A wellness retreat is a wonderful way to mix vacation time with personal care. These immersive experiences that feed mind, body, and soul are becoming more and more popular with men and women of all ages.
Even though spiritual retreats have been around for a long time, the concept of a wellness retreat is relatively new. There are many variables to consider before you book your own.
We’ve prepared this guide to help you find the best health and wellness retreat for your solo or group adventure.
If you’re looking to escape the daily grind, relax, play, cultivate mindfulness, do yoga, and sip on the occasional cocktail, then a wellness retreat is the way to go!
How to Find the Wellness Retreat for You
The main issue with a “wellness retreat” is how broad this term can be. Yes, you associate it with nature, yoga, and healthy food, but a surf and yoga retreat can be just as “wellness-centric” as a transcendental meditation one. Both are very different approaches, even if they are targeting the same healthy lifestyle.
You need to reach a consensus on what you want before you make a deposit.
With so many customized wellness programs around the world, you are sure to find a wellness retreat that suits you and your group. However, it’s easy to turn an innocent girls-trip into a friendship-testing-nightmare if you don’t set some ground rules.
Use this checklist to return rejuvenated, transformed, and still friends with each other!
#1 Pick the Main Goal
What is the purpose of this wellness retreat? What do you wish to achieve? Be honest with yourself and the group, as this can be a source of anxiety or discomfort once you’re on the road.
Think of it like this: if the main goal is to relax and have a chill time, a wellness retreat full of hikes and paddle-boarding might leave you exhausted. If you want to have a wine and dine gourmet experience, then Napa Valley might be better than an austere ashram in rural India. Interested in summer skin care? Then you probably want to get a full-body detox.
Choose one main goal and two secondary ones.
- Personal Development/Coaching
- Spiritual Growth
- Physical Activity/Boot-camp
- Adventure and Exploration
- Food or Alcohol Tasting
#2 Select a Style
Are you interested in something rustic, austere, eco-friendly, or luxurious? Perhaps a unique mix of sustainable but also comfortable. Do you want an immersive local experience, or to be entirely away from civilization?
There’s a difference between being a camper and a glampacker. Pick the style that better suits the group and the main intention of this wellness retreat.
Pick a central style, and two “nice to have”
- Access to Nature
- Access to City/Town
- Connected to the world (think WiFi)
- Completely disconnected (No WiFi, cell phone service, etc.)
- Age-restrictive (Is it for all ages? 40+? etc.)
#3 Pick a Location
If you go to the Amazon, you’ll like see mosquitoes, spiders, and snakes. If you go to the Swiss Alps, then you’ll likely see snow. A yoga retreat might have a 5:00 AM wake up call and a silence hour (or more) - are you OK with that?
What about the group? Choose a location for your wellness retreat that only leaves room for pleasant surprises. If one of you has arachnophobia, maybe skip the jungle, and so on.
Pick a primary location, and two or three “nice to have.” Make it fun by taking votes, you’ll be amazed by the places that come up.
- Village Access
- City Access
- Historical Sites/Ruins
#4 Look at the Length of Retreat & Timing
There are three-day retreats, week-long retreats, fifteen-day retreats and more. Look for something that matches the needs of the group (some may be caring for children, parents, need to go back to work!)
Additionally look at the weather and season to make sure the timing matches the goals, style so you can make the most out of the location.
- Retreat dates vs. days available
#5 Research the Menu Options
If you’re looking to detox, get a clear skin diet, or lose weight, the menu options will be critical to your choice. Consider everyone’s dietary restrictions, food allergies, and the goal of your trip. Usually, the facility or retreat will include some or all meals, but if something isn’t covered, make sure you can still access it near or at the venue. Healthy eating while traveling, even at a retreat, can be a challenge if you don’t prepare.
Don’t underestimate the power of a retreat menu. Often the retreat takes place in a secluded or remote location, so you may find that the options are limited. Take a careful look at the meals and inform the kitchen of any special requests well in advance.
- Food allergies: soy, peanuts, rice, other.
- Food triggers: like goitrogens.
- Dietary restrictions: vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.
- Clean eating: for a detox or body reset.
- Heavy/hearty meals: think cheese-tasting in Emilia-Romagna.
- Alcoholic vs. Non-Alcoholic beverages: in some places alcohol is not allowed.
- Juicing options
Bonus! Bring your own Green Juice Go Packs or Pure portable superfoods. These small packets give you necessary daily nutrients, even if you go wine-tasting (wink-wink) in Napa Valley. Or get your skin-rejuvenating fix taking our GLOW powder in a ziplock bag.
#6 Find the Right Teachers and Facilitators
Make sure teachers or facilitators are up to your expectations, at least on paper. If you’re looking forward to learning or practicing something specific, like vegan cooking or headstands, then look for someone with credentials.
Follow personalities you already admire on Instagram or check their websites to see if they are offering retreats. If not, you can find companies and organizations and then review their team.
- You like the guiding staff: are they fun, serious, inviting?
- Credentials are available
- Board-certified or similar
- Read reviews online
#7 Consider the Social and Environmental Impact
It’s safe to say riding elephants in South East Asia (and anywhere else really!) is a harmful practice, just like working with single use-plastic. Choosing a wellness retreat that makes an effort to be eco-friendly and lower their carbon emissions is a great way to contribute to a healthier planet and a better you. Likewise, you could consider how they give back to the communities they are nested in.
- Eco-friendly practices listed
- Considers carbon footprint
- Recycling is available
- Space is sustainable (water filtration/reuse, repurposed materials)
- Carbon Offsetting options
- Uses local labor
- Gives back to the community
#8 Look for Accessibility and Inclusivity
Does anyone in the group have special needs? Will there be wheelchair access, ramps, the possibility to rent ground-floor accommodation for guests with bad knees? These are essential questions we don’t always consider unless someone has visible disabilities. Since that is not always the case, make sure everyone’s mental health and physical needs can be met at the location.
Additionally, looking for a diverse location that respects both your guests and cultural practices will make the experience even more enriching.
- Ramp or wheelchair access
- Special needs accommodations (ground floor, quiet room, etc.)
- Bring prescription medication and share warnings with retreat staff
- Mention medical equipment and power needs
- Ask your friends what they may need and inform the venue in advance
#9 Think About the Investment
You found the dreamiest tropical weather location, the views are marvelous, the mouth-watering menu is making you lick your lips as we speak, the very breeze is practically caressing your cheeks and then: it’s $12,750 for a four-day stay. Holy cannoli, not everyone in the group can afford that.
This should go without saying but researching the cost of the investment and budget range with your friends in advance may save you a lot of time and headaches.
- Prepare a budget range
- Consider the “must-have” and “nice-to-have” for that budget
- Look at the fine print (what’s really included)
- Check if you can bring or access things not included
- Have Fun!
Retreat Locations & Options to Consider
There are many wellness retreat options in the US, and abroad, the most popular locations now include Hawaii, Arizona, California, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Bali! Do you feel like staying in the US or going away?
Here are some options:
- Book Retreats is a search engine dedicated to finding retreats all over the world.
- Harper Bazaar’s Top 19 retreats around the world is an excellent place to start.
- New York’s Sky Ting takes you to Portugal, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua every year.
- Valeria Hinojosa, from WaterThruSkin, a vegan yoga teacher hosts one to two Bali retreats every year.
- YouTube sensation and Adidas rep, Adriene Mishler takes you on a yoga immersion every year in Nicaragua.
We hope you found this helpful and that you’re ready to rock and chill on your next adventure. If you did, please tell us what you picked and where you’re going! Share with a friend who’s thinking of going away.