Destinations

Eco Wellness In A UNESCO World Heritage Setting

 

….Wellbeing in tune with nature’s life forces….

Ecological Wellness can be found in the heart of the majestic Sahyadris mountain range in the Western Ghats of Maharastra: a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offering holistic rejuvenation of mind, body and soul according to ancient Ayurvedic principles.

Dharana at Shillim Estate Retreat and Spa  is an eco-wellness retreat, three hours south east of Mumbai or just over two hours from Pune. It sweeps over 3,000 acres of its own fertile valley, scattered with ecologically-designed luxurious villas, with a focus on environmental sustainability. Guests are encouraged to take short excursions, hikes and nature walks through the rice fields, bamboo plantations, lush fields and organic garden which all nurture a thriving flora and fauna eco system.

At the heart of the retreat is a philosophy of ‘Dharana’ (pronounced Dah-na) – a way of life that promotes health and wellbeing in line with the life forces of nature.  Dharana is the sacred sense of stability achieved when one aligns the inner core to the outer environment, the starting point for any form of healing.

The Dharana way of life aims to help achieve long-term internal and external wellbeing through tailor-made programmes, helping guests to choose lifestyle options that balance energies and focused on achieving calmness and contentedness.

Shillim’s extensive range of wellness programmes are all designed to help guests establish healthy habits for life. Dharana wellness experts integrate the essential philosophical, spiritual and artistic wisdom of past civilizations with contemporary, life-enhancing practices and modern diagnostics.

Dharana Life Science Programs offer a comprehensive, bespoke healing regime with deliberate attention to key issues including conflict resolution, stress management, anti-aging, weight management which focusing on fitness through wellness activities and cognitive stimulation, mindfulness through meditation and nourishment through sustainability. A consultation is offered to every guest by resident Dr. Arun Pillai, who curates a bespoke programme dependent on guest’s needs – ranging from three to 27-day schedules. The itinerary encompasses Dharana traditions including Acupressure, Acupuncture, Reiki, Pranic Healing, Ayurveda, Yoga, Chakra Cleansing, Shamanism, Meditation, Naturopathy, Hydro Therapy, Ozone Therapy, Fire Healing, Music, Dance and Body Work.

Dr. Arun Pillai, Director of Wellness says, “We focus on the five core elements (earth, fire, water, air and sky) to design the Dharana programme.  The programme starts with a full body composition analysis to determine the prakruti (nature/issues) and identify the doshas (the three energies that define every person’s makeup) of our guests. We aim to make Dharana as a way of life and not just a programme so that all our guests can sustain a healthy lifestyle and lead the ideal wellness path within and outside the retreat” 

Nourishment through Sustainability: The holistic approach of the Dharana programme is folded into every aspect of the retreat, especially at the wellness restaurant – The Green Table – which takes inspiration from a planetary diet, incorporating the five elements of Ayurveda (Water, Air, Fire, Ether and Wind), with special emphasis on organic ingredients.  The menu is a 100% forest-to-table concept with all ingredients sourced from the Shillim forest and farm. The Chef’s commitment in using organic, locally-sourced and sustainably-grown ingredients of the highest quality is apparent in every dish served from the Ayurveda Thali to the à la carte selection. Healthy offerings at The Green Table can be complimented with an aromatic treat at the Tea Room, emphasizing the medicinal properties of different ingredients and illustrating the ancient Asian culture of healing.

Getting there from the UK

Direct flights go from both London and Manchester to Mumbai approx. 9 hours, plus 3.25 hour road transfer, or indirect flight to Pune, approximately 12.5 hours with a stop-over in Delhi or Abu Dhabi followed by a 2.5 hour road transfer.

https://www.shillim.in/

 

 

 

 

Scotland – A Wellness Holiday Destination

Walkers taking in the view of Loch Lomond from Conic Hill part of the West Highland Way

Joining other destinations around the globe, Scotland is targeting the wellness traveller to benefit from its breath-taking scenery, fresh revitalising air and the outdoor and adventurous activities its land offers.

