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An active, outdoor adventure with no holds barred comfort in the evening? You’re not the only one signing up for a wellness break.
The basic formula is simple and appealing: a wellness break, an adventure of all-round wholesomeness encompassing an outdoor excursion amongst spectacular scenery, a hearty meal of delicious, locally sourced produce, and a little bit of pampering thrown in too. What’s not to like?
You start by spending your day in the mountains, by the coast, on the river – fresh air in your lungs, the rush of being outside and active, exploring and making your own way under your own steam. You could be walking, or cycling, or trying rock climbing or kayaking for the first time.
It doesn’t matter, as long as you’re surrounded by nature and doing something physical. When you’re satisfied with your exertions, you head back to somewhere you’re excited to stay, with a little touch of luxury thrown in there too.
Some time to unwind in the Jacuzzi overlooking the mountains, spacing out in the sauna as your muscles unwind, tucking into some intensely delicious but incredibly healthy, locally sourced food. Far away from fun-leeching diet regimes or boot camp hardships, this is somewhere you’re much more likely to get a massage than a manicure. It is, basically, a treat without the guilt.
Wellness holidays heritage
The concept of wellness is nothing new. Since ancient times, people have gone travelling in search of rejuvenation for the mind, body and soul all at once. The Romans would unwind in thermal baths, which they believed to have miraculous, spiritual healing properties.
The 18th century saw a revival of pleasure-seekers heading to places known for their healthiness – coastal sojourns were especially popular with the fashionable sets of the aristocracy, who sought clean pure air and warmer climes. Nowadays, the preconception that adventure means hardship is simply a myth that needs some serious debunking.
What can you expect
So what can you expect on your first wellness escape? Well, for starters, forget any ideas about roughing it. But there is more to it than having a comfortable hotel. These are holidays with a fantastically holistic approach. There’s also your backdrop to consider – nothing is done without a superb natural arena to set it off just right. Not to mention the chance to taste the crème de la crème of locally sourced produce, in some cases grown just a few metres from your plate.
Where to go this year
Mainland Europeans, in particular, have got this down to a fine art. In Austria, adventure and comfort go hand in hand – head to Trins and you’ll find the charming chalets proudly proclaim their wellness credentials with boundless enthusiasm. Their outdoor hot tubs boast mountain views, and spas offering treatments to soothe after a satisfying day skiing or hiking, depending on the season.
The scenery here is so spectacular and the routes so varied that you can tailor your trek or cross-country ski to suit you – strike out and challenge yourself one day, or take it easy for the next, it’s up to you. Either way, you can toast your triumphs as the sun goes down with a hugo – a local drink of prosecco and elderflower cordial, refreshing and classy in equal measure, a little taste of the Tyrol in a glass.
Whisk me away: Austrian trips
Nordic pampering has its perks. The Finnish have elevated the sauna to an art form. Feeling a little achy after your cross-country ski work out? Never fear, ease away any muscular woes in the warm, wood-scented sauna. It’s one of the best ways to loosen tight joints, release any tension in your shoulders and generally imbue you with a sense of enormous well-being.
Oulanka National Park in northern Finland is renowned for having some of the purest air on the planet, a remote escape from polluted cities and industrial spaces. The pristine wilderness is protected, and the ecolodge at Base Camp Oulanka is known for their environmental awareness.
Whisk me away: Finland trips
It’s not just what you do with your body but how you fuel it too. Food is an important part of any holiday, but for a wellness break, it is a make or break component. Not only does it have to taste delicious, but it needs to be healthy too – nutritionally balanced, exciting meals you can’t wait to devour – and, in most cases, it arrives on your plate just a mile or two from where it grew.
Championing local produce, and economically supporting local producers, is a huge part of what makes your wellness trip so satisfying. You can feel good about what you eat without counting a single calorie.
Hotel Adler might just be the best place to stay in the whole of the Dolomites when it comes to wellness. The approach is all-encompassing. The beautiful spa is expansive, with indoor and outdoor pools designed to fit harmonious with the towering mountains all around, where you can find a quiet corner to yourself. The award-winning treatments including sports massage, facials and cleansing baths.
The Michelin Guide recommended restaurant is famous for its seasonal menus, inspired by local Tyrolean flavours and modern, international cuisine. They use only the highest quality ingredients in the region so you can really get a taste of the mountain high life.
Wellness retreats are good for your mind, body and soul. It’s not just a holiday, it’s a lifestyle that’s sure to do you good. But more than anything, it’s a holiday that will leave recharged and re-energised when you get home – and the after-effects are sure to stay with you for a long time. That’s a pretty good excuse to try one.
See our holidays below and combine wellness breaks with adventure.