their first property in Tucson, AZ, the newly opened Lenox, MA location and their Austin resort which opened last year. While similar to Canyon Ranch in many ways, Miraval stands out for its ropes courses, as well as its equestrian programs. They also allow alcohol (at an additional charge), so make note if your vision of wellness includes a glass of wine (or two!) at the end of the day.
4 – LAKE AUSTIN SPA RESORT – Located just outside of Austin, this resort in Texas hill country is a waterfront oasis. Along with a fabulous spa, healthy food and fitness classes, Lake Austin Spa Resort offers plenty of water-based activities to enjoy: from kayaking and water skiing to aqua fitness and lakefront yoga.
5 – EQUINOX HOTEL – The latest venture from Equinox Group is located in NYC’s Hudson Yards and is the flagship of a growing brand. Equinox Hotel aims to make wellness easy and practical for today’s business traveler. While that includes access to nutritious food and Equinox gym facilities, the hotel also focuses on other facets of wellness, including sleep optimization. Key features include soundproofed rooms, next-generation blackout blinds and integrated technology for a personalized sleep experience. Guests also have the help of a “Sleep Coach” available if needed.
6 – COMO SHAMBHALA ESTATE – Bali is a perfect location for a more exotic wellness retreat and COMO’s Shambhala Estate, located in the jungle just north of Ubud, is the ideal place to recenter. The hotel brands itself as a “residential retreat for change” with villa accommodations, state-of-the-art facilities and a perfectly peaceful setting along the Ayung River. Their programs focus equally on the restoration of the mind and the body.
7 – LEFAY RESORT & SPA DOLIMITI – The original Lefay property is set on the shores of Lago di Garda, but the one I’m dying to visit is located in the Dolomite mountains of Northern Italy. Lefay Resort & Spa Dolimiti is remote and not necessarily that easy to get to, which makes it an perfect escape in my book. Popular in the summer and fall for hiking, I would also love to go here in the winter to incorporate skiing into my wellness regime.
8 – RANCHO LA PUERTA – This historic property has operated in Tecate, Mexico for 80 years. Conveniently located just a couple hours’ drive from the San Diego airport, Rancho La Puerta is a more structured retreat experience. Their standard program is an all-inclusive weeklong stay from Saturday – Saturday (including roundtrip airport transfers). Shorter stays (when available) are 3 nights (Wednesday – Saturday) or 4 nights (Saturday – Wednesday).
9 – SENSEI LANA’I – The very first wellness hotel from Four Seasons, Sensei Lana’i occupies the former Lodge at Koele. The space (not to be confused with its sister property, Four Seasons Resort Lana’i) is adults-only and features 96 guest rooms and 10 private spa “hales”. “Journeys” start with a minimum of three nights and are all inclusive of meals at Nobu’s healthy Sensei restaurant, spa treatments and wellness programming, as well as inter-island transfers on Lanai Air to/from Honolulu.
10 – SIX SENSES BHUTAN – Bhutan is known as the “Happiest Country in the World” so I can’t imagine a better place to be if you’re in need of a mental shift. Six Senses operates 5 unique lodges throughout the country, offering guests the option to create circuit itineraries through Bhutan with a curated combination of the hotels, including activities and wellness endeavors suited to guests’ individual needs.
11 – SHOU SUGI BAN HOUSE – Shou Sugi Ban House is the new wellness hotspot for overworked and burnt out New Yorkers. Just a quick train ride out to the Hamptons will bring you to this new retreat founded on the Japanese principle of wabi-sabi. Offering both a la carte and all inclusive program options, the secluded, simplistic and sustainable design of the property offers an ideal setting to destress.
12 – ANANDA IN THE HIMALAYAS – For 20 years, Ananda Spa has been operating a luxury wellness property in Northern India at the foothills of the Himalayan mountains, known as the birthplace of yoga and Ayurveda. This 100 acre Maharaja Palace Estate is just a quick flight from Delhi. Guests receive fully customized programs from ayurvedic physicians, and can enjoy unique excursions such as guided treks, white water rafting down the Ganges, visits to ancient temples and jeep safaris in nearby Raja National Park.
13 – MII AMO – Located in the beautiful red rock town of Sedona, Mii Amo is the sister property of Enchantment Resort. The adults-only all inclusive hotel has just 16 guest rooms and suites and offers 3, 4 or 7 night journeys. Guests enjoy the peace and solitude of a small boutique spa hotel, with the added benefit of access to the many activities and facilities at Enchantment.
14 – CHABLE YUCATAN – In the jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula, the original Chable resort offers guests the option of a more comprehensive retreat-style stay, or simply a well-balanced active vacation. As a Mexican wellness brand, they also incorporate ancient Mayan techniques and rituals into their treatments and experiences, making use of the natural cenotes in the area – used by Mayans for sacred and spiritual rituals.