Adapting itself to the growing traveller demand for “wellness” holidays, VisitScotland is focussing on the demand for vacations that boost self-development, following a review of trends in the travel industry. “Restorative recreation” is a key feature based on the outdoor experiences such as the emotional appeal of its scenery and nature while “creative retreats” focus on hobbies and skills such as writing and art workshops, cookery courses and outdoor survival training.

According to the review, wellness tourism worldwide was worth £500bn in 2017, and has recently grown at more than twice the pace of tourism overall.

According to Chris Greenwood, insights manager at VisitScotland, “Wellness tourism is a trend that’s not going away and is expected to continue growing. There is huge potential for businesses who want to appeal to this market, creating experiences that enlighten the senses and feed the soul. Fortunately, Scotland’s ability to embrace wellness within our visitor economy is embedded within our tourism industry DNA.”

Euromonitor recently published its view on eight “mega trends” in world travel. Some are shaped by technology, but of the eight, three chime with the VisitScotland findings: healthy living, ethical living and experiencing more.

Booking.com found that search for experience was translated into a desire to be more adventurous about destinations in 2019. Meanwhile, 42% say they want an experience that makes them feel like a kid again, led by millennials and Generation Z.

VisitScotland.com

Wellness On The Rock

Wellness comes in many forms. It maybe the calming waters of a floating cruise liner, a relaxing treatment in a spa or a cultural experience to revitalise the mind. A change is as good as a rest so add to these experiences a gigantic rock as a backdrop on British territory and luxury accommodation aboard a yacht hotel. Welcome to Gibraltar and to the Sunborn Yacht Hotel.

Gibraltar is often described as the Cradle of History with numerous statues and memorials to salute its past. There are 30 miles of World War tunnels snaking within the rock, a spectacular cave underneath, dolphins circling,  Barbary apes prying, playing and monkeying around and a cable car ascending its side.

The Rock, Gibraltar’s signature feature, is mostly formed from Jurassic limestone dating over 200 million years. Steep, narrow roads, originally built for donkeys and carts, twist to the upper rock allowing only registered taxis and mini-buses to transport visitors, although weather permitting, the cable car is another option. The journey, whatever form of transport used, is rewarded with enviable scenery.

Clad in hard hats, the series of guided Tunnel tours are fascinating  and factual and should be on the must-do list. They include The Great Siege Tunnels and can take up to 3 hours. The  Mediterranean Steps walk is not for the faint-hearted but avoid carrying food – the monkeys will find it and will throw in free entertainment along the way. The Skywalk, opened by Mark Hamill from Star Wars fame in March 2018, is another look-out spot to take in stunning vistas.

There are various organised tours which include the fishing village of Catalin Bay, Europa Point, the Mosque, the Moorish Castle and St Michael’s cave with a secret underground lake. As for wildlife, Gibraltar’s position between Europe and Africa, the Atlantic and Mediterranean make it an important crossing point for migrating birds, whales and dolphins.

The old fortress walls surround the city with gate archways into Casemates Square which is dotted with restaurants and bars leading to Main Street the artery for shopping where familiar signs for M&S, Shepherds Pie and Morrisons are giveaway clues to its Britishness. Sean Connery and John Lennon were married here and  today, it’s the place to choose if you are in a hurry!

But if you don’t want to travel around the Rock, then you can get a better view watching the opening sequence of James Bond’s Living Daylights, part of which was filmed here or better still you can gaze up at its imposing height and stature from your own private cabin balcony.

The 5* Sunborn Hotel certainly has the novelty factor and is an attraction in itself, floating aside Ocean Village, the harbour district of Gibraltar and can easily be spotted as your plane comes into land.  Built in the design of an ocean cruiser, complete with engines and a bridge, it was the first of its kind and has a permanent residency here.

