Superb health and wellness retreats

For many of us, long days at the office, stress and shopping can affect a healthy lifestyle. So we often consider that our holidays are not an opportunity to over-calorie (well, not always), but a chance to press the reset button and return to our exercise and fitness regimes. And those who manage to stay fit all year round may not want to part with their healthy lifestyle when they leave for a week or two. After all, there is much to be said about the body-mind connection. From a rustic yoga retreat to a getaway on a luxury private island, these are the 14 best places for a healthy and relaxing vacation.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Bahamas

Those looking for a relaxed holiday with yoga should look elsewhere. This is a serious ashram of an established group (there are nine Sivananda yoga ashrams around the world) and the 5:30 a.m. wake-up bell proves it. Clients focus on postures, breathing, positive thinking and meditation, and have free time to enjoy the beautiful beach setting. Apparently a world away from the large nearby seaside resort of Atlantis, this five-and-a-half-acre oasis offers a range of accommodations from tents to seaside suites (most rooms have a shared bathroom). Two vegetarian meals are prepared each day after each two-hour yoga class. Morning and evening satsangs (a mixture of meditation, songs, lectures, songs and dances) help to create a sense of community. The daily agenda includes additional workshops and conferences, as well as a wellness centre for Ayurvedic massage and body care.

Aqua Wellness Resort, Nicaragua

Aqua Wellness Resort is a rustic and luxurious wellness retreat located on a hill overlooking Redondo Bay on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua. The resort has an environmentally friendly design, lush vegetation (expect to see wild animals such as howler monkeys and iguanas), healthy food (almost every dish is accompanied by a hearty side of vegetables) and an excellent yoga platform with an ocean view where group classes are held. In addition, the spa uses local materials, treatments and techniques. The rooms are decorated with lots of natural wood; some units include swimming pools and a breath-taking view of the ocean. The white sandy beach is beautiful and secluded, and you can do an extra work-out by walking up the hill from the beach to the reception.

Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur

Big Sur is considered one of the most healing places in the world and no resort exploits this breath-taking natural environment more than the Post Ranch Inn. The organic architecture is breathtaking, as if it were emerging from the ground next to the surrounding sequoias of the hotel. The spacious, environmentally friendly rooms offer ocean or mountain views, as well as wood-burning fireplaces and private terraces. Free activities include yoga and stargazing, and the famous spa offers shamanic services, including illumination, soul recovery, divination and fire and drum ceremonies.

Asclepios Wellness and Healing Retreat, Costa Rica

Asclepios, named after the ancient Greek god of healing, is a wellness centre located on the hills near the city of Alajuela, in the central valley, near the airport but away from the hustle and bustle of downtown San Jose. A full spa, a fitness centre, an outdoor swimming pool and an organic restaurant are all located on spacious grounds in the middle of a lush landscape. Available programs include activities such as yoga and nutrition consultations. Each of its 12 comfortable and elegant rooms has a different theme and all overlook hills planted with coffee and sugar cane.

Haramara Retreat, Sayulita, Mexico

Haramara is probably one of the most special hotels in Mexico. It is a luxurious yoga retreat located on 12 hectares of wild vegetation by the sea, just outside Sayulita. The structures have been built using traditional construction techniques to minimize environmental impact, and there is no electricity outside the restaurant and yoga studio – even in the rooms. Each room is housed in a thatched hut, isolated and without windows and screens that do not separate it from the jungle. It has only gauze curtains and mosquito nets to avoid insects and bugs. It is designed for people in need of detoxification and relaxation, with yoga and meditation classes, an outdoor spa, a vegetarian restaurant and seafood restaurant, unpaved walking trails and limited mobile phone service.

Tucson Ranch Canyon

Canyon Ranch is an all-inclusive health and resort located north of Tucson, near the Santa Catalina Mountains. Here, the focus is on wellness, nutrition and fitness. Daily fitness classes, informative conferences and a menu containing healthy and low-calorie foods help clients start (or maintain) a healthy lifestyle. The south-western colour palette inspired the d├ęcor of the rooms, which are equipped with a flat-screen TV, free Wi-Fi connection and an iPod docking station. Peaceful and immaculate grounds and targeted spa treatments all offer an incredibly relaxing environment. While many clients report feeling renewed after a visit – particularly after spending time in the 80,000 square foot spa complex – a minimum stay of three nights is required.

