A Wellness Dream Travel List

By Melissa Berman
January 3, 2021

After a year spent staying at home, it’s time we gave you some healing get away ideas. We have curated bespoke, wellness-focused destinations in unforgettable, off-the-beaten-path locations to help you revive, restore and rejuvenate.  

Kasbah Tamadot, Morocco

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At the foot of the fabled Atlas Mountains, a mere hour from Marrakesh, Richard Branson’s palatial Moroccan Kasbah Tamadot is reminiscent of 1001 Arabian Nights. Indeed, each of the 28 rooms, suites and lusciously appointed Berber ‘tents’, has their own opulent color palette, and collection of perfectly appointed antiques and furnishings. The sprawling property is abloom with Morocco’s famous roses in a series of gardens, poolside and rooftop outdoor lounging areas, perfect for treating your lungs to the tonic of pure mountain air.  

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The details of your vacation experience are as carefully executed as the surroundings.
You can explore the property, take in the views and relax with a purifying traditional hammam at the on-site spa. The ancient ritual of the hammam thoroughly detoxes both skin and spirit, with a series of hot steam treatments and the most thorough body scrub you’ve ever had, followed by a special massage. All this is part of an ancient ritual designed to release tension and toxins, remove impurities, and reveal baby soft, fresh skin and supple muscles. 

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There’s also opportunity for plenty of pool and relaxation time, either at the outdoor pool with 360° views of the mountains, or the indoor heated pool with a wonderful lounge area. The Asmoun Lounge is the gathering spot of the Kasbah, where guests meet for pre-dinner cocktails and conversation. It is the perfect place to relax and listen to music, or engage in the very Moroccan tradition of storytelling.  

Pool

The cuisine at Kasbah Tamadot is bright and nourishing, bringing together local produce, and traditional Moroccan spices and flavors to meals served at the romantic rooftop dining area, the elegant restaurant, poolside, or privately at your suite. One can enjoy a traditional Berber feast or dine a la carte, and there are plenty of fine Moroccan and international wines to imbibe. You can even learn to prepare your own Berber meal, with a trek through the valley to a Berber village for tea, and a cooking and bread baking lesson at a Berber residence. Moroccan spices are not only colorful and flavorful, they also have many healing and immune boosting qualities as well. The Kasbah is committed to sharing Berber traditions, while also supporting the local community through the Eve Branson foundation. A visit here will take you back in time, and back to yourself.

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Jake’s Hotel, Jamaica

The word vacation immediately conjures visions of calm turquoise seas, tropical fruit, and palm trees swaying in the warm breeze. And while you will find all of these at Jake’s in Treasure Beach, Jamaica, the rest of the cliché resort style scenes do not exist here. At the largely untouristed shores of the fishing village, Treasure Beach, Jake’s is one of those rare island spots where locals and guests come together, and share true island life and all the health affirming goodness that comes with it.

Forget Negril or Montego Bay, Treasure Beach is located along Jamaica’s drier, more rugged, rockier, but nonetheless postcard-perfect, South shore. The lapping crystalline waters, and island time vibe, envelop an enclave of boho chic suites, villas and rooms, built and run with the utmost eco-consciousness. Before you even arrive at Jake’s, you will experience the community spirit, as the hotel participates in a program called Pack for a Purpose. Guests are asked to spare a bit of their luggage space to bring needed items for the community. Fear not – at this down-to-earth spot, you really don’t need more than a sundress or shorts and sandals, and this ensures you arrive with extra good karma! Once you are there you will also find opportunities to volunteer and help the local community, which provides a surefire feel-good factor and is a proven stress reducer.

Jake's

The rooms at Jack’s are comfortable, colorful and cheerful, with a variety of indoor/outdoor features like private decks, and outdoor showers with seashells and re-purposed bottles built into the design. Yogis flock here for the good energy and well-known retreats and classes, at the two outdoor yoga decks. The Driftwood Spa serves up ingredients like coffee, coconut, mango, seaweed and aloe, all from the on-site garden, for some luscious beauty treatment recipes accompanied by a cool, calming sea breeze. 
 
If you are not in the zone yet, you can sink further into the rhythm of island joy, mingling with the locals at the Pelican Bar – located at the nearby sandbar. Yes, that’s a bar you reach by boat that is actually in the water. This coolest bar in the world, put together with scrap wood by a local fisherman, is your place to chill, enjoy freshly-caught fish that could very well have been recently swimming under your stool, and a cold beer, while practicing your domino game before a quick dip.

New friends, new tan, fresh food and the ultimate chill – you may never leave…. 

Jake's

Awaroa Lodge, New Zealand.

Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing by reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.

Nature is at the root of all wellness, and Abel Tasman National Park, in the South Island of New Zealand, is one of this planet’s finest displays of natural beauty and bounty. Awaroa Lodge is nestled right in the heart of the park, allowing you the opportunity to immerse yourself where forest meets the sea, and enjoy all manner of outdoor, healthy and super fun adventures, while staying in modern, minimalist chic accommodation. 