Although constructed 5 years ago, it still looks and feels new, providing a convenient place to explore Gibraltar with views over the sea to Spain and Morocco. It’s easy to find and very convenient –  just turn left out of the airport, cross the runway, (along with the other 6,000 Spanish and expats), then turn right to a gleaming white yacht hotel.

The entrance is like walking into Swarovski headquarters with a glittering backdrop headlining the reception desk populated with staff wearing welcoming smiles, keen to show off the floating services.

The corridors are wide, fitted with carpets that foot a jazzy design leading to rooms and suites, not cabins. All tastefully designed with quality furnishings, marble modern bathrooms and laced with technology that command a lesson to operate the drapes, lights and sound. And although there are several room types, surprisingly, the most popular are those with views over the runway!

The Sunborn is also an entertainment hub, offering performances from tribute bands, comedy shows  and a Fawlty Towers act which take place in its La Sala Restaurant & Bar. Here  there’s a good choice on the menu, ranging from a Full Rack of BBQ Jack Daniel Pork Ribs, Crispy Won Toon Lasagne to Lamb with Cocoa, Chilli and Watermelon Pico de Gallo while there is a dedicated list of British classics such as Beer Battered Fish and Chips and Surf & Turf for those wanting to feel more at home.  Service is excellent, dishes generous and attractively presented.

Breakfast, buffet style, is served on the top deck in the Barbary Restaurant which it shares with a small outdoor pool and the Aqua Bar all with outlooks over the marina, the Med and the 1400-ft high Rock.

After climbing the Rock, exploring tunnels, VAT-free shopping, dodging monkeys and with a brain overload of historical facts, R&R awaits in the Infinity Spa onboard with  a range of Elemis coated treatments, a sauna to sooth tired muscles, a fitness area to tone and strengthen the body and the Admiral Casino to try your luck.

There’s more to Gibraltar than the Rock and more to an ocean cruiser than sailing.

Visit:  www.sunborngibraltar.com

Visit:  www.visitgibraltar.gi

Cocooned in comfort at Rudding Park & Spa

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There are cloisters and cobbled streets, a castle and listed Church, leafy Georgian avenues and Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms, according to my online research. Harrogate, is a Victorian Spa town and in its heyday a sought-after fashionable resort with curative spring waters. And a Yorkshire must-see. Sadly, however, I didn’t quite manage the short journey from my country house hideaway. I was, instead, cushioned in the comfort embrace of Rudding Park & Spa which sits proudly on the outskirts, perched amid 300 acres of undulating countryside.

Harrogate’s Royal Pump Room was built in1842 to provide shelter for the town’s affluent visitors as they took the famous waters. My surroundings, in contrast, are somewhat different. Contemporary styling, flashes of zany designs in bold colours hold court while individual art structures are dotted around bringing interest to corners and entrances of this 90-room hotel with a signature spa area that flows over three floors that can only be described as modern, airy, high-tech, cool and glitzy.

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Hotel Library at Rudding Park Hotel, Spa & Golf

And moody….each level of the spa exudes a defined ambience amid a creative mix of hydrotherapy and thermotherapy experiences. On the uppermost level, an air of excitement emanates from the roof-top heated pool which overlooks mature garden areas.  Guests giggle with sheer delight sipping a glass of bubbly with water splashing from jets into fine layers of mist lacing the surface creating an atmosphere more like Iceland than England. Come rain or shine, the cabanas extend the refreshing outdoor experiences or the garden sauna cabin for a little heat. Back inside, the focus moves first to the feet with a row of individual foot spas and then to the whole-body warmth of the herbal bath and luxury steam rooms.

Roof Top Spa Garden, Spa Bath, Sauna Cabin

Luxury Steam Room

Next level down boasts a tempting indoor swimming pool in a light, elegant space with a juniper log sauna on standby as well as a room set up for mud rasul rituals.  It’s all peace and tranquillity below with a number of treatment rooms and relaxation areas. Here you can snuggle up on squishy sofa chairs against the backdrop of scenic video footage on an oversized screen. Serenity flows into a twinkling-lit room with reclined beds, an audio room to meditate or a lounge for a little colouring therapy to reset the mind. Quiet, still, calm.