Parrot Cay and COMO Shambhala Retreat, Turks and Caicos Islands

Accessible by a 30-minute boat trip from Providenciales, this all-inclusive 1,000 acre complex on a private island is the definition of tranquillity. With an incredible overflow pool, the world-renowned COMO Shambhala spa, Balinese style villas on the waterfront, exciting service and over five kilometres of pristine beaches, this is undoubtedly one of the most luxurious and romantic options in the Caribbean. The spa offers holistic treatments to help clients achieve physical well-being and spiritual balance. The facilities include a yoga room and a Pilates studio. The “Be Active” option is a popular package that includes daily yoga classes, wellness consultations and a private kayak trip.

The sanctuary on Mount Camelback, Scottsdale

Considered one of the best resorts in the southwest, the Serene Sanctuary continues to impress its discerning guests with its cuisine, spa and magnificent suites. Spa and fitness packages include five tennis courts, a movement studio, numerous spa therapies and various hiking and cycling trails. It undoubtedly has the most sought-after location in Scottsdale, overlooking Praying Monk Rock and the desert – not the spread of the suburbs.

Hidden pond, Maine

Spread over 60 hectares, the Hidden Pond complex offers suite style bungalows and two bedroom cottages. The spa is designed to look like a tree house, you can pick vegetables and flowers in the garden, nature walks, yoga classes and kayaking excursions are offered, and the restaurant serves local organic cuisine prepared by a renowned chef. Another remarkable feature is the outdoor bar and grill that rests on a “sandbank”, with chairs surrounded by fireplaces. This charming high-end hotel attracts couples thanks to its peaceful environment and high-end restaurants. Families also love the resort, for its chalets which include a fully equipped kitchen and a washing machine / dryer. The hotel also offers a free shuttle to the beach, located only five minutes away.

Natura Cabana Boutique Hotel & Spa, Dominican Republic

Offering environmentally friendly bungalows in a lush and friendly setting, Natura Cabanas is a serene foretaste of luxury on the north coast at a remarkably fair price. Guests enjoy delicious fresh food, a clean and crowd-free private beach, yoga classes and a fabulous spa. Yoga classes are free for clients and last 90 minutes. The bungalows with stone walls and thatched roofs are a little rustic, with no televisions or air conditioning, but that’s what counts.

Ventana Inn & Spa, Big Sur

This luxurious rustic complex located on more than 200 hectares of picturesque oceanfront land is a Zen and holistic retreat offering yoga classes; discovery walks; wine and cheese afternoons; Japanese baths; and two swimming pools (one of which is optional). The 62 simple and luxurious rooms have wood accents and some have fireplaces; glass doors and large windows keep the rooms bright and airy.

Anse Chastanet, Saint Lucia

Opened in 2000, Anse Chastanet Resort, with 49 rooms, is one of the first establishments in the region to focus on eco-luxury design and deliberately avoid technologies such as television, telephone and air conditioning (although the last rooms). The complex offers five restaurants, two beaches, numerous water sports, a seaside spa and access to the property’s organic farm located about 20 minutes away. The rooms have wrap-around terraces, most of which offer a view of the Pitons.

Le BodyHoliday, LeSport, Saint Lucia

BodyHoliday presents itself as a place of refreshment, refocusing and revitalization, and the complex offers customers many possibilities to accomplish these tasks. This all-inclusive high-end complex is one of the most luxurious in Saint Lucia, with higher daily rates than the nearby Sandals and Rendezvous complexes. The units are located in a series of buildings built on a hillside overlooking Pigeon Island National Park, an isolated cove and a white sandy beach. The huge temple-like wellness centre is the hub of daily spa treatments, but there are also countless activities, from yoga to archery, to motivate clients to stay active.

Miami Beach Carillon

With some of Miami’s most beautifully decorated large rooms, a seaside location, a superb spa, a huge fitness centre with a climbing wall and dozens of daily classes, and a team dedicated to wellness medicine, Carillon Miami Beach is an excellent choice for a healthy vacation.

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