Expert travel tips: How to choose the right wellness retreat

With millions of wellness retreats around the globe, how do you find the right one for you? Janine Hall founded Escape Haven and The Palm Tree House in Bali a decade ago, and has seen more than 7000 guests pass through her retreat doors, escapehaven.com, thepalmtreehouse.com

STEP ONE

Get clear on the goal of your retreat. A growing number of people want the chance to unwind, de-stress and simply relax. Other goals may include detoxing, weight loss, addressing a certain health issue, taking time out to reconnect with yourself, learning a new skill, creating healthy lifestyle routines, or simply a desire to take a break in a beautiful place where your wellbeing is the number one priority.

STEP TWO

Don't book on a whim: retreats can be a big investment financially and in terms of your own time and energy. Browse social media accounts, look for awards and read past guest testimonials. Ask if the retreat is exclusive for guests, or whether you're sharing the facilities with couples, groups or families. Also think about where you would ideally like to be and what each location is best known for, from detox and fasting in Turkey to cacao ceremonies and meditation in Peru, or yoga and surfing on Bali's famous surf breaks.

STEP THREE

Choose your level of activity. Relaxing breaks might centre around spa treatments, healing therapies, Ayurveda or Chinese medicine, or other holistic offerings. If you are looking for a more active, adrenaline-boosting escape, find a retreat with a fitness, pilates, hiking, surfing or yoga focus. If you wish to dabble in a few of these arenas, opt for something that offers balance and flexibility and allows you to customise your stay. The activities on offer will most likely be dependent on the location and climate, and may not run year-round.

STEP FOUR

Can you still get a coffee and have a glass of wine? A specific detox retreat is unlikely to serve up your morning espresso or sunset margarita, yet many retreats are not designed to be overly restrictive. You may decide to forgo caffeine and alcohol, especially if they are daily staples, or if you are looking to create new healthy habits. Personally, I always advocate for balance, so if you adore your morning brew or fancy a glass of wine along with dinner, find somewhere that caters to this and make a conscious effort to really enjoy these things mindfully.

STEP FIVE

Choose a retreat with follow-up support. Retreats can be truly transformative, offering a fresh start, but can also leave you feeling a little unsure how to merge your newfound self into the life you left behind. Having support during this transition is a powerful way to stay committed to your goals and continue to reap the benefits of your retreat experience: it's the difference between hitting the pause button and a true reset.

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