This article on wellness retreats was written by Ahmed Zambarakji and originally published on AskMen.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that a spa holiday was all about fluffy white robes and whale music. But these days, people are taking it one step further and are opting to use their vacation time for personal development or a complete body-mind detox.
"Wellness" is the buzzword of the moment and it is aimed squarely in the direction of high-net-worth individuals who have sacrificed their health (whether that's mental or physical) in order to succeed in the business world.
This new breed of resorts falls somewhere between a treatment facility and a destination spa. The big names, including Chiva-Som in Thailand and Mayr in Austria, offer results-driven programs designed to tackle weight loss, smoking, insomnia, poor stress management, and plain old burnout.
Since such hurdles cannot be overcome in an hour on a treatment bed -- you can expect to check in your literal and figurative baggage for anywhere between seven to 10 days. And forget about using your BlackBerry.
Here are some of the most popular wellness retreats and the services they can offer you:
Breathing Space, Lanzarote
Alan Dolan, lauded facilitator of a relatively young technique called Transformational Breathing, has welcomed an increasing number of city slickers to his boutique getaway on the volcanic island of Lanzarote.
The technique, which is practiced twice daily, is a surefire stress buster, one that opens up the full capacity of the lungs (workaholics and urbanites tend to use just 25%), increasing energy levels and supplying oxygen to starved tissue. Physical benefits aside, clients tend to have a monumental emotional release during one-to-one sessions.
The shift he and his clients have experienced from Transformational Breathing is not simply one from sad to happy or weak to energetic, but one that changes the way you live. Dolan describes it as going from "black and white to full technicolor, 3D, hi-def." Smokers are reformed, the stressed find serenity and the physically unhealthy find a whole new level of body awareness.
Three-night full board Breathing Intensive breaks start from $890. Other activities including yoga, massage and volcano climbs are also offered from $125 a session.
Tel: +34 690 162426
Koh Samui, Thailand
Already established as one of the world's leading wellness sanctuaries, Koh Samui has devised Embracing Change, a new wellness program that is ideal for those struggling with turbulent transitions -- like a breakup or divorce -- emotionally-driven behaviors, anxiety and grief.
Facilitated by resident meditation mentors and life coaches, guests have up to five personally tailored sessions, along with handpicked treatments that can include anything from "Traditional Chinese Medicine and Homeopathy" to Reiki. Over seven nights, guests achieve a greater understanding of their emotional makeup and how it influences reactions, habits and behaviors, which leads to emotional recovery. By the end of a stay, the objective is to have achieved a sustainable amount of emotional balance before heading back to the real world.
A five-night stay at Kamalaya with the Embracing Change program starts from $1,985.
Medically supervised abstinence is the general modus operandi at the Buchinger clinics in West Germany and Marbella. But rather than throw you in the deep end without a paddle, Buchinger eases you in and out of the process of fasting, thus preventing you from scarfing down three of those gargantuan Toblerones by the time you get to Duty-Free.
You can expect blood tests, enemas, time with a therapist and, of course, a rather tough bout of cold turkey. The goal is not just to masochistically drop excess inches or drive you crazy -- it's to bring your 'stuff' to the surface so that it can be cleared.
Packages ranging from three to 21 nights are available. Packages start from $1,160 and go up to $13,650.
Klinik Buchinger Wilhelmi
Tel: +49 7551 807-0
Attracting a mix of A-listers and Fortune 500 movers and shakers, Chiva-Som is a very upmarket way to go about a physical. A crack team of naturopaths, nutritionists, fitness instructors and alternative therapists oversee a variety of programs, ranging from basic (weight management, fitness, de-stress) to bespoke.
Movement For Life combines postural alignment techniques with massage for pain therapy. A course of physiotherapy treatments, meanwhile, restores your body's full range of motion. Holistic treatments are a primary focus, alongside conventional medicine at the spa, where everything from the increasingly popular Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to life coaching, meditation and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) are available.
A three-night retreat package starts at $2,050, including three meals, treatments and accommodation.
73/4 Petchkasem Road, Hua Hin
Prachuab Khirikhan, 77110
Tel: +66 (0) 3253 6536
This article was originally published on AskMen.