Instead of coming back from a trip broke and sunburnt, you could return healthier and more at peace with yourself and your partner. How? To nurture mind, body, and spirit, spend your next vacation at a bucolic mountain, desert or island retreat.
What to Expect on a Vacation Retreat
The best vacation retreat will offer a menu of activities that you can choose from. Some couples go on retreat to practice yoga and meditate together in a tranquil environment. Others find hiking in nature and hands-on spa treatments restorative. Still others enjoy actively participating in workshops to improve their relationship.
To aid you on your journey, consider the following vacation retreat venues and resources:
- Omega Institute for Holistic Studies - located in New York's Hudson Valley. A vacation retreat at Omega Institute (minimum stay is two nights) can involve swimming, canoeing, and kayaking on the lake; walking a labryinth; massages; daily classes in yoga, meditation, tai chi, and movement; meditating in the sanctuary; biking country roads; even immersing oneself in the 7,000-volume Ram Dass library and working on a creative project.
Omega Institute also hosts arts and wellness weeks and workshops dedicated to health, new ideas, self-actualization, and spiritual topics. Its less structured Personal Rejuvenation Retreat allows visitors to design a vacation program to suit their specific interests. Lodging is modest. A heated cabin with a double bed and private bath is top of the line in the New York facility. Omega Institute also runs workshops, retreat vacations, and wellness getaways in the Caribbean.
- Miraval - located in southern Arizona, Miraval is consistently ranked as one of America's top destination spa resorts. But it's much more than that.
By focusing on guests' physical, mental, and spiritual well being — not just diet and exercise on a vacation retreat — Miraval offers a huge number of choices related to how to spend time here. While there are regularly scheduled nutrition and fitness classes, each person’s stay is different, and there is no regimented schedule. Lodgings consist of casitas with private patios clustered in five villages. Upgraded rooms with fireplaces are available.
Miraval's unique Equine Experience is designed to help individuals overcome fear and self-doubt through contact with gentle horses, while its Sex and Vitality program run by Drs. Lana Holstein and David Taylor, authors of Your Long Erotic Weekend, promotes renewed passion on a sensual vacation retreat.
- Canyon Ranch - focused on health and well-being, Canyon Ranch maintains facilities in Lenox, Massachusetts and Tucson, Arizona. Founder Mel Zuckerman explains Canyon Ranch's mission:
Our mission is not selling vacations; it’s creating an environment in which you can make a direct, emotional connection between what you know you should do and what you actually do every day.
Three healthy gourmet meals a day, nutritional consultations and workshops, free fitness classes, early morning mountain hikes, couples' spa treatment for two, and a wide range of health and fitness programs can all be part of a vacation at this upscale retreat. Lodgings range from comfortable, well-decorated rooms to luxury suites. There is a steep penalty for in-room smoking, and guests are required to take an on-site medical exam if they want to participate in fitness activities.
- Esalen - located in Big Sur, California by the Pacific Ocean. Launchpad for the human potential movement, Esalen has drawn more than 300,000 seekers in its 40-year history as a workshop and vacation retreat center. To participate in its "Olympics of the body, mind, and spirit," residents commit themselves "not so much to 'stronger, faster, higher' as to deeper, richer, more enduring."
From its Big Yurt to its small Meditation House to its hot tubs fed by healing natural springs (accessible for clothing-optional communal bathing), Esalen provides settings for humans to stretch and transform themselves on a vacation retreat. Alternative education and personal growth programs focus on massage, yoga, psychology, ecology, spirituality, art, music, and New Agey themes. Accommodations are modest and in some quarters bathrooms are shared.