Destination wellness

We’ve heard a lot about how vacations help reduce stress and offer us a chance to unwind, but the latest trends in travel take this recharge to the next level. Many resorts and spas are offering special packages focussed on rejuvenating the body as well as the spirit with programs, treatments and workshops aimed at wellness.

Need a healing getaway? Here are some ideas to inspire your planning.

Detoxify and balance your body

We love the conveniences of modern life, but not what the resulting chemicals and pollution do to our bodies. It’s not surprising that detoxification has become a theme for many wellness getaway packages. For instance, the Elemental Embrace in Brighton, Ontario embraces Ayurveda, the ancient Indian art of healing. Herbal supplements and rejuvenation treatments help restore the body’s balance.

While you may not be ready to commit to its 28-night Panchakarma Program, the resort offers 2-6 night Quick Cleanse and Refresh programs that include a variety of treatments to help clear the sinuses, sooth the joints and boost the immune system. If you want to give your insides a good flush, the spa also offers colon hydrotherapy sessions.

Packages start at $850/person for the two night program and range up to $2,755 per week for 7, 14, 21 or 28-day programs, not including optional treatments. For more information visit

Master the art of sleep

Admit it, most of us could use a little more good quality sleep, and a vacation is a good time to get some serious rest. At the One&Only Palmilla resort in Los Cabos, Mexico, it’s not just about getting the perfect night’s sleep during your trip. The resort’s ” Wellness Sleep Therapy Program” teaches guests how to improve their sleep habits and improve their lifestyle.

The program includes spa services and wellness sessions, like the 90-minutes Deep Sleep Watsu Massage or Brain Synch Massage. If you prefer, have massage therapists come to your room for an In Room Sleep Retreat so you can climb straight into bed afterwards. On the wellness side, sessions focus on guided visualization, nutrition for better sleep and breathing techniques to help you sleep better at home.

Currently, the resort is offering Fall and Winter getaway packages for stays of three or more nights. Until December 18, 2010, enjoy perks like discounted rates, a free night’s stay and extra amenities like spa certificates and daily breakfasts. Rates start at $430/night USD. For more information, visit

Heal your body and your fitness routine

There’s nothing like a getaway to help you establish a new fitness routine — especially when your body and soul need some healing. While it’s located on the summit of Commonage Range in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, scenic vistas aren’t the only thing you’ll enjoy at Sparkling Hills. With a variety of experts onsite — including physicians, healing-touch practitioners, massage therapists, nutritionists and physiotherapists — the staff can custom build a program to suit your needs whether you’re recovering from surgery or injury, or simply want to start something new.

Inside this crystal-inspired resort, there are many places to work out or unwind, like aromatherapy and steam rooms, the Kneipp waterway (for water stepping) and a state-of-the-art fitness studio. Wellness programs also extend outdoors with hiking trails, winery tours and year-round sports offerings.

The resort offers some tempting getaways like the “Zoomer” package for people over age 55, and the “Whole Body Health and Wellness” package which includes 10 wellness treatments. Packages start at $240/night. For more details, visit

Sculpt and tone

Up for some intense training? The One&Only Ocean Club resort in the Bahamas is pairing up with Physique 57™ — a popular fitness method out of New York and Los Angeles — for a pair of four-day getaway packages January 13 to January 17 and May 12 – May 16, 2011. This vigorous cardiovascular program includes isometric exercises and orthopedic stretches to tone and define your physique.

Packages start at $1,450 USD per person and include not only two daily Physique 57™ classes and spa certificates, but also goodies like a gift bag with DVDs, a welcome barbeque and $300 food and beverage credit.

When you’re not “getting buff”, enjoy a round of golf or tour the area on a complimentary bicycle rental. Try your hand at fishing or scuba diving, or try your like at the nearby Atlantis Casino. For more information, visit

Looking for more fitness getaway options? Check out 6 get-in-shape spa getaways.

Learn to eat well

Forget “fat farms”. Today’s spas offer tasty fare, balanced exercise regimens and workshops to help you change your relationship to food. The goal isn’t a shortcut to weight loss — instead, developing healthy eating habits, learning about exercise and examining nutrition is key.

For example, as part of its health and wellness packages, Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach offers opportunities to consult with dieticians and nutrition experts to help design your ideal diet. Learn how to select and prepare the best healing foods for specific conditions like type 2 diabetes and arthritis, and get advice on how to boost your metabolism. Experts are also on hand to conduct food allergy and sensitivity testing to help address any digestive issues.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that you get to eat well during your stay too. Developed by top nutritionists, the resort’s cuisine is as healthy as it is tasty — and people with special dietary concerns need not sacrifice on taste or quality.

Stays at this renowned resort start at $250/night for accommodations, not including treatment sessions and meals. This fall, a special promotion offers guests who stay three nights or more a night’s worth of hotel allowance. The resort also offers a “Weekend Warriors” package that focuses on challenging exercise programs. For more information, visit

Unite body and spirit

Whether you want to de-stress or get more in tune with your body, more people are discovering the benefits of the body-mind connection. And you don’t need to fly to Asia or some other far-flung destination — places such as the Shambhala Mountain Center in Colorado offer opportunities to get away from it all on a spiritual level. It’s hard not to be inspired by its scenic Rocky Mountain location.

You don’t have to embrace the religion, but the center’s Buddhist meditation retreats include training in physical as well as spiritual practices like Tai chi, yoga, meditation, mindfulness and contemplative arts (like flower arranging and haiku). The center also offers courses in arts and education like photography, theatre and writing. If you prefer a little less structure, try one of their self-directed Retreat & Renewal programs.

Prices depend on the type of package, but typically range from $300-$1000 USD (including tuition) depending on lodging options. For more information, visit

Of course, Buddhism isn’t the only spiritual practice to consider. Many resorts and retreats around the world focus on aboriginal beliefs and healing practices too.

While wellness getaways aren’t always budget travel options, they can be an investment for your good health as well as a pleasurable getaway. If you are interested in a lower cost option, look for spas in your area and ask about day programs or workshops you can attend without the accommodations or meals.

Additional sources: National Geographic,

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