The Importance of Wellness

Wellness is about so much more than a trip to the spa. As we emerge from our shelters and begin traveling again, we will all have some feelings to work through after such a profound change to outlook and way of life. As part of our Travel Dreaming series, Largay president Amanda Klimak spoke with Dora Karanikas of Hidden Doorways, Rebecca Soloff of Six Senses and Janine Cifelli of Janine Cifelli Representation about the comprehensive wellness programs offered at destinations they represent.

“It’s about well-being. It’s about the mind, the body and the spirit, not just about the spa and getting a massage in a beautiful spot–which we do believe in,” Soloff said, explaining the Six Senses ethos. “We believe it’s much more than that.”

Each visit to a Six Senses property is an immersive experience that focuses on the totality of a person. For example, if you’re having trouble with sleep, as many of us have been during self-isolation measures, Six Senses can do a sleep analysis and assessment at many of its resorts. While you can’t travel there now, the At Home with Six Senses program offers live meditation and yoga, cooking classes utilizing Eat With Six Senses philosophy and tips for staying connected with other people.

Cifelli represents JL Bar Ranch in Texas’ Hill Country, which is scheduled to reopen May 20. The horse program there helps visitors find a peace within themselves.

“Horses in general are a direct reflection of you,” she related. “If you’re a mess, the horse is a mess.” If you’re trying to mount a horse and you’re tense, the horse senses that and tenses up as well. So, in earning the horse’s trust, you have to find a place of calm in your own mind. That ability to achieve that inner peace carries forward long after you leave the ranch.

At Clayoquot Wilderness Resort in British Columbia, there is no cell service, so those of who can’t put our phones down are forced to let go and enjoy their surroundings. Don’t worry, you can still make calls over the internet in case of emergencies, but otherwise you’ll be too busy immersing yourself in wilderness.

“We can take the most Type A personality and actually calm them down,” Cifelli said. “It’s a very spiritual experience.”

In their efforts to redefine wellness, Chablé Maroma and Chablé Resort in Mexico’s Yucatan provide temazcal ceremonies with shamans. “Everyone who’s ever done it comes out totally changed,” after two hours of steam and gratitude, Karanikas said.

The physical experience of wellness is very much tied in with the culture of the destination, making each experience unique. Meanwhile, it’s your vacation, so do wellness your way. If that means relaxing with a cocktail, so be it. At BodyHoliday in St. Lucia, there are dozens of options for classes and treatments, but there’s also no pressure to take part in any of them. That’s one of the qualities that makes it a great place to get into wellness travel, and with Six Senses Douro Valley in Portugal.

“Wellness is what you make of it,” Karanikas said. “So many people have turned to focusing on themselves and their wellness at home. Know that you can take that with you when you travel if you want to.”

These destinations offer flexible change and cancellation policies, so you can plan your wellness getaway with the peace of mind knowing you won’t be on the hook if the pandemic wreaks more havoc on plans.

“Our health, both physical and mental, is everything,” Klimak said. “Without our health we have nothing.”

Virtuoso Wellness Getaways

Perhaps it’s a New Year’s resolution of yours to concentrate on healthier living. Maybe you’ve recently experienced a life-changing event. Or maybe you just need a relaxing weekend getaway. Whatever it is that draws you in, wellness travel has a way of transforming outlooks on life. The goal, as with any journey, is to come back different from when you left.

And while you might think that going to a destination spa means lying around all day with cucumber slices over your eyes, the level of activity is really up to the traveler. With more than 30 resorts included in its wellness community, the Virtuoso network surely has one that fits your needs. You don’t need to ever set foot in a spa to have a transformative experience if that’s not your thing. There are plenty of ways to unwind and reset your perspective, and you can be as active as you want.

There are yoga and fitness classes, Zumba, nutrition classes and self-improvement lectures. Certain programs emphasize weight loss, while others focus on crafting, the outdoors or have various themed weeks.

On the menu is more than just wheatgrass shots and kale smoothies. Some resorts are strictly vegetarian, while others serve meat. Some serve alcohol, while others don’t. Lots of them offer cooking classes so you can learn techniques and ingredients to keep on a healthy track after you return home. Most programs are all-inclusive, offering a great value, and with fresh ingredients grown at or near the resort, you won’t find yourself going hungry.

