Given the stresses of the pandemic, travelers are increasingly keen to escape the daily grind and unwind. Unsurprisingly, a significant number of jet-setters have reconsidered their vacation priorities; in a recent study by Accenture, 33% of the 11,000 people surveyed across 16 countries said they’re more focused on self-care than in the previous year, with health and wellbeing both considered an “essential”.
Accenture’s findings also showed that 80% of consumers would spend as much or more on their health and fitness in 2023, despite the ongoing economic downturn and the global cost of living crisis. These results mean one thing: people are wound-up, stressed out, and desire to put their health and well-being first for a change. So, what better way to indulge in some self-care than booking a wellness-geared vacation?
As 2023 arrives and the holidays have everyone riled up with festive cheer, even the most zen folks will need respite after the celebrations wind down. No worries; this list has tensed-up travelers covered — here are several picks for a wellness escapade in the new year, from Floridian hotel breaks and spa retreats to Caribbean getaways and Californian ski resorts in the mountains.
10/10 1 Hotel, San Francisco
San Francisco has always been a champion of the wellness world. Setting trends in health and wellness before anywhere else, this pioneering part of California is one of the best destinations in the world for relaxation and rejuvenation, thanks to the abundance of spa and wellness centers operating in and around the city.
In fact, 50 spas are within a ten-mile radius of downtown San Francisco, showing just how seriously this bustling metropolis takes self-care.
One particular retreat on the Embarcadero has recently gained attention; the brand-new 1 Hotel, with its idyllic location overlooking San Francisco Bay, promises a quiet, peaceful retreat away from the hectic city shenanigans, focusing on luxury and sustainability on top.
The hotel’s Bamford Wellness Spa is an effective collaboration with British organics pioneer Carole Bamford and her specialist products, which are used in the spa’s signature service: a luxe full-body massage followed by expert-led trigger point therapy with yogic breathing.
9/10 SenSpa, San Francisco
The second San Francisco wellness contender is situated across town and borders the Presidio. The award-winning SenSpa is a sizable 13,000-square-foot facility — but with a unique approach to wellbeing; the spa focuses on full-body wellness instead of cosmetics.
A wide variety of massage types are available to rest and revitalize the body and mind, as well as other therapies, such as acupuncture, along with a special 90-minute posture alignment treatment.
In this special treatment, guests undergo an insightful and educational session on posture trigger points filmed on video. Afterward, the session can then can be followed up with weekly posture classes via Zoom.
8/10 Chaa Creek Lodge, Belize
Belize’s culture that combines adventure with wellness is one of the many reasons it’s one of the top Caribbean islands for tourists seeking relaxation on pristine beaches and hiking through tropical rainforests (although, technically, it’s Central America, not the Caribbean!)
Belize also is one of the best scuba destinations in the world with an impressive track record of devotion to marine conservation. Overall, the nation is a nature lover’s haven, with over half of the island coated by dense jungles, forests, and nature reserves.
The country also boasts 103 protected areas, plenty of which are open for exploration. One such protected area exists at the Chaa Creek Lodge, where guests can enjoy the property’s 400-acre private reserve before unwinding into their sensual rainforest massage.
Interestingly, not only is Belize a popular nature enthusiast and beach bum destination but it’s also favored by retirees, with the country’s retirement program offering incentives to those who wish to make the island their new home.
7/10 Run Barbados, Barbados
Among the myriads of Instagrammable things to do in Barbados, lounging on the island’s postcard-perfect sandy beaches and chowing down on authentic Bajan dishes — like flying fish — always come top.
However, as the country has undergone modernization over the last couple of decades, it offers more than white powdery beaches, swaying palm trees, and crystal-clear blue waters. Barbados is now home to arrays of boutique-size spas by the beach, as well as luxury spa resorts.
Although spa retreats aren’t hard to find in this pint-sized Caribbean country, the island also hosts wellness activities on the more heart-pumping side, as well as those relaxing. One of these activities is Run Barbados, which took place on December 10 and 11 and involves a series of races ranging from 3K to a full marathon.
Runners from all across the globe descend upon Barbados to challenge this mostly waterfront activity course — all while the island’s signature steel drum players and musicians entertain the athletes and crowds.
6/10 Dodge Ridge Ski Area, California
The crowds tend to disperse in California’s Tuolumne County throughout the holidays. However, visiting Yosemite or hiking in the High Sierra are still popular pastimes — even outside of peak season.
