Published: 28 February 2022. Written by: Hattie Parish.
With travel restrictions eased around the world and two years of uncertainty behind us, now’s the time to snap up a life-enhancing wellness holiday destination trip.
Travel was one of the first industries hit by the pandemic, but it’s bouncing back – and wellness tourism is leading the charge. Worth $720.4 billion in 2019, the global wellness tourism market is predicted to grow at a rate of 20.9% from 2020-2025 – faster than any other sector in the wellness economy.
‘Where holidays were previously seen as an opportunity to indulge, there’s been a shift towards using the opportunity to grow spiritually, get in touch with yourself and explore wellness experiences,’ says Céline Vadam, founder and CEO of WE(i) Think and member of the Global Wellness Institute’s Wellness Tourism Initiative.
Research from the Global Wellness Institute found that 76% of prospective travellers said their next trip would include a wellness component, while according to a recent survey from American Express, 68% would base their entire holiday around improving their wellbeing. ‘When travelling, people are more receptive and have more time for new things. It’s a great time to practise wellness,’ agrees Vadam.
When should I book?
February is a natural time to think about holidays for the year, whether you’re looking to snap up popular school-holiday slots or fed up with the British weather and want something to look forward to. ‘For more options and better deals, start looking at your next holiday now,’ advises Vadam. Here’s where to go.
For connecting with nature: the Maldives
According to the Global Wellness Institute, 72% of travellers rank ‘connection to nature’ as their top expectation on a wellness trip, and with its white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, a number of retreats in the Maldives are rising to meet that need.
Where to stay:
- Joali Being – nestled amongst lush coconut palms, this nature-immersive retreat aims to help you reconnect with yourself through reconnecting with Mother Nature.
- Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru – this retreat is hidden away in the Baa Atoll UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
- Velaa Private Island – designed to help guests feel at one with nature, each private beach and overwater residence here is built using local materials.
For the eco-conscious: Costa Rica
With yoga, spas and surfing set against lush rainforest and sun-drenched sands, Costa Rica couldn’t not be on this list. The country’s mantra is ‘Pura Vida,’ meaning ‘pure life,’ and embodies the notion of relaxed, fuss-free living and finding joy in the everyday. ‘It’s an amazing place, with such a chilled, joyful and secure vibe. You can feel the Pura Vida lifestyle as soon as you set foot on the ground,’ says Vadam.
Plus, Costa Rica is a pioneer in sustainability and boasts a rich biodiversity – this small country has around 5% of the earth’s biodiversity. ‘It’s very green and eco-friendly, with cute eco-lodges where you wake up in nature and maybe a sloth in the garden!,’ says Vadam. ‘They prioritise green energy and there are lots of measures in place to protect the environment. Surfing, yoga, hiking, dancing, swimming and good healthy food are the order of the day.’
Where to stay:
- El Silencio Lodge and Spa – set in a 500-acre cloud forest reserve, this luxury eco-lodge is all about embracing the elements while enjoying locally inspired treatments.
- THE WELL at Hacienda AltaGracia – this luxurious rainforest resort is plastic-free, uses seasonal homegrown ingredients and includes an ethically run coffee plantation – plus guests can join ecological adventures through nearby national parks.
- Tabacón Thermal Resort and Spa – thermal mineral springs are heated by the nearby volcano at this sustainable eco spa.
For a digital detox: Peru
With home working now the norm for many, it’s becoming harder and harder to disconnect. Enter the digital detox. While, of course, you can switch off devices wherever you are, Peru’s strong focus on nature and the spiritual are so at odds with modern tech that your iPhone will feel out of place.
‘With more than 1,400 species of medicinal plants, Peru’s traditional medicine is using the Earth as a healer,’ says Vadam. ‘It is a highly spiritual place, symbolised by Machu Picchu, built by the Incas in honour of the Sun God Inti.’
Where to stay:
- Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica – there’s no signal or wi-fi at these 35 wooden cabins deep in the Amazon rainforest, where you can completely switch off and wake to the sound of birdsong.
- Willka T’ika Wellness Retreat – swap email for the meditation garden at this wellness mainstay located in Peru’s Sacred Valley of the Incas. There are no TVs or phones in the rooms, and wi-fi only in designated areas.
- Belmond Rio Sagrado – surrounded by breathtaking nature and perfectly placed for exploring Machu Picchu, all accommodation here is TV-free.
For whole-body healing: Iceland
‘Volcanoes, fjords, roaring rivers, green valleys, black sand beaches – Iceland is presenting you nature at its wildest and most scenic,’ says Vadam. ‘Switch off your phone, immerse yourself in the landscape and dive into the sulphur water to enjoy the full healing benefit of this magical island.’
Where to go:
- Sky Lagoon – honouring authentic Icelandic bathing culture, this spa offers panoramic Atlantic views from the infinity pool and a special seven-step ritual on the treatment menu.
- Vök Baths – a geothermal pool allows guests to experience Iceland’s underwater hot springs, plus in the winter you can brave an ice-cold plunge in the surrounding waters.
- Blue Lagoon – Iceland’s most famous natural spa, Blue Lagoon offers a completely unique experience, where you’ll find a private stretch of water nestled among volcanic rocks.
For next-level fitness: Greece
Where better to dive headfirst into fitness than the birthplace of the Olympics? The Greek spirit of adventure is felt through many of the country’s retreats, which use the ocean, mountains and even amphitheatres for outdoor activities (ranked in our top three expectations for a wellness trip).
‘Greece is not only sandy beaches, it has the right balance between mind, body and soul wellbeing. Nourish your body with the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, move while exploring the rich culture of the country, and reconnect watching the sunset,’ says Vadam.
Where to stay:
- Re:Nou by Georgie Spurling – Personal trainer Georgie Spurling (of the GS Method) now has a retreat that promises low impact, low stress but highly effective training, alongside nutritious Mediterranean food to strengthen the body from the inside out.
- Euphoria Retreat – opt for the Spartan Spirit of Adventure programme for a week of outdoor fitness exploring the region of Sparta – and unwind in the gorgeous spa at the end of the day.
- Amanzoe – this holistic sanctuary is home to bespoke wellness programmes incorporating fitness, bodywork and mindfulness for lasting change in body and mind.
Did you know that travelling can help you to feel better mentally and physically? Discover why travel is good for your body and mind here.
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