By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
We predicted last year that Transformative Travel would be a huge ‘thing’ in 2016, and we were right – no longer is it sufficient to take a holiday that involves throwing yourself on a beach and reading an airport novel for a week. No, people want a trip that will change their lives; a vacation where they return home a happier, healthier, more rounded and improved person.
This can be achieved through various means, from getting fit and eating healthfully at boot camps to going deep down in your psyche with South American shamans at plant medicine retreats.
Here, we predict 5 wellness retreat trends for 2018 that are bound to change people’s lives for the best.
1. Food as Medicine
We’re living in an era where pills are taken for any basic malaise, be it sadness, hyperactivity or a just bit of a headache. Luckily, awareness of the need to replace chemical pharmaceuticals with more natural remedies is growing, and there’s now a huge trend towards seeing ‘food as medicine.’ In 2018, you’ll find increasing numbers of wellness retreats offering to teach people how to eat to manage and avoid illnesses and improve energy and overall wellness. Expect cooking classes and nutrition talks, in gorgeous settings – and some retreats will even focus on certain health issues, like fighting cancer or detoxing the body.
Top destination: SHA Wellness Clinic (Spain)
2. Mindful Movement
Philosopher Merleau-Ponty emphasised the correlation between body and mind at the beginning of the 20th century, and now a century later, wellness retreats are starting to strongly acknowledge this connection. The coming year will see a significant increase in retreats offering wellness programmes with equal focus on being dynamic and conscious – think gym programs that shun the ‘no pain, no gain’ mentality of the 1980’s for more focus on the connection between body and mind via gently powerful exercises like yoga and Tai Chi.
Top destination: Epic Sana Mindfulness Retreat (Portugal)
3. Hidden Archeology
Thanks to researchers such as Graham Hancock and Brien Foerster, people are starting to wonder if what tour guides are telling them about the Great Pyramids and Inca ruins is true. More and more archeological tours are being offered ‘off the beaten track’ by tour guides who believe many of the megaliths that pepper our planet are far, far older than you think!
4. ‘New Age’ Holidays
The 70’s were the start of the New Age Movement, characterised by alternative approaches to traditional Western culture, with an interest in spirituality, mysticism, holism, and environmentalism. Today, more wellness retreats are specialising in the healing powers of spirituality. Crystal energy, light therapy, energetic massage, Reiki and Theta Healing are but a few unconventional healing techniques offered by New Age retreats.
Top destination: Ocean Soul Holistic Retreat (Bali).
5. Plant Medicine and Ayahuasca Retreats
So many have benefitted from plant medicines like ayahuasca and San Pedro that visiting a retreat that offers these magical plants has started to trend, and we can only see that growing in the coming year. Although these medicines are illegal in most of the world, they are legal in Peru, Brazil and Colombia, making these countries top destinations for those wishing to partake in these deeply healing plants, usually with the help of a qualified local shaman.
Top destination: Etnikas, (Peru).
6. Happiness Retreats
According to recent studies, experiences make us happy, not things. Therefore, it’s no surprise that people are investing more on satisfying their wanderlust than buying material goods. For this reason, some retreats are now offering packages with your happiness in mind: they include experiences that stimulate the body and mind through activities like morning hikes, collective meals, mindfulness exercises, meditation and beach circuit training – all of which foster the production of serotonin, also known as the ‘happy hormone.’
Top destination: Shanti Maurice De-stress (Mauritius).
7. Fasting Holidays
It may seem bizarre to leave home for several days only to fast, but frankly, it’s a lot easier to do this when your fridge, friends and corner shop aren’t tempting you with treats! A good fasting holiday will be done under a doctor’s supervision, and will include things like freshly squeezed juices and soups, walks and other gentle exercise, cultural activities and nutritional information. The benefits are many: fasting retreats allow you to kick start a diet, give your digestive system a break, and also assist curing gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and joint issues.
Top destination: Malteser Klinik Van Vogelsberg (Germany)