This area also has other unique draws in winter; giant sequoias blanket Tuolumne Grove, creating photography-worthy shots and stunning scenery. Plus, the Dodge Ridge Ski Area opens in mid-November for the winter and also offers weekly Mountain Yoga classes.
Everyone knows California boasts some of the most popular ski resorts in the US for the 2022/2023 season, with Dodge Ridge offering the best of both for the ultimate winter vacay: adrenaline-packed slopes and wellness-focused spa and yoga retreats.
What’s more, less than an hour away and just outside Sonora is The Chester & Push Horse Experience, which offers a therapeutic boost to families or groups. Animals are known to provide emotional health benefits to humans, so it’s no wonder this horse rescue center’s experiences are exceedingly popular.
On a visit to this equine sanctuary, visitors can form bonds with the 16 horses that call the place home while assisting in their care, feeding, and grooming.
Horse lovers in Florida are in luck; another enriching and educational experience for pony fans is the Gypsy Gold Horse Farm Tour, which lets visitors meet and learn about the original Gypsy Vanner horses that came to the US from Europe.
5/10 Ette Hotel, Orlando, Florida
Christmas in Florida? Absolutely! Synonymous with Universal Studios and Disneyland, tourists will find there’s plenty of other things to do in Florida besides theme parks — especially when they visit in December.
The holiday months in Orlando are packed with treats and special events, which aspiring tourists can check out via the Visit Orlando events page.
Among the many top-rated things to do in Orlando during Christmas, indulging in a luxurious hotel and spa getaway certainly comes close to top, particularly if tourists fancy a warmer winter vacation away from the colder parts of the country.
While there’s no lack of health-focused escapes in Orlando, few do it better than the Tuscan-inspired Ette Hotel Orlando. First opened last spring, this 126-room hotel has wellness as a core focus, being completely alcohol-free and offering delectable culinary experiences in partnership with Michelin Star Chef Akira Back.
Of course, no wellness retreat would be complete without a sumptuous spa — and The Spa at Ette goes above and beyond to provide an exquisite array of services suited to all preferences and needs.
4/10 Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Orlando, Florida
The Loews Portofino Bay Hotel is an elegant property in itself, offering beautiful accommodations and all the luxuries and comforts guests could ever desire on a dream break in Orlando.
However, the hotel’s Mandara Spa completes the picture of perfection, serving as guests’ personal oasis where they can unwind, relax, rest, and renew the body and soul.
With 16 treatment rooms to pamper and soil guests from head to toe, the Mandara Spa is the perfect place to enjoy some well-deserved ‘me time’ away from the stresses of daily life and the energized tourist attractions in Orlando.
Offering a tempting menu of special treatments and therapies for men and women to relax, invigorate, and beautify the entire body, a spa day (or weekend) in Florida doesn’t get much more indulgent than this.
Moreover, every evening, the hotel’s Harbor Piazza celebrates the romance and charm of Italy with an entertaining musical celebration, finishing off the day, setting the mood, and rounding off guests’ stay to perfection.
3/10 Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lounge, Orlando, Florida
Sometimes, a luxurious pampering alone isn’t quite enough for some stress-riddled vacationists; for the competitive and athletic types, there’s nothing quite like combining a spa experience with sports and working up a sweat.
That’s where the charming Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge comes in to save the day. Equipped with everything guests need for an all-around, transformative retreat, the 70-room property comes complete with a spa, fitness center, and 27 holes of golf.
2/10 The Relâche Spa Fitness Center at Gaylord Palms, Kissimmee, Florida
The Relâche Spa Fitness Center at Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee has earned a strong reputation for elegance and tip-top service.
This luxe spa is designed to bring calm and tranquility to this busy and bustling part of the United States, with a serene roster of therapeutic options from HydraFacial, facial, and body treatments to massages, hair and nail treatments, and couples services.
In addition, the state-of-the-art gym at the hotel features top-quality gear and facilities to get guests’ bodies moving and sweating.
This modern fitness center’s floor-to-ceiling windows with breathtaking views of the entire resort make it even more appealing.
1/10 The St. Somewhere Spa At Margaritaville, Orlando, Florida
St. Somewhere Spa is a unique paradise, serving up lavish beauty treatments, massages, and even a Himalayan salt room, among many other services and facilities.
One of the spa’s most popular menu items is the vitamin therapy service, which ranges from IV drips to B12 shots and hangover cures — for when the party in Orlando got a little too indulgent the night before!
With day packages and service upgrades that include a private poolside cabana experience, St. Somewhere Spa is somewhere to keep in mind when the body and brain need some serious relaxation.