Wanderlust inspiring wellness holidays

Is it just me or was that the longest January ever? Even though it’s now February and some would argue that it’s officially spring (FWIW – it’s not), it’s hard to shake the winter gloom and all that comes with it. One guaranteed way to beat the winter blues is to book yourself a holiday so you’ve got something to look forward to. An even better way to beat the blues is to make it a wellness holiday where health, relaxation and your overall wellbeing take centre stage.

Wellness holidays have always existed but they’ve really taken off in the last year or two as more people seek to escape smartphone screens, stress and burnout. Once the domain of new age hippies, I now receive at least one press release a day from a travel company about their latest wellness offering, whether that’s a short spa break or an Eat, Pray, Love style whirlwind adventure. More than half of the people polled in a Travel Republic survey admitted they still check their work email while on holiday and the traditional holiday is no longer synonymous with rest and relaxation. Whether you want a wellness retreat or an active break, taking a holiday where you can really switch off is where it’s at travel-wise for 2018 and beyond.

With this in mind, I wanted to share some of the most wanderlust-inspiring healthy holidays and tempting wellness destinations I’ve come across. Whether you’re planning a much-needed getaway or you just need some lunch time escapism at your desk (happy to be of service!) these wellness holidays are positively envy inducing.

Wellness retreats, destinations and active breaks 2018:


Costa Rica Tourism Board Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio National Park, located on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. (PRNewsfoto/Costa Rica Tourism Board)

Last year a woman I follow on Instagram visited Costa Rica and I’m still thinking about the incredible photos she posted. When I received an email about Costa Rica being the next big wellness destination, you can bet I paid attention. With everything from the hot springs of Miravalles Volcano to unspoilt beaches of the Osa Peninsula, there’s nowhere better than Costa Rica to switch off and recharge. An official ‘blue zone’ (one of five geographic areas in the world where people live statistically longest) the Nicoya Peninsula has one of the highest percentages of centenarians in the world and it’s thought to be because of their diet based mainly on grains, calcium rich water and wellness experiences like ‘forest baths’ (breathing in the fresh air of the forest). Sounds like sheer BLISS.


wellness destinations 2018 meditation in cavanDid you know there’s an authentic Buddhist Meditation retreat in the County Cavan countryside? Nope, neither did I. Set in a classic nineteenth century estate with views of the Cuilcagh Mountains, Jampa Ling Buddhist Meditation Retreat is just the ticket if you want to switch off and give your mind a staycation. Established in 1990 under under the patronage of none other than the Dalai Lama himself, Jampa Ling welcomes guests of all faiths (and none) and is one way to get away from it all – without needing a plane ticket. Upcoming events include the Yoga & Meditation Weekend (€180, March 10, 2018 – March 11, 2018) which will cover Pranayama (breathing exercises), yoga asanas for all ages and capabilities and give you the meditation tools to deal with an overactive mind. I know I could use some of that.


colorado red-rocks-amphitheatre-at-night-james-o-thompsonHome to the Rocky Mountains, one of America’s true natural wonders, it’s no surprise that Colorado always ranks pretty high – if not number 1 – in the most breath-taking States stakes and I have always dreamed of visiting this stunning destination. This year Colorado is all about wellness and you can take a scenic 720 mile road trip across the state to experience all of its historic, mineral rich hot springs which were favoured by the Native Ute Indians.  There’s a host of unmissable wellness events taking place in Colorado this year, including the Women’s Weekend of Wellness at The Broadmoor (8 – 10 March 2018) and Telluride WOW (Weekend of Wellness) Festival (7 – 10 June 2018) offering group fitness classes, such as morning hikes, meditation and pilates.  One of the most incredible wellness events I’ve come across is Yoga on the Rocks, (Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison) where you can do your stretches at 6,450 feet overlooking Colorado’s iconic red rock, with sprawling views of Denver and the plains. The event takes place across eight Saturdays during the summer and it sounds like a real once-in-a-lifetime experience.


wellness retreats 2018 bovey castleA spa break with a strong focus on women’s health, the White Calm Women’s Wellness Retreat is designed for women aged 35 and over, and concentrates on all aspects of women’s health from sexual health to menopause. Led by Dr Amalia from Grace Belgravia and Kalindi Jordan of Art of the Sensual Woman, this three night getaway focuses on the physical and emotional challenges during different stages of life and activities include daily womb yoga, dance, workshops on menopause and breathing sessions.  Best of all, this wellness retreat takes place in the tranquil Bovey Castle, a spectacular country house hotel looking out across 275 acres of moorland in Dartmoor National Park.


Nothing beats walking to clear the head. Add some Spanish sun to the mix and you’ve got a walking holiday with a high happiness factor. Take a walk through Spain’s sunniest region, Almeria, and take in one of Europe’s most remote natural parks, the Cabo de Gata – Nijar Natural Park. Expect half-moon bays, hidden coves, bizarre volcanic rock formations, and flora and fauna. Step into a Spaghetti Western by walking through the abandoned gold mines of Rodalquilar, scene of the Spanish Gold Rush in the late 19th-century. Perfect as a walking holiday or a wellness retreat for singles, this 7 night trip from Solos Holidays cost £975 including flights from Gatwick, three-star Hotel Naturaleza Rodalquilar in Cabo de Gata Natural Park and more.


yoga holidays algarve lisa hughes blogJust hearing the phrase ‘yoga holiday’ makes me feel rejuvenated. Where better to experience the benefits of yoga and catch a rare moment of zen than the stunning Algarve where they say the sun shines 300 days a year? Travel Department has a very tempting yoga holiday in the unforgettable Algarve with all the yoga you could ask for from €699. You’ll begin each morning with a yoga class led by a qualified yoga teacher from MOONSyoga comprising lengthening, balancing and strength building poses. Each afternoon you’re free to explore the seaside village of Sagres before even more yoga in the evening.


Did you know that Alanis Morissette teaches a programme about exploring the Self at a new wellness centre in Santa Cruz? Well, now you do. Nestled in a forest of California redwoods, 1440 Multiversity – named for the number of minutes in one day – in Scotts Valley focuses on quiet reflection, lectures and healthy food, instead of gimmicky health trends. If you want to take your self-care rituals to the next level, the 5 night Make Yourself a Priority programme includes journaling, walking, hiking, breathing exercises and more. Food is never far from my mind so The Teaching Kitchen at 1440, where cooking, nutrition, and gardening classes are taught, sounds right up my street.


wellness destinations 2018 baliHit the waves on an unforgettable tropical adventure in Bali with the ever popular Surf Sistas Surfari. As if soaking up the incredible scenery of the Indonesian island of Bali and Nusa Lembongan wasn’t enough, on this 10 day trip you’ll definitely feel your endorphins flowing with daily surf sessions, relaxing yoga and generally having a splash with like-minded surfers. Whether you’re a natural born water baby or a beginner with a board, sunset surfs in paradise sounds like a sublime experience. The only problem? You’ll never want to leave.

Want more wellness tips? Check out my post on embracing lagom, the Swedish lifestyle trend, or this post on wellness hacks for the winter blues.

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