Yoga on the Mexican beach, hikes to Machu Picchu, Pilates in Morocco — the best health tourism adventures.
You know the type. Their Facebook page is full of beautiful photos of fabulous trips. You’re simultaneously insanely jealous and giddy with excitement at the opportunity to live vicariously through your friend’s adventures.
Well, that’s Nancy.
As I battled my jealousy of and happiness for her, I noticed a trend among Nancy’s trips: They all had some sort of wellness angle. She’d be doing yoga on a beach in Mexico or hiking across Europe or doing Pilates in Morocco.
I decided to get her take on wellness travel. Here are her top trips and advice. Namaste. –Wally
What draws you to wellness travel?
I cannot just sit on a beach. I always feel like I need to “earn the day.”
I love combining culture, physical activity, regional food and wine, like-minded people, spirituality and mindfulness into one trip.
What trends have you seen in wellness travel lately?
Adding volunteerism to the experience. For example, in Marrakech, Morocco, we delivered school supplies to a local school and spent some time in the classroom.
Most surprising thing you’ve discovered on a trip?
In Tulum, Mexico, I got a massage from a Mayan healer. These healers can pick up on energy in your body. He told me that the sciatic nerve area can represent “stalled advancement” and that I was experiencing this right now. He basically summed up a few key areas of my life at the time.
This experience motivated me to go after a new career opportunity at my company, which I successfully landed.
Nancy’s Top Wellness Travel Destinations
I go to Amansala every year for the last week of the year as a way to undo all of the debauchery from the holidays and to kick-start the New Year.
The setting is boho chic huts and palapas [open-sided shelters with thatched palm roofs] on a white sand beach with Caribbean blue water.
Guests have the option to make the week as active or as chill as they would like. Most choose active due to the wide variety of activities and high-caliber instructors.
The daily routine at Amansala includes morning beach walks or runs, yoga with beach views, cardio class (kickboxing, circuit training, etc.), dance class and/or sunset candlelit yoga.
Experiences such as cultural excursions, massages, a Mayan clay renewal ritual and tarot card readings are all offered at Amansala. You can also sweat out all of your toxins/sins at their Temezcal (Mayan sweat lodge) ceremony, led by an elder Mayan healer.
In between all of this, you can relax on the gorgeous white sand beach. The three golden Labs, who are pets of the property, might join you or try to rally you for a game of “fetch the coconut.”
The food is also healthy and tasty — they even have their own cookbook.
Amansala combines the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of wellness, which is why I go back every year. I leave with a feeling of renewal and that I can take on all of my biggest dreams. This special place attracts like-minded people, so I have met several friends with whom I am still in touch.
On this tour, you hike every day (four to six hours) in the spectacular setting of the Dolomites mountain range in-between Italy and Austria.
There’s amazing Italian and Austrian food. You might have apple strudel and beer at lunch and then pasta and red wine at dinner.
We hiked from one resort to the next over a seven-day period. We would stop in at ski huts along the way to refuel.
It was the perfect combination of outdoor activity, breathtaking scenery, culture — Italy and Austria! — amazing food and awe-inspiring boutique hotels.
This yoga and Pilates retreat was hosted at our own private amazing villa in Marrakech, located outside of the medina. Lodging, meals, cultural excursions, and yoga, Pilates and circuit training classes were all included.
This was a great combination of physical activity (about two to three hours per day) and cultural immersion.
Escape to Shape provided a very safe, fun and invigorating way to experience Marrakech. Erica Gragg, the owner, has been doing this for years, and she curates the perfect trip. She knows Marrakech like the back of her hand and showed us all of the hidden jewels and hot spots. She would open a door in the medina that you did not even know was there, and inside you would find four floors of amazing treasures.
Shopping is a must in Marrakech, and Erica is the perfect sherpa/stylist. Our group came away with beautiful rugs, caftans and home accents that we never would have found without Erica’s expert eye and relationships.
The yoga and Pilates classes allowed us to indulge without guilt in all of the amazing Moroccan cuisine.
Their tagline is “Life in Balance.” Miraval offers hiking in the Sonoran Desert and Santa Catalina Mountains, a large variety of fitness classes, meditation, healthy, delicious food, mindfulness sessions, equine therapy and other outdoor adventure activities.
Their spa is beautiful. Relax by the pool during your downtime.
I always come away feeling amazing after four to five days here.
The setting is breathtaking and awe-inspiring.
Fitness classes and outdoor activities keep you physically active. There are also great opportunities for personal discovery and mindfulness: intuitive energy reading, guided imagery, etc., as well as artistic pursuits, such as photography and pottery classes.
This was a seven-day lodge-to-lodge trek to Machu Picchu through a variety of terrain, scenery and elevation.
It was a great combination of scenic hiking, excellent Peruvian food and wine, cultural exposure and great lodging.