10 wellness retreats to clear your head for 2017
(CNN) — However lovely, the holidays tend to leave us feeling frazzled. Most of us will cap off the year with some combination of family drama, event overload, social media trolling and political uncertainty — not exactly a recipe for clearheadedness.
According to a 2015 Nielsen study, people generally turn to gym memberships for restoration, but no amount of weight loss is going to help us get our heads on straight. Sometimes, the only answer is a solid break from our everyday life to consciously focus on our personal development.
For just this reason, Tom Marchant, co-founder of travel company Black Tomato, reports that this year has seen an uptick in wellness-inspired travel.
“Mindfulness and emotional well-being have become increasingly important in a time when constant connectivity can leave us exhausted and overstimulated,” he says. “Being mindful and traveling go hand-in-hand, as one is encouraged to be present in the moment in order to fully switch off and appreciate [new] surroundings. It’s important to realign before heading into the new year [for] a clean slate.”
We can’t change the state of the world or our families, but we can change our mindsets.
So, in lieu of a “Men In Black”-style “neuralyzer” memory wipe, some mind-body-soul work seems key to starting the new year fresh.
Here, we’ve uncovered 10 holistic wellness retreats around the world that go beyond boosting our physical health: These programs promote mental focus, inner calm and a chance to soul search, so we can start 2017 with our best feet forward.
Stress-Free Success retreats
Where: Six Senses Douro Valley, Lamego, Portugal
When: 1/26-1/30; 3/26-3/30
What: This 19th century manor house, overlooking rolling hills and a flowing river, will host two four-day retreats in early 2017. Created by stress-reduction specialists Working In Balance, the idea is to teach enduring techniques for handling physical, psychological and external influences.
The experience — which is heavily influenced by Eastern beliefs — includes an individual wellness assessment, daily seminars, Tai Chi, meditation and yoga, as well as fitness classes and daily massages. This is especially ideal for finding work-life balance or for those contemplating a career change.
Don’t miss: Make use of the wine library and terrace — and tastings with local sommeliers — in this beautiful vino region.
From $1,670 per person
Where: Amanbagh, Rajasthan, India
When: Now through 5/31
What: When one of the world’s most luxurious and meticulous hoteliers introduces a wellness program, it just has to be legit. The latest in the Aman Wellness portfolio is found at lush Mughal-inspired Amanbagh in India’s Aravalli Hills.
Reflective of local culture, the seven- to 21-day retreat revolves around anti-aging and preventive medicine drawn from the ancient teachings of Ayurveda. An onsite Ayurvedic physician identifies each guest’s dosha (or Ayurvedic type) and creates a personalized program based on that information, including purifying body treatments and a meal plan.
Certain experiences are unique to this part of the world: Yoga and meditation sessions may take place in a 17th century temple in an abandoned city; hikes are through narrow gorges and above blocks of marble, polished over centuries. The goal is deep transformation and purification at a cellular level. As the days pass, everything from your memory to your senses to your physical endurance is meant to improve.
Don’t miss: Meals are made with ingredients harvested from the 86,000-square-foot organic gardens!
From $6,314 (single)
Make Time giveaway
Where: Siem Reap’s Phum Baitang Hotel and Song Saa Private Island in Cambodia
When: Enter online to win by December 27
What: This ultra luxury giveaway trip — curated by Black Tomato with partners Sakara Life, Vogue and Maiyet — is all about self-care and making “me” time. The winner and a guest will explore temples in a Cambodian village before lolling in a beach paradise, taking in the natural wonders and enjoying enough distance from everyday life for a little perspective check.
This trip is designed for anyone who is looking to recharge and relax: Bask by Phum Baiting’s enormous pool and sip cocktails by the 100-year-old farmhouse bar or happen upon a private nook on Song Saa.
Don’t miss: In Song Saa, guests receive a message in a bottle each day that suggests their private island dinner location.
Complimentary! (Value is $32,220)
The Wellness Collective
Where: Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, Rancho Santa Fe, California
When: Themed retreats — of three, five or seven nights — throughout the year include Movement & Fitness (1/8-1/14); Attitude & Perspective (3/5-3/11); Nutrition & Toxicity (5/7-5/13); Sleep & Respite (7/9-7/15); Relationships & Connection (9/17-9/23); and Stress & Balance (11/12-11/18).
What: Created in collaboration with the Lifewellness Institute and inspired by epigenetics — or the study of how lifestyle choices can impact the expression of genes and, thus, longevity and health — Rancho Valencia’s brand new yearlong Wellness Collective program addresses each specific aspect of wellness in depth.
Each retreat — including personal wellness advisers, workshops, private fitness sessions, 90-minute spa treatments, cold-pressed juice delivery and fitness classes — builds on the next: Fitness and Movement pushes additional blood flow to the brain for greater mental clarity. With better clarity comes better dietary choices, etc.
