According to The Global Wellness Institute, in 2017, travelers took 830 million wellness trips – 139 million more than in 2015. As one of the fastest-growing travel trends, wellness travel currently represents 17% of total tourism expenditures. As people worldwide embrace their own health and wellness destinies, Health and Fitness Travel predicts that Nature Immersion Getaways will be an emerging trend in 2019.
Below we’ve highlighted the 12 great destinations across the world, from Belize, Canada to Japan, to showcase how the trend is growing and allowing travelers to improve their brain function, reduce stress, stay active, connect with their emotions, and all-in-all give them a thrill of adventure.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
Offerings: Ambergris Caye, Belize is home to the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere and the ultimate world-class destination, The Great Blue Hole, allowing travelers to scuba diving and/or snorkel and witness offshore atolls, several hundred sand cays, mangrove forests, coastal lagoons and estuaries, endangered species, including marine turtles, manatees and the American marine crocodile. Travelers who would like to stay above water can visit the ancient caves with significant archaeological discoveries, zipline through the Mayflower Bocawina National Park, visit the stunning Mayan temples and/or take an aerial tour of The Great Blue Hole.
Where to Stay: Travelers who would like to explore Belize’s natural underwater beauty, can stay at Banyan Bay Suites or Grand Colony Island Villas – before the highly anticipated opening of Alaia Belize (pictured) – all located on Ambergris Caye and one mile away from the reef. In collaboration with Belize Pro Dive Center (ranked #3 in the world), the hotels allow guests to book the water tours and expeditions right on its website and experience fishing above the reef, scuba diving and/or snorkeling along the reef for unforgettable memory.
Asheville, North Carolina
Offerings: Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is a hip, thriving mountain city offering a near-perfect blend of natural beauty and quirky culture in the heart of Southern Appalachia. With boundless outdoor activities including hikes through the Great Smoky Mountains, day trips to the legendary Biltmore Estate and relaxing walks through Asheville’s Botanical Gardens, Asheville lures the adventurous traveler with its rich ties to the country’s most beautiful landscapes.
Where to Stay: Guests looking for a serene retreat after a thrilling hike can book a room at The Foundry Hotel, the city’s newest boutique hotel housed within the city’s old steel foundry in The Block neighborhood, and enjoy the Peak Relaxation package which includes a signature cocktail, breakfast in bed, massages at Wake Foot Sanctuary Service and dinner the next day at the in-hotel restaurant, Benne on Eagle.
Offerings: Cartagena offers travelers more than just a stunning historic city with a variety of unexpected activities ranging from bioluminescent lagoons, birdwatching in one of the most biodiverse countries, or learning about the mangrove-lined ecosystem.
Where to Stay: Luxury 5-star resort, Conrad Cartagena, offers a range of upscale outdoor activities that allow guests to reconnect with nature including a private beach, South America’s only Tournament Players Club golf course, nature-based alfresco spa treatments. A newly introduced “Hook & Cook” package allows guests to accompany a local fisherman to the open ocean to catch their own fish including sea bass (róbalo), shad (sábalo), and pargo (snapper). After a day on the boat, the fresh catch is brought back to the hotel’s signature restaurant, Biblioteka, where it’s prepared by the Chef in the open-concept kitchen. The package includes a 2-night suite accommodation for two guests, breakfast, and on-boat snacks and beverages for a total $1,400.
Offerings: Travelers can hike or hot air balloon over the “Grand Canyon of the East,” stroll past 19+ waterfalls and go for a swim, book a silent retreat at a monastery, take Wilderness Survival Training, engage in cow cuddling and horse therapy sessions, zip line and ride a mountain coaster through the wild, and air glide over vineyard-dotted valleys.
Where to Stay: At any of three elevated camping options in the safari tents at Seneca Sol; in the tents with hardwood floors and covered porches at Firelight Camps; and in the Sioux style teepees at Mountain Horse Farm.
Iya Valley in the Setouchi Region of Japan
Offerings: Travelers who need a quiet escape from their busy lives can immerse themselves in the Iya Valley, located within the Tokushima prefecture of the Setouchi Region of Japan. Known for its stunning landscapes and outdoor wonders, the Iya Valley offers quiet yet dramatic mountain valleys and gorges, sometimes called “Japan’s Grand Canyon.” Thrill seekers should walk along the Iya Kazurashbashi Bridge, one of the largest of the three Iya Valley vine bridges, which reaches 150 ft. across and hangs almost 50 feet above the water. After walking along the bridge, travelers can quietly reflect and take in nature’s sounds underneath the Biwa Waterfall, which flows into the Iya River.
Where to Stay: The Togenkyo Iya Farmhouses offer private accommodations and offer a way for travelers to experience traditional life in the Iya Valley. Renovated in 2007 by Alex Kerr and the Chiiori Trust, these rustic-style accommodations are situated in the lush landscape of Yoshinogawa and offer modern amenities.
