by Erin Davis
Wellness travel was a lot more than a buzzword in the years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Wellness Tourism Association defines Wellness Travel as, “travel that allows the traveller to maintain, enhance or kick-start a healthy lifestyle, and support or increase one’s sense of wellbeing.” In other words, as opposed to an overindulgent vacation that leaves you a few pounds heavier and a little foggier, you return home feeling better and healthier both mentally and physically.
According to recent figures from the Global Wellness Institute, the wellness travel industry is valued at an estimated $639 billion, with a growth rate of 6.5 per cent per year. Going forward post-pandemic, the healthy lifestyle travel niche is going to continue to be a priority, with wellness travel more important than ever on the mental health front.
Experts predict the pandemic will escalate the existing slow travel trend further. More boutique or wellness-focused vacation options may be the most appealing ones at the moment; those that don’t cater to the masses in the way a busy European city or sprawling all-inclusive resort may.
Here are nine wellness-filled places to consider traveling to when the time is right:
Palm Springs, California
With its sunny skies, mountainous backdrop, sprawling golf courses, scenic hiking, and therapeutic mineral waters, Greater Palm Springs is a longtime health and wellness destination. The Southern California community is filled with luxury resorts, top-of-the-line spas, and spectacular wilderness areas – like Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument and Joshua Tree National Park – to explore via foot, bike, or horseback. If you’re in pursuit of inner peace, things like meditation classes and sound baths are easy to find.
The colourful and history-rich Canadian province of Quebec gets it right on the wellness travel front. From fresh, European style cuisine and world-class spas, to wellness retreats and outdoor activities, you’ll find it in Quebec – whether you opt for the historic cobblestone street-filled Quebec City, or the restaurant, yoga studio, and spa-filled city of Montreal. Whether you enjoy the province’s urban areas or picture-perfect rural parts, you’ll find no shortage of photo ops and wellness-centric options in Canada’s largest province.
When the time is right to visit, Sedona, Arizona is filled with wellness-filled outdoor activities. The Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau represents 400+ miles of trails, offering visitors easy access to some of the country’s best hiking and biking. On the spiritual front, Sedona is also considered a place of vortexes believed to unleash powerful energy. Taking a cue from Native Americans centuries ago, the region’s spas use indigenous materials for relaxation and healing.
Monaco, French Riviera
Monaco’s rich history of wellness dates back to 1860, when the curative powers of the Mediterranean attracted many curious visitors. The city/state of Monaco boasts a range of healthy options, ranging from adrenaline pumping and active, to relaxing and rejuvenating. Wellness-seeking guests can enjoy a walk through the entire principality, jogging on the harbor, hiking the Via Alpina, rowing in front of the Monaco Yacht Club, practicing yoga on the beach, strolling the colorful Princess Grace Rose Garden, and embracing nature with singular attractions like the Exotic Gardens, the Observatory Cave and the Pelagos Sanctuary. No shortage of luxury hotels, spas, and healthy culinary offerings from Michelin-starred restaurants make Monaco an ideal wellness destination for luxury seekers.
Always a solid sunny vacation option, Mexico is full of options in the wellness travel department – and ones that come with soothingly beautiful views. While Mexico is also home to the massive all-inclusive beachfront resorts, it also houses a growing number of boutique hotels and wellness-centric options – ones that may be more reassuring to guests in the wake of the pandemic. Aside from the spa and wellness options housed on the properties, the country offers no shortage of opportunities of wellness activities, including scenic hiking, kayaking and other water sports, hot springs, and health-themed local cultural activities.
As the second-largest province in Canada, Ontario is home to everything from pristine and peaceful wilderness settings, to all-frills-attached spas and fitness centres in the larger urban centres like Toronto and Ottawa. The province is full of trees and lakes of all sizes – including four of the world’s Great Lakes – and peaceful lakeside resorts and rental properties. Forest bathing, hiking, water sports, and sightseeing are all part of the Ontario wellness retreat experience.
St. Lucia, Caribbean
The picture-perfect island of St. Lucia offers an idealistic backdrop to any wellness-focused vacation. Its sandy beaches, crystal clear Caribbean waters, and botanical gardens offer a sense of Zen at first sight, while things like water sports, hiking, golf, and cycling keep you active. Top-of-the-line spa resorts throughout the country, as well as rejuvenating volcanic mud baths also help your health and wellness cause.
From golf courses and tennis courts to world-class destination spas, Tucson, Arizona offers an abundance of fitness and wellness options. The region’s tourism board, along with stakeholders – including hotels, resorts, lifestyle residential communities and medical facilities – are actively committed to enhancing Tuscon’s position as a leading destination for wellness travel for visitors of all ages and backgrounds.
Dominican Republic, Caribbean
While the Dominican Republic often conjures images of affordable and indulgent all-inclusive resorts, the Caribbean island is also home to many wellness retreats and wellness-centric resorts that cater to a range of budgets. Throughout the country, you’ll find no shortage of opportunities for yoga, meditation, water sports, hiking and spa days. The country’s sprawling beaches, infinity pools and lush surroundings make stress reduction simple.
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Erin Davis is a Toronto-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Travel to Wellness.