How would you feel waking up in your luxury beach-hut to sunrise yoga followed by a tailor made nutrient-rich breakfast, before spending your day mastering the art of Qigong and meditation? Or maybe starting the day with your personal trainer in a luxury villa at the foot of the mountains, before ski analytics on the slopes and a three-course evening meal by the in-house chef? Over the past decade we have seen a significant rise in the global economy of wellness and a new frontier that means we no longer want to spend a week lying by a resort pool, over-indulging in buffet food and unlimited alcohol. Welcome to the world of wellness travel; the pursuit of maintaining or enhancing ones personal well-being.
We are no longer choosing to drop out when going abroad, but intuitively tuning in to both the planet and ourselves. Instead of escaping, we are engaging and connecting like never before.
The wellness industry is now worth a staggering £640 billion and more than three times bigger than the pharmaceutical industry. 21st century lifestyle has resulted in burn-outs, obesity and complete disconnection from both mind & body through the power of technology. The difference is, we are no longer solely looking to the doctor to solve these problems; scientific developments have seen the connection our bodies have to the planet, your surroundings and your practices, which means their is a new age focus recycled from that of ancient civilisations. The pursuit to travel for ones well-being is by no means new; think back to the times of the Romans who would travel to bathe in spring water baths or the religious groups that would take pilgrimage walking hundreds of miles to seek enlightenment – wellness tourism today is much more then just the destination, it is an extension of ones values and lifestyle choices. The well-being practices one implements in their day to day lives, through consumption and the brands they invest in, is something they of course expect to filter through to their holidays and travel.
Despite travel in itself being a form of revival, renewal and nourishment for me, here are my own experiences of wellness travel.
Fitness retreats and ‘bootcamps’ aren’t exactly the new kids on the block, but I am sure most of us are now savvy to the fact that a two week luxury holiday will not transform your body in an instance. Fitness is part of an all encompassing lifestyle choice and now you can tailor-make any holiday to accommodate this.
If like me you were lucky enough to grow up with annual trips to the snow mountains, you would probably agree that they are often associated with excessive drinking and a heavy carb diet – you need a holiday from your holiday. Well, after what I said was my final huzzah on a boozy Christmas trip back in 2018, we agreed amongst ski-friends that the next would take a different approach and we would feel rejuvenated on return (we were also sick of slumming it!).
Cue Snow Fit Retreat; the uber-luxury multi-faceted ski-trip with a difference. Launched by Britain’s Fastest Snowboarder/ex GB snowboarder Jamie Barrow and teamed with FLY Fitness, the retreat was housed in luxury Spanish villa Silverfield, sandwiched between the historic city of Granada and the Sierra Nevada mountain range. With a combination of traditional training and ski-specific training methods, we were coached by instructors Milly Jackson and James Iberson of Fly Fitness with the further advantage of tailored ski analytics with Chel-ski coach Daniel Crawford. Not only were our bodies conditioned specifically for the slopes, but on return from a day in the mountains we were catered by Cura London to fuel our bodies with nutritious three-course meals. The trip epitomised balance; sunshine and tapas in Granada’s old cobbled streets, accompanied by luxurious skiing in the Sierra Nevada. The villa came equipped with a spa, outdoor & indoor pool, in-house cinema, bar, multiple terraces, and of course outdoor & indoor gyms.
For me, the significant difference of group training (like being part of a fitness community/gym) is the sense of community and connection to everyone that is with you – the intoxication of shared experience and emotional quality is at it’s height.
Last year I found myself in the depths of a hedonistic wellness retreat in the misty mossy valley hideaway of the Como Shambhala Estate, Bali. Set amongst the palm trees of Begawan Giri and lined by the Agung river, Como ‘Shambhala’ (meaning sacred in sanskrit) houses 40 individual suites dotted around this jungle haven.
Upon arrival I immediately felt this sense of serenity overcome me, there was something in the air that put my body into a complete state of relaxation and rejuvenation. As we were escorted around the estate by our assigned personal assistant Purna, the warm frangipani scented breeze brushed through the leaves of the flora accompanying the incredible sounds of jungle wildlife. No man-made interruption, just nature and absolute bliss. I was already in love and ready to soothe both mind and body.
This retreat experience was part of a 10 day trip to Bali, in which I jam packed both adventure, luxury and most importantly wellbeing. To start, we were recommended sunrise wake-ups, a digital detox and a tailor-made holistic health programme chosen from the extensive daily itinerary (including yoga, meditation, hydrotherapy and Qigong). Whether you wanted a structured programme or to indulge in room service with private pool dips and in-house massages, it is your retreat to tailor.
I spent my days exploring the 9 hectares of jungle terrain via the beaten path which takes you down to the river and spring water plunge pools. Being only a 15 minute drive from the artistic and cultural centre Ubud, there is the option to explore the local area too. Our suite was a timeless understated design of Japanese origin, including an outdoor bath (room) and shared plunge pool overlooking the terrain. Glow, the health food restaurant and epicentre of the estate, takes this experience to another level. Nourishing your body from inside out, the extensive menu featured a complete array of raw food recipes that would change your view on healthy living. I started my day with vinyasa flow followed by breakfast served in a 150-year-old former Javanese residence. We would half-walk, half-float back to our residence, feeling a million miles away from the pressures of home life.
Booked through Pippa Rose Lifestyle.
If you have visited India, we may share the common opinion that it is one of the most spiritually powerful places on the planet. In the words of Gregory David Roberts, “The simple and astonishing truth about India and Indian people is that when you go there, and deal with them, your heart always guides you more wisely then your head. There’s nowhere else in the world where that’s quite so true”.
Like an artist’s paint palette of lemon, gold, tangerine, ruby reds, peacock blues, emerald greens, sunsets pinks, and royal purples, you are immersed in a world where beauty is celebrated in such an honest way. India is a country built on love. You may not realise this amongst what feels like a backwards society, however without this strong love that everyone has for each other, their animals, their religions and their tradition, a country like this would crumble before our eyes. Somehow amongst the craziness there is unity.
Now I would argue that India, as a destination, is a spiritual cleanse in itself however the country is filled with incredible inclusive experiences to strip back what the fast-paced western life may have lumbered us with.
Long gone are the days of psychedelic 60’s Goa, where the nomadic hippies would gravitate for beach gatherings and magic mushrooms to claim it as spiritual cleansing. Goa is now a hub of yoga, health food and (especially in the south) secluded beach huts. Despite there being many retreats available to join in Goa, there is no reason you cannot create your own. Further north, in the famous home of yoga, Rishikesh is a world renowned location for becoming an authentic yoga instructor. To take your spiritual healing to another level join an Indian Ashram; an Ashram is a place for practicing Yoga, Meditation and other spiritual practices to evolve and grow spiritually in an authentic Indian manner. Ashrams were originally founded as Indian hermitages or places of seclusion, and remain so today.