Creating A Wellness Retreat to Remember

A retreat in Bali with yogi Andrew Sealy helps participants get out of their comfort zones and establish healthy new routines.

As the quest for optimal health reaches a fever pitch, wellness retreats have become the go-to for kick-starting the ultimate reset. While spa-goers once traveled to destination spas for such experiences, now they can find a retreat designed to fit their specific wants and needs at any number of resorts. With so many from which to choose, it’s becoming increasing difficult to stand out from the pack. As a result, many spas are upping their game with unique offerings and swag.

Whether spa-goers are taking advantage of a special week of programming at their favorite spa or following a beloved yoga instructor to a fabulous destination, today’s retreats run the gamut. While some people are content with a general wellness-inspired agenda, others are drawn toward retreats offering access to a special wellness expert or with a particular goal in mind. For example, last fall, the Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai (Hoi An, Vietnam) hosted The Present: A Mindfulness Retreat, which explored the mindfulness teachings of renowned Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. The retreat, led by brothers and sisters of Hue’s TÙ’ Hiê'u Pagoda, involved sitting, walking, and eating meditations; Dharma Talks; and Sharing Sessions, in addition to vegetarian meals, Stability Yoga, and spa treatments. All of the activities were designed to develop one’s connection to the self, the universe, and the present moment. “The resort’s Heart of the Earth Spa is inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh’s earth-connecting teachings, and it has long been a dream of ours to offer guests a deeper understanding of his approach to mindfulness and its foundations,” says spa manager Dwi Susanti.

Earlier this year, Pasea Hotel & Spa’s Waves of Wellness Weekend in Huntington Beach, CA, kicked off with a Kettle One Botanical Kick Off Party. Partnerships are certainly one way to enhance a retreat. The weekend also incorporated floating yoga, a workout class with fitfluencer Katie Dunlop, a Kerstin Florian gua sha session, a sound bath meditation, glow yoga with a body-paint station, and a CBD seminar. The resort hosted its second Waves of Wellness weekend June 8 through 9, featuring baby goat yoga, a session on Jamu’s power of plant healing for the gut, and more. Such original offerings help attract wellness enthusiasts interested in expanding their knowledge and open to new wellness experiences.

Sallie Fraenkel, president of the Mind Body Spirit Network, recently created a series of retreats, The Wellness For All Seasons, at Chatham Bars Inn (Chatham, MA). It features a lineup of interactive itineraries hosted by acclaimed wellness experts to help inspire guests to enhance their overall mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. “For me, the ideal wellness retreat is a patchwork quilt of experiences,” she says. 

According to Anna Chung, co-founder of BYoga and a leader of frequent retreats, it’s all about the who, what, when, where, and why. “Knowing why people are coming to the retreat, their near and long-term goals, and what they specifically want out of their experience are key questions that I ask of my guests,” she says. “As yoga teachers, we are always asking our students to set intentions for their practice, what they want to achieve on and off the mat, and what they want to manifest in their lives. Aligning these personal goals with your offering is a key ingredient to creating an effective retreat.”

Well+Good, a leading wellness website, recently teamed up with Miraval Wellness Resorts & Spas (multiple locations) to offer four wellness retreats this year. According to cofounder Melisse Gelula, you need to create a unique experience that helps participants delve deeper into their wellness practices in order to make it worthwhile for them to consider using precious personal time off days. “An ideal retreat nails the things that time-starved, busy people crave—expert-led workouts, time in nature, healthy food, and activities and experiences that really enrich our lives, like meditation and chill-out practices, as well as workshops on trending wellness topics that leave people informed, and actionable tools and conversations about real things with like-minded people” says Gelula.

If you’re interested in introducing a wellness retreat or your spa’s retreat is starting to feel stale, now is the time to take action with a host of offerings your guests won’t be able to resist.


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