Key Largo, Florida
Offerings: The uppermost isle, Key Largo offers travelers an idyllic ecosystem to explore and boasts multiple state parks, sand beaches and the world’s second largest artificial reef.
Where to Stay: Opening in early 2019, Baker’s Cay Resort in Key Largo has customized and curated an array of programs and partnerships that bring guest’s closer to the areas’ precious ecosystem. The 200-room luxury resort is partnered with The Everglades Foundation, coral restoration and Dolphin Plus Mammal Marine Responder for responsible community support and educational programming. The amenities also immerse guests in nature through exclusive products such as bath amenities by local honey brand Keez Beez; Baker’s Cay designed Samba Sol sandals made from renewable raw materials without carbon emissions; Aloha bags as the in-room laundry bag designed by local Keys artist Michelle Nicole Lowe; and branded Jade Yoga Mats made with natural rubber tapped from rubber trees.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Offerings: In a city known for its atmosphere of excess, The Spa at Red Rock by Well & Being provides travelers with an immersive, nature-filled wellness experience off the strip, including a menu of outdoor fitness experiences, mindful healing programs and spa services. Surrounded by the Red Rock Canyon, serenity-seekers can reconnect with the outdoors with Red Rock Adventures (guided hikes, bike excursions and rafting adventures!) and wind down with a restorative Himalayan Salt Stone Massage (warm stones soothe sore muscles and naturally replenish the body with vital minerals).
Where to Stay: Red Rock Casino Resort
Offerings: Kentucky’s vast expanses of forested terrain (about 12 million acres) make it one of the best places in the U.S. to enjoy nature’s spectacular array of forested wonders. Lexington, KY is minutes from one of Kentucky's most beautiful natural areas – the Kentucky River Palisades – majestic limestone cliffs cut by the KY River five million years ago. Travelers can hike the Kentucky River Palisades Trail, kayak along the river or soar over these natural wonders at 40 MPH via Boone Creek Outdoors’ Zipline Canopy Tours.
Where to Stay: 21c Museum Hotel Lexington, an 88-room boutique hotel and contemporary art museum, the Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa surrounded by picturesque horse farms, or the recently renovated The Sire, a Tapestry by Hilton.
Los Cabos, Mexico
Offerings: Discover the natural beauty of the Baja Peninsula and observe Magdalena Bay’s gentle giants in their natural habitat with Hilton Los Cabos Beach and Golf Resort’s whale watching program. Guests can opt for a close up interaction while hearing the relaxing sounds of the humpback whales communicating from December to March. This one-of-a-kind excursion includes searching the bay for whales on an all-weather inflatable speed boat while marine mammal experts help expand your knowledge and awareness of the whales.
Where to Stay: Hilton Los Cabos
Offerings: With the ultimate goal of educating guests about local conversation and wildlife protection efforts, The BEACH Sanctuary provides an immersive experience with the natural beauty found within the Bahamian islands. Home to multiple species of wildlife – such as Green Sea Turtles, Southern Stingrays, Nurse Sharks and more than 50 other varieties of reef fish – guests are given the opportunity to participate in feedings, marine interactions, tours of the sanctuary, snorkeling in both the sanctuary and Baha Mar’s eco-reef and kayak in Hobby Horse Nature Preserve.
Where to Stay: Grand Hyatt Baha Mar
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Offerings: Visitors can have access to the underground tunnels at Iguabonita Cave, a Zip Line Eco Adventure, the secluded Juanillo Beach, the Sunshine Cruise catamaran, the sinkhole at Cenote Indigena Las Ondas, the cliff-surrounded lagoon during the Hoyo Azul Eco tour, horseback riding and Sanctuary Spa’s new ZEN garden for a tranquil tune-out.
Where to Stay: The newly reimagined, adults-only Sanctuary Cap Cana resort – 20 tropical acres situated on the coveted eastern tip of the island with 2,100 feet of shoreline, and granting access to the aforementioned nature-immersive activities.
Singer Island, Florida
Offerings: Spanning over seven acres in Palm Beach County’s picturesque Singer Island, Amrit Ocean Resort & Residences is a new paradigm of mindful living for all generations looking for unparalleled wellness lifestyle. Equipped with numerous types of wellness programming including yoga, meditation, and more for all ages, Amritmerges Eastern traditions and inner science with Western luxury. Amrit has been developed to offer an immersive 24/7 CUSTOM experience centered around teaching and providing the tools to improve the quality of one’s life by offering expert education, instruction, and influence positive lifestyle changes based on The Five Pillars: nutrition, fitness, mindfulness, sleep, and relaxation.
Where to Stay: Amrit Ocean Resort & Residences