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Sleep Zone 1

The menu of treatments is wide ranging and varied from Carita Cinetic Lift Facials, a Pearl & Jasmine Body Renewal which uses mineral-rich Himalayan salt crystals, a chakra wellbeing massage, or for those living with and beyond cancer, a range of Jennifer Young treatments.

I chose the thermal detox wrap and suffice to say, it was both relaxing and effective. The Spa has won a number of awards and has cleverly combined treatments with dining options in an array of packages to suit individuals and groups alike.

All this relaxation and revitalisation whets the appetite especially for a dish or two of fine dining. The Horte Restaurant serves up artistic displays in delicate portions oozing with flavours in its chef’s 7-course tasting menu with optional wine pairings.

Once relaxed, the gym is available to tone the muscles while a private cinema room offers a little distraction. With two restaurants, tastefully furnished guest rooms with all the facilities you need, a stay here will keep you occupied in unhurried relaxation.

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Back in 1571, the first mineral spring was discovered christening Harrogate as the place of healing waters. Today, the privately-owned Rudding Park & Spa has stolen the title for restoring the mind and revitalising the body but that’s no excuse for not visiting this Victorian Spa town – I will next time.

Visit: https://www.ruddingpark.co.uk

 

 

The Healthy Shores of Majorca & Ibiza

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Against a backdrop of sunshine, beaches, culture and gastronomy, the Balearic islands are prescribing medicinal additives to visitor experiences. From sports physiotherapy, fertility, dentistry, ophthalmology, preventive medicine, to dialysis facilities and increased private medical services, the islands have plans to open windows to wellness and health tourism.

The islands, favoured by many British holidaymakers, are forecasting a healthy future with a range of health and wellness treatments, activities and services with new well-equipped private clinics and hospitals, multi-lingual staff and medical service companies designed to take care of international visitors of all ages and needs.

Tennis star, Rafal Nadal is leading the way with sports rehabilitation as well as a champion training academy with an impressive centre on the eastern side of Majorca. As a native resident he opened the centre in June 2016, designed for aspiring young players as well as adults offering stylish accommodation for its range of residential programmes. His museum is also well worth a visit.

Private hospitals on the islands include The Hospital de Llevant in Porto Cristo, the only private hospital on the eastern side, with multi-lingual staff and a range of specialists to meet seasonal demands. Here there is a separate building for the new Porto Cristo Dialysis Centre while the aesthetic unit offers treatments for hair loss, weight problems and cosmetic procedures. Built originally as a retirement residence, the rooms are generous in space, complete with sea views and balcony. The Clínica Rotger, part of the Quironsalud group, is modern and well-equipped with six consulting rooms located around the island. The hospital recently introduced new services in oncology, dermatology, and dermo aesthetic treatments and has a fifth floor to make any patient feel better with views over Palma and contemporary art dotted around.  Clinica Juaneda is a multi-service hospital with 90 specialised doctors covering all medical specialties and a dedicated international medical centre. And with the increasing international demand for assisted reproduction, Majorca has a modern IVI clinic.

Specialised, well-equipped dialysis clinics with professional medical teams are encouraging patients to travel to Majorca for that well-needed break where scheduled treatments can be combined with interesting, cultured itineraries in a sunny climate.

On the island of Ibiza, the Policlinica Nuestra Señora Del Rosario has 70 rooms, an intensive care unit, emergency room and three outpatient centres on the island with more than 40 medical specialties and two physiotherapy and rehabilitation centres.  Its VIP area is independent from the hospital and benefits from a private entrance.

