Culture Trip Wishlist: 5 Destinations for Wellness Travel in 2019

| Michael Driver / © Culture Trip
Culture Trip

Whether you’re into surfing or yoga or just need a nap-inducing Swedish massage, kick-start your year with a wellness-focused trip to one of 2019’s buzziest destinations. Culture Trip’s wellness editors, Tor Cardona and Esme Benjamin, chose these five spots to restore you in body and mind.

Try out mindful skiing in the Alps

Epic mountain vistas, mind-clearing air and endless blue and green spaces make the Alps the ultimate place to get headspace. The recent opening of Our Retreat in the chocolate-box French resort of Chamonix, nestled at the foot of Mont Blanc, is bringing even more attention to the area. The seasonal retreats combine mindful-skiing sessions with yoga, mobility training and wellness workshops. Elsewhere, Le Grand Bellevue in the historic Swiss resort of Gstaad also offers comprehensive wellness experiences – including outdoor meditation, breathwork classes and off-piste adventures – to help stressed-out souls reconnect with nature. Meanwhile, Bürgenstock Resort, situated above Lake Lucerne in Switzerland, is the place for a total mind-body overhaul thanks to an advanced medical centre and 10,000-square-metre (108,000-square-foot) spa.

Bürgenstock Resort is not for those who are unaffected by gorgeous views

Experience a hammam in Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech may conjure up images of bustling spice markets and crowded streets, but those in the know check into the region’s award-winning spas for the ultimate urban escape. Experience a traditional hammam (the Middle Eastern variant of a steam bath) at luxury hotel the Royal Mansour’s bliss-inducing spa, set in Moorish gardens heavy with orange trees; or soothe travel-weary limbs in La Mamounia’s legendary spa, which spans three floors. Elsewhere, the spa at La Sultana, a Moroccan palace set in a UNESCO World Heritage site, boasts a rooftop terrace with views of the Atlas Mountains beyond. Those seeking a more active escape can head to the coastal town of Essaouira, a short drive away, where you’ll be spoiled for choice with surf and yoga retreats.

The old port city of Essaouira stands on Morocco’s Atlantic coast

Join a breathwork circle in Joshua Tree, California

The distinctive silhouettes of yuccas against pastel sunsets have been attracting artists and spiritual seekers to Joshua Tree since the 1960s. There’s a palpable ambience where the Mojave and Colorado deserts collide, a vibrancy some believe can be explained by a mysterious energy vortex. The national park’s woo-woo mysticism has gradually melded with wellness culture from neighboring Los Angeles (a 2½-hour drive to the west), making it one of the top destinations in the world right now for health-minded travelers. Try a breathwork circle at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center, pick up medicinal tinctures at herbalism store Grateful Desert, and book an out-of-this-world sound bath inside a glistening-white sonic sphere known as the Integratron.

The sun slants low across Joshua Tree National Park in California

Indulge in retail therapy in the Hamptons, New York

Situated along the pretty coastline at the far end of Long Island, the affluent towns that make up the Hamptons (all a train ride away from New York City) each have their own flourishing wellness scenes. In Sag Harbor visit goop’s pop-up “livable shopping concept” and pick up “objects of desire” at Donna Karan’s Urban Zen. (Both sell fashion, home and beauty items.) While in Montauk try meditation in the Montauk Salt Cave followed by an herbal massage using botanical products at Naturopathica spa. And if you’re in East Hampton don’t miss stand-up paddleboard yoga on the beach with Jessica Bellofatto for the greatest savasana of your entire life.

Montauk Lighthouse keeps watch over a beach on Long Island, New York

Escape to the emerald hills of Ubud, Bali

With its placid rice paddies and emerald hills, the landscape of Ubud puts you in a calm state of mind almost immediately. Add to that the significant impact of Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir which was partly based in Ubud, and it’s little wonder this Balinese town has become one of the world’s most noteworthy wellness-tourism destinations. Don’t miss the jackfruit tacos at vegan Mexican restaurant Sage, the petal-filled bathing experience at Karsa Spa and yoga with a difference (think kundalini moves with chiropractic adjustments) courtesy of Ketut Arsana – a renowned local healer and guru.

The Pura Saraswati Temple in Ubud, Bali, beckons

For more of this series, check out our wishlist article on sports tourism in 2019.

Interested in planning your own dream trip to a city this year? Start your journey by saving your favourite articles and inspiration in a Culture Trip Wishlist. It’s the easiest way to keep all your research in one place while you discover what is special and unique about each place.

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