Retreats tweak wellness programs for those who insist on working

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Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

With many travelers, especially Americans, unwilling or unable to disconnect from work even on vacation, some luxury wellness resorts have begun introducing retreats that intentionally blend the two.

It's part of a new trend the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) has identified in its latest report as the "wellness sabbatical."

"On a wellness sabbatical, you're set up to work a few productive hours a day (great workspaces, technology), but you also schedule a lot of daily wellness experiences (healthy food, movement, time in nature, sleep, human connection, etc.)," the group says in its report, "The Future of Wellness 2020."

To make such retreats work, the group says, people really need a minimum of three weeks, "that sweet spot to jump-start lasting lifestyle changes and for a true mental reset."

Among the programs cited by GWI, a well-being sabbatical recently instituted by the Kamalaya Wellness Resort in Thailand,  which has a minimum 21-day stay that includes comprehensive daily healing experiences with personal mentors that are designed around guests' work schedules.

In India, GWI says Vana has a new 30-day wellness sabbatical that combines great technology and work spaces with Tibetan healers.

The report also cites Mexico's Rancho La Puerta, which offers casistas with private pools and offices so guests can easily weave a few hours of work into their wellness immersions.

GWI predicts these are just the beginning of a new wellness trend. The group predicts that  top wellness resorts that currently focus on one- to two-week stays will begin offering more expanded 21-day, flexible work and wellness programs.

"Transformation comes from longer wellness experiences, but most of us have jobs,"  GWI says. "That's the heartbeat of the wellness sabbatical, a concept we think will hit hundreds of destinationsand could shake up the future of travel, wellness and work."

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