Curious women travelers find myriad reasons for hitting the road.
Perhaps it's to dabble in learning a foreign language, or to partake in a cooking class in Thailand. Maybe it's to volunteer in an orphanage, or to experience the great American road trip with a good friend.
Whatever your pleasure, treating yourself to the trip of a lifetime is sure to feel like the ultimate indulgence. And the pleasure is all the more palpable when self-improvement in the form of a wellness or beauty retreat is on the itinerary.
Wellness retreats as a travel niche are a growing trend for women looking to incorporate guaranteed downtime into their vacations. After all, the last thing we need is to return from a vacation feeling exhausted from all the enforced sightseeing and "fun."
From adventure-oriented forays in America's great West to more overtly spiritual sagas in settings as distant as India, there's no shortage of travel opportunities where focusing on improving your mind, body and soul are the only mandatory activities -- and it's up to you to dictate the order of importance.
Wellness retreats are rarely easy on the wallet, but remind yourself that no matter where you travel and what you do, seeing the planet and improving your inner and outer self along the way is nothing short of a worthwhile, worldly investment.
Spiritual Journeys in Sedona and the Grand Canyon
The focus of this 7-day trip with Gutsy Women Travel is to get a new lease on your spirit and recharge your soul while taking in some of the American West's most iconic sights. The tour starts in Las Vegas, but rest assured, you'll depart from Sin City in a flash to head to more mellow locales. The itinerary visits the Grand Canyon, Sedona and Red Rocks, and, along the way, you'll interact with a life coach, learn local lore from an American Indian guide and partake in a fireside chat with an author schooled in how to calm your mind while expanding your consciousness. A yoga session on the rocks of Sedona and a tour of the mystical vortices -- said to be the power points of Earth's energy -- are also on the agenda, as are introductions to Reiki, meals featuring edible flowers and an American Indian saging ceremony to cleanse your spirit. The price -- $2,299 per person -- does not include your return flight to Las Vegas, but does cover all lodging, meals, activities and transfers.
Yoga and Eco Wellness Tours in Costa Rica
Central America's most well-touristed country, Costa Rica boasts vast jungles and volcanic topography fringed by rugged oceanfront that make it a magnet for all sorts of visitors -- from surfers and hikers, to bird-watchers and budget European backpackers. But despite the tourist crowds, there's no lack of quiet, soul-stirring places in this beautiful nation situated between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, making Costa Rica a major destination for wellness tours. Lux World Travel, a tour agent based in Rochester, NY, offers women-only wellness retreats that mix yoga classes and meditation with eco-minded discovery outings. Seven-night packages include lodging in your own casita at an enviro-friendly boutique hotel, daily yoga classes, evening meditation sessions and eco-adventures, with your choice of surfing, jungle tours or horseback riding on the itinerary. All-organic meals are included in the package price, which starts at $1,295 per person (airfare to San Jose and gratuities not included). For additional fees, you can enhance the wellness aspect of your trip with many different therapies, which may include energy-balancing with Tibetan singing bowls, volcanic clay detoxification therapy or consultations with a nutritionist about how to make positive diet changes and incorporate herbal remedies into your personal health plan.
Beauty and Wellness Retreats in Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville is the East Coast's answer to places like Boulder, CO, or Half Moon Bay, CA -- a sublimely scenic mountain town in the Blue Ridge range that is a magnet for artists, writers, yoga gurus, crystal healers and general lovers of Mother Nature. And if you're looking for a great way to spend some female bonding time with your best girls while incorporating pampering in the equation, Appalachian Spa Ventures has just what the beauty doctor ordered. The Asheville Girls Relaxation Getaway gets you 2 nights lodging in a bed and breakfast or a luxury mountain cabin with a strict multiday beauty regimen that includes aromatherapy massages, lavender facials, reflexology foot treatments and body wraps that ensconce you in lavender and rose essences. Packages also include dinner at an Asheville restaurant and can be tailored for 2 people or a crowd (from $925 for 2 people).
For something more on the Eastern medicine side of the wellness equation, consider a healing and wellness retreat at the Chi Wellness Clinic in Asheville, which aims to cultivate and enhance your body's innate healing instincts for improved health, happiness and overall spiritual harmony. The program includes visits to local organic farms (where you'll participate in organic farming activities and even pick some vegetables for dinner), Chinese tea ceremonies, cooking classes and a program of stretching, breathing techniques and meditation meant to heal conditions such as fatigue and weight issues from the inside out. You'll stay at a historic farmhouse and mountaintop lodge on the grounds of a 4.5-acre organic farm that specializes in Chinese herbs.
Can't you just feel the good health vibes and inner glow already?