And so, we rumble onto the third year of the pandemic. The knots are tight in our necks. Our shoulders permanently lurched forward like gargoyles. Our eyes – once able to spot predators at 200 paces – have shrunk to dehydrated peas. They are now only capable of seeing Insta. We are all in need of a holiday. A reset. A trip where our wellbeing is prioritized. 

So this is an intervention: Stop what you’re doing and pick a vacation that will make you whole again. Look for a getaway that specializes in love and self-care. Realign your chakra. Patch your broken heart. Finally book that Himalayan hermit hut. You deserve it.

From improved gut health to complete and utter silence, it’s never been easier to choose your own cure. But wellbeing vacations are no longer just about salads and neck rubs – many now aim to rebuild us in some way following stress, trauma, and exhaustion. Here are health and wellness trends emerging in the tourism sector in 2022.

The fountain on the driveway of the honey-colored Foxhill Manor in Gloucestershire, England bathed in sunshine.
The grand Foxhill Manor is running menopause minibreaks in the Cotwolds, England © Farncombe Estate

Menopause mini-breaks

Is there anything that can’t be cured by a week in the Cotswolds? England’s pastoral idyll is like a bucolic beauty queen that unfurls across six counties. Soft rolling hills, twee thatched cottages, ancient, honey-stone pubs. This is the England the population lies back and thinks of.

Nestled to the north of these near-endless waves of the countryside are 400 acres of Worcestershire fields and woodland belonging to the Farncombe Estate. Onsite, the glorious Foxhill Manor will host a new menopause retreat led by medical specialists. The aim is to help women improve their hormonal and mental well-being with doctors, yoga teachers, nutritional therapists, and stylists.

Improve digstive health on a seven day retreat in the Austrian Alps  ©Rastislav Sedlak SK/Shutterstock
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Improved gut health and immune-boosting treatments

As the body's built-in bouncer, a strong immune system is integral to good health: It acts as an antibodies factory and naturally filters out any unwanted nasties. Immune-boosting treatments continue to grow in popularity as travelers seek ways to strengthen their body’s natural defenses, but there is emerging scientific proof that our gut could be a vital link in our wellbeing.

In Innsbruck, amongst the Austrian Alps, Park Igls is a modern-day sanitarium that follows the medical advice of the physician Franz Xaver Mayr, which found that our most common illnesses start in our digestive system. This preventive Medi-spa resort offers seven-day programs that lasers in on improving gut health and helping guests to de-stress through diet, exercise, and a personalized wellness plan.

A couple, a man and a woman in white shirt and trousers, walk along a beach in Qatar as the sun sets in orange and purple behind them as part of the Zulal Wellness Resort.
A couple  practice 'beach earthing' walking barefoot on the beach at the Zulal Wellness Resort in Qatar © Zulal Wellness Resort

Sleep and deep relaxation

Between the vivid stress dreams and exhausting bouts of heavy-eyed insomnia, the pandemic has played havoc with our shuteye. So now is the time to fluff up the pillows and sink into a world of better slumber, by taking a vacation that will put us in sync with our natural circadian rhythms.

On the northern tip of Qatar, the brand-spanking-new Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva Sm offers 3- to 14-night retreats that showcase traditional Arabic and Islamic medicine. Designed to improve sleep quality through better diet and nutrition, physical activity, and spa treatments – like the traditional Qatari hamiz, a soothing, stress-reversing massage with tadleek oil – this is a pioneering wellness resort in the Middle East.  The ancient healing traditions here can be traced back to the work of the great physician and philosopher Avicenna who, we can only assume, slept like a baby.

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Jim Jim Falls, Kakadu National Park
Try remote camping at  Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory Australia © Louise Denton Photography/Getty Images

Nature as therapy

Ah, the Great Outdoors – and all of its nourishing, life-affirming beauty. We've been hoodwinked into thinking that technology and sustenance from social media photography are all we need as modern beings, but – as plenty of evidence has shown – humans need to be in actual, real-life, tangible nature. It’s beneficial for our mental health. Sinking our toes into the soil. Sitting in the shimmering light of a verdant forest. In short: Stepping away from the smartphone.

The pandemic has made many of us crave something else as well: Silence. Proper, mind-clearing quietude. That hushed harmony you only find away from the cities. Original Travel organizes remote camping in Australia’s Kakadu National Park – 20,000-sq-km of as-nature-intended nourishment: Tumbling waterfalls, thick rainforest, vast vistas that unfurl endlessly from the summits of its craggy gorges. The trips are all led by aboriginal guides.

Dinner guests at the Pine Cliffs Resort in Mirador sits amongst the trees at the top of the ochre cliffs of Portugal's Algarve region
Pine Cliff Resort is located in Portugal's Algarve region © Pine Cliffs Resort Mirador

CBD spa treatments to combat stress and anxiety

The pandemic put many of us on constant high alert. We've become hyper-anxious and mega stressed, but never really come back down. CBD, an active (but non-psychotropic) ingredient in cannabis that has been shown to reduce anxiety, alleviate pain and prevent insomnia, is now being used by spas and wellness retreats in a variety of ways to help people, well, chill out a little.

Pine Cliffs Resort in the Algarve, a luxury retreat perched above the golden, crumbling cliffs west of Faro, offers a number of CBD treatments including an 80-minute body massage designed to soothe and calm as well as a CBD stress-reducing face therapy and massage which is said to have anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effects.

Digital detox in Asheville: how switching off my device helped me reconnect

A 'twaddling programme' in Udaipur in India encourages participants to set aside time to simply relax and do nothing ©photoff/Shutterstock

Twaddling – giving yourself permission to not do anything

When was the last time you did nothing? Like, deliberately just opted out? No scrolling through the phone. No checking emails. Just switching off entirely? As our smartphone usage spiked during the pandemic – along with our preference of Zoom meetings, computer games, and binging on TV shows – studies showed that increased screen time can lead to anxiety, depression, and even physical ailments. 

Digital detoxes have long been seen as the answer to countering screen burnout, but Fiona Arrigo, the biodynamic psychotherapist behind The Arrigo Programme, has come up with something even more novel: Twaddling. That's what Arrigo calls the periods she sets aside to do nothing. To twaddle. That may be to lie and relax or cook something for pleasure. But the idea is to switch off, just be, and not to beat yourself up about it. Arrigo will run a retreat in India this November, which aims to give women time to step back from everyday life and reconnect to their feminine wisdom.

You might also like:
10 wellness retreats to recharge post-pandemic 
7 ways to boost your health and fitness at home 
The world’s best outdoor pools - chosen by the man who swam them all 

This article was first published December 2020 and updated February 2022

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