Adler Balance in the Dolomites offers thermal pools and sound frequency therapy
Adler Balance in the Dolomites offers thermal pools and sound frequency therapy

Ditch the New Year diet and take a 'wellness holiday' in snowy Dolomites or sun-baked St Barts

We all enjoyed indulging over Christmas and New Year. Now it’s time to shape up – by going on holiday

Aoife O'Riordain
Friday 30 December 2016 17:42

After weeks of cheese boards, chocolates and Baileys, it’s time to think about undoing all that glorious Christmas damage. Handily, eating well and exercising doesn’t have to mean diets and gyms – instead, you can go on holiday.

Spas and wellness are one of the boom sectors of the travel world – according to a recent report from The Global Wellness Institute, in the last few years wellness tourism has grown twice as fast as overall tourism, with no slowdown expected.

And it’s no longer just about lying on a massage table and being slathered with aromatherapy oils.

One of the UK’s grande dame health retreats, Grayshott (, has recently introduced its innovative “map my gut” consultations for guests. Using research and techniques developed by leading scientist, Tim Spector, guests have their gut microbiome analysed, then Grayshott’s team of nutritionists provide advice to promote, improve and maintain a healthy gut. Sounds, er, delicious.

Some other quirkier therapies now on offer include the recently developed Sound PNEI therapy at Adler Balance ( in the Italian Dolomites, which uses sound frequencies to re-energise and balance the body’s cells.

Or how about the new bubble treatment room in the Aquarius Spa at Whatley Manor Hotel & Spa ( Pioneered by cult Spanish beauty brand Natura Bissé, this controlled atmosphere is pumped with 99.995% pure filtered air, which is said to enhance the effectiveness of treatments.

Another trend you can expect to see in 2017 is the growth of “wellness sabbaticals”.

The Healthy Holiday Company ( has just launched a 30 or 60-day Wellness Sabbatical – staying at the Absolute Sanctuary Resort on the Thai island of Koh Samui, you are pampered and prodded into a better lifestyle aided by a host of therapists and practitioners. It costs £7,970 for 30 days including flights, accommodation and the programme.

Wellness appetite thoroughly whetted? Here are our picks of the top new spa/detox retreats for 2017.

The Adler Balance retreat in the Italian Dolomites

Mountain high

The Alps are traditionally associated with medically minded spas, but a growing number are shaking off their institution-like associations and decor. The latest to undergo this transformation is the Lanserhof Lans ( in the Austrian Tyrol, considered by many as the gold standard of health retreats. Reopening in January, it combines medical assessment and the renowned “digestive cleansing” techniques developed by F X Mayr, and complements them with holistic therapies and exercise. The new improved retreat features new guest rooms, an outdoor pool and a Cryotherapy Chamber.

Originally built as a cure house and lake-bathing centre, the historic Waldhaus Flims Mountain Resort & Spa ( in eastern Switzerland will reopen in February following a £33m makeover. Its centrepiece is a new spa with a granite pool and outdoor swimming lake. Doubles start at CHF550 (£510), B&B.

Lanserhof Lans in Austria is considered the gold standard of health retreats

Beach beauties

One of the most hotly anticipated openings of 2016 was the recent unveiling of the Six Senses Zil Payson (; but why visit before its spa opens this February? Situated on the private Félicité Island in The Seychelles, the spa’s five treatments rooms are reached through passages carved into the rocks – some set over the Indian Ocean and others wedged between the island’s distinctive granite boulders. The yoga and meditation pavilion also has mind-altering views of the Indian Ocean. Seven nights cost from £5,999 per person, half board, including flights and helicopter transfers with Scott Dunn (

Maisons & Hotels Sibuet has just transplanted its Alpine spa concept, Sibuet Pure Altitude Spa, to the Caribbean with its first opening outside mainland France. Villa Marie ( opened on 16 December on the French Caribbean island of St Barts. Here, spa therapies are inspired by the flora and fauna of the tropics – think hot seashell massages and indulgent coconut oil rituals. With 21 bungalows and two villas overlooking a perfect half-moon of sand, Flamands Bay, this is all about relaxation. Doubles start at €500 per night, B&B.

Relax in the tropics at the new Villa Marie on St Barts 

Home comforts

Roughly translated as “taking in the forest atmosphere”, the Japanese tradition of “shirin-yoku” – or “forest bathing” – is catching on beyond its shores. And you’ll soon be able to go one better than a walk in the woods with the relaunch of Aqua Sana’s ( Forest Spa at Sherwood Forest, opening in March. It will feature a Forest Bathing Area and a treetop sauna, where you can soak up the tranquil atmosphere – believed to have stress-relieving benefits. (Go science!) Spa days start at £95 per person.

The Bath Priory ( is a rambling Georgian house close to the centre of Bath. Earlier this month it opened The Garden L’Occitane spa, the only one of its kind in the whole country. Many of the treatments have been specially devised using its signature products, like the Immortelle essential oil facial, made with ingredients cultivated from L’Occitane’s plantations in Corsica. An Indulgent Garden Spa package costs £480 per night for two people sharing, half-board.

The spa at Georgian retreat Bath Priory 

Indian interludes

Many of the treatments offered at the Soukyam Spa at Svatma ( in Tamil Nadu, South India, draw from the ancient Siddha medicine of the region that pre-dates Ayurveda. This newly opened, 38-room heritage mansion in Unesco World Heritage-listed Tanjavur also has the Arogyam Yoga and Fitness centre and regular cultural activities, such as vegetarian cookery classes, chamber concerts and guided visits to the Chola temples. Doubles start at £170 per night, B&B.

The Atmantan Wellness Resort opened in summer overlooking the tranquil Mulshi Lake about three hours’ drive from Mumbai. For 2017, Health & Fitness Travel ( has launched a range of themed holidays there including Ayurveda, Fitness, Holistic, Cleansing and Relaxation. Most of the food served in its restaurants is also grown on the resort’s onsite farm.

Dive into the new Canyon Ranch in Turkey

Mediterranean moments

Set up by Mel Zuckerman in 1979, Canyon Ranch is one of the US’s most lauded wellness retreats, with several dotted around the country. In July, its first ever non-US outpost, Canyon Ranch Kaplankaya (, opened on Turkey’s Turquoise coast near Bodrum. Its army of dieticians, physicians and therapists can set you on the path to wellness with advice, activities like yoga and meditation and watersports including paddle-boarding, swimming and hiking. Wellbeing Escapes ( offers a four-night stay from £920 per person, based on two sharing. The price includes flights, B&B accommodation, activities and a €80 fitness credit.

Yoga holidays continue to top the popularity stakes. Destination Yoga’s ( newest offering is the newly opened Pi Blau Hotel, an eco-retreat on the Costa Brava. With twice daily yoga classes led by teachers flown in from the UK, there is plenty of time to explore and enjoy the stunning local beaches. The first retreat takes place on 10 May and seven nights starts from £995 per person, based on two sharing. The price includes accommodation, all meals and yoga. Flights extra.

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