While there are differences between wellness resorts, what they all have in common are gorgeous natural settings and a tremendous healing energy that pervades the grounds. Wellness escapes are great for friend groups, couples, and solo travelers. Whoever you’re traveling with, you’re bound to find a deeper connection with loved ones, whether they are with you or waiting for you back home.

Among the unique experiences wellness community members offer is equine therapy at Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa in Tucson. The classes, especially “It’s Not About the Horse,” help guests gain a perspective on how they approach life and better understand their own strengths and challenges. Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa in Miami has programs centered around heart health and diabetes. Canyon Ranch’s Tucson resort offers a golf clinic to work on your game in calmer times, and an emphasis on dealing with health crises in tenser times. Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico, southeast of San Diego, has hikes for all skill levels, including a nature walk that begins near the U.S. border and continues all the way to the resort through a 3,000-acre preserve.

Those are just a few examples of the restorative experiences to be had at Virtuoso-preferred wellness resorts. And if your idea of relaxation is a massage and a facial, well they’re great at that, too. Contact Stefany Di Manno Ceccato at DMC Travel Tailor (Dream Travel Designer/Co-Founder) at info@dmctraveltailor.com to find the resort that’s right for you.

By Damien Martin

Top Travel Trends for 2018

Happy new year! Here’s wishing you and yours a wonderful 2018 full of great adventures. As always, travel is evolving to match the changing world. Here are a few destinations and experiences that will be popular in the coming year.

Wellness

More and more travelers are focusing not so much on getting to a particular destination but a particular state of mind. Dozens of Virtuoso-preferred resorts and cruise lines are putting an emphasis on helping their guests restore mind, body and spirit. Using spa treatments, fitness activities, nutrition and education, these preferred partners enable travelers to achieve or restore balance in their lives and come home feeling refreshed and more connected to the world around them.

Adventure

Another way to escape the every day and experience the beauty of the world is to go to remote places and challenge yourself. Whatever is on your bucket list: climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, heli-skiing, tracking elusive wildlife or just getting away to the far corners of the earth, there is a Virtuoso-preferred partner specializing in that exact type of experience. If you really want to go to the middle of nowhere, that can be arranged too. Black Tomato offers a Get Lost experience, where travelers arrive at the airport without knowing where they are going, then dropped in a remote area and tasked with finding their way out. There is a team tracking your progress, and you have all the necessary supplies, so you’re in no danger of being stranded. But you’ll need to journey into yourself to find your way out.

Villas/apartments

Living like a local means immersing yourself in a destination, from where you eat, to where you shop to, increasingly, where you stay. Utilizing the vast resources of the Virtuoso network, you can have a home away from home knowing you’re staying somewhere that has been properly vetted and offers amenities such as housekeeping and a private chef if you’re so inclined. From a villa in Tuscany to an apartment in New York City, there is a place for you in more than 180 destinations worldwide.

Bolivia

From the otherworldly landscape of the Uyuni salt flat to hydrofoil cruises on Lake Titicaca, Bolivia has a lot to offer without the crowds you’ll find in its more trafficked South American neighbors. One of two landlocked countries on the continent (Paraguay is the other), Bolivia has unique geography, ranging from the Amazon basin to Andean highlands, and is full of Inca trails and ruins ripe for exploring. The silver mines of Potosi produced so much for the Spanish Empire that it was once the second largest city in the Americas, and the lagoons of the Salar de Uyuni are home to a wealth of unique flora and fauna and serve as a breeding ground for several species of flamingos.

Northern Ireland

Just like its counterpart the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland is full of natural beauty. It’s so alluring that is has served as a frequent filming location for Game of Thrones and the Star Wars franchise. Giant’s Causeway, made of thousands of interlocking basalt columns, is a unique geological site and right outside the town of Bushmills, home to one of Northern Ireland’s many whiskey distilleries. There is uncertainty about Northern Ireland’s future in the wake of the Brexit decision, but the country has come a long way since The Troubles and is asserting itself a top destination in its own right.

By Damien Martin