Life & Style | Travel

A pick of the best zen getaways

From detox to de-stress, discover six of the best wellness breaks - all in beautiful locations

  • By Louisa Wilkins
  • Published: 13:27 August 13, 2012
  • Aquarius

The Chateau Spa and Organic Wellness Resort
  • Image Credit: Supplied picture
  • Just 45 minutes from Kuala Lumpur, this organic wellness resort is set in a lush tropical rainforest.
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Spiritual journey

Where: Ulpotha, Sri Lanka
What: In the mid-90s, three friends stumbled across a 5,000-year-old abandoned village while on holiday in Sri Lanka. They’ve since made it their mission to create a self-sustainable eco-village out of the ruins. When friends and acquaintances saw pictures of the place, the trio were inundated with requests to visit. As word spread, they started taking paying guests and scheduling yoga programmes for visitors. Now it is regularly featured in lists of the best yoga retreats in the world.
Bliss hits: Although the Ulpotha team are committed to the regeneration of the village, their main ethos is to live an “unhurried life”. Additionally, world-class yoga teachers are flown in from all over the globe and you have mountains, forest, rivers and waterfalls on your doorstep. Need we say more?
Book it: Ulpotha is only open for part of the year in order to protect the biodiversity of the local environment. Their summer season closes towards the end of August. Their winter season opens in November. Ulpotha is offering Aquarius readers 10 per cent off their August programmes and the first two programmes of the winter season (running from November 11 - 25, and from November 25 - December 9). One week at Ulpotha costs Dh4,771 (slightly more over Christmas and New Year) and includes accommodation in a shared room, food, all yoga and meditation sessions, excursions and one massage per week. Ayurvedic treatments are paid for separately as proceeds fund a free health clinic for the villagers. Visit www.ulpotha.com.

Organic indulgence

Where: The Chateau Spa and Organic Wellness Resort, Malaysia
What: Only 45-minutes outside of Kuala Lumpur, The Chateau looks like a Disney film fairy castle set high up in the jungle of Malaysia’s Berjaya hills, on acres of unspoilt land. The Chateau claims to be the world’s first organic spa and wellness resort where eco enthusiasts can revel in eco-friendly rooms with organic bed linen, organic spa products, organic food (a lot of which is grown on the hotel grounds) and bars with organic beverages. In addition to the spa, the hotel offers a pool, a golf course and a yoga and fitness centre.
Bliss hits: There is a 24-hour butler service to cater to your every need, including unpacking and packing your suitcase; they have non-surgical slimming technologies; and there’s a little Japanese-style village, complete with babbling brooks, Zen gardens, a Japanese teahouse and Japanese massage treatments.
Book it: They are offering 25 per cent off over the summer when you book for three nights, which brings the price down to Dh1,225 per person. Visit www.thechateau.com.my.

Couples holiday

Where: Shangri-La Villingili Resort and Spa, Maldives
What: This postcard-perfect resort in the Maldives – with clear, aqua water and villa suites on stilts connected by wooden pier walkways – couldn’t be more beautiful. And if you (somehow) get bored of your view, there’s snorkelling, diving, surfing, fishing, kayaking and a multitude of other watersports to keep you busy. There’s also a top notch spa, a nine-hole golf course and a kids club for children aged four to 12, from 9am to 7pm every day. To celebrate the opening of the golf course, the Villingili Resort is offering a Tee and Wellness package for couples, which includes a daily round of golf and a Dh1,100 worth of credit in the spa.
Bliss hits: The jaw-dropping view.
Book it: The Tee and Wellness package is valid for a minimum stay of four nights and is running until mid-October. Prices vary depending on which villa you opt for, and starts at Dh3,150 per night for a pool villa. Email reservations.slmd@shangri-la.com, or visit www.shangri-la.com for more details.

Stress relief

Where: Asclepios Wellness and Healing Retreat, Costa Rica
What: A child-free (only children aged 14 and over allowed) sanctuary with just 12 rooms, surrounded by rainforest, sugar cane and coffee plantations, mountains and volcanoes. Not only does Asclepios offer spa treatments, wellness packages and fitness activities, but they are committed to being environmentally friendly. All of their brochures and menus are on recycled paper, they serve food made from organic, locally-grown ingredients (some of which they grow themselves), they don’t use bleach, and the rooms are stocked with locally-made, organic toiletries. They offer two-night, three-night, four-night and seven-night packages, including the Anti-Stress Escape, the Purifying Journey, the Revitalise and Rejuvenate, the Spa Experience and the Weight Management Programme.
Bliss hits: There are no children, there is a volcano 29kms away and the resort’s eco chef runs classes on healthy cooking.
Book it: In the Green Season (from May to November), the rates are slightly lower than they are the rest of the year. Prices start at Dh3,100 per person for a two-night Asclepios Special, on single occupancy (Dh1,900 for double-occupancy) and range up to Dh12,300 per person for a seven-night programme, single occupancy (Dh10,400 per person for double-occupancy). Visit www.asclepioscr.com.

Detox retreat

Where: The Beach House, Goa
What: A beach-front detox and wellness resort where, on arrival, visitors get a ‘Signature 360 Screening Process’ to determine which package and programme they need. Detox packages involve yoga twice a day, meditations, daily enemas, daily spa treatments, hypnotherapy and Emotional Freedom Technique sessions, a strict vegetarian diet, Ayurvedic supplements, herbal teas and lots of lectures and workshops on wellbeing topics. Other packages include Rejuvenate and Revitalise, Total Body Rebalancing, Weight Management Retreat, Tailormade Retreat and Ayurveda Retreat.
Bliss hits: Did we mention the daily spa treatments?
Book it: Prices start from Dh3,000 for a three-day, single occupancy detox (Dh2,500 for double occupancy), ranging up to Dh17,400 for a 14-day, single occupancy Total Body Rebalancing (Dh13,750 on double occupancy). Visit www.thebeachhousegoa.com.

Hypnotherapy weightloss

Where: Kempinski resort, maltese island of gozo
What: British coaching company, Positive Steps, runs regular weightloss retreats in Malta, where they use hypnotherapy to convince client’s subconscious minds that they have had gastric banding surgery. It sounds quite drastic, but has seen amazing results globally and is growing in popularity. In addition to the intensive counselling, coaching and hypnotherapy, there are healthy meals and regular appointments with experts, such as nutritionists, as well as fitness sessions and discount’s in the hotel’s spa. There’s a seven-day and a 14-day programme.
Bliss hits: In your free time, you can explore the island ¬– temples, ruins, ancient buildings, beautiful walking and cycling routes, idyllic beaches and much more.
Book it: The programme costs Dh20,000 per week, which includes accommodation, therapies and meals. Visit www.positivesteps.co.

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