Edited by: Nick Ellis
& Keri Stooksbury
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Wellness is not just a hyped-up term that refers to spiritual healing or cleansing your chakras with crystals. While it can refer to those more … eccentric … methods of restoration for the mind and body, wellness often just refers to the act of caring for, maintaining, or improving your well-being. And we can all agree that travel, especially leisure travel, may play a part in that.
Enter wellness retreats. These are hotels, resorts, or some type of accommodation that offers travelers a wellness-focused stay away from home. Visiting a wellness retreat is an opportunity for you to travel and focus on yourself. Wellness retreats may include fitness or yoga classes, adventures like surfing or hiking, all-inclusive dining or meal options, dietary advice and planning, spa treatments, meditation, alternative therapies, and so much more.
Today, we’ll define wellness retreats, explore who they’re for (spoiler alert: they’re for everyone), and review the diverse types of wellness retreats that exist.
We’ll also help you pick your ideal wellness retreat from some of the top options around the world, help you figure out if a wellness retreat is right for you, and tell you what to pack and how to prepare for your retreat ahead of time.
A wellness retreat is a vacation designed with the intention of improving mental, physical, or emotional health, nurturing well-being, or promoting personal growth or self-development.
They can take many forms and can follow a route of peaceful relaxation and rejuvenation or be geared more towards detoxing and physical fitness.
A wellness retreat may be a truly transformative journey or simply an experience that allows you to get away from it all and chill out.
Wellness retreats encompass a wide range of trips, from yoga retreats in Bali to spa trips in Switzerland, blissful beachfront weekends, glamping in nature, arctic wilderness jaunts, and more.
You can deem any self-organized journey a wellness retreat if you’d prefer to do things your own way. However, part of the allure of seeking out a wellness retreat is that it’s done for you, so you can kick back, relax, and focus on your well-being.
Although certain wellness retreats are geared towards specific types of people, they’re ideal for anyone looking to improve their well-being. And if you think wellness retreats are always expensive, think again. There are many affordable retreats out there for budget or mid-range travelers looking to focus on their well-being, too.
Some wellness retreats are best for solo travelers, while other wellness retreats are best for couples or even seniors. But the variety of people they cater to is vast, with retreats available for those fighting cancer, those seeking religious enrichment, those who want to bring their pets along, those who want to explore their spiritual side, those who want to take a break from alcohol, and more. There’s pretty much a wellness retreat available for anyone and everyone.Hot Tip:
Not sure if wellness retreats are right for you? Our post, Wellness Retreats: Hype or Healing, digs into the benefits of wellness retreats, why they’re trending, and how you can incorporate wellness into your next vacation.
While many hotels, resorts, and travel companies around the world offer wellness options and activities, if you want a real wellness retreat (instead of just a wellness activity or 2), it’s best to stick to some of those tried-and-true wellness brands that have been doing this for a very long time.
While Hilton (with Peloton bikes to its U.S. hotels) and Kimpton (yoga mats in every room) are leaders in trying to make mainstream hotels fit into the idea of wellness, if you’re really looking for a retreat, it’s best to consider some of the leaders that are devoted to transformative travel — brands like Miraval, SHA, Canyon Ranch, Aman, Six Senses, Chiva Som, and even the Four Seasons.
We searched far and wide to find some of the best wellness retreats in the world. Just remember that words like “top” or “best” are relative, as things like interest and budget will factor into any decision.
We’ll talk more later in this article about how to choose a wellness retreat, but these are widely considered to be some of the best options worldwide.
Frequent Miraval visitors can join the Miraval Authentic Circle loyalty program. The brand is also part of the World of Hyatt program, which means you can earn and redeem World of Hyatt points at Miraval properties. It may also be worth getting The World of Hyatt Credit Card to earn additional Hyatt points for your stays.
Canyon Ranch, a wellness brand that has been around for more than 40 years, offers guests a range of options for creating the perfect experience, including day passes, multi-day vacations, and even full-time living in a Canyon Ranch Residence.
From a sabbatical at the Arizona or Lennox, Massachusetts locations to day visits at the Las Vegas spa or a quick getaway at the Woodside, California property, you’ll be able to plan an itinerary that fits your needs and availability whether you decide to visit for a day or a month.
With 1 location on Spain’s Mediterranean coast and 2 more opening soon (Mexico in 2023 and the United Arab Emirates in 2024), SHA is all about integrative wellness, combining nutrition, natural therapies, preventative aging, aesthetics, cognitive stimulation, inner balance, and movement to boost guests’ well-being.
You can choose from programs like “Rebalance,” “Detox,” or “Optimal Weight,” and then tailor them to your personal needs to achieve your wellness goals. Most programs run for 7, 14, or 21 days.
With 34 resorts in 20 different countries, Aman is primarily a hotel brand, but many of its properties include extensive wellness offerings or are located in far-flung locations that may make it easier for guests to leave their daily grind behind and connect with nature while still enjoying ultra-luxury amenities.
