Photo: Natalie magic/Shutterstock

5 Eco-Friendly, Warm-Weather Wellness Retreats to Kick Off 2020

Wellness Sustainability Insider Guides
by Bonnie Pop Jan 9, 2020

It’s January, the holidays are in the rearview mirror, and there is once again ample time to focus on ourselves. It’s around this time of year — perhaps while waiting for an ice-cold steering wheel to reheat, or sensing snowy sludge start to seep past a crack in our boot — that the concept of a little self-care sojourn, preferably somewhere sandy and warm, begins to sound real nice…maybe even non-negotiable.

Wellness travel is a lucrative niche in hospitality, and there’s no shortage of warm-weather wellness retreats to choose from. Yet if the last year taught us anything, it’s that individual action against climate change begins by choosing better with our checkbooks — in this case, choosing a retreat that prioritizes sustainability as much as self-care. After all, the two concepts are in so many ways integral to each other.

To get you inspired, here are five warm-weather wellness retreats that are as serious about taking care of you as they are about taking care of the planet.

1. BodyHoliday — Cariblue Beach, St. Lucia

The BodyHoliday

Photo: The BodyHoliday/Facebook

If anticipation for the 2020 Olympics has you inspired to level up your fitness regimen this year, head to BodyHoliday in St. Lucia. With rooms starting at $650 per night, this all-inclusive wellness resort brings in Olympic athletes and trainers at the top of their field to help deliver a significant return on that investment.

Each day, guests choose from 40 different wellness activities, such as boxing, scuba diving, or archery. Looking for something a bit less high-octane? Meditation, tai chi, and yoga classes are also available. At BodyHoliday, guests don’t just work out like elite athletes, they get pampered like them too, receiving a 50-minute spa treatment of their choosing each day.

This year BodyHoliday introduces “theme months,” which are a calendar of specialized wellness programs tailored to special fitness interests ranging from dance to sailing. The resort extends its desire to change people’s lives beyond its guests, to include the local community in St. Lucia. BodyHoliday Cares, the resort’s charitable foundation, helps increase local access to education and skills development, quality healthcare like vision health and mental wellness resources, and funding for environmental conservation efforts on St. Lucia.

Cost: Starting at $650 per night

2. Six Senses — Multiple locations

Six Senses Laamu

Photo: Six Senses Laamu/Facebook

Eco-friendly wellness has been this luxury resort chain’s bread and butter since its inception in the mid-1990s. Today there are several Six Senses locations spread across Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Two warm-weather standouts include Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives and Six Senses Uluwatu in Bali. At Laamu, over-water villas provide intimate access to the marine wildlife Six Senses works so hard to protect, thanks to collaborative conservation initiatives with Manta Trust, Blue Marine Foundation, and the Olive Ridley Project. In Bali, guests help to prevent the extinction of Bali’s beautiful myna bird by planting papaya trees on the property, the fruits of which are donated to a breeding center for Indonesian birds, the Begawan Foundation. When not helping the resort sustain the local ecosystem, guests spend their days in group or private guided meditation sessions, hiking through local wildlife, and enjoying fresh organic meals, for which most ingredients are grown locally. In 2020, Six Senses adds to its collection with new openings in Israel, India, and its first US-based location in New York City.

Cost: Starting at $933 per night (Maldives) and $513 per night (Bali)

3. Root Adventures — Multiple locations

Root Adventures

Photo: Root Adventures/Facebook

After years of experience working in adventure travel, Breanne Kiefner was tired of serving the same, routine itineraries to travelers more interested in sightseeing and Instagramming than truly connecting to a destination. She started Root Adventures to curate trips that combine wellness with conscious, cultural connection. Kiefner believes that travel has the life-changing potential to create passionate advocates for positive social and environmental change, which is why each wellness retreat mixes fitness programming with community initiatives or eco-minded outdoor exploration.

First up in 2020 is a trip to Costa Rica in January led by Jill Dailey, founder of cult-favorite, barre-meets-pilates workout class, The Dailey Method. Guests will partake in two wellness classes a day plus zip lining, surfing, and stand-up paddleboarding. In March, Root Adventures will lead a glamping excursion to Baja for those looking to practice living more mindfully. In addition to daily yoga and intuitive movement classes, expect more adventurous activities like kayaking and swimming with sea lions.

Cost: $2,695 per retreat (Costa Rica) and $1,975 per retreat (Baja)

4. Luna Lodge — Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica

This conservation-minded wellness lodge in Costa Rica was a labor of love for owner, yoga instructor, and environmental activist Lana Wedmore, who also founded local conservation organization, the White Hawk Foundation.

Located on the Osa Peninsula near Corcovado National Park, Luna Lodge hosts group wellness retreats as well as the individual traveler looking for a secluded space to unplug for a bit. Here mornings bring a symphony of tropical bird songs and evenings might be spent relaxing to the distant rumble of a passing storm. Wellness activities are inspired by Wedmore’s deep love of nature — what she believes to be the best medicine. Wedmore shares that love with her guests via guided hikes and “forest bathing” in the rainforest, or leading open-air yoga classes on the lodge balcony overlooking expansive views of the tropical terrain. After a day of adventuring, guests can relax in the gentle sway of a hammock or cozy up with a warm cup of cacao while watching the sun slowly dip behind the trees.

Cost: From $248 per night

5. The Treehouse — Los Angeles, United States

The Bel Air Treehouse

Photo: The Bel Air Treehouse/Facebook

Many wellness trends from the last decade came to the US by way of Los Angeles, and this hotel in the city of angels brings them together under one roof.

At The Treehouse in Bel Air, LA’s only fully vegan hotel, you feel the owners’ meticulous attention to detail when it comes to maintaining “good vibes only” as soon as you walk through the door. Crystals are strategically placed to keep energy in balance. Guest rooms benefit from regular feng-shui-ing. Even the natural spring water for hydration and tea-making is cleansed using green lasers. After fueling up with a plant-based breakfast paired with a mug of biodynamic coffee, guests can venture into the city armed with recommendations for the best crystal shops or plant-based eateries from Hedda, the hotel owner. With just four bedrooms, Hedda and her husband, Cedric, are able to offer a more individualized wellness experience for each guest.

But one thing is true for all guests — there is no smoking or alcohol allowed, and food and beverage offerings are entirely organic and plant-based. The commitment to a plant-based diet is just one facet of a larger commitment to the environment that includes being zero waste, and only sourcing products from sustainable and ethical sources. The hotel is partnered with Kiva, a global nonprofit that facilitates loans to economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs around the world to help empower small business owners.

Cost: Starting at $175 per night

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