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It’s no secret that wellness travel is booming. In fact, the 2018 Global Wellness Economy Monitor reported that the wellness travel market is now worth $639 billion, and is expected to reach a value of $919.4 billion by 2022. It’s part of a growing trend that has people actively seeking personal growth and discovering while traveling. And there are many destinations that travelers are consistently drawn to for wellness getaways, such as Bali (for soul-seeking) and Arizona (Canyon Ranch and Enchantment Spa, anyone?).
But some locations around the world would never come to mind, even though they have stellar well-being offerings for travelers. Instead of pursuing yoga in India, perfect your practice with Buddhist monks in Indiana instead. And for a week of meditation at an eco-resort, you can trade Costa Rica for Guatemala.
Looking for a healing, fitness-focused, restorative or feel-good experience during your next trip? Consider one of these seven hot wellness destinations.
1. Las Vegas, Nevada
With the infamous nickname of Sin City, the entertainment mecca is shifting its stance toward wellness, affording visitors a new idea of Vegas. In addition to world-class spas and luxurious holistic and wellness retreats, the city has seen a rapid uptick in juice bars, yoga and fitness studios, and meditation classes. The Mandarin Oriental is home to a traditional hammam (with a bit of Las Vegas flare courtesy of the starlit ceiling, of course); at the Spa at Encore, you can get your chakra balanced; and Canyon Ranch has an outpost here at the Venetian. Located 10 miles west of the iconic Strip, The Spa at Red Rock by Well & Being helps you beat stress during Violin Meditation (led by Celine Dion’s concert violinist). Vegas’s wellness scene is even winning awards. Jennifer Lynn, the spa director at the newly arrived Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas, was just named Spa Director of the Year by the American Spa 2018 Women in Wellness Awards. And, according to her, there are nearly 1,000 spa treatment rooms on The Strip.
2. Bloomington, Indiana
You’d never expect to find Mongolian yurts in a small Midwestern college town. But the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington, Indiana offers 90 acres perfect for meditation and reflection. The grounds feature Kumbum Chamtse Ling Temple, a permanent sand mandala, and meditation classes. The Tibetan Chortens here are the only ones in the nation. Visitors can practice yoga with Buddhist monks and observe prayer ceremonies, but four-foot-tall butter sculptures and craft breweries are just a short drive away.
Scotland might be known for producing stellar whisky. But their wellness offerings are what you should be toasting. To help treat stress, mental illness, diabetes, heart disease and other conditions, doctors in Shetland (an archipelago in Scotland), are to begin prescribing beach walks, rambling and birdwatching. The Knockinaam Lodge in South West Scotland has even been inspired to offer “Relax and Restore” short breaks where guests take walks on the beach, followed by a healthy dinner. Elsewhere in the country, you’ll find luxurious spas such as ESPA Life Spa at The Gleneagles Hotel where they have ayurvedic-inspired treatments. Portavadie uses products using pure Scottish seaweed. And because it wouldn’t be a trip to Scotland without a castle, Isle of Eriska Hotel & Spa is located on a private island and has five treatment rooms.
4. Dolomites, Italy
Yes, outdoor enthusiasts have been flocking to this Italian mountain range for years for the stellar hiking. But the wellness history runs deeper. For over 110 years the area has been known for hay baths where you lay down in herb-covered hay to feel rejuvenated. And the mountain air of Alpe di Siusi is said to be nearly allergy-free, so you can truly get a clear head and mind during a trip here. Even adventure travel companies such as MT Sobek are hosting wellness-focused trips where guests start each day with morning yoga, then hit the trail for some hardcore hiking, before ending the evening with meditation or a spa treatment.
5. Finger Lakes Region, New York
Occupying a third of New York state, the under-the-radar Finger Lakes region is a surprising wellness destination that is taking self-care seriously. From cow cuddling and horse therapy to meditation retreats and monastery silence experiences, the region has a variety of offerings for each unique traveler. Other wellness experiences that can be found in the bucolic region include locally-infused spa ingredients (think: wine and maple scrubs) and outdoor fitness classes such as HikYoga and Snow-ga. Hotels like the Inns of Aurora even have an on-site Director of Serenity who is a 200-hour yoga master, certified in the science of Ayurveda, and whose sole job is to help guests decompress.
6. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Cabo probably makes you think of spring break. But while there are undoubtedly parties here, there’s an equally bustling wellness scene that taps into ancient practices, too. Spots such as Montage Los Cabos have an on-site shaman who leads transformative experiences. Marquis Los Cabos boasts a 13,000-square-foot holistic-inspired spa with indigenous treatments. And around the corner at One&Only Palmilla travelers can find ancient healing treatments like sage smoke and herbs cleansing combined with a deep tissue massage. At Grand Velas Los Cabos, a therapist uses the ancient technique of stretching with a Mexican shawl while a tequila rub is massaged into the skin. And Hotel El Ganzo hosts full moon yoga sessions. With so many options, you’re guaranteed to leave feeling refreshed instead of hungover.
For those seeking yoga retreats in Central America, Costa Rica has long been the go-to spot. But just north in Guatemala, a wellness scene has been flourishing. Many retreats are popping up such as Yoga Forest where they have sound ceremony retreats and shamanic healing cleanses. Villa Sumaya, an eco-resort, has both group and personal retreat options. Casa San Juan has onsite Ayurveda practitioners who will help treat your ailments over a three-day retreat. Even those looking to become certified yoga instructors have a plethora of options such as Mahadevi Ashram and The Yoga Forest where you can become a posing pro.
Featured photo of the Dolomites by Ulrike Schmitt Hartmann / Getty Images. Additional footage courtesy of The Yoga Forest.
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