April is National Stress Awareness Month, and while stress is unavoidable for the vast majority of people, there are many ways to help prevent and manage it. Here are a few experiences from travel outfitters and hotels around the world that focus on wellness and well-being.
ON FOOT HOLIDAYS: Walk this way
Numerous studies have shown that walking and time in the outdoors reduces stress, improves memory and attention and promotes feelings of calm. Walking boosts endorphins, which can reduce stress hormones and alleviate mild depression. With the arrival of Spring in April, here are a few great self-guided walks from On Foot Holidays that let travelers keep fit both mentally and physically while being immersed in the region’s varied cultures and cuisines, encounter and become friends with locals along the way and learn a whole new world by exploring places and regions that are off-the-beaten path.
Andalucia – white villages of the Ronda Mountains
April is the best time of year to hike the mountains of southern Spain – the wild mountainsides are thick with wild flowers, and the temperatures not too hot or too cold for comfort. Walk between the pueblos blancos, which contain some of Spain’s most distinctive architecture, and look out for ibex, eagles and griffon vultures in the Grazalema National Park. A seven-night self-guided hiking vacation with On Foot Holidays is priced from £785 per person (based on two sharing), including accommodation, luggage transfers and comprehensive maps and directions.
Alpes Maritimes – from the Alps to the Mediterranean
Journey on foot from the mountains to the sea in south-east France with On Foot Holidays. This self-guided hiking holiday meanders between medieval hilltop villages on its way to the beautifully restored town of Menton on the coast, through flower-filled meadows in April and May before the heat of summer kicks in. The seven-night walk with On Foot Holidays begins at £920 per person (based on two sharing), including accommodation, luggage transfers and comprehensive maps and directions.
Istria – hilltop villages of north-west Croatia
This unspoiled corner of the Adriatic is perfect for spring walking, before the summer visitors start to arrive. Starting at fashionable Motovun, you’ll hike through hills, vineyards and woodlands, stopping at medieval churches and trying the local fare (Italian-influenced) before climbing Mout Ucka and finally reaching the sea at Mošćenička Draga. Six nights with On Foot Holidays cost from £650 per person (based on two sharing), including accommodation, luggage transfers and comprehensive maps and directions.
Andros – green heaven in the northern Cyclades
You’ll find surprisingly verdant landscapes on this Greek island, with quiet seaside towns and lots of spring flowers in April and May. A five-night self-guided hike, staying in Chora and exploring the central part of the island, starts at £600 (based on two sharing) from On Foot Holidays, including accommodation, comprehensive maps and directions.
Slovenia – culture and landscape of the Karst
Late spring, with its profusion of wild flowers and butterflies, is an ideal time to walk through the gentle Slovenian countryside. Sample the local produce at farmhouse stays, and hike through vineyards, meadows and woods to the next hilltop village. A six-night hiking vacation with On Foot Holidays costs from £725 (based on two sharing), including accommodation, luggage transfers and comprehensive maps and directions.
NAYA TRAVELER: Spiritual Wanderings
For those who travel to escape the often-numbing effects of everyday routine and stress and seek to explore the diverse healing traditions across cultures, Naya Traveler’s Wellness Wanders specialty trips are designed to detox, refuel and rejuvenate mind and body within a unique cultural context. These carefully crafted wellness-centric experiences are rooted in the ancient healing and well-being traditions of each of their destinations, taking advantage of the unique knowledge and practice this context offers though its experts and discipline practitioners, as well as endemic ingredients and native remedies often not found outside their country of origin. Pairing the transformative power of travel with the benefits of native well-being practices, Naya Traveler invites travelers to further engage with a destination.
Explore Morocco through some of the most ancient forms of well-being and healing known to the region, tracing their roots back to centuries of Moorish culture and African influences. Revitalize your senses with a variety of invigorating hammam baths and traditional treatments that use natural exfoliating scrubs. Submerge yourself in native ingredients such as organic black soap, rhassoul clay, aromatic plants, rose water and henna. Discover the secrets of Prophetic Medicine, an old form of homeopathy inspired by spiritual and natural resources of the Arabian Peninsula. Recharge your vitals through water, where in Morocco it is believed to cure illnesses through thalassotherapy, balneotherapy and hydrotherapy. Visit Moulay Yacoub, famous for its natural hot springs, whose sulfur-rich water is full of therapeutic properties. End your Wellness Wanders journey with a day of silence at a stunning private country house on the outskirts of the High Atlas Mountains.
