Wellness travel is on the rise. The concept of traveling for self-care with a touch of pampering was already building pre-pandemic. But now, the quest for wellness travel comes with a healthy dose of spirituality to elevate your mind, body, and soul. Here are five of our favorite soulful retreats (and healers) definitely worth traveling for:
Susan King, Intuitive Counselor, COMO Hotels
Warm, positive, joyful with a calm, grounded energy.
We first met UK-based, master intuitive counselor Susan King nearly two decades ago through her work with COMO hotels (Parrot Cay, Turks, and Caicos; COMO Shambhala, Bali). Renowned around the globe for helping her clients find clarity and peace of mind amidst the chaos and confusion of life, Susan came to COMO by way of fashion designer icon, Donna Karan. Today, Susan conducts most of her work across New York City, Los Angeles, and London, as well as remotely. Her partnership with COMO Parrot Cay continues and she also works her magic at Aman properties, Four Seasons Geneva, the Urban Muse in New Jersey, and soon the new Bulgari hotel opening in Paris (set to open November 2021).
Get Your “Woo Woo” On
Schedule an hour-long intuitive session with Susan at one of her fantastic properties (or remotely) and prepare to ascend to the next level. Sitting with Susan is like being with your best friend. Gentle and kind, she also tells it like it is – providing scarily accurate details, initials, and even names of significant people. The experience is remarkable, ridiculous, outrageous – and yet amazingly reassuring, with sound guidance provided. Susan also leads meditation and specializes in relationship issues.
Blue Diamond Luxury Boutique Hotel, Mexico
Lush, peaceful, adults-only, this boutique hotel – an exclusive member of the Travel Curator Collection – near Playa del Carmen, Mayan Riviera, is set on 36 jungle acres, fringed by turquoise sea. Suites are made from natural materials: limestone and wood, the property has its own cenote, traditionally used by the Mayans for their freshwater supply and religious ceremonies.
Check into one of the hotel’s beachfront casitas, offering stunning views of the sea from its private terrace and plunge pool. Then indulge in healthful offerings including yoga classes, ancient Mayan-inspired spa treatments, dip into the mystical cenote, or engage in an authentic temazcal ceremony.
Get Your Woo Woo On
Experience a temazcal ceremony, part sweat lodge/part sacred ritual used by the Mayans for centuries as a cleansing tool. Enter the dome-shaped structure (similar to an igloo) and sit around hot volcanic rocks, where water is poured to produce steam. Herbs, like sage or copal, are added to aid the cleansing process as a shaman (or temazcalero) leads the sweating ceremony which typically lasts two or more hours. The experience is designed to recreate the womb – isolating guests from the world – and is about their ‘rebirthing’ from the darkness. Physiological benefits include the release of toxins and muscle tension, clearer skin, and better circulation. Spiritually, the experience is said to purify the mind and soul, healing from the inside out.
Lotus Wei with Katie Hess
Flower alchemist, author, and beauty (think Angelina Jolie look-alike), Katie Hess is changing the world’s vibration one flower petal at a time.
We were first introduced to Katie when she was a one-woman show, hand mixing and customizing each flower essence one bottle at a time during a 60-minute flower reading. Katie’s authentic approach to flower power hasn’t changed, but she is now known across continents. And we couldn’t be more excited. Sometimes confused with aromatherapy, the use of flower essences is a completely different practice that harnesses the vibrational energy of flowers (not their essential oils) for healing. Flower essences are believed to work on the body’s electrical system to balance energy and create long-lasting emotional and energetic change. When taken internally, positive subtle differences are often observed within 24 to 48 hours, with complete energy shifts notable within three to four weeks.
Get Your Woo Woo On
Visit Katie at Lotus Wei’s headquarters in Phoenix for onsite courses like flower alchemy and consultation, spiritual meditations, flower readings, botanical treatments, or private cleansing ceremonies. Or join Katie on one of her curated travel retreats (ie Iceland, Costa Rica) to find the world’s rarest flowers, dip in hot springs, rejuvenate and transform.
Bali Silent Retreat, Indonesia
Spiritual, serene, and oh so silent – apart from frogs at night, music from ceremonies in nearby villages – this silent retreat is about reconnecting with yourself through daily yoga, meditation, soaks in restorative hot springs, and the beauty of stillness.
Guests carve their own days – no guru, no dogma – in complete silence. Most participate in the resort’s daily yoga and meditation classes and spend time in the nearby hot springs (where chatting is allowed), then retreat to eat mindfully and slowly (three meals a day) from the resort’s organic gardens, read, breathe, stroll the labyrinth, and explore the rice-paddy paths and lush jungle gardens.
Get Your Woo Woo On
For ultimate privacy, book one of the wooden bungalows overlooking the rice fields, with views of sacred Mount BatuKaru, that come outfitted with a private bath, shower, down comforter (it is cold at night), and kimono. Take in the sunset each evening, with gamelan music as the backdrop; then gather (in silence) around the fire pit and (silently) savor the night sky.
Ananda in the Himalayas, India
Healing, spiritual, mystical. Feel like royalty in this lush former Maharajah palace surrounded by 100 acres of Sal forest. Ananda is the perfect marriage of a profoundly beautiful and spiritual location with a balanced program that incorporates the ancient Indian sciences of Ayurveda, yoga, meditation, and Vedanta.
Amidst beautiful gardens, graceful forests, and breathtaking mountains, Ananda guests delve into signature programs, tailored to their individual health, wellness, and spiritual goals. Experts (Ayurvedic doctors) analyze each guest’s body type (or dosha – vata, pita, kapha) and then design an entire (7-to-21-day) program around it. Everything from the oils used on the body, to the breathing and meditation techniques prescribed, daily spa treatments, and the food are based on guests’ dosha reading.
Get Your Woo Woo On
Ananda’s 21-day, intensive ‘Dhyana Meditation’ program guides each guest through Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses from the mind), Dharana (mental awareness), and towards the experience of Dhyana (more meditative awareness). Daily Ayurveda treatments, private yoga and meditation, and digital detox (no phone scrolling or social media check-ins) are the crux of this life-changing program.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Longtime luxury travel, spa, and wellness writer, Shari Mycek has circumnavigated the globe, traveling to 65 countries in her search to unveil – and indulge in – the latest massage, steam-and-sauna circuit, facial and energy treatment (it’s a tough job but someone has to do it. A regular Travel Curator contributor, Shari’s byline has also appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, The Robb Report, Travel Curator, Travel & Leisure, Spa Magazine, MSNBC, Elite Traveler, and Town & Country. When not on a flight/the massage table/pounding the keyboard, you’ll find Shari enjoying time by the sea, practicing yoga, and making smoothies. Check out her Instagram and Linkedin more of her adventures in wanderlust.