For example, the Amangalla in Galle, Sri Lanka, offers 3- or 7-day Ayurvedic (referring to practices from ancient Indian medicinal practices) retreats, which use ancient techniques designed to improve well-being through treatments and exercise.
Slightly closer to home, Amangiri in Utah uses Navajo methods based on the elements (earth, wind, fire, and water) to restore balance during a 2-day retreat.
One of the top wellness retreats in the world, Chiva Som deems itself “The Haven of Life.” At the original Chiva Som in Hua Hin, Thailand, and its second destination, Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva Som in Qatar, guests can choose to focus on things like healthy aging, cell vitality, cranial relief, gut health, fitness, immune resilience, spa well-being, weight management, and more.
From luxury resort chain Four Seasons, the brand-new tented resort Naviva, A Four Seasons Resort, Punta Mita, Mexico (adjacent to the Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita) offers guests a true connection with nature, allowing them to shift the focus to themselves.
Accommodations come in the form of 15 luxury tents sprawled across 48 acres of coastal rainforest. Here, guests can participate in activities like a “temazcal” ceremony in the sweat lodge, shamanic sound healing, or more traditional wellness activities like sunrise yoga or hiking.
Other Four Seasons wellness experiences include a retreat at the Four Seasons Westlake Village in California, where you can choose from initiatives like optimal well-being or sustainable weight loss, or at the Four Seasons Lanai in Hawaii, which offers rituals like stargazing meditations, aerial yoga, and workshops on thought-field therapy.
The Six Senses‘ entire brand image is dedicated to integrated wellness. From the Six Sense Douro Valley, which focuses on wine-inspired spa treatments, as well as unique wellness experiences like color therapy and forest bathing, to the new(ish) Six Senses Ibiza, which offers retreats focused on anti-aging, self-healing, and beyond, the brand is all about awakening, rejuvenating, and healing, all in lavish luxury, of course.
Haramara Retreat is one of the best wellness retreats in Mexico, offering healing journeys that range from retreat-style honeymoons to healing solo experiences. Each of the casitas, located in Sayulita, Mexico, inspires guests to connect with the natural surroundings, complete with beach and jungle views.
Those on a budget or who are traveling with a group may opt to stay in the Moon Dormitory, a space with 8 beds and 2 bathrooms.
Vikasa, located on the beautiful Thai island of Koh Samui, offers personalized, gentle yoga holidays. They come complete with breakfast and dinner and optional spa treatments.
Ideal for anyone looking for a budget wellness experience in a truly peaceful location, this particular retreat can be customized to your needs, wants, and experience level. Visitors to Koh Samui can even stop in for drop-in yoga classes for a quick dose of wellness.
Peacock Pavilions is a boutique hotel located in a Moroccan olive grove in Marrakech overlooking the Atlas Mountains. As its name suggests, it’s home to 5 resident peacocks, plus guest pavilions, tented bungalows, a pool, an Arabian dining tent, a yoga tent, an outdoor gym, and an outdoor cinema.
The hotel runs distinct retreats such as design safaris, which offer guests an inside look at Morocco’s design culture, as well as offering other wellness-inspired stays and amenities.
Embrace the laid-back lifestyle at Pura Vida Adventures in Costa Rica, which offers surf and yoga retreats. From female-only retreats to co-ed options, there’s something for everyone here — even beginner surfers and newbie yogis. The resort’s blissful hammocks, beachfront pool, and jungle bungalows make for a real escape from the day-to-day.
It wouldn’t be a story about wellness retreats if we didn’t include a property in Bali. And while the Como Shambala Estate Bali definitely isn’t a budget property, it manages to offer real luxury without breaking the bank (those on a budget should consider the Garden Rooms, set amid Ubud’s lush jungle foliage).
It offers just about every wellness option under the sun, from sacred Balinese water blessings to rice field walks and Ayurvedic health treatments. For a splurge, opt for the villas, which feature private plunge pools.
Part of World of Hyatt’s all-inclusive collection, Zoëtry properties are boutique, luxury getaways that focus on spa and wellness experiences. Many of the brand’s properties are affordable but feel luxurious, especially if you pay with your World of Hyatt points.
For a top all-inclusive wellness resort in the Caribbean, consider the Zoëtry Agua Punta Cana, which focuses on privacy and luxury, complete with a spa featuring treatments like oxygenation facials and hot-stone massages. There are also facilities like Finnish saunas and Inox bubble beds. This property also earned a spot on our list of best all-inclusive properties in the Dominican Republic.
This Tibetan Buddhist retreat center sits among the towering redwoods of California’s Sonoma County, offering many different types of retreats, from writing to yoga, hiking, and self-exploration.
