Multi-Day Wellness Retreats From Unexpected Sources Cater To Wellness Demand

by Anne Dimon
Multi-Day Wellness Retreats From Unexpected Sources Cater To Wellness Demand

Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica introduced Pura Vida For All earlier this year. Photo: Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts 

With the global escalation of wellness tourism, hotels and resorts not traditionally associated with “wellness” are jumping into the space—offering up multi-day retreats to fill slow seasons, attract new customers, enhance the cultural experience and cater to the growing demand.    

Earlier this year, for example, the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo introduced its first multi-day program. Pura Vida For All is available year-round in five-, seven- or one-day stays. "We wanted to bring a program to our guests that captures the culturally-inspired healthy habits of Costa Ricans,” said spokesperson Oriane Lluch.

The program includes nutrition counseling, wellness-focused spa treatments, movement activities (such as running, hiking, cycling) customized for each guests’ level of fitness, plus evening sessions such as meditation and relaxing yoga.  Lluch said an enhanced “phase two” of the program will launch at the end of 2017, along with a full spa renovation.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada, will continue offering its yoga and mindfulness retreats into 2017. And, the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, B.C., has scheduled a February wellness retreat geared to entrepreneurs and executives.

In Florida, the 150-suite Carillon Hotel Miami Beach recently introduced the Carillon Cleanse, a three-to-six-day detox package that, according to marketing manager Taylor Cinalli, “could very easily be turned into a group retreat.” The package includes one-on-one nutrition and fitness consultations, meals crafted for detoxing, a detox massage, and access to an extensive list of daily fitness sessions.

Carillon’s director of marketing and sales Zachary Felter said wellness retreats are a complement to the resorts’ wedding and corporate business. “These types of wellness-related packages and products go hand-in-hand with corporate retreats, team building sessions and even weddings.”  

Partnerships in play   
The desire by more resorts to cater to the wellness-minded (and those who want to be) has spawned another trend—an alignment with companies that assist with their creation,  operation, promotion and fulfillment.  

In 2013, for instance, Four Seasons Westlake Village in Westlake, CA, was one of the first luxury hotels to partner with a wellness company to create co-branded retreats. Their partnership with Malibu, CA-based The Ranch Malibu led to the introduction of the highly structured Ranch 4.0 retreat, an extended long-weekend program for those short on time.   

More recently, the Omni Amelia Island Plantation, in partnership with Santa Monica-based Biggest Loser Resort, has created its own health and fitness camp. The two-year-old, year-round program is available for a minimum seven-night stay, but Bobby Allison, program director at Omni Amelia Island Plantation, noted that it’s not uncommon for guests to stay longer, sometimes two to three weeks. “We’ve also had guests stay as long as six months.” In 2016 alone, more than 800 guests have participated in the BLR program, he said. 

Offering an integrated approach to maintaining a healthy and balanced life through a combination of fitness routines, stress management workshops, educational seminars, healthy meals, realistic guidelines and group camaraderie, Biggest Looser Resort has similar partnerships with the JW Marriott in Palm Springs, CA, and Beaver Hollow Conference Center in Niagara, NY.

Lesley Carey, president of BLR Resort, anticipates that “as the program continues with success, other resorts will be on the horizon, perhaps in 2017.” 

In La Paz, Mexico, Eduardo Herrera, general manager of the 115-room Costa Baja Resort & Spa, said wellness retreats have helped his property round out its wedding business. Four years ago, he partnered with Chicago-based Retreats Unlimited, a PR agency that assists resorts with the creation, marketing and fulfillment of the retreats.

Herrera said his seven-day yoga and paddle board packages have become “very popular and help fill the January-to-March high season.” Retreats Unlimited co-founder Tammy Peterson, who has been a public relations advisor to hotels and resorts for the past 15 years, is finding that “resorts want to harness the power of social media influencers to put heads in beds, and that’s what Retreats Unlimited does.”

Also in partnership with Retreats Unlimited, The Blue Haven Resort, a boutique resort in Turks and Caicos, will be offering a series of multi-day fitness retreats in 2017. Sue Nickason, director of strategy development, said, “we

decided to offer wellness retreats in response to growing demand for wellness vacations, and also to enhance vacation experiences in Turks and Caicos.” It’s a brand new initiative for the company, which manages three resorts in Turks and Caicos.

Another factor that influenced her decision was the programming being offered by Retreats Unlimited.  “We were impressed by the quality of instructors and facilitators and the scope of the programs. It’s a perfect fit for everything that our brand stands for.”

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