In recognition of Global Wellness Day — June 11 this year — I thought it would be apropos to mention a few of the more unusual ways to promote health while traveling. As a baby boomer, I’m prone to the usual stiff joints and other nagging ailments, and love the idea of medical tourism, even if it’s mostly an excuse to go somewhere exotic.
- Water-based Meditation.
While I don’t practice meditation, I have a few good friends who do, and they always seem focused and calm. Does meditation have this effect, or are naturally calm and focused people drawn to meditation?
I don’t know, but I do know I could use a little more calmness and focus in my life, and I love being on water, so maybe I’ll try:
The Mekong Spa at Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao, in Luang Prabang, Laos, which offers a full-day Meditation on the Mekong package, including a private boat on the Mekong River, a picnic lunch, and complimentary access to a number of local temples and the historic Pak Ou Caves, with opportunities for meditation all under the guidance of a certified instructor.
The Belmond La Residence Phou Vao is a luxury hotel and spa that overlooks Luang Prabang.
Of course, first I’ll have to get to Laos, which is at the top of my bucket list along with Cambodia and Myanmar, the three Southeast Asian countries I haven’t visited.
Less exotic but more easily accessible to those of us who live in the western U.S., Northern California’s Solage Calistoga is offering year-round Floating Meditation classes in its geothermal pool. Guests are led through a calming sequence of visualization and breathing exercises while floating on rafts in the 130-foot pool warmed to body temperature.
As a former San Francisco resident, I have spent some time in the Napa Valley town of Calistoga, known for its thermal pools and mud baths. The Solage Calistoga is an upscale spa set along the scenic Silverado Trail, one of my favorite roads to drive in the Bay Area wine country.
I was never too crazy about mud baths, but the floating meditation at Solage sounds like a winner.
- Meditation on Land.
Located at the base of the Arenal volcano in central Costa Rica, Nayara Springs offers weekly meditation to practice Pranayama breathing exercises, accompanied by guitar melodies in the treetop yoga pavilion.
Nayara Springs is a luxury hotel with a spectacular setting that has won all kinds of awards lately, including Number One Spa in the World from Conde Nast Traveler. It’s been a while since I’ve been to Costa Rica, but this seems like a good reason to return, meditation or no.
Meanwhile in London, the historic Connaught Hotel’s Aman Spa – the first spa to be built outside of an Aman resort – is offering complimentary 20-minute meditation classes during lunchtime. (Sounds good, as long as it doesn’t interfere with lunch.)
- Yoga Retreats.
I’m not sure if I’m ready for even the downward dog pose, but I know I could use some yoga lessons, preferably in — as you might imagine — an exotic locale.
Here’s one that fills the bill: Set in the Quirimbas Archipelago on a private island off the coast of northern Mozambique in southeastern Africa, andBeyond Vamizi offers its eight-day Vamizi wellness program, which includes private yoga sessions. Vamizi consists of six private luxury villas, each of which comes with personal chef and butler.
Mozambique is also on my bucket list, and andBeyond is a highly respected purveyor of African safaris, so I would even try the peacock pose here (“try” being the operative word).
On the north coast of Jamaica, travelers can experience the history of GoldenEye, a beach resort named for a James Bond thriller — Ian Fleming lived here when he created agent 007 — with a hike up Firefly (site of English playwright Noel Coward’s retreat) for a sunset yoga class as well as a private journey to Konoko waterfalls and botanical gardens.
I’m sure James Bond, or at least one of his many incarnations, would approve. (I’ll always pick Sean Connery.)
Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France, on the northern coast of the Caribbean island of St. Bart’s, offers a private yoga session on Colombier beach, which is only accessible by foot or by boat.
I like the “private” angle, since I’d be bound to look bad, even on the downward dog.
Did I say any of these are bargain paradises? No.
But when it comes to your health and wellness — not to mention exotic travel — what’s too steep a price to pay?
Travel Tip of the Day: The new Paradise Beach Resort Nevis, which I wrote about in an earlier blog post, is offering a special package from now to December 18, 2016. The “Hamilton 1755” Package consists of 17 percent off a four-bedroom villa for a stay of three nights or more. Guests will also receive a copy of Alexander Hamilton, Ron Chernow’s bestselling book that inspired “Hamilton,” the hit Broadway play, and a privately guided island tour of Nevis’ historic sites, including Alexander Hamilton’s birthplace, now The Museum of Nevis History.