After more than a year of lockdown stress and limited travel, the importance of nurturing our mental and physical health has never been higher. And with regenerative travel predicted to boom, there couldn’t be a nicer way to treat oneself than with a post-pandemic mind-body reset in a long dreamed about or exotic bucket list destination.
From a life-changing trip to the Kingdom of Bhutan and rustic-chic Greek island escape to a gorgeous design hotel in Morocco, each resort offers its guests mindful ways to restore some much-needed balance and seek spiritual development in exquisite surroundings. Also, included? Delicious local cuisine, cultural excursions that range from a guided shopping trip through the souks of Marrakech and a water purification ritual in a Balinese temple to swimming with wild dolphins in Mexico. Travel with purpose and make new friends and lasting memories at one of these five luxury yoga retreats.
Silver Island Yoga, Greece
Opened in 2013 by Greek-South African sisters Claire and Lissa Christie, Silver Island is the world’s first private island yoga retreat. Completely solar-powered and a speedboat ride away from the mainland, guests love the healthy dose of serenity and sunshine, plus twice-daily yoga practice on offer here. The white-washed and bougainvillaea-draped villa and main house are gorgeously rustic, with many of the shared rooms named after Greek Goddesses.
“We are the only private island yoga retreat centre in the world and take just ten guests a week from Sunday through to Saturday. Everything is inclusive once you are on the island with us,” shares Claire Christie. “All our food is grown locally, seasonally sourced and prepared with love. We also serve an organic vegan wine with dinner that is made in one of the oldest vineyards in the region.”
In between classes, guests can swim in the Aegean Sea, go kayaking or schedule a massage. Every Friday, there’s a pop-up market selling local honey and olive oils, natural beauty products, and yoga blankets. With a team of just six staff, Christie adds that enhanced hygiene and safety protocols have been in place since last summer.
Greece recently reopened for tourism, and travellers must now fill out a Passenger Location Form (PLF) 24 hours prior to arrival or carry a negative PCR test result taken 72 hours before departure. The latest Covid travel guidelines can be found on their website.
Peacock Pavilions, Morocco
Located 20 minutes outside of Marrakech near the village of Dour Laadem, globetrotting author, designer and humanitarian Maryam Montague’s boutique Moroccan-chic hotel sits on a private 8.5-acre estate and hosts yoga retreats at various points throughout the year and into 2022.
With tented pavilions, an outdoor cinema, sumptuous bedrooms and swoon-worthy interiors, the guest amenities are nothing short of spectacular. In addition to exploring the dreamy grounds, which are filled with olive trees, rose bushes and roaming peacocks, guests can soak up the sun beside the gorgeous swimming pool or shop The Souk by M. Montague for take-home treasures.
Alongside daily yoga classes and authentic Moroccan cuisine from Peacock Pavilion’s farm-to-table restaurant, different daily cultural experiences and activities are almost always included and range from visiting the Musée Yves Saint Laurent and Jardin Majorelle to an afternoon getting pampered at a local hammam and watching belly dancers at the chic Comptoir Darna restaurant during an evening out in Marrakech.
Stricter than some countries in response to the pandemic, once current travel restrictions are lifted, the Moroccan Government announced travellers can enter the country if they present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before departure.
COMO Shambala Estate, Bali
Restorative and meaningful experiences are synonymous with boutique luxury hotel brand COMO Hotels and Resorts, whose COMO Shambala Estate is reopening on July 1. Perched above the Ayung Valley six miles outside of spiritual centre Ubud on the island of Bali, this five-star residential ‘retreat for change’ is the perfect place for luxury travellers in search of a little post-pandemic restoration.
Stays of three, five and seven days can be customised with a bespoke mix of holistic treatments, including Ayurvedic therapies prescribed by an Ayurvedic doctor, plus mind-body disciplines like daily yoga and clinical Pilates classes. Programmes can also be designed to focus on everything from stress management to an Oriental-themed plan that combines herbal medicine, acupuncture, and meditation. At the holistic spa, choose from a range of Asian-inspired beauty treatments – facials, mud wraps and flower-filled soaking baths.
When it comes to accommodations, residences feel more like private homes and showcase an elegant East meets West aesthetic – each of the 30 suites here features its own pool. While the property offers two options for dining, breakfast and dinner spot Kudus House and contemporary all-day restaurant Glow, an onsite nutritionist can also tailor bespoke eating plans depending on requirements.
Xinalani Retreat, Mexico
If a secluded beachfront yoga resort on Mexico’s Pacific Coast sounds appealing, then look no further than Xinalani Retreat. Sitting in a sweet spot where the jungle meets the Bay of Banderas, 12 miles down the coast from resort town Puerto Vallarta, the only way for guests to arrive here is by traditional panga boat.
The eco-chic luxury hideaway hosts curated retreats throughout the year featuring prominent yoga teachers from all over the world although multi-night à la carte stays can also be booked. Five dedicated spaces cater to aerial, hot and Bikram yoga styles, including a treetop jungle studio, but guests can also practice on the beach terrace and pool deck. The palm-thatched rooms and casitas all enjoy ocean views – the petite suites and beach casitas, the latter featuring private decks and plunge pools, are well worth the splurge.
In the addition to twice-daily yoga classes, guests can take part in wellness activities like a temazcal (an ancient sweat lodge ritual) and meditations classes. Adventures like surf classes and swimming with wild dolphins, also feature. There’s an onsite organic farm while guests often interact with the neighbourhood elementary school donating supplies and teaching yoga.
For added peace of mind when travelling during Covid-19, enhanced safety protocols have been in place since last summer.
Euphoria Retreats, Bhutan
“One of the few places where there is still a king who looks after his people, this is hands down the most unique country on earth when it comes to prioritising human values,” says Gayle Olson, founder of the California-based Euphoria Retreats who has been visiting the Kingdom of Bhutan since 2015. “We organise trips around the world, but you come to Bhutan to discover an entirely new kind of human experience. We have taken six groups there over the years and, after a hiatus, last year will be returning this August and are already booking dates for 2022.”
The 11-day journey takes yogis through mountains and temples of the devoutly Buddhist kingdom while practising yoga and meditation. Five-star boutique accommodations include the contemporary Zhiwa Ling Ascent outside of capital city Thimpu and Drubchhu Resort in Punakha, a town in the eastern Himalayas.
When it comes to cultural experiences, there is a visit to the world’s largest Buddha and the sacred cliffside Paro Taktsang Monastery. “Our beloved Bhutanese guide Dorji, Buddha-like private driver Tenzin, and Euphoria yoga instructor, Lauren Lalita Duker, takes guests on a cultural retreat of wonder and exploration,” says Olson, who adds that giving back to communities is a core value at Euphoria with ten per cent of profits from each retreat donated to a non-profit organisation that serves the people or land of the locations they visit.