Cart is empty
Wellness doesn’t have to be about meditation and cleansing. Whether you’re in need of a massage or a marathon sleep, a majestic view or an IV drip of margaritas, these choice locations are sure to make you feel better than you have in months.
1. Sardinia, Italy
As one of the world’s “Blue Zones”, people live longer in Sardinia than (almost) anywhere else. No prizes for guessing why the natives clock up the years considering Sardinia’s pleasant climate (approximately 300 days of sunshine) and Mediterranean surrounds. A Sardinian diet of goat’s milk, barley and a glass of Cannonau red wine a day may also be a contributing factor to the locals’ longevity. Take a trip to the seaside village of Pittulongu to test the effects for yourself. Once here, your daily to-dos revolve around (skinny) dipping in the ocean and tackling that ambitious reading list.
2. Montreux, Switzerland
If you want to cleanse your body of urban pollutants, heading somewhere with an abundance of fresh mountain air is a good starting point. Known for their “rejuvenation therapy” – which claims to boost your immune system – Swiss maverick Clinique La Prairie combines a state-of-the-art medical spa with a holistic approach to wellness. From detox programmes to sleep management, the clinic is best experienced solo, allowing you to leave your everyday reality behind. Located on Lake Geneva’s shoreline, Montreux is also an idyllic spot to spend a few reflective days post-clinic.
3. Joshua Tree, US
Dotted with bizarre rock formations and the oddly shaped trees for which Joshua Tree National Park is named, this remote, desolate environment has long been tipped as a place for spiritual growth. On the cactus-studded trail across the park, sunrise and sunset hikes are a riteof passage. Following a marathon walk, you’ll be rewarded with unobstructed views of the Sawtooth Wilderness and San Gorgonio mountain. As the sky shifts to an ink-blue hue, head to Skull Rock or the Ocotillo Patch for stargazing under a glittering dome of constellations.
4. Costa Rica, Central America
Lush with verdant forests and wildlife-rich beaches, Costa Rica is one of those places where even the utterance of its name causes an involuntary exhale. At Pointe Break Retreats, the focus is placed on dance – proven to reduce levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) while simultaneously releasing feel-good endorphins into the bloodstream. After your morning stretch and dance session, linger over a healthy breakfast before riding Nosara’s choppy waves. Spend the afternoon in a hammock as your flick through your latest read. Unwind with a candlelit, sunset ballet class in the resort’s open-air studio.
In the foothills of the Himalayan mountains, you’ll find the birthplace of yoga and meditation. With no phone reception, take this as the perfect excuse to detox your mind, body and Instagram feed for a few days. The Ananda resort uses Ayurveda, an ancient form of healing, practice and teachings to help melt away stress. The retreat aims to restore balance and harmonise energy; in short you’ll leave here with a newfound self-awareness. Don’t take it to heart if your friends and colleagues get fed up of hearing about the “new you”.
6. Chiang Mai, Thailand
As Southeast Asia’s creative capital, Chiang Mai, in Thailand’s tropical and mountainous north, is a cultural hotbed. Once you’ve finished exploring this megalopolis, travel to Raya Heritage to recharge. Located on the banks of the Ping River, Raya Heritage celebrates Chiang Mai’s deep-rooted artistry with locally made chandeliers of hand-loomed hemp, bespoke lacquerware and a spa that revisits healing therapies from Lan Na – the ancient kingdom that founded Chiang Mai. Unwind poolside, sipping Thai iced coffees with a view of verdant paddy fields from your lounger.
7. Cancun, Mexico
It might be synonymous with spring break, but wellness is all about balance, so indulge the naughty and nice with meditation and margaritas in sequence (or simultaneously) in Cancun. Entrepreneur-turned-spiritual-guru Kelsey Patel hosts his eponymous retreat with a focus on oceanside yoga and chilling out on the beach. Visit Kelsey Patel in April through December to avoid the crowds but still catch those rays.
Wellness retreats tend to include a digital detox, but with a resort as this Insta-worthy as this, it would be rude not to gram. Over the course of your stay at Fivelements, nourish your soul with Balinese food and bathe in their open-air tub before test-driving its coconut-tree bolstered swing. Make sure to carve out ample spa time; soaking in oils and a kaleidoscopic array of petals will leave you smelling – and feeling – as fresh as a frangipani.
9. Okinawa, Japan
More akin to the tropical shores of Thailand than tech-obsessed Tokyo, Japan’s Okinawa islands are a hotbed for surfers, scuba divers and stressed-out urbanites seeking sand. Banish the burnout by heading to Yanbaru for an afternoon of shinrin yoku (forest bathing), first prescribed in the 80’s as an antidote to stress. Leave the gadgets at home and spend a few hours submerging yourself in the sounds, smells and sights of the rainforest. City dwellers can continue the practice at home – although we’d avoid Hyde Park and head to Highgate Wood instead.
10. Glenorchy, New Zealand
Situated in southern New Zealand, Glenorchy is all about craggy peaks, clean air and connectivity with nature. Overlooking Lake Wakatipu, Aro Ha takes slowing down seriously – its six-day retreats are stuff of wellness legend. Mornings are filled with sunrise vinyasa flows and lengthy mountain hikes, while afternoons are best spent idling in the plunge pools overlooking the peaks. With an emphasis on sustainability – the whole retreat is solar and hydro powered – the menu is predominantly raw and plant-based. Stripping everything back to basics (no coffee, sugar or scrolling) will be a shock to the system, but your body will (eventually) welcome the break.
11. Calistoga, California
Hidden in the heart of the Californian wine lands, Calistoga is as famous for its erupting Old Faithful Geyser as it is for its plonk – although it’s definitely the pinot noir that piqued our interest here. We suspect that whoever said the answer might not lie in the bottom of a bottle hadn’t visited Napa Valley or its 300 wineries. All of the best vineyards are just a short wobble away from the Calistoga Ranch, where you’ll also get the chance to prune and crush your own grapes before tasting them in the cellar.
12. Akureyri, Iceland
Hailed as Iceland’s “Capital of the North”, Akureyri is a cuter, calmer alternative to Reykjavík – read: the traffic lights are heart-shaped. Cradled at the bottom of the Eyjafjörður Fjord with the Súlur mountain looming in the distance, the dramatic landscapes may well inspire your next (first) novel. After all, one in 10 Icelanders have already written a book. Booker Prize pending, visit the Mývatn Nature Baths – nature’s original soaking tub. It bubbles along at a muscle soothing 36°C, is packed with rich minerals and, unlike Iceland’s more famous geothermal baths, you’ll likely have the place to yourself.
You May Also Like
You know how you have that one incredible friend who knows their city inside out? That’s us. We take the world’s most dynamic destinations, hand-pick the best bits and give them to you in one place. This is the kind of guide that you don’t need to run by a local – it was written by one. Eat your heart out, shop until you drop, drink like a fish, dance your socks off, sleep – then repeat.
Embrace the adventurous appetite of the next generation with an annual subscription. SUITCASE Magazine challenges travel perceptions with thought-provoking photo journals, city guides and articles by award-winning international writers.
We'll tell you where you can find the perfect boutique hotel in Paris for under £150, if you tell us about the best dive bar in your city. Deal? Share your stories and photos with #SUITCASEtravels.