Don’t miss: The super peaceful open-air yoga pavilion, which overlooks calming pools of water.
Satori Mindfulness Meditation Spa Retreat
Where: Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa, Scottsdale, Arizona
What: Against the Sonoran Desert landscape, Sarah McLean, Hay House author and founding director of the Sedona Meditation Training Company, will lead this retreat to promote relaxation, balance, self-reflection and “restart the mind.”
In addition to meditative guidance in hopes of answering tough questions about identity and purpose, participants — of all skill levels — luxuriate in “mindful” organic meals by executive chef and Food Network star Beau MacMillan and four 60-minute spa treatments.
Don’t miss: A hike up Camelback Mountain to meditate at the top, followed by a Wild Lime Blossom full body massage. And, yes, a sustainable meditation practice.
From $2,264 based on double occupancy
The Arrigo Programme
Where: Somerset and London, England; India; and New York City
When: Somerset: Open 365 days a year for four days minimum; India: 10 days (3/7-3/16); NYC: 90 minutes, three or five hours (2/13-2/19).
What: Twenty years ago, psychotherapist, intuitive healer and mentor Fiona Arrigo created her one-on-one personalized program for deep healing that now integrates modalities like biodynamic medicine, breath work, precision bodywork, Tibetan pulsing and a psychological-astrological hybrid.
Whether over days in an English cottage or mere hours in an urban hotel, the program — led by Arrigo and other vetted experts — is designed for women in search of “deep nurturing” and restoration thanks to burnout, stress or emotional curiosity.
Don’t miss: The Mind Cleanse, a one-on-one intensive investigation into past behavior and experiences as a “zoom in” to overcome life’s everyday issues and create lasting, meaningful change.
Somerset: From $1,580 a day; India: From $5,100; NYC: From $380
Spirit Yoga Retreat
Where: Aleenta Phuket Phang Nga, Phuket, Thailand
When: Three seven-night retreats: 1/7-1/14; 3/1-3/8; 4/1-4/8
What: Against the backdrop of dreamy Natai Beach, internationally acclaimed yogi and Spirit Yoga creator Patricia Thielemann encourages her students to recharge and prepare to meet the challenges of modern life through personal transformation in four areas: Weight Optimization, Anti-Aging, Mind Balance and Detoxificaton.
Her yoga classes — known for marrying ancient techniques and today’s innovations — are bolstered by morning meditations, individual goal consultations, self-enrichment workshops and Ayurah Wellness Centre treatments from oxygen therapy to integrative massage.
Don’t miss: Freshly squeezed juices — like pineapple and mint — are created from local fruits and herbs and are served alongside specialties like coconut porridge.
From $1,609 per person
Essence to Essence: Festival of the Senses
Where: Le Guanahani, St. Barthélemy
When: 1/26-1/29 (As a three-night package or booked as individual sessions)
What: This long weekend retreat — on an 18-acre private peninsula and led by Nick James of Body Bliss and Chaya Mueller Bronstein — is all about exploring aromatherapy and meditation to encourage self-discovery and a more upbeat outlook.
Guests will learn the fundamentals of blending flower essences and plants to create botanical boosts for everything from sleep to health. The aromatherapists believe that gravitation toward certain scents can indicate a lot about one’s inner nature, so participants will also blend their own personalized natural perfumes.
Each day will begin with a morning meditation and each guest will enjoy a treatment at onsite escape Spa My Blend by Clarins.
Don’t miss: An intuitive Tarot, palm reading or chakra reading with Chaya Mueller Bronstein.
From $3,476 for double occupancy
Where: Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara, Oman
When: three-day, five-day and seven-day retreats, year round
What: Settled between a beach and a freshwater lagoon, this Middle Eastern property offers individually customized retreats that focus on helping to create balance in the mind and body.
Days are peppered with wellness consultations (including suggestions for this experience, but also life at home), anti-inflammatory meals, herbal elixir and fresh juice breaks, yoga and meditation sessions and Eastern-inspired wellness therapies (from the Shirodhara form of Ayurveda therapy — during which warm herbal oil is poured on the forehead — to Tibetan KuNye Massage — involving acupressure to de-stress the body).
Don’t miss: Take advantage of the area’s abundant frankincense for healing.
The three-day wellness program starts at $450, exclusive of room and meals. Room rates start at $350 per night.
Life in Balance Retreat
Where: Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, Queensland, Australia
What: At this Gold Coast wellness destination, organic living is always the way and there is a dedicated building for emotional well-being (alongside which wallabies roam).
But during this special three-day retreat (where it’s summer), seminars with holistic psychiatrists will focus specifically on finding balance through life’s natural “antidepressants.” Organic meals and spa treatments round out the experience, which hopes to uncover what might be holding each guest back in life.
Don’t miss: Equine therapy! Work with horses to unearth your own emotional issues.
From $1,465 per person