Where to transform your health while on holiday
WAVE goodbye to the traditional fly-and-flop and say hello to a more holistic holiday. From yoga retreats to gourmet getaways, these are the new travel hotspots for wellness chasers.
SANTA TERESA, COSTA RICA
BEST FOR: YOGA
Before you book that yoga retreat in Bali, check out the sprawling forests and unrivalled coastline of Costa Rica.
The beach town of Santa Teresa has already made a name for itself as a yogi hub, so pencil in a vinyasa class under the trees before hitting the surf and fuelling up at an organic cafe.
GO LUXE: Unwind in a beachside villa at Florblanca (florblanca.com) and practise your backbends in the open-air studio. To pick up the pace, ask the hotel to organise a horseback ride through the jungle or test out the famous zip lines.
SPEND LESS: Mix yoga with guided surf sessions on a Vajra Sol Yoga retreat (vajrasoltravel.com). Perfect for beginners, it bookends each day with a little Savasana and leaves you plenty of free time to roam the gardens.
BEST FOR: CYCLING
Swap the busy streets of Nepal for the tranquil paths of Bhutan and you’ll be one step closer to inner peace.
Nestled between India and China at the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas, Bhutan is home to ancient monasteries, snow-capped mountains and evergreen forests, so it’s no surprise it’s often described as the happiest place on Earth.
A hike is a must, but the rugged landscape is best explored on two wheels, which is why more visitors are choosing to cycle their way between villages.
GO LUXE: Book a room at Como Uma Paro (comohotels.com) and start your day with a cycle along the famous Chele La Pass and a hike to the Kila Nunnery. Recover at a Bhutanese bathhouse, then feast on a traditional lunch.
SPEND LESS: Take a seven-day cycling tour with Firefox Tours (firefoxtours.
com) and discover stunning temples, villages and valleys between Paro and Thimphu.
End your journey with a muscle-busting hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery.
WEST COAST, NEW ZEALAND
BEST FOR: GOURMET TOURS
Sitting pretty between the Tasman Sea and the Southern Alps on New Zealand’s South Island, the West Coast is a land of untamed beauty and even better food.
Drive down the 600km coastline and be treated to native whitebait patties, smoked salmon and venison, plus wild deer and boar for the more adventurous foodies.
GO LUXE: Set up camp at the secluded Rimu Lodge (rimulodge.
co.nz) and you’ll be surrounded by farmland, the roaring Hokitika River and the region’s best freshwater fishing spots.
SPEND LESS: If you only have a few days on the West Coast, be sure to visit the Salmon Farm & Cafe (salmonfarm.co.nz) in Paringa. Perched above a pond, the restaurant provides a true farm-to-table experience.
BEST FOR: MEDITATION
Sedona is dotted with crimson sandstone peaks, crystal shops and high-end spas, so it’s no wonder travel experts are calling this Arizona desert town the number-one wellness destination in the US. Made famous by its ‘spiritual vortexes’ (aka energy centres or places of extreme natural beauty that promote healing), it’s synonymous with self-exploration and outdoor meditation, so a mindfulness session under the towering cliffs is a must.
GO LUXE: Whether you’ve been meditating for years or you’re just starting out, a stay at the award-winning Mii Amo (miiamo.com) is sure to elevate your practice. Book in for the ‘spiritual exploration’ package to enjoy a mix of massage, guided meditations and crystal therapy.
SPEND LESS: Walk past the twisted juniper trees, marvel at Sedona’s red rock formations and connect with spiritual sites on a one-hour meditative hike with the team at SpiritQuest Retreats (retreatsinsedona.com). Expect to leave restored and recharged.
SÃO MIGUEL, PORTUGAL
BEST FOR: HOT SPRINGS
Portugal is having a real tourism ‘moment’, and although the terracotta rooftops of its buzzing capital Lisbon might be flooding your social media feeds right now, the bubbling thermal springs of Sao Miguel are about to take over.
Located off the west coast of Portugal, in the island chain of Azores, Sao Miguel and its network of natural springs and iron-water pools are quickly becoming Europe’s go-to destination for those looking to rest and recharge.
Although Sao Miguel has been a local hotspot for centuries, the long list of resorts now making use of the mineral-rich waters mean it’s never been easier for visitors to soak their stresses away.
GO LUXE: Boasting the largest concentration of thermal pools in Europe, Furnas Boutique Hotel (furnasboutiquehotel.com) is the perfect place to unwind. After taking a dip in one of the thermal swimming pools, treat yourself to some reflexology or a massage in one of the 10 treatment rooms.
SPEND LESS: Stay at the art deco Terra Nostra Garden Hotel (terranostragardenhotel.com) and you’ll have the botanical wonders of the Terra Nostra Garden right at your doorstep. Once you’ve explored the grounds, take a long soak in the huge 18th-century thermal pool.
BEST FOR: WATERSPORTS
Declared by TripAdvisor as the top-trending destination of 2018, Ishigaki — a tropical paradise in Japan’s Yaeyama Islands — is rich in white-sand beaches and coral reefs.
You can try your hand at snorkelling, flyboarding and pedal boating on the pristine shores of Fusaki and Sunset beaches, or spike your heart rate on a kayak tour on the jungle-lined Miyara River.
GO LUXE: As well as including all your gourmet meals, an all-inclusive stay at Club Med Kabira Ishigaki (clubmed.com.au) features a long list of land- and water-based activities.
SPEND LESS: Sign up for a dive cruise with Prime Scuba (primescuba-isg.com) to learn the basics of openwater diving and go in search of manta rays.
THE ORIGINAL TRAILBLAZERS
Nordic countries have been putting wellness at the forefront of life for decades. Experience it first-hand at one of these relaxing retreats.
1. ION ADVENTURE HOTEL, ICELAND
Trek across ancient glaciers, go fly-fishing in icy rivers, soak in geothermal pools and chase the northern lights at the epic Ion Adventure Hotel (ioniceland.is).
2. JÄRVISYDÄN, FINLAND
Overlooking Lake Saimaa, Jarvisydan Hotel & Spa Resort (jarvisydan.com) will reset your senses with forest hikes, aerial yoga and its impressive spa.
3. THE WELL, NORWAY
The largest spa and bathhouse in the region, The Well (thewell.no) allows guests to recharge with relaxation rooms, onsen hot springs and rhassoul clay treatments.