15 – KINKARA LUXURY RETREAT – Glamping enthusiasts will love this wellness escape in the foothills of Costa Rica. The glamping tents at Kinkara Luxury Retreat center around a yoga pavilion. Farm-to-table cuisine is a given as meals feature produce from the on-property garden. And guests enjoy one-of-a-kind adventures, including mountain biking, waterfall hikes, canopy tours, and even multi-day mountain treks.
16 – ANANTARA QUY NHON – If a private villa on a secluded beach in Vietnam is your idea of paradise, then you’re in luck with Anantara Quy Nhon. Each villa is butler-serviced with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the private beach, plus a pool, sun deck and outdoor rain shower. All guests can enjoy daily complimentary yoga and meditation classes, while those searching for a more structured wellness experience can select from among a number of set programs. The best part – the cuisine relies heavily on local seafood caught fresh by resident fishermen.
17 – ANASA WELLNESS RESORT – Sri Lanka has re-emerged on the travel scene in the past several years, and Anasa Wellness Resort is the spot to stay to focus on your physical and mental health. Located in central hill country, used by Kings for healing and wellness for hundreds of years, guests experience the very best climate of Sri Lanka here.
18 – RETREAT AT BLUE LAGOON – Many of you will know of Iceland’s famous tourist attraction – the Blue Lagoon. But rest assured the Retreat at Blue Lagoon feels a world away. For starters, it has its own private section of the man-made lagoon, nestled among Iceland’s mossy volcanic rocks. The 62 suites also have access to a private subterranean spa and guests enjoy complimentary morning yoga and afternoon hikes. My dream is to stay in the Blue Lagoon Suite – a 2 bedroom duplex with its own personal-use spa and lagoon!
19 – BRENNERS PARK-HOTEL & SPA – In the spa town of Baden-Baden, Germany, on the edge of the Black Forest, Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa has been welcoming guests since 1872. While the town itself is renowned for its outdoor activities, the pearl of this resort is its House of Wellbeing, located in the historic Villa Stephanie and consistently named as one of the most advanced luxury spas in Europe. Aside from the normal spa treatments and fitness offerings, Brenners stands apart with its programs on detox and weight loss, as well as its medical care offerings in Haus Julius.
20 – SHA WELLNESS CLINIC – In Southeastern Spain in the town of Alicante, SHA Wellness Clinic sits perched on the cliffs above the Mediterranean Sea – a climate recommended for health by doctors and health professionals for hundreds of years. The property takes a unique approach to wellness, blending Western medicine, genetics research and anti-aging philosophies with natural treatments and therapeutic nutrition.
21 – SANGHA RETREAT – China may not be at the forefront of your wellness radar, but west of Shanghai, in Suzhou, you’ll find a state-of-the-art, immersive spa retreat by the Octave Institute. Sangha Retreat is spread out on a 47 acre property along a lake. Their philosophy is a combination of the wisdom of Eastern medicine with the technological advancements of Western medicine. Programs are all completely personalized with the goal of guests finding clarity and harmony at the end of their experience.
22 – THE LODGE AT WOODLOCH – Located in the Poconos, the Lodge at Woodloch is easily accessible from most Northeastern hubs. The draw here is really the spa. With 27 treatment rooms, private men’s and women’s retreats, 2 co-ed post-treatment relaxation areas (one quiet, one social), an aqua garden (including an indoor pool which is ideal for year-round visits), and several fitness studios, the facility has it all!
23 – BE TULUM – Tulum became a little overrun with the wellness crowd a few years ago, but a number of boutique properties are still well worth the visit. Be Tulum is beloved for its design which blends seamlessly into the natural surroundings that Tulum is famous for – pristine beaches adjacent to the lush jungles. The onsite Yaan Spa is what makes this hotel a true wellness destination. All treatments begin with a 1 hour guided journey through the onsite healing water circuit, fed by purified natural cenote waters.
24 – BODYHOLIDAY – I struggle with the name of this resort as it just seems a bit too cliche, but BodyHoliday in Saint Lucia has been operating for over 20 years, well before the wellness movement became trendy. And the fact remains that it is consistently one of the most awarded wellness retreats in the world. I love the all inclusive nature of their programs, and who can beat the beachfront location on a tropical island in the Caribbean?
25 – PALMAIA – This new kid on the block just opened in December 2019. Based in Riviera Maya, Palmaia brands itself as a “beach enclave” where “ancient roots and sacred rituals interact.” Their in-house Shaman offers guests an array of sacred rituals while other resident architects incorporate spiritual ceremonies and ancient mysticism into treatments and activities.