It’s the ultimate healthy holiday, one where you come home thiner than you left, and the place to do it is either a Health Retreat or a Wellness Hotel.
But the question I am often asked is what is the difference? I spoke to Samantha Lippat from Health & Fitness Travel about the growing trend of healthier holidays, and the difference between health retreats and wellness hotels.
So what is the difference between a health retreat and a wellness hotel?
“A wellness hotel is a luxury hotel that offers wellness facilities, such as a spa or fitness centre while a health retreat, offers a specifically designed program, from fitness and weight management to detox and nutrition as well as healing, life coaching and so on. These are facilitated with specialist therapies and activities, guided by health and fitness experts.
What are the most popular venues and location in each category?
Thailand and Bali are the most popular with our clients as they are teeming with wellness hotels and health retreats.
Como Hotels and Resorts offer both experiences, with the likes of Como Metropolitan Bangkok as an example of the former, and COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali for the latter.
Not everyone can take large chunks of time out of their schedules to allow for a full health retreat immersion, so they developed luxury day spas or what they call Urban Escapes, with venues in London, Miami, Bangkok and Perth.
Amatara Wellness Resort located in Cape Panwa, Phuket is a great example of a luxury hotel turned health retreat. Previously the Regent Cape Panwa, this resort is transforming with ambitions to become a dedicated wellness haven with programs like detox, weight management, Fusion Fitness, yoga and many more to come.
Do you need a level of fitness or experience in certain areas of heath or fitness for either?
You don’t have to be fit and healthy to enjoy either of the two, but it most certainly can help if you’re opting for the more rigorous activities, like hiking or circuit training.
In both cases, you can always choose to be as relaxed or as active as you wish. Some people who may not be physically ready for a fitness retreat may not be fully aware of what a fitness retreat entails, and they end up too overwhelmed, unhappy and dissatisfied, and although trainers and wellness consultants are there to guide you, it’s always best to consult with experts prior to travel, like your physician or specialist wellness travel agents who can help guide you to the right experience within your capabilities.
Should we change our diet or detox before taking either of these trips?
It depends. If you’re going for a program that involves detoxing, then it’s always better to let your body prepare for a dietary shift by gradually cleaning up your eating habits to avoid a crash or withdrawal.
Perhaps cut down on caffeine, alcohol, refined sugars, saturated fats and processed foods, one to two weeks before you head to your destination. These retreats will most likely send a pre-arrival questionnaire and a set of guidelines anyway, so guests need not worry.
What is the minimum time away needed to get benefits from a healthy holiday like this?
Be it a short weekend away or a month-long retreat, the benefits you reap, whether physical or mental, will stay with you for sure as long as the intention is there—you have to put in the work either way.
Sometimes, what’s important is the seed you plant, and it’s up to the guest to allow it to grow and thrive. Each day can be jam-packed with all the wellness pursuits you need to kick start a more balanced lifestyle, so a minimum time away can be pretty relative.
A typical comprehensive program usually runs a week long (8 days, 7 nights) to get you acclimated to all the lifestyle changes, but we also offer other durations, starting from 3 nights, and if you’re that committed to wellness travel, luxury and have the funds to cover you, we even have the one-year Ultimate around the world wellness trip with multiple stops in over 20 countries.
What do you wear at either venue, what should you pack?
Going on either trips isn’t quite the standard holiday where all you need is your swimsuit and flip-flops. There’s a fine line between over-packing and under-packing as you juggle for various activities, so you want to make sure you have what you need without lugging around stuff you have no use for whilst you’re away.
Here are our packing recommendations:
- Active/ Yoga wear
- Appropriate casual clothing – You won’t be exercising 24-7, so don’t forget to bring some other clothing options that you change into after an active day. Depending on your chosen destination, you may also want to bring some nice evening wear or you may be relaxed in beachy get up.
#Tip: Wear comfortable clothes. Put on layers to help you adapt through changing temperatures, from the terminal, plane and your destination.
- Sunscreen and after sun care
- Footwear – in many locations a pair of running shoes and flip flops would suffice but you might also like to take a comfortable walking shoe as well
- Bathing suit for outdoor or indoor pools, luxury spa facilities and the beach
- Light energy boosting snacks and water bottle for on route
- Your phone – you can simply put it away if on a digital detox, but having it whilst traveling is pretty basic as it can serve as an all in one gadget for navigation, communication, alarm clock (only if necessary) and taking nice photos or videos of your holiday.
Read about Renae’s healthy holiday at one of Asia’s best resorts here.