South India (November – May)
Unlock the healing power of traditional Ayurvedic medicine and ancient wellness disciplines in South India. Realign and purify your body through a carefully crafted plan by expert practitioners and step into the massive world of Hindu-inspired Ayurveda healing. Meet with one of the most famous Ayurvedic doctors, Dr. Isaac Mathai who has treated royalty, to learn about your mind and body’s needs. Open up your third eye through the restorative Shirodhara therapy with rejuvenating liquids and traditional oils. Rid yourself of small pains with Ksheera Dhara, a special therapy for headaches, insomnia and mental tensions. Relax at the end of each day with native therapeutic massages and natural anti-aging body scrubs. Delve into the most authentic form of Yoga discipline, from the hand of a master, and inspire spiritual as well as physical awakening. End your journey on a secluded beach to process your in-depth experience and relax by the water.
Retreat to the lesser-known corners of Peru to detox and re-kindle with the Pachamama (mother nature) and the mystic Andean spirit. In the northern Pacific shores of Mancora, enjoy surf sessions, detox meal-plans, and meditation practice along the coast. Retreat to the Amazon where a Shaman priestess will show you the benefits of connecting with nature and being one with the rainforest. Head over to the Sacred Valley to delve into the ancient Inca rituals of healing through the native coca leaf and high altitude breathing disciplines. Special Shaman purification ceremonies will be prepared along the sacred Inca trail, leading to the impactful Machu Picchu ruins. Finish your journey of holistic replenishing in the thermal baths of the Colca Canyon, looking onto the condors flying above.
Cambodia (November – May)
Enjoy reconnecting with yourself on a private-island retreat in Cambodia. Partake in nourishing natural treatments stemming from traditional Chinese medicine, mindful physical activities and spirit-awakening sessions with Buddhist monks. Khmer therapists will take you on a healing journey with a variety of detox meals and therapeutic sessions that suits your needs. Learn how to cultivate the Buddhist virtue of metta bhavana (loving-kindness) through spiritual rites and discover the restorative beauty of stillness every morning at sunrise. Spend time exploring the private island on a number of excursions, allowing you to connect with nature and improve your physical well-being.
Head to the beach: Ocean Therapy
It’s widely known that there are numerous health and psychological benefits to being close to the ocean. For more than just beautiful ocean views and vistas, travelers continue to choose trips and vacations that bring them up close and personal with the ocean. The feel of salt water on the skin, the smell of the ocean in the air, the soothing sound of the waves lapping in the distance, the ocean is not only meditative, but reduces stress and allows for self-reflection and discovery.
LES ILETS DE LA PLAGE: Paradise in Saint Barths
Clear your mind with Les Ilets de la Plage’s new wellness experience that combines relaxation with healthy initiatives in an idyllic setting. Guests can fill their days with daily yoga, aqua Pilates and /or island spa treatments. Hike the beautiful surrounding hills, power walk along the beach at dawn, swim in the ocean or do laps in the resort pool. Paddle boarding tones up muscles well, but guests can also have unlimited access to a state-of-the-art gym in Gustavia with superb facilities and classes. Enjoy healthy, delicious lunches or dinners using the freshest Caribbean ingredients supplied by Mayas-to-Go. Pricing available upon request. Stay in the resort’s newest villa – Le Studio, a 592 square-foot open-plan, bright and airy space with its own balcony and gorgeous sea views. The one-bedroom, one-bathroom beautifully designed studio features a fully equipped kitchen, chic teak armchairs with footrests in the living area, teak table and chairs in the dining area, large flat screen smart TV, spectacular ocean view terrace with comfortable seating (perfect for sunrise and sunset viewings!), king size bed (or twins on request), fully airconditioned throughout and more. Le Studio opened in late November 2018 and rates start from €215- €550 per night, depending on the season. Rates are per night including morning pastries delivered daily and complimentary tea and coffee all morning by the pool.
CALABASH COVE RESORT AND SPA: Saint Lucian Spa Getaway
Calabash Cove Resort and Spa is one of the most popular all-inclusive, adults-only boutique hotels in Saint Lucia, a Caribbean gem offering seclusion, beauty and mesmerizing views at every turn. Its 26 villas feature old Caribbean charm coupled with luxurious resort amenities of today. From the heavenly Windsong restaurant and lively C-Bar overlooking the infinity pool to the peaceful Ti Spa, guests have everything at their fingertips when vacationing at Calabash Cove. Ti Spa offers a wide range of treatments that combine European technique with St. Lucia’s storied tradition of using plant- and food-based curatives. Each and every treatment is expertly designed to cleanse the body of stress, rejuvenate the spirit and relax the mind. The exfoliation products are all organic made from local products that are in some case directly from the resort. Our therapists will be happy to demonstrate the different benefits between a coffee or papaya scrub, and more. Try their signature Spa Sampler (80 minutes/$140USD), a blend of holistic spa treatments fused together to create the ultimate spa experience. Melt away the stress and tension from the back with a hot stone massage followed by deep tissue massage on the back of legs. To the front of body Swedish massage techniques are used with a mix of counter stretching. Aromatherapy facial massage is then performed to rebalance and to induce even deeper relaxation and we end this blissful experience with a revitalizing foot scrub.
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