As travelers anxiously await a return to globe-trotting normalcy, destinations with an eye toward wellness are expected to rebound first. Here’s how the following hotels that are near and far will help guests to embrace their mental and physical health.
Take a Walk on the Wild Side
Slow travel; Go with the flow travel; We all just want mo’ travel. As everyone remains mindful of social distancing, walking outdoors will be a popular vacation activity, because it’s a way to experience a destination with an eye toward mindfulness, and it can also be a solo (or small-group) activity. Here’s where to experience the best walking trails:
Nantucket: Fifty percent of Nantucket remains under conservation – from the walking trails of Sanford Farm and Masquetuck Reservation to the grassy lands of Tom Nevers and the Pitch Pine Barrens. With plenty of space to stroll around and take in the island’s unique landscape, much of the protected land is available for exploration through a variety of eco-experiences. The Wauwinet, which borders the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, offers tours through the nature reserves’ salt marshes, down miles of beaches and to the Great Point Lighthouse. Guided wilderness hiking tours, in partnership with Nantucket Walkabouts, take guests to locations such as Polpis Harbor, a 1.1 mile secluded path, and to the Shawkemo Hills, which were formed by glaciers 18,000 years ago.
Italy: Belmond Hotel Caruso offers a five-mile Path of the Gods hiking excursion, where guests can walk the mythical trails made famous by Roman hero Ulysses. Legend has it that the pathway was used by the gods to meet the Sirens who had attempted to bewitch Ulysses. Climb from Agerola and Nocelle, 500 meters (1,640 feet) above sea level, before enjoying a feast of local delicacies. Then descend the 1,680 steps back down to Positano for a gelato reward. Further north, one of the most panoramic hikes in Tuscany is a 2.7 mile loop near Fiesole, which at 438 feet in the air, sits just above Florence. The trail takes travelers through the Tuscan forest all the way to the top of Monte Ciceri, which is where Leonardo Da Vinci set off his first flying machine flight in 1506. Guests of Belmond Villa San Michele can set off on the hike straight from the hotel and enjoy private or self-guided tours with an illustrated trail map.
Spain: The dramatic mountains skirting the length of Mallorca’s northern coast are known as the Serra de Tramuntana. Running almost 90 km (56 miles) and with numerous peaks over a 1 km (3,280 feet) high, the whole range has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site for its historical, cultural and environmental importance. Mallorca is a paradise for walkers, with one of the highlights being the epic 135 km (84 mile) ‘dry stone route’ running from Port D’Andratx in the southwest to Pollensa in the northwest, all through the Tramuntana range. The route is based on a network of ancient pathways and is split into eight stages – some parts are easier walking and better sign-posted than others, and many parts are better done with the help of a guide. Using Belmond La Residencia, located in the picturesque village of Deia, as their base, travelers can enjoy an adventurous trip without forgoing comfort and service.
St. Tropez: La Reserve Ramatuelle, located just outside St. Tropez, provides guests with walking poles to use for Nordic walks along the coastal cliffside paths. The breathtaking views overlook the Mediterranean Sea.
The Hamptons: Shou Sugi Ban House, a wellness retreat in the Hamptons, invites visitors on daily guided beach walks. Take in the fresh ocean air and enjoy the rhythm of the waves. Or, guests can partake in Shinrin-Yoku, the Japanese art of forest bathing, with a guided, meditative walk.
Namibia: Travelers to andBeyond Sossusvlei can truly connect to their soul in the utter silence of this desert; andBeyond has trails set up for guests to take non-guided strolls and leisurely bike rides – completely alone – through the towering sand dunes (some up to 1,000 ft tall). The incredible surroundings – so silent you can hear your own heart beating – lend themselves to another level of “wellness.”
I Like the Sound of That
The meditative effects of a sound bath will help guests feel more calm, centered and present.
Jamaica’s GoldenEye offers complimentary guided mediation with singing bowls. The practice is meant to promote relaxation and offer powerful healing properties.
Shou Sugi Ban House in the Hamptons offers nightly sound bath rituals, called ‘Dissolving into Sound,’ with gongs and crystal bowl. The multi-sensory, meditative experience is designed to facilitate a state of inner exploration.
Green and Lean
With the meat industry expected to soon be in a free-fall, there’s never a better time to embrace the healthy aspects of a plant-based diet. Belmond Mount Nelson’s Chef Rudi Liebenberg in Cape Town, South Africa is known for his rotating five-course Wasted! tasting that features re-imagined scraps and byproducts of fruits and vegetables. For example, ginger pieces become cordials and trout trimmings transform in tempura. Sustainability-minded (and Michelin-starred) chefs such as Mads Refslund, Raymond Blanc OBE and Napa Valley’s Ken Frank also feature plant-based dishes.
A Good Night’s Sleep:
Is there anything better for your health than a good night’s sleep? Check out these inspired ways to lull yourself into a restful slumber, for when a simple four walls and comfy bed won’t do it.
South Africa: Three miles away from the nearest lodge and 39 feet in the air is the new andBeyond Ngala Treehouse. The completely private, four-level treehouse – surrounded by nothing but the South African bush – opened in February 2020 as a new experience on offer at andBeyond Ngala Safari Lodge and andBeyond Ngala Tented Camp. Fully solar-powered, the treehouse has a rooftop deck with an outdoor bed for guests to spend the nights under the stars.
Tokyo: Park Hyatt Tokyo’s good night sleep stretch is a complimentary 30-minute class overlooking the city lights of Tokyo. Consisting of slow stretches and breathing exercises to loosen muscles and bring the body into equilibrium, the experience is designed to prepare the body for restful sleep.
Maldives: Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi offers a 90-minute Starlight Ocean Massage. Only available 9-10:30 p.m., it’s the perfect way to relax before floating back to your room.
Namibia: andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge reopened in the Namib Desert in October 2019. Set on the edge of an International Dark Sky Reserve, the lodge sits under one of the darkest and clearest skies in the world. What better atmosphere for falling asleep?
Napa Valley: Experience evening Aqua Vibrations at Solage. The private floating meditation invites guests to sit in a mesh chair that’s partially submerged in an open-air geothermal mineral pool. Gaze at the stars and moon before heading off to bed more centered and relaxed.
Dive into Mindfulness
We hear, we hear: That scuba diving can work wonders for your mental health. Because diving requires you to control your breathing, it can have a calming, meditative effect. Applied above water, the breath-work necessary for a successful dive can help you manage stress and anxiety. Dive into good habits at the new dive school at Jamaica’s GoldenEye, or test out your scuba skills at Belmond Cap Juluca and Belmond La Samanna. At Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, guests can take a number of PADI courses, with options that cater to both beginners and advanced scuba divers – ship wreck exploration, anyone? If warm water isn’t your cup of tea, hop on board a polar expedition with PONANT and enjoy an arctic diving experience. No matter where you go, you’re sure to apply scuba lessons to everyday life.