Choosing a Wellness Retreat Over a Resort

by Blake Herzog

Sometimes, we need a vacation to get away from it all. Other times, that’s not quite enough.

When stress is eating away at our minds and driving us to unhealthy habits, or the demands being put on our time just aren’t sustainable, or we’re trying to find purpose amidst all our scrambling and struggling, simply escaping our day-to-day life isn’t the best use of our time off.

Finding a destination that can help us heal, learn and grow is a better alternative. It can be a little hard to find, however, now that every major resort has at least one spa and has expanded spa-adjacent activities to include yoga and guided hikes.

Here are some ways that wellness retreats are different from a more conventional resorts:

Expansive Itineraries

A wellness retreat goes beyond that to offer planned, curated experiences intended to broaden the guests’ horizons and are adaptable to different scenarios, such as inclement weather.

They often offer multiday packages of scheduled activities contributing to a wellness-inspired goal or goals, including meals, workouts, meditation and spiritual practice, time spent in nature, cooking nutritious meals and other special interests.

Most welcome individuals, couples, friend groups and families, but some cater to a niche audience.

Accessible Experts

Wellness retreats are staffed by therapeutic specialists who guide guests through the programming and advise them on how to integrate its suggestions into daily routines.

These coaches or experts offer consultations beforehand, are within easy reach throughout a guest’s stay and may remain in touch after guests return home.

This personalized attention is a major component of guests’ success during and after a wellness retreat.

Immersion in Healthful Practices

Wellness retreat itineraries generally have a good deal of repetition built-in so guests can reinforce and retain the new, healthier habits they are trying to acquire.

There may be time set aside for unstructured relaxation but meals, exercise, reflection and socialization with others on the same journey will likely happen at established times to begin building new routines to help you thrive in the long run.

Active Participation

Some resort spas offer “wellness packages” that promise total relaxation and endless pampering through massage, facials, wraps, soaks, alternative medical treatments and spiritual sessions conducted by practitioners that don’t require much from you in terms of physical or mental engagement.

These can be very relaxing, but a wellness retreat requires more effort on your part, and you’re likely to see more results.

Wellness Resorts

There is a hybrid option — wellness resorts may or may not offer all-inclusive, regimented packages like the ones you find at retreats, but their facilities and activities help all guests have a well-balanced, satisfying trip, often rooted in the local environment and culture.

Along with accommodations, they provide healthy dining options, wellness activities and wellness-related facilities including spas, classrooms, trails and onsite gardens or farms.

These are excellent vacation options but may not provide enough structure for those looking for a “reset” or to transform their lifestyle.

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