Rest and rejuvenation for body and soul in these troubled times

Travel counsellor Juliet Twena picks her top five wellness and spa resorts

Six Senses Duoro Valley, Portugal
Six Senses Duoro Valley, Portugal

AFTER the last 12 months, is there anyone who couldn't use some time dedicated to their own wellbeing? No, I didn’t think so. Think calming treatments inspired by nature, re-energising massages to awaken tired muscles, and nutritious and wholesome meals to ensure you’re reinvigorated and revitalised. Sounds like heaven to me. Here is my selection of unique spots where you can treat yourself to some well-deserved 'me time.

1) The Lime Wood, Hampshire

I THOUGHT I would start with somewhere a little closer to home and easily accessed from the Island. A short flight to Southampton and private transfer to Hampshire, you’ll arrive at the Lime Wood. Once a medieval hunting lodge, the Lime Wood has received an elaborate makeover to become the award-winning property we see today, having been named 'best health and wellness getaway' at the Pure Package Wellness awards. Specialising in authentic, holistic treatments inspired by centuries-old traditions, the Herb House spa specialises in treatments designed to deliver long-lasting wellness benefits. Spread over three floors, the indulgent spa has its own mud house, sauna, steam room, indoor and outdoor heated pools and a state-of-the-art fitness facility. The Raw and Cured café ensures guests enjoy a holistic wellbeing experience by serving nourishing natural food, prepared from scratch by the team of 'raw chefs' who invite guests to learn the culinary skills for themselves on a cooking class. So not only do you benefit from a visit, but you can continue to experiment at home. For an indulgent couple's trip, the Pavilion Forest Lodge is a dream escape. Separate from the main house, the lodge features a four‑poster bed, a roll‑top bath in the bay window and a private terrace overlooking your rural surrounds.

2) Kamalaya Koh Samui

KAMALAYA is famous for its stunning location, surroundings and holistic treatments – Ayurveda, Naturopathy and Traditional Chinese Medicine to name a few. Built into a steep lush hillside in Koh Samui, Kamalaya has some of the best sunsets on the island. The beach is also easily accessed and makes for wonderful relaxation in-between treatments. As you would expect, Kamalaya offers a series of wellness programs, including detox, stress and burnout, emotional balance, yoga, ideal weight, structural revival, sleep retreat and optimal fitness, as well as tailormade retreats. Food is also an important part of many of the programs and, at Kamalaya, eating healthy wouldn’t be quite the hardship that you might expect but perhaps more of a delicious culinary experience.

3) Six Senses Douro Valley, Portugal

IT would be remiss of me to omit Portugal from the list seeing as there is so much speculation surrounding it. Will they, won’t they, let us in? Located among vineyards and acres of rolling hills, Six Senses Douro Valley, is set in a restored 19th century manor. It really is a supreme hideaway in nature. Enjoy far-reaching vistas across the Douro River during your yoga class or on long walks as you explore the forest nearby. Guests can choose between four wellness programs, such as sleep and resilience, cleanse and detox, trim and fit, and full potential. Each retreat starts with a wellness screening and is then personalised. I'm not sure my screening would go that well, but I'd be ecstatic to give it a go! The vast range of therapies includes spa treatments, movement, yoga, meditation and mindfulness, as well as holistic sessions with healers and wellness specialists. Foodies are also in for a treat. All Six Senses Spas use locally sourced ingredients, and Six Senses Douro Valley is no exception. It has a large organic herb and vegetable garden, which guests can visit. They fuel you with nutrient-rich foods and let you indulge in a glass of local wine without feeling guilty. No wonder this is one of my favourites.

4) COMO Shambala Estate, Bali

SPENDING a wellness retreat at COMO Shambhala Estate is like becoming one with nature, so its hard to believe it’s just a 15-minute drive from Ubud now a bustling metropolis compared to some 20 years ago when I first visited. High above the Ayung River in the lush Balinese Jungle, the enchanting property spans 23 acres of tropical forest. Fireflies, squirrels, monkeys are amongst many of the animals you share this natural playground with. COMO Shambhala Estate is the brand’s flagship and has long been a wellness leader in its field. The resort offers three distinct programs, such as the Cleanse, Ayurveda, and Be Active retreats, with an additional bespoke package, designed to meet your individual needs. This can address anything from stress management, to weight management and diet change to coping with life transitions. Wellness activities include yoga, Pilates, meditation, hydrotherapy, massages, lectures, and treks through rice paddies as well as the COMO property. And let’s not forget the food. You will feast on healthy dishes (with local ingredients) from the brand’s award-winning COMO Shambhala Cuisine at Glow. You will leave the property feeling rejuvenated and motivated, with new advice and tools to cope with your daily challenges back home.

5) Ananda, Himalayas, India

LOCATED at the foothills of the Himalayas, Ananda is possibly the most authentic Ayurvedic luxury wellness destination in India. This spiritual retreat offers programs aimed at improving your health, focusing on uniting body and soul. The retreat spans 2,100 square feet and features more than 80 treatments on its spa menu. There are 10 wellness programs to choose from, including Active-Fitness, Ayurvedic rejuvenation, detox, stress management, weight management and yoga, to name but a few. The retreats all start with an Ayurvedic consultation to determine your dosha, (apparently these are your energy patterns) which then determines your diet and treatments. Retreats usually last between three and 14 nights. The beautiful location, immersed in nature, creates a peaceful and timeless space, where guests can find tranquillity to focus on themselves and their personal goals. * For more information on these or any other retreats you maybe interested in for later in 2021 or 2022, please get in touch at Julietandkim@travelcounsellors.com

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