Where Will Your Path to Wellness Lead

The hit 1960s song, “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” by the trio Peter, Paul, and Mary has kept popping in my head these past 15 months since being grounded due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.   After 30 years of jetting off every few weeks for work and pleasure to the far reaches of the world from Thailand, Namibia to the Galapagos Islands, it was a seismic jolt to my body and mind to stay put with passport pages going stampless.

Now as the world begins to open up again I can’t wait to buckle up my plane seatbelt and reignite my life-long passion for cultural discovery.  But first, like many others coping during this pandemic, I need to give my mind and body a heavy dose of wellness.  Pandemic pounds gained, no gym visits and work reductions have contributed to an unsavoury consequence and need for a healthy change. 

Thankfully the wellness industry has flourished during this pandemic with numerous new resorts, wellness tech products, therapy advancements, and most importantly, better accessibility for all demographics, ages and genders. 

The wellness economy is valued at $4.5 trillion (yes trillion) according to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), the leading research organization for the wellness industry.  The COVID-19 pandemic has only reinforced how important a role that wellness destinations, hotels and resorts, activities, will play for people’s future well-being. 

What is wellness travel?  GWI defines wellness travel as, “Travel associated with the pursuit of maintaining or enhancing one’s personal well-being.”  It’s a broad definition that can mean many things to different people from taking in a yoga or meditation class, kayaking on a river, getting a massage (my favourite) or even enjoying a wine tasting.  The end result though is to make you feel better about yourself mentally and physically.    


Even before the pandemic, wellness travel has been growing in popularity.  If the pandemic has taught us anything, self-care and boosting our immune system has become more important for people.   

Travelers have numerous options for wellness travel with destinations, resorts and tour operators now focusing on this lucrative market.   Wellness travelers tend to spend more than the average traveler. 

The options are endless. First, you need to decide if you are a Primary or Secondary Wellness Traveler.  GWI explains the difference.

A Primary Wellness Traveler is someone whose trip or destination choice is primarily motivated by wellness.  For example, staying at a wellness resort that has a full range of programming and activities.  Alternatively, it could be visiting a yoga retreat and eating vegetarian.

 A Secondary Wellness Traveler is someone who seeks to maintain wellness while travelling or who participates in wellness experiences while taking any type of trip for leisure or business.  You may have a workout in the hotel gym, get a massage at the spa, eat healthier on a trip or go for a kayak excursion. 

What’s Your Wellness Travel Goal?

What benefit or what are you trying to achieve from your holiday.  Reduce stress, get fit, try new therapeutic treatments, start a new healthy diet, post-cancer recuperation, reinvigorating the relationship with your partner, spending time alone, getaway with friends, anti-aging therapies, or just need a break from the routine and need to relax.  Decide your priority – the body or mind or a combination of both.

Some destinations are better suited depending on what your goals are for your wellness getaway:  Love the water (hot and cold)?  Check out a Nordic-style spa and resort in Quebec or Scandinavian countries like Finland or Sweden. Don’t forget  the cold plunge after the sweat! 

Popular wellness destinations include Indonesia (Bali), California, Arizona, New Mexico, Florida, Hawaii, Iceland, Argentina, Canada, Italy, Spain, Thailand, Vietnam, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Greece, Portugal, Switzerland, South Africa, Maldives, Tahiti, Seychelles, Australia, Dubai, Tunisia, and Japan. 

Indulge in an all-inclusive wellness resort like Fusion Maia in Danang, Vietnam where the spa treatments are all-inclusive not the food and drink!  If you have time to spare a month-long yoga rainforest retreat in Costa Rica to fully bring your body and mind in balance might be just the path to wellness for you.  Need to be close to home?  Go to your favourite local luxury hotel and splurge on a Jacuzzi suite and check out the hotel’s spa for a relaxing facial and massage. 

Those looking for a mix of culture and wellness head to Arizona and the Sheraton at Wild Horse Pass, a Pima/Maricopa tribe influenced resort where the golf course, Aji Spa, and award-winning Kai restaurant will give you the flavours, landscape and healing therapies of the Sonoran Desert and native culture.   For a Mayan and more mindful and romantic experience the Chablé Yucatán and Chablé Maroma near Merida, Mexico are luxury wellness resorts with a distinctive Mayan touch in its therapies and resort design.  This is an idyllic retreat especially for couples who need a stress break and want to focus on their relationship. 

For those who treasure a good night’s sleep and boutique style resort check into the Hästens Sleep Spa Hotel in Coimbra between Lisbon and Porto, Portugal.  Just opened in May 2021, you’ll be spending a lot of time in your Hästens handcrafted, celebrity-loved mattress (each mattress costs about $40,000) with a bathroom lined with 1,2100 hand-carved, gold-plated marble book spines. Sleep health videos and music playlists, books, all provide a guaranteed good night’s sleep.

For those looking for a more pastoral setting set your eyes at the Domaine Du Mas de Pierre in Saint Paul de Vence in Provence, France.  Re-opened in May after an 18-month extensive renovation, the 76-room, nine-Bastides property ticks all the wellness boxes for a holiday infused with Provence sights and scents including the fragrant Tuberose flower which permeates the three-level luxury spa.  All your senses will have a well-earned retreat here.  

There are hundreds of wellness resorts, hotels and destinations around the world with popular resort and spa brands like Fairmont, Six Senses, Avana, One and Only, Ritz-Carlton, J.W. Marriott, Banyan Tree, St. Regis, Rosewood, Jumeirah, Aman, Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, and Zannier Hotels.  Healing Hotels of the World is a great resource featuring resorts geared towards wellness. 

Go on a wellness trip – not only can it relax and revitalize your mind and body but help you incorporate new wellness practices into your everyday life. It’s time to take a trip on the wellness side.

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