Fortunately, wellness vacations come in all pocket sizes – as simple as a 20-minute meditation in a spot by the ocean and as elaborate as a weeks-long mind-body makeover.
For anyone in doubt of what a spa or wellness vacation can do, consider a recent study out of the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration that found spa or wellness vacations often lead to:
* The ability to manage business affairs with more acumen, energy and creativity (verses results from non-spa vacations)
* The chance to return to work with significantly more energy — alert and “in the zone” with business matters
* An enhanced ability to make decisions and handle challenges
* A more focused and alert state of mind
The effects of regular and consistent meditation are also well known. But a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed people who meditate regularly have less activity in the brain’s default mode network – a place of drifting thoughts that wander onto negative subjects, creating more stress and anxiety. Activity in the default mode has also been linked to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and Alzheimer’s disease.
A University of Pittsburgh study showed how men who did not take yearly vacations, never mind wellness vacations, had a 21% higher risk of death from all causes, and a 32% higher risk of death by heart attack.
Benefit studies aside, wellness travel is simply an easy and enjoyable way to spend time, get pampered, meet new people, eat well, rest, and get into shape.
Kurtz-Ahler’s Wellness Travel collection provides a convenient starting place for matching resorts and dreams with packages for all budgets.
Rancho La Puerta, Mexico
This boutique treasure just south of the border in Baja brings the clear and temperate weather, the rolling vistas, the sacred spaces and the perfect ways to enjoy them through pampering programs, fitness boosts and healthy dining. Only 87 guest rooms here, all on ground level each with a colorful private patio. Classic 7-day visits ensure the proper recharge plus some of the best hiking to be found at any spa amid the resort’s 40 miles of trails.
SHA Wellness Clinic, Spain
Healing happens quickly when you are perched on white bluffs over the Mediterranean coast of Spain. An 80-minute drive from Valencia or 40 minutes from Alicante, this newly opened spa resort (2009) showcases all the latest treatments in a setting of high design and macrobiotically focused cuisine. All foods served are organic and chosen for their immune-building properties, while beauty and fitness programs ensure rejuvenation inside and out. SHA’s menu of age-busting beauty treatments coupled with a generous list of medical aesthetics options mean guests can arrange for some life-altering programs that go well beyond the realm of pampering.
Ananda – In the Himalayas, India
It’s possible to live like a maharaja and maharani in this former palace set on 100 acres of virgin forest in the foothills of the Himalayas. The healing that happens here follows ancient principles of Ayurvedic traditions while the setting remains as authentic as it was in its colonial hey day, a place of light and beauty. Meditation, yoga, massage, mindful walks, harmonious foods – all is geared toward bringing the mind, body and spirit into perfect balance through carefully planned regimens that infuse the wisdom of the ages. Find Ananda near New Delhi, easily accessed by train, road or air.
Chiva Som, Thailand
Guests have it all within this 57-suite retreat located on a beachfront stretch in Thailand’s royal resort town of Hua Hin. Within easy reach of Bangkok, Chiva Som provides a comprehensive, but relaxed immersion into Eastern philosophies and healing arts, providing choice at every turn. Weight loss programs, fitness regimens, meditation, cooking classes, yoga, t’ai chi – guests wrap themselves in a mélange of activities or simply sit back for generous pampering and care. Total relaxation is as assured as the gentle waves curling through the Gulf of Thailand and onto the palm-shaded sands of Hua Hin. (package)
Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa at Doral, Florida
It’s possible to disappear into this 650-acre paradise in Miami, FLA and come out nearly reborn: healthy, thin, relaxed and armed with a chest of new tools to make the changes last. The setting is the Doral Golf Resort, a vast layout of tropical gardens, swimming pools, tennis courts, a world-class spa, and championship golf courses. But there is much more. Guests can choose programs to fit their goals and get to work making the changes in their lives that will matter most toward a healthy heart, healthy weight and healthy lifestyle. It’s a working vacation where transformation is guaranteed within a prescribed comprehensive program full of classes, therapies and proper cuisine.
The Ranch at Live Oak in Malibu, California
Going to the Oscars and need to fit into that hourglass Valentino? This is your spot. In fact, celeb spotting is not uncommon in this hidden and private 120-acre ranch in the mountains above Malibu, CA. It’s a take no prisoners camp for those who must become beautiful in a hurry. Couch potatoes need not read on. Programs are weeklong, 10 hours a day, strength gaining and invigorating — and opting out of a class or activity is not an option. Cooking classes, low impact aerobics, hiking, yoga, massage, delicious and healthy eating come as daily inclusions leading to a new body at week’s end, a new level of can-do and a welcomed elevation of mental clarity. (package)
Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa, Florida
Canyon Ranch is the original name in trusted destination spa vacations, made famous by the flagship Canyon Ranch resort outside of Tucson, AZ. In Miami, it’s a total luxury all-suite hotel dedicated to wellness on its own little piece of the coast near the Bay Harbor Islands. Guests embrace the Ranch’s total immersion philosophy with a cascading menu of classes and lectures, a fitness facility that includes Pilates, rock climbing and yoga, beach boot camp for those who want it or beach bicycling for those who don’t, and just the beach for others who want to settle into the setting. The 70,000 square foot spa is not just about the menu of treatments. The facility is a destination in itself with myriad water therapies, mineral rooms, saunas, reflexology chambers and thermal suites. Mix/match or manage a customized program here. Choice abounds, fun is guaranteed, relaxation happens.
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