Trendy destinations attract the fashionable & health conscious travellers who wants to look good all year round. Private, certified aesthetic clinics, managed by registered professionals are catering for this growing market so the health tourists can feel assured they are in safe hands. On the island of Ibiza, Eiviluxury, a small, compact clinic is apace with the latest, fashionable treatments for its party-going stylish clientele who frequent the island’s rhythms especially in high season or reside in their second homes. Led by Dr. María Bufí, the variety of treatments include heavy metal body checks, ozone therapies, gynaecological treatments, hair implants and varicose vein removal using the latest technology performed by visiting doctors who are experts in their field.  The Eiviestetic plastic surgery and aesthetic medicine centre, part of Policlinica Nuestra Señora Rosario, also offers a safe answer to aesthetic treatments ranging from tattoo removal by laser, intimate wellness and the new Profound System,a one off non-invasive lifting treatment.

Health blended with a generous dose of tourism makes for a good holiday remedy while regional colourful cuisine serves up healthy Mediterranean flavours. Restaurants in Palma such as Cuit and Fabiola Gastronomic Garden are fine examples while Can March in Manacor is a rustic family inn, popular with the locals.  On Ibiza, you can dine in one of the oldest restaurants at Restaurante Ca N’Alfredo in its centre or at Calma which enjoys views over the marina. There is a good choice of accommodation in season such as the Valparaiso Palace and Spa which commands enviable views over Palma Bay.

Majorca is the largest of the Balearic islands with Palma as its heart. Here you can delve into its history by strolling along cobbled lanes, passing hidden courtyards with glimpses to imperial staircases and buildings proudly displaying their signature coat of arms.  Overlooking the sea is the imposing ornate Gothic Cathedral  with a vast rose window and wrought iron canopy by Gaudi. Away from Palma is the pretty village of Valldemossa set in the Tramuntana mountains and worth the short drive to enjoy the alley ways, stone houses dressed with hanging flower baskets and the 13thcentury monastery where the musician Chopin stayed.  A trip to Porto Cristo leads to an enchanting harbour with coves and caves and the world’s largest underground lake system.

The depth of history on the island of Ibiza is cloaked within the fortified city walls of Dalt Vila, a world heritage site. Its muscular gates lead to uneven pathways, interrupted by bastions, and commemorative plaques revealing past tales and factual statements. Routes climb to the top to admire the views of modern Ibiza, a strong contrast from the old stone walls to the glitzy marina developments and the cosmopolitan retail world of Zara, Rolex watches and new boutique hotels such as the Gran Hotel, Montesol, renovated within a neo-colonial building

As the trend increases in health and wellness tourism, watch out for the healthy glow around these islands and the added restorative and medicinal tonics to holiday experiences. There’s more than fiestas and siestas in the Balearics.

https://illesbalears.travel/en/baleares/health-and-wellnes/

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How to beat those Winter Blues

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As the summer months retire, cooler weather and shorter days can blow in those winter blues.

To enhance moods and wellbeing during the colder months,  Kohler Waters Spa at the Old Course Hotel in Scotland has launched a range of bathing treatments designed to increase mood and boost energy levels.

Research consistently demonstrates that hydrotherapy has a significant impact on mood enhancement by releasing elevated levels of endorphins, the body’s natural anxiety and stress busters. The use of therapeutic bathing also promotes a deep meditative state.

Guests at Kohler Waters Spa can achieve this heightened state of wellbeing through a range of inimitable Kohler bathing experiences employing marine-based ingredients, such as seaweed, that treat skin conditions and relieve muscle aches and stiffness, therefore improving overall state of mind.

Treatments include a relaxing, 90-minute Soak Overflowing Bath, which involves floating in a continually over-flowing bath tub filled with seaweed. The heat from the bath aids the body’s natural detoxifying process whilst the mineral rich Voya seaweed, harvested off the coast of Ireland, relieves muscle aches and joint stiffness, including rheumatism and arthritis.

The spa’s signature treatment, Lavender Rain involves warm rain pours down from the Kohler Custom Vichy shower whilst guests are treated to a nourishing body scrub using fresh lavender, marine salt crystals and eucalyptus. Lavender also works as a natural mood booster by relieving stress and helping achieve a good night’s sleep.

