by Kirti Vyas
In the 2021 Wellness Travel Consumer Survey (conducted by the Wellness Tourism Association), travelers rated “Access to fitness activities in nature” as Extremely Important when it comes to their wellness vacations. The importance of nature along with peace and quiet continues to be an over-riding theme for wellness travelers, and there is every indication that the demand for easily accessible natural assets along with the opportunity to spend time in nature will continue.
Yes. It’s time to reconnect with nature! After months of lockdown, people are itching to get out of their homes and into the world around them – not only for social connections but also to reconnect with nature. According to Harvard Health Publishing, being surrounded by nature – including forests, rivers, oceans, mountains and greenery in general – significantly helps decrease levels of depression and anxiety. Nature simply makes us happier and healthier human beings, overall.
People are choosing to engage in various mindfulness practices such as the newly termed forest bathing to engage in mindful habits that enhance their health, happiness and general sense of wellbeing.
Hotels and resorts in more remote locations around the world are immersing their services in nature to provide a much-needed break from the overwhelming stresses of our lives plus connect us to our true roots — the natural world around us.
The following is a list of some of our favorite hotels, resorts and retreats that allow visitors to easily immerse themselves in the natural world, plus those that offer programs to encourage outdoor fitness activities:
Garden of the Gods
A little over an hour’s drive from downtown Denver, CO and located at 6,600 feet above sea level, the spacious resort property Garden of the Gods Resort and Club embodies the slogan: Power of Place. The power is not only derived from the scenic and inspirational surroundings, but from the power that ensues when you give yourself permission for self-care. And this is one ideal spot to do just that. Take time out for self-care. Read about our visit to Garden of the Gods.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Situated on the shores of Lake Louise in Alberta’s Banff National Park about a two-hour drive from Calgary, Canada, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise offers iconic views in addition to a nature-immersed retreat experiences. Not only is this resort located on the shores of one of Canada’s most recognized tourist spots, the Fairmont Chateau in Lake Louise is a champion in environmental stewardship and responsible tourism.
In full view of the majestic Canadian Rocky Mountains, the resort offers a range of outdoor activities including (depending on the season) cross-country skiing, ice skating, hiking, horse-back riding and canoeing. Each retreat also provides guests the opportunity to explore the nature around them including the stillness and serenity of Lake Louise.
Canyon Ranch, Tucson incorporates a healthy dose of nature in their programming, and resort in general, for guests to just BE in the moment. Surrounded by the Santa Catalina, Tucson and Rincon mountain ranges, this private 150-acre, cactus-studded resort landscape is decorated with an array of gardens, streams, pools, fountains and countless pockets for self-reflection. Its location is ideal, centered in the tranquil Senora Desert and only a 20-minute drive from downtown Tucson, Arizona.
A short, 25-minute drive from the resort is the Milagrosa Canyon Trail where you can join in on guided hikes for hours that let you delve into the depths of the woods. While you’re there, not only are its serene surroundings integral to their programming, but Canyon Ranch helps you get your life back on track with their life management and nutritional wellness sessions. They also provide extensive offerings at their resort with walking and jogging trails, a nature-embraced labyrinth, a spa complex, movement and fitness studios, a creative arts center, swimming pools, a high ropes challenge course, an aquatic center and more. Read about our visit to Canyon Ranch
Nature brings with it purifying elements that strive to eliminate the toxins in our mind, body and spirit. About two and a half hours away from Canada’s most popular city Toronto, Grail Springs in Bancroft, Ont., brings a whole new meaning to the word ‘detox’.
One of Canadian’s top wellness retreats, Grail Springs offers walking trails in the lush, green forests surrounding it, or you can simply bask in the afternoon sun with a cup of tea on the front terrace, relax in private meditation areas, take a dip in an outdoor hot tub and, weather permitting, canoe on a private spring-fed lake. While working on detox program at Grail Springs, guests can also partake in a two-in-one detox wrap with seaweed and mud wrapped around the body.
One of Canada’s first wellness retreats and about an hour’s drive away from Montreal, Spa Eastman is a retreat planted directly in the middle of a bushy forest. With its English gardens and rural setting, this upscale ‘spa village’ brings the comfort of home right to you.
The list of offerings at this Eastern Townships resort is varied. Guests are able to lounge around by the natural pond or outdoor swimming pool, participate in a guided walk in the surrounding greenery or stroll along the groomed trails that wind around this 315-acre property. While Spa Eastman provides options to take part in group activities, they also understand the need for privacy and quiet reflection in nature, providing guests with the option to simply find a private place to sit and read or enjoy something many of us don’t have much time for in these busy, stressful days – quiet self-reflection.
Chablé Yucatán is where luxury decides to meet nature. Located in the middle of a Yutacan jungle near the city of Merida, Mexico, this 750-acre estate is hidden treasure hidden within the depths of the country. Traditional Mayan wisdom, ancient techniques and Shamanism rituals have been woven into many of the spa treatments and signature Journeys at this resort. Read about our visit to Chablé Yucatan.
In the temperate rainforest region of Lake Toxaway in North Carolina, you can take part in Skyterra Wellness’s week-long health and fitness program. For those interested in a fitness and adventure boost, this retreat provides an array of activities every day immersed in the surrounding nature.
There’s stand-up paddle boarding, waterfall hikes on picturesque trails, as well as fly-fishing and archery lessons. Outdoor (and indoor) circuit classes, aqua cardio or rowing classes are also available. On the days you’re not in the mood for the outdoor experience – take things inside for a quieter, inward journey of mindfulness with their daily yoga, stretch and meditation classes held inside the property’s yoga yurt (affectionately known as the Yogurt.).
Eupepsia Wellness Center
In the heart of the Appalachian Mountains and bordering the Jefferson National Forest is the Eupepsia Wellness Center. There’s no better way to reconnect with nature and one’s self than at this resort of 256 acres of farm and woodland in Virginia. In addition to their many spa features, there’s a hydrotherapy pool, aqua bikes and a halotherapy Himalayan Salt Chalet.
Fitness buffs can enjoy specialized programs from hiking on the Appalachian trails in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains to relax, destress, cleanse and detox their bodies.
Red Mountain Resort
The Red Mountain Resort is based in St. George, Utah, where the wellness traveller can go to find adventure, scenic views and therapeutic therapy. Hiking is an integral part to this resort’s experience. With its unique location, it sets itself apart from many other nature-based resorts as you can hike up the iconic red rocky mountains or take a part in their customized tours to Zion and/or Bryce Canyon National Parks.
Snow Canyon State Park is also just a 5-minute drive away, filled with more than 7,000 acres of breathtaking canyon and cliff views that will last you a lifetime. Guests can be as private and as bold as they’d like with an assortion of wellness experiences provided: from fitness programs to nature-inspired treatments of massages, facials and more. Read about our visit to Red Mountain Resort
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Toronto-based freelance Kirti Vyas is a regular contributor to Travel to Wellness.