Here’s your chance for a new journey and a new you, from retreating to an island in Seychelles to swimming in the cold waters of the Irish Sea
Alone, not lonely
In a world where ‘busy’ is everyone’s middle name, a remote getaway seems like a great idea. But where can you enjoy peaceful solitude without sacrificing luxury and comfort?
It doesn’t get more secluded—or exclusive—than the private North Island in beautiful Seychelles (main picture; photo by Etched Space). Abandoned in the 1970s and restored to its former glory in 1997, it takes ecotourism to another level. North Island is now a sanctuary for endangered species (sea turtles, for example) and anyone looking for an escape. There are 10 beachfront villas (450sqm) and one grand villa (750sqm), each designed to help you reclaim your sense of space and privacy, with views of powder-white sand and turquoise waters.
For another kind of off-the-grid experience, look to Bliss & Stars, a 1,350-hectare retreat in the breathtaking Cederberg Mountains of South Africa. Founded by a certified mindfulness guru and an astrophotography professional, Bliss & Stars bills itself as a spiritual and wellness getaway that offers carefully curated immersive retreats to “calm the mind, rejuvenate the body and reconnect yourself with nature”. In an intimate group, one may unplug and unwind through a six-day silent retreat or a three-night star bathing experience, with guided meditation, cave exploration and stargazing sessions. One can also book the entire retreat and enjoy it all: luxury accommodation, private chefs (only plant-based and vegetarian meals), an on-site masseuse, guided mindfulness experiences and more.
The luxury of sleep
Among the best benefits of travelling for leisure is paying off the non-proverbial sleep debt. If you’re looking to treat yourself to the best sleep that money can buy, look no further than Hästens, maker of the world’s finest and most expensive beds.
Coimbra, Portugal, is the site of the brand’s Sleep Spa, the first and only hotel in the world where you can enjoy the patented Hästens sleep experience. Each of the hotel’s 15 rooms, which face either a river or a garden, is furnished with a Hästens bed as well as pillows, duvets and Hästens Satin Pure White bed linen, which are all made with natural goose feathers.
There are other features of the hotel stay that situate the experience firmly in the province, notably, tours of historic Coimbra that include visiting landmarks such as Joanine Library, touted as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, and activities that run the gamut from star-gazing to venturing to an archaeological dig.
If you’re as committed to rest as you constantly remind yourself to be, make the trek here and sleep like you mean it.
More than massages
Of course, there is always the fail-safe if you don’t wish to over-think a relaxing getaway: the good old spa vacation. Fancy the whiff of essential oils, massage sessions and evening cocktails on repeat?
According to Tracy Lee, founder of Tlee Spas and Wellness, a global spa development firm that prides itself on a hospitality-centric ethos, you might actually desire more than you think. “The spa experience has been moving beyond the treatment room. In 2023, we can expect diversified programming to accommodate personal wellness journeys and fitness goals, greater emphasis on communal experiences, and wellness as a catalyst for high-performance living,” she says.
What that translates to is an evolution of the spa experience. Besides relaxing the body and soothing the mind (already a massive win in our books), modern spas now incorporate programmes and technologies that improve physical performance and expand one’s spiritual consciousness.
For instance, at Halehouse Spa at Stanly Ranch, Auberge Resorts Collection, conceived by Tlee Spas and Wellness, you get to enjoy prescriptive bodywork, customised skincare and the use of a hyperbaric oxygen chamber after a restorative sauna session. As part of the high-tech recovery activities offered by The Spa at Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards, New York, and Spa Alkemia at Zadun, a Ritz Carlton Reserve in San José del Cabo, Mexico—also designed by the same company—are acoustic and vibrational programmes conducted in rooms specially engineered for immersive sound therapy.
“Our clients are adopting a more nuanced approach to wellness because their guests are more aware and eager to live their best lives physically, emotionally, socially and even spiritually,” says Lee.
Working up a good sweat doesn’t have to be painful, especially when it involves a couple of good sports: the activity that you are interested in and then there’s you, of course. Sports makes exercise fun and, when you create a community around a shared passion, you’ll share a sense of communal frequency, with an improved physical and mental well-being.
Take swimming in the open sea, an activity offered by Anantara The Marker Dublin Hotel. Its Wild Swimming Experience is led by Jessica Lamb, a guru who spent the last 10 years helping others experience the healing powers of the cold Irish Sea. This two-hour swimming safari of stunning cliff views, hidden coves and porpoises is a cherry on top of a fantastic Irish vacation. It ends with a flask of hot Irish coffee and, if you want, a private rooftop breakfast and massage.
On the sunnier side of things, Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar is recommended for players serious about their larger goals around tennis. Send your child there for the year (school is included) or sign yourself up for the week. Based in beautiful Mallorca, Spain, it is the Disneyland of tennis that offers a full-board experience: meals, fitness and daily training with professionals from around the world.
If not tennis, ride a surf or tee off at Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa on Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast. The resort is within easy reach of 17 surf breaks and is home to David McLay Kidd’s signature oceanfront 18-hole course, a challenge to players of all skill levels. Look out for the last hole, where an unconventional par three was designed to save the mature trees.
If finding calm on the open sea is your thing, here’s a trend in luxury travel that isn’t going away soon: luxury yachts by luxury hotel brands. A winning combination of top-tier hospitality with superyacht exclusivity, it gives new meaning to onboard luxe.
Cue Evrima, the first of three in The Ritz-Carlton’s Yacht Collection, which boasts 149 ritzy suites for 298 guests. Its relatively petite size (in comparison to mega cruise ships) means it has the upper hand of accessing highly sought-after ports of call such as Mykonos, Saint-Tropez, St Barths and more. Guests will be privy to specially curated shore itineraries that are in sync with the pristine level of comfort and service that The Ritz Carlton is renowned for.
Taking the bespoke experience up a notch, Belmond’s Coquelicot winds through the picturesque canals of France’s Champagne region. The luxury barge’s three spacious cabins can accommodate six guests. In an exclusive partnership with Ruinart, the world’s oldest champagne house, guests will also be able to embark on a private vineyard tour and an exclusive cuvee tasting.
Restorative in every sense of the word, Aman’s upcoming Project Sama (Sanskrit for ‘tranquillity’) is a floating paradise that hosts up to 100 passengers across 50 suites, each replete with a private balcony granting uninterrupted sea views. Akin to a private superyacht, expect the signature Aman spa experience amid a zen Japanese garden. And should your thirst for the exotic ever arise, simply take off from either of its two helipads to whichever far-flung destination suits your fancy.