Guests can also make use of Kohler Waters Spa’s extensive hydrotherapy facilities including the invigorating cold plunge pool, the heated hydrotherapy pool providing therapeutic bathing and the refreshing ice fountain. There is also a steam room for deep muscular relaxation and detoxification, a Finnish sauna and a rooftop garden with hot tub.

Situated just metres away from West Sands Beach with commanding views of the Scottish coastline, the Old Course Hotel is situated in an idyllic location from which to enjoy some mind-calming walks in the fresh sea air, another natural mood enhancer. The Fife coastal path takes in 135 kilometres of stunning coastline, or guests can simply enjoy a gentle stroll along West Sands Beach. The hotel also has a fleet of bikes for hire, complete with chunky tyres ideal for a ride on the beach or the coastal path.

The Kohler Waters Spa at the Old Course Hotel is the first Kohler spa experience outside the USA. With a focus on the therapeutic benefits of water, Kohler Waters Spa offers replenishing experiences that re-create the healing properties of Earth’s natural mineral-rich waters.

For further information on the Kohler Waters Spa at the Old Course Hotel please visit www.oldcoursehotel.co.uk/spa/kohler-waters-spa or call 01334 474 371.

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360º Wellness Experience

 

Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort - Spa Womens PoolWellness reaches greater heights at the Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar  in Oman which brings the mountain to the Mind & Body.  This resort provides the earthy setting for guests to harness nature’s healing powers and an holistic approach to health.

More than one-sided wellness, the Al Hajar Mountain Range provide a natural and rugged backdrop, heightening the effect of yoga practice. The freedom and  space exuded from the canyon below, the unpolluted mountain air and the restorative powers of nature combine their powers collectively to realign chakras.

The resort’s Three Village Hike leads guests on a high altitude journey, stepping through mountain history, spotting fossilised coral, and looking out to terraced farmland, early falaj irrigation systems and even a working rose distillery. The mental effects will clear the mind and physically will energise the body,

Located on the very mountain that the hotel sits on, various creative activities challenges guests who want to push their boundaries. This exhilarating approach to health involves various climbing routes, including a Via Ferrata steel cable and abseiling down a sheer ledge.

Wellness at the Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar  in Oman  fuses mind, body and mountain into one and two-day packages.

Visit http://jabal-akhdar.anantara.com/

River Cruising to Health

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A flute of sparkling wine or a glass of healing gemstone water, circuit training, yoga flow or afternoon tea? Tricky decisions. A fast-paced Vienna walking tour, a castle hill hike in Passau, an 18-mile bike tour to Durnstein, a gentle evening stroll with wine tasting in Krems or a Vilshofen Organ Concert & Beer Underworld Tour. These were the choices I faced on my first wellness river cruise through Germany and Austria on the AmaSonata, one of 19 ships belonging to AmaWaterways.

Wellness is the new wave in river cruising and floated into creative itineraries with a dedicated wellness host at the helm. The preconception of a sedate meander along the river has long passed by and washed ashore. Today, this trendy mode of holidaying involves daily visits to interesting places and cities interspersed with optional wellness activities onboard and indulging in fine wines and gourmet cuisine.

A Fortress Hike in Durnstein, a bike ride along the Danube, a resistance band or Zumba class. Active or gentle, competitive or a complete beginner, from early morning stretch, posture workout, to laps around the jogging track, activities have been designed for all age groups and fitness levels. If classes don’t appeal, there’s a gym, compact as it may be, Nordic sticks for hiking trails ashore, walking tours at paces to suit, a spa offering a handful of massage treatments and lectures on lifestyle wellness. But it was cycling that won the popular vote. Many of my fellow sailors chose rides along the Danube’s river paths,  the more adventurous cycling the cobbled streets and  narrow passageways on guided city tours while the longer rides haloed the fittest amongst us.

