With Covid-19 upending even the best-laid travel plans over the past two years, spending quality time with family while rebooting your mind, body and soul somewhere sunny/luxurious/more exotic than your now clay-clogged common or park is probably at the forefront of your bucket list this summer. And you’d be in good company: according to a recent report conducted by the World Travel and Tourism Council, travel bookings in 2022 are set to surge beyond prepandemic levels, as frustrated parents seek sojourns that will help them unwind and hit reset together as a family. Traditionally, of course, wellness holidays have been the preserve of stressed-out professionals in need of a little R&R, but thanks to the pandemic, that’s all set to change, as we find out…
“One of the outcomes of coronavirus is that focusing on both mental and physical wellbeing has risen to the top of priority lists for many more people – and this includes younger generations,” explains Andrew Barnard, managing deputy director at BodyHoliday, one of the world’s leading wellness resorts based in St Lucia (thebodyholiday.com). “With young adults suffering just as much as everyone else – not seeing peers, isolating and home schooling – the wellness of their bodies and minds deserves special attention. Families have spent many more hours together in lockdowns, so a team approach to optimising wellness is certainly something we expect to see more of in 2022,” he adds.
So, where to go and what to do? With the UK, Europe and pockets of the Caribbean slowly reopening their borders (and antibacced bedroom doors) to wanderlust travellers, H&W contributor Nicola Moyne shares five of the best wellness retreats you and the family can decamp to for that longawaited restorative getaway.
Hit the surf and shala in Portugal
With its signature laid-back vibes, shared platters of super-healthy local fare, and pro-taught surfing and yoga schedules, Soul & Surf’s sun-soaked retreats along the Algarve’s long Atlantic rollers are just the ticket for adventurous families hoping to master the board by day and balmy, meditative evenings by night. Strong-swimming kids are welcome, as are nimble nippers keen to master their downward dog – all staff ask if you bring little ones along is that you respect any limitations set at the teacher’s discretion. A three-night, mid-week escape starts at approximately £195 per person, including surf and yoga tuition and most meals. Visit soulandsurf.com for more information.
Book a wellbeing reset in St Lucia
Coveting whitewashed sands and a feel-good dose of tropical heat after months of (soggy) staycations? Meet BodyHoliday – the West Indies’ award-winning resort that delivers wellness, perfectly packaged. Perched on the northern tip of St Lucia’s emerald-coloured coves, this health-driven hideaway offers up everything from water-skiing lessons and reformer Pilates, to acupuncture and archery – and the kids will love getting in on the action during the resort’s dedicated summer holidays’ WellFit Families programme, which runs from 5th July to 27th August and includes training sessions with the likes of Olympic swimmer Jazz Carlin (5th-16th July); Welsh Olympic sprinter Jamie Baulch (19th- 30th July), England Rugby League star Martin Offiah (2nd-13th August); and Olympic runner Donna Fraser (16th-27th August). All-inclusive rates start from £290 per person, per night. Book yours at thebodyholiday.com.
Go wild swimming in cornwall
Frazzled parents with swim-keen teens should take the plunge at stylish St Michaels Resort in Falmouth and book its Wild Swimming Retreat. Run in conjunction with SwimLab’s expert coach Salim Ahmed, this three-day open-water getaway is suitable for teens and adults who can comfortably manage 400m, and combines technique-perfecting hacks with coldwater philosophy to not only improve your stroke, but also help you plug into the mental, physical and emotional benefits of taking a dip in the big blue. Expect one-to-one tuition, group drills and structured swims, alongside pool instruction and complementary activities and excursions that deliver the full restorative experience – think yoga sessions to soothe aching shoulder muscles, hydrothermal treatments in the hotel spa (to soothe everything else), and coastal walks along the stunning Falmouth clifftops. Retreats in May, September and October are available from £595 per person. Visit stmichaelsresort.com to find out more.
Try geothermal spa-hopping in Iceland
Nothing screams ‘wellness’ like taking a dip in mineral-rich, therapeutic lagoons and Iceland – along with its shapeshifting skies and untamed fjords – is notoriously full of them. Known for restoring your skin and rejuvenating the soul, this snow-draped terrain’s plethora of geothermal sapphire pools is the perfect pull for fatigued families keen to explore. Join local guide Borghildur for a wellbeing deep-dive in Húsavík – a pretty north-coast town on the shores of Skjálfandi bay – before hitting Hotel Húsafell’s chic Scandi digs in the west for a late-night plunge under a kaleidoscopic sky. ToursByLocals offer a six-hour Húsavík Bath Spa Full-Day Tour from £878 for up to five people. Discover more toursbylocals.com and book a room at Hotel Húsafell on husafell.is, where prices start from around £120 per night.
Take a hike in the alps
Need a collective breath of fresh air? Head to Verbier in the Swiss Alps this spring or summer to reconnect with nature’s labyrinth of hiking trails, nature walks and biking routes at your own pace. Horse-loving little (and big) ones can enjoy a spot of equine therapy, while foodies learn to cook in the Mountain Thyme kitchen. Afterwards, why not roam the Rhône valley for views over the mountains and lush green forests, or hire a mountain guide to enjoy the region’s flora and fauna? Be sure to book a family trail-running session along the picturesque paths of Val de Bagnes and La Tzoumaz too for stunning south-facing vistas of the Massif des Combins. Offered by Sandra Rouiller’s BeeHeidi, tailor-made trail outings cost from £77 – book yours on beeheidi.ch. B&B accommodation at Hotel Montpellier starts at £2,613 for seven nights for a family of four, plus explorative VIP Pass. Discover more at kvhotels.com.
Indulge the senses in Italy
Behind its bleached limestone labyrinth of cobbled lanes, cerulean pools and blushing bougainvillea, Brindisi’s Borgo Egnazia preserves a near-perfect picture of Puglian life: honest food, authentic spa treatments and expansive villa rooftops that rise like longstanding Italian relics. So, how better to achieve pervasive wellbeing than cycling through its butterscotch arches or relaxing in the resort’s restorative Vair Spa? Borgo Egnazia’s four-day Family Happiness Break allows guests young and old to enjoy everything from tailor-made treatments and cooking classes to ‘laughter art’ workshops and a Roman thermal bath and flotation tank experience. Think wellness on a luxurious scale. Prices start from approximately £2,225. Visit vairspa.borgoegnazia.it/happy for the full price list.