Felicity Long
Felicity Long

Despite lingering uncertainty about the effects of Covid-19 on European travel -- or maybe because of it -- we are already starting to see new trends focusing on wellness and isolation.

The emphasis on social distancing that we have all internalized over the past six months is translating into an opportunity for destinations that are almost too far off the beaten track to be on our radar the chance to capitalize on the fact that hardly anybody goes there.

The idea makes sense, for once Americans start crossing the Pond again, a good percentage of them are likely to want to avoid the crowds that characterized the days of pre-pandemic overtourism.

With this in mind, the Isle of Wight, located about 40 minutes off the southern coast of England, is celebrating the seclusion and calm the destination offers to weary, jittery visitors.

Mostly known for hosting a popular annual music festival that draws nearly 100,000 people every summer (this year, the festival was canceled, but dates for 2021 are already set for June 17-20), the island is quiet the rest of the year.

In fact, the Isle of Wight, and its surrounding waters, was named a Unesco Biosphere Reserve in 2019, a designation given to destinations where inhabitants live in harmony with the environment. 

This year, rather than be embarrassed by the lack of blockbuster attractions, the island is promoting their lack, in conjunction with Wightlink, a ferry service that links Portsmouth on mainland England to the island.

Bring the kids or your traveling pod to Nettlecombe Farm, for example, for yoga and Pilates, fishing and sheep feeding. A Magnify Your Radiance New Year Retreat combines yoga, massage and meditation for visitors looking to usher in 2021 on a peaceful note.

Or how about a stand-up paddleboard yoga adventure on the Yar River, where participants practice their asanas on their own boards? You can't get much more distance than that.

More yoga and meditation retreats are available at Godshill Park Barn, a working livestock farm, with cycling and footpaths through the downs and along the beach.

For a taste of Victorian England -- and a tiny bit less seclusion -- Luccombe Manor is a posh clifftop country house hotel steps from the beach and near Shanklin Old Village. Here, serenity comes in the form of rooms with sea views, walking tours and afternoon tea as well as heated outdoor and indoor pools, hot tubs and a sauna.

As for access, passengers can step off the train from London, board a Wightlink catamaran and be on the island in as little as 22 minutes; car ferries take around 40 minutes from Portsmouth and Lymington.


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