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Ashore, it was culture in abundance. History echoed through stone passageways, etched on walls, recalled in painful truths and humbling stories, crafted in statues, exposed in Baroque and Gothic architecture, shrouded in monasteries and celebrated in jaw-dropping cathedrals. Our route along the Danube cruised from Nuremberg to Vienna, each port of call having a narrative to tell. The Nuremberg trials and Courtroom, the countless listed buildings and commemorative stumbling stones in Regensburg, the world’s largest pipe organ in Passau’s St. Stephens Cathedral and Richard The Lionheart’s imprisonment in Durnstein.  We visited Mondsee, famous for its appearance in The Sound of Music, Linz, the UNESCO city of media arts, the awe-inspiring Benedictine Abbey in Melk ending in Vienna, the capital, personified by the Blue Danube waltz, gilded palaces and gold statue of Strauss, its state opera, rich chocolate Sachertorte, The Spanish Riding School and St. Stephens Cathedral cradled in its centre.

Quietening the mind is an easy pastime on a ship which glides along calm waters bordered by lush green river banks  – silent, still and serene. Relaxing on the sundeck, roads track us from the side, trains play hide and seek as they hiss between trees and hills, speed boats whizz pass and barges lug past dragging  their heavy cargo.  Pressures of everyday life drift downstream.

The scenery from a river cruise is just as one imagines and vibrant in sunlight.  Paths zig-zagging across the mountainside, boats moored onto private jetties, villages centred by steepled churches and families waving as they share picnics and homemade lemonade.

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The commentary along the Danube adds a historical date or two, dotted with colourful myths and fables. We see castles still standing, reminding us of Rapunzel-like fairy tales while others lie in ruins. Terraced grooves folded into the landscape define the Wachau Valley wine region complemented with a climate ripe for harvesting  apricots. The secluded inlets carved into the riverbed provide sanctuary for wildlife from river traffic while the locks and low bridges offer a different dimension to our voyage.

Dining is another attractive pursuit offering a good variety of fine dining menus for lunch and dinner with a guide to healthier options. Local and regional dishes are integrated into daily choices with some themed events to add a little theatre to the experience. The Chef’s Table boutique restaurant offers a taster menu, all complemented with wine recommendations. The waiters, as with most of the crew are eager to serve, some with distinguishable personalities, all with an appetite for high standards.  Post dinner, the entertainment takes to the floor with renditions from a West End singer, melodies on the piano, costumed operatta  and jiving into the early hours, offering music for all palettes.

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On board, the atmosphere is convivial and with 160 passengers it’s easy to forge friendships in a short time. Conversation centres around cultural experiences ashore while wellness activities draw individuals together, motivating and sharing achievements. Dotted with miniature orange trees and table orchids, the AmaSonata is tastefully decorated and contemporary in style.

Before disembarking, we are informed of the launch next year of the AmaMagna, a revolutionary new style double-width river ship, with a Zen Wellness Studio and water sports platform. So, with more wellness activities, more choices,  I decide to be better prepared for my next wellness cruise as I enjoy a farewell glass of healing gemstone water.

For more information about AmaWaterways or to book go to www.amawaterways.co.uk, call tel: 0800 320 2335 or visit your local travel agent.

About AmaWaterways:

Family-owned, AmaWaterways is headquartered in, California with offices in Switzerland and the U.K. It provides river cruise holidays on 19 ships, sailing along the waterways of Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia.

Next year the company will launch three ships. The AmaMora, will offer a choice of itineraries on the Rhine, while the smaller, more intimate AmaDouro makes her debut on Portugal and Spain’s Douro River.The revolutionary AmaMagna will also enter service in May 2019. She will offer an unprecedented range of facilities including a choice of restaurants, Zen Wellness Studio and water sports platform as well as offering far more personal space than traditional river cruise ships.

From  Summer 2019, the Wellness Programme will be offered across the European fleet (excluding Douro).

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Wellness for the Soul

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A restorative spiritual blessing awaits guests seeking wellness for the soul amidst their travels. Thailand’s 56-roomed boutique residence, The Sarojin, is offering a specially-designed Wellness for the Soul Package to help guests discover mindful and spiritual travel.