The Ratna Ling Retreat Center also offers day retreats, in case you’d like to ease into the idea of a retreat or combine it with a trip you’ve already planned. Relax near the property’s lodge fireplace, in your cottage, or while enjoying delicious vegetarian cuisine.Hot Tip:
If you’d like to have a vacation centered around wellness, the first thing to do is analyze a few things related to your personal needs and your travel style. So, follow these below steps before booking.
Are you looking to lose weight? Meditate? Do yoga or fitness? Indulge in spa treatments? Simply get away from it all? Deciding what your wellness goals are may help you figure out what type of wellness retreat is best for you.
If you hate the beach, a beachfront wellness center is not the right place for you. Likewise, if you’re not a fan of cold weather, skip retreats in places like Finland or Iceland.
Deciding what type of destination you’d like to visit may guide you toward the right retreat. For example, if you’d like to relax and discover fabulous wines in Italy and follow that up with cooking and cultural activities, consider a retreat in Tuscany coupled with a visit to Rome (perhaps a stay at the newly-opened Six Senses Rome?!) or Florence.
Some hotels offer retreats, while some are purpose-built for wellness. A retreat usually offers a schedule of some sort. This may include daily yoga classes, meals, and spa treatments. An all-inclusive wellness retreat often includes meals and drinks and can include activities and spa treatments, too.
On the other hand, a wellness hotel, or a hotel that has wellness offerings, may be a bit more flexible. This means you can do yoga or fitness classes when you feel like it, have meals at the hotel or elsewhere, and enjoy a spa-themed vacation without the requirements of having to be somewhere at a specific time each day.
Wellness retreats range from budget to luxe and everywhere in between. Decide what type of wellness vacation is not only the right fit for you but also your bank account.Hot Tip:
Don’t forget that there are wellness resorts and retreats out there where you can use your points and miles. This can turn a luxury wellness experience into a budget one.
Some wellness retreats don’t allow digital devices, don’t offer alcohol, or have strict dietary offerings. Others don’t have such rules. Whether you’re dying for someone to shut off your phone for you or your definition of wellness includes watching Instagram reels by the pool, make sure to be aware of any resort or retreat rules before booking in order to have the wellness experience you desire.
Some resorts offer all-inclusive dining (and drinks), while others don’t. Certain resorts may be vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free. Others have juice bars and special diet plans for each guest. Some may offer cottages or bungalows with kitchens, and many offer guests the opportunity to pick fruit or vegetables from onsite farms or gardens, and even participate in cooking meals if they wish.
Be sure to be aware of the dining options at any retreat you’re considering, and choose one that best suits your desires and requirements. If a wellness resort is all-inclusive, make sure to contact the property beforehand if you have specific dietary restrictions.
When it comes to packing for your wellness retreat, it’s best to consider the following:
Obviously, you won’t be packing the same items for a beach yoga retreat as you would for a nature-inspired hiking adventure in Canada. But generally, it’s important to pack the following items for your wellness retreat:
Preparing for your wellness retreat may include doing some mental preparation in addition to physical preparation. Obviously, you’ll want to pack correctly (see above) and engage in fitness or yoga (if that’s what your retreat is dedicated to). But you also might want to open your mind and get rid of expectations in order to allow yourself to absorb and enjoy your wellness travel experience more fully.
You may feel better about leaving if you make absolutely sure any loose ends are tied up, both professionally and personally, before you head out. This rings especially true if you’re planning to undergo a digital detox. Setting up auto-responses for your email accounts and leaving everything in order can make shutting down much less anxiety-inducing.
Wellness retreats are an easy way to encourage healthy habits or to take the time to focus on your emotional, mental, and physical well-being. After all, travel in and of itself is a way to take the time to do what you love, so why not go a step further and pamper your mind and/or body?
With wellness retreats ranging from spa to yoga, fitness, and healthy-aging experiences, there’s sure to be a wellness escape right for you.
And whether you remain stateside or head to a far-flung destination like the Caribbean or Bali, wellness escapes abound.
Options for all budgets and travel styles are out there, so you can find just the right wellness retreat for you.
The information regarding The World of Hyatt Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
A wellness retreat is a space for you to focus on your well-being, form healthy habits, and put yourself first. Wellness retreats can boost your physical, mental, and emotional health, and help you hone in on your best self.
Whether you’re a wellness enthusiast or not, going on a wellness retreat can definitely be worth it. There are different kinds of wellness retreats out there that suit different types of travelers, preferences, habits, and budgets. This means that you should be able to find a wellness retreat that would benefit you.
A great wellness retreat is one that’s best for your lifestyle, travel needs, and budget. Great wellness retreats usually have peaceful and comfortable accommodations and surroundings, delicious and healthy food options, fun and focused activities, or relaxing, rejuvenating spa treatments or facilities.
It depends. Some wellness retreats are all-inclusive, which means they include food and drink, and perhaps certain activities or spa treatments. Each retreat has a different policy regarding inclusions and exclusions, so it’s best to know exactly what your retreat offers before booking.
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