Wellness Experiences & Adventures

The Best Places…

To Rejuvenate and Renew

By Caitlin

I have learned through travels and being married to a South African, that cultures have different ideas about wellness.  In the U.S., we have wellness concepts (diet plans, farm to table restaurants, exercise classes, retreats, podcasts, etc.).  In South Africa, wellness as we think of it is not concerted – it just is.  The food is local and fresh, the lifestyle as active (hiking, surfing, swimming), the medicine is heavily holistic, products are all-natural (they just are, it is not a marketing gimmick), baths and steams are part of every day life, as are herbs, oils aromatherapy, and being in tune with nature.  Whether you would like to experience the American concerted wellness break or the South African lifestyle of wellness, I would love to share some of my favorite wellness destinations.

Grootbos

In Walker Bay, South Africa, there is a lodge called Grootbos Private Nature Reserve.  The reserve is comprised of 2500 hectares of pristine vegetation that sits on a mountain and overlooks the ocean.  It is set amidst Milkweed and Fynbos forests with wild protea sprinkled everywhere.  Grootbos has many unique animal, bird and plant species – my favorite activity there is to go on a “flower safari”.  Fynbos gives off a scent more relaxing than lavender and can be used for medicinal purposes.  The reserve has two spa facilities and a line of Fynbos-based skincare products that smell surreal.  The food and wine are local (immense gardens and animals on the premises) and simply spectacular.  Grootbos offers programs where children guests can learn to tend to the garden and animals and even cook a meal sourced from the farm. I visited Grootbos during both of my pregnancies because just breathing the air and smelling the smells make me feel healthy and calm. https://www.grootbos.com/en  Grootbos has an amazing foundation that is worth learning more about if you visit.

Safari

Safari in general has a large wellness component.  Safari has a deep impact on how you think about life, family and connectedness.  Being immersed in nature and see how the animal and plant kingdoms interact and run their course is grounding.  Breathing in the pure air, seeing the sun rise and set and laying under the stars all clear your mind and senses.  The food on safari is always fresh, nutrient-dense and filled with herbs and flavors.  Most safari camps also usually have a spa with a natural skin care line and talented masseuses.  I find one of the most peaceful Safari destinations to be Tswalu, the largest private game reserve in South Africa, where the grounds are expansive and the dirt is the beautiful orange of the Kalahari desert.

Closer to Home

Closer to home, Blackberry Farm in Tennessee and Twin Farms in Vermont both offer sophisticated wellness experiences.  There is an emphasis on nature and outdoor activities, but also on delicious (whole, local) food, wines, luxury and pampering.  Both have their own gardens and I associate them with the smell of a cozy fire.  When next at Blackberry Farm, I plan to learn to fly fish, which I understand is a highly meditative activity.  Blackberry Farm just opened a new property called Blackberry Mountain, which we look forward to visiting. http://www.blackberryfarm.com, https://www.twinfarms.com, https://www.blackberrymountain.com

Canyon Ranch

Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires (I have heard the Tucson location is fantastic as well) holds a place close to my heart.  While spending a solo wellness week at the resort some years ago, I met a lovely couple on a group hike.  We formed an instant connection and they set me up with their neighbor Darren.  Darren and I were married 9 months later!  Beyond my personal tie, Canyon Ranch is a great place to check-in with yourself.  Many people go every year and some people spend longer periods of time.  The indoor and outdoor activities are endless and the variety of spa treatments is more than I have seen at one location.  Depending on your state of mind and health, you can also turn it into more of a medical stay and meet with doctors and health practitioners on-site or you can make it a largely educational experience and attend the many lectures the spa offers.  The food is of course healthy and delicious and caters to any dietary plan.  My week there renewed my energy and changed my life! https://www.canyonranch.com

Up Next…

In March, I will be exploring the spa at BodyHoliday in Saint Lucia.  Also on my short list…Golden Door in San Marcos, California.  Stay tuned!

For me personally, any travel is a form of wellness that re-centers your mind and broadens your perspective.