Wellness elements include a sunrise Alms giving and Spiritual Blessing of Love at a local temple, where guests will find themselves immersed in a contemplative, spiritual morning. Rising early, guests travel to the temple to offer the Buddhist monks a small basket of items as a sign of respect. In return they receive a blessing, which sees the monk gently pouring water over the recipient to cleanse the spirit, while chanting ancient Pali-Sanskrit, the perfect way to start the day feeling lighter and calm.

Another inspiring ‘Wellness for the Soul’ experience is a visit to three of the region’s most important temples to learn more about Buddhism and the local culture. Starting with a visit to the Dragon Cave Temple, visitors will find themselves in a serene cave that offers a very special atmosphere, ideal for meditation and reflection. Heading high up the mountain, travellers reach Bang Reang Templethe largest temple pagoda in all of Phang Nga and home to a piece of Buddha’s bone. Offering breathtaking views across the stunning province, it is the perfect place to pause and absorb the serenity. These are followed by a trip to Wat Thamsuwankuha one of Phang Nga’s most historic temples and home to a 15-metre long reclining Buddha statue, the largest in southern Thailand.

Completing the contemplative package are three morning yoga classes, the perfect way to make the most of the hotel’s serene and tranquil setting. Led by Justine Capdevielle, The Sarojin’s yoga teacher, guests are guided through a 75-minute restorative session of Vinaysa Yoga.

Also offered is The Sarojin’s Street Food Cook for Kids initiative with The Camillian centre, a not-for-profit organisation that provides day care facilities and rehabilitation for children with special needs, is a truly heart-warming, soulful experience. Spending the afternoon with the children at the centre, guests get the chance to support some of the region’s most vulnerable children, preparing a nutritious meal alongside The Sarojin’s sous chef. During this truly memorable afternoon, guests can engage with the children and help breakdown the barriers between cultures and languages in a sensitive and respectful manner that truly supports the local community.

The Sarojin, please visit: www.sarojin.com and The Sarojin 360 Tour

 

Four Seasons Resort Langkawi has increased its dosha balance

 

Langkawi Ayurvedic Spa

The Geo Spa at Four Seasons Resort Langkawi has strengthened its “elemental balance” ethos with the addition of nine Ayurvedic therapies and rituals.

Drawing on 5,000 years of wisdom, Ayurveda believes in the fundamental ability for individuals to heal once they come into balance. This is achieved by determining one’s personal elemental constitution known as dosha  and its relationship with the world’s natural energies: pitta (fire, water), kapha (earth, water) and vata (air, space). By understanding our individual nature as a microcosm of the macrocosm we can learn how to balance the dominance or lack of a certain elemental energy and lead a healthier, more harmonious life.

The Geo Spa has drawn on the energies of the surrounding 550 million year old Geo Park to take advantage of the abundant, age-old source of grounding, balancing nature.  This includes powerful earth energies accumulated through the ancient rocks plus water energies flowing through the surrounding sea, mangrove tributaries and rainforest systems. It’s the ultimate analogy for life: just as the delicate mangrove ecosystem must maintain a healthy balance in order to survive, so too must individuals seek balance with their surroundings.

According to Dr Kannan Nettath, Spa & Wellness Director, “We are coming to understand that a life well lived is one lived in balance and that it is through harmony within ourselves and with the wider world that we achieve optimum health. The decision to weave Ayurveda into The Geo Spa’s elemental balance concept was an intuitive, natural extension of our offering and expertise.”

From July 2018, visitors to The Geo Spa can experience Ayurvedic experiences that range from well-known therapies such as Abhyanga and Shirodhara to Geo Spa Signature Experiences including Voyage of the Mind and Spine Strengthening with treatments that realign mind, body and spirits and advocate greater balance with the natural elements that reside in and around us all.

“When inner and outer harmony is achieved, we not only survive but also begin to thrive,” concludes Dr Kannan.

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