Awaroa Lodge

It’s like a camp for adults, with luxury linens, slate tiled baths, and farm-to-table dining. Dolphins and seals abound during seafaring activities like kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing, or cruising to the start of a hiking trail by water taxi. Don’t be surprised if a pod pops out of the water by your side. The hiking trails are well maintained and take you through all variations of flora and fauna, sometimes winding down to a lovely little cove beach with giant rock formations, and then back up into the fresh-scented fern tree forest. There are birds galore, with many interesting species and even some native flightless birds, like the Weka or the blue green Takahe. 

Jake's

The staff is friendly and enthusiastic about making sure you’ve got as much, or as little to do, as you like. The lodge grounds are perfect for an easy stroll, where you can check out the organic garden that serves the on-site restaurant, or stop and have a rest at the outdoor patio, under a canopy of triangular shade sails. Here you can sip delicious New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, while enjoying a locally made cheese plate. 

Jake's

The pretty day spa provides an array of body treatments, and signature packages with reflexology, salt glow treatment and foot and calf massages.

There’s no place quite like New Zealand. This outward bound / inward healing trip is worth every mile it takes to get there.

Haramara Retreat, Mexico

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Perched high on a cliffside above the Pacific Ocean, tucked into the forest, the Haramara Retreat was lovingly created by yogi, and visionary, Sajeela de la Borbolla. She chose this spot with the intention of creating a fully immersive yoga experience, in what she describes as, “an environment which in itself seems to be suspended in a state of meditation.” There are a series of hand-built, open-air cabanas, with no power, but enough elegance and home comforts, to make you wonder why you ever needed to plug in in the first place. Sun-drenched days begin with early morning meditations, and yoga practice at the open shalas overlooking the sea through the trees. Time can be spent wandering the meandering paths of the property down to the beach, or the saltwater infinity pool, or up to the pretty dining area for supremely delicious, organic, healthy delights. The food here is so creative and flavorful, and so nutrient dense, you can feel your body jumping for joy with each bite. Massages are available, as are facials. Drumming circles around a beach bonfire, and other spiritual practices, are woven into daily life at Haramara, like the threads of the traditionally embroidered textiles available at the gift shop. There isn’t one specific activity, or feature of a retreat here, that stands out. Rather, it’s the totality of all aspects, being unplugged from modern stressors, and fully plugged into the natural rhythms of nature, body and soul, that create a life shifting experience.  

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Haramara may be far away from your physical home, but a stay here is a spiritual homecoming.  

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Six Senses Douro Valley, Portugal

The stunning Six Senses Douro Valley in Portugal, is an idyllic wellness holiday destination offering a special focus on sleep, for those that are interested in a deep dive into their nocturnal health. Starting with some impressive stats like “Sleeping too little or too much increases your chances of dying from all causes by up to 15%”, the comprehensive sleep program becomes an appealing addition to the holiday. Combine this with the Portuguese viniculture (come during harvest and you can even stomp grapes), glorious UNESCO World Heritage listed Douro Valley scenery, with its rolling hills and winding river views, historic sightseeing, organic culinary delights, and a full-on, full-service spa and fitness program including aerial yoga, means you won’t be disappointed.

The 60 room quinta ( or wine estate) dates back to the 19th century, and its chic, contemporary designed interiors blend old and new, for a sophisticated, yet laid back ambience.

The Sleep program draws on the wisdom of renowned sleep experts, and uses the latest technology to track, analyze and adjust your sleeping habits for ultimate health effects. The hotel is stocked with sleep-enhancing pillows, linens, mattress toppers, lighting controls and even bamboo pajamas. A personal consultation adds nutritional elements such as an ancient practice of Yoga Nidra and other wellness modalities to equip you for lifelong sleep improvements, that can dramatically boost your health.   

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While awake, enjoy the inviting wine library boasting a 700-reference wine list, and offering tastings on the terrace, including the region’s famous port wines. Self-service wine dispensers allow you to pair the region’s under-the-radar wines, with freshly prepared local delicacies day and night. Evening wine dinners are a chance to meet other travelers, and expert winemakers introducing their most revered vintages. Meals are served al fresco with a view, indoor in the stylish open kitchen, complete with wood burning oven; or in the intimate dining room adorned with traditional blue and white tiles and beamed ceilings. You can also venture out on a wine-focused river cruise, or visit local vineyards scattered throughout the picturesque valley.

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If you’d like a taste of non wine-centric activities, go tree climbing, kayaking, cycling, hiking or try traditional Portuguese tile painting. Also available, are Portuguese cooking classes, and a Food Alchemy class, where you’ll learn the essentials on how to preserve food the old-fashioned way by pickling, salting, dehydrating and smoking.

An immersion into this unique European getaway is surely a trip to dream about. 

Organic Garden