05/24/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Healthy Retreating for Mind, Body and Soul

Imagine a getaway that could invigorate and refresh the senses, while encouraging a healthy lifestyle. Many men and women are now discovering the trend of healthy retreating, a modern and revitalizing way to travel. At Escape to Shape, a cultural and traveling fitness spa, we have noticed a phenomenal increase in enrollment over the past year.

Savvy travelers want more than an escape from reality; they want a vacation that combines luxury, culture, and fitness in exotic, interesting locations around the world. Not only has healthy retreating been increasingly popular as a girlfriend getaway, but this kind of retreat now attracts both men and women of all ages, nationalities, and from all walks of life. Escape to Shape has many couples, corporate groups, mother and daughters, groups of friends, and solo travelers all seeking a healthy vacation full of adventure, fun and excitement.

This unique cultural and traveling fitness spa takes the planning and tension out of a holiday, leaving guests with more time to relax and enjoy. The unique program and locations make for a memorable, stress-free retreat. Over the past years we have also tailored escapes to meet individual requirements, such as birthday bashes, golf bachelor parties, intimate destination weddings, Escape To Shop weeks, Baby-moons, family weeks (which are complete with on-site nannies!), bachelorette celebrations and corporate trips. Escape to Shape is open to everyone, no matter the fitness level or age, which is why we work with guests to ensure that their private week exceeds all expectations.

Envision yourself in Sicily in an exclusive private villa nestled between the majestic Mt. Etna, a fragrant lemon orchard, the picturesque Mediterranean Sea and the charming Taormina historical center. This is a typical breathtaking landscape that each guest experiences during all escapes, but situated in different parts around the world. To ensure that every Escape to Shape guest receives the attention and quality of service they deserve, the number of guests is limited each week. We limit the Sicily escape to no more than 20 guests in order to fulfill and personalize each individual's needs. Escape to Shape takes pride in accommodating each guest so that they can have a fulfilling, action-packed luxurious retreat without the stress of planning.

Each escape destination offers guests the opportunity to get in shape as they tone the body and expand the mind. Guests are able to discover a culture through activities and meet new people with the same positive, encouraging attitude. Not only is Escape to Shape a healthy, relaxing retreat but also a life-enriching cultural experience. Each exotic location is personalized in order to immerse each guest in the culture. Whether it's a shopping spree to the ancient Souk market in Marrakech, Morocco, strolling around a charming seaside village in Buzios in Brazil, a hike up Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy, or wallowing in the volcanic mud bath in Cartagena, Columbia, each Escape offers a truly unique, enriching experience.

Guests will also discover a new way to eat through various local organic foods. Escape to Shape uses only natural, unprocessed, chemical free food in order to ensure that guests fuel their bodies with the very best. These provided meals are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber, while low in fat and calories. The meal plan consists of whole grains, fresh fish and shellfish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, traditional Sicilian and North African dishes and desserts, all prepared in a flavorful way - yet low fat and low calorie! Every dish can be prepared vegetarian as well, to satisfy the needs of all guests. Those who attend the retreat also learn how to make these recipes so that they can bring the delicious food home while adding a healthy twist. A favorite recipe of mine and others who have been on the Cartagena Escape is the Carrot Ginger Soup. The ginger in this recipe blends well with the sweetness of the carrots and adds a flavorful kick. This recipe is also available for everyone to enjoy online on Escape to Shape's blog.

A favorite part of the retreat is to share my love of yoga with others. Each day, guests are invited to experience powerful, yet playful Vinyasa flow that is inspired by the discoveries that each individual makes throughout their practice. Not only does Escape to Shape offer daily yoga practices, but also other forms of total body workouts that include but are not limited to Pilates, circuit training, hiking, kayaking, and biking to diversify the exercises.

One of the greatest aspects of Escape to Shape is that it focuses on healthy habits that can be easily practiced at home. Not only do guests walk away with a new, healthy way to cook and a fresh perspective on working out, but also a once in a lifetime cultural experience. Guests can bond with one another after the Escape through the Escape to Shape Fan Page on Facebook and on Twitter to reminisce about their experience and stay connected. Anyone who is interested can check out these networking outlets to explore the various Escapes through photography, status updates, and others' comments and reviews concerning the retreat. I enjoy updating Facebook and Twitter statuses daily so that others can join me in my retreating experience even if they cannot physically be present.

I am so happy to be a part of this new and healthy traveling phenomenon. I only can hope that this trend will continue to grow and that more people will realize that they can obtain a life-changing experience simply after one luxurious, healthy spa retreat.

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