Holidays for health: Wellness retreats that help you de-stress, detoxify

Think signature therapies, locally-inspired treatments, alchemy bars, in-house experts, visiting practitioners, dedicated sleep programs, and meditation plans. If health is on your agenda and you are investing in your holistic wellbeing, think of spending time in these wellness retreats.

Namrata Kohli | New Delhi

Businessman Piyush Srivastav stayed for 5 days along with his wife, at a forest resort in North India last year and wanted to check out “if luxury can meet spirituality!” Says Srivastav- “It was a 100% fulfilling experience starting from pickup from the airport to the drop back ! The facility, gardens, teams, treatments, food, service, therapy all were very effective. My wife and I were amazed at how light we felt, in both body and mind, after the stay! The daily treatments based on doctor’s recommendations helped a lot and the rest of the programs let you enter a meditative and spiritual world.”

Welcome to the world of cleansing resorts and luxury wellness retreats where you have exotic locations, gourmet meals tailored to your dietary whims, and personalized sessions with top-tier wellness gurus organised by world concierge. This isn’t your neighbourhood gym’s sauna we’re talking about; it’s the wellness equivalent of a Michelin-star dining experience.

Luxury wellness retreats in India have surged in popularity, offering a blend of traditional healing practices like Ayurveda and Yoga with modern amenities. These retreats aim for holistic well-being, addressing physical, mental, and emotional health. According to Rikant Pittie, Co-Founder, EaseMyTrip, “The wellness tourism market in India was valued at around USD 19.4 billion in 2024 and is projected to reach approximately USD 26.6 billion by 2029, growing at a CAGR of 6.5%. This growth is driven by both domestic and international tourists seeking relaxation and rejuvenation. Luxury retreats significantly contribute to India’s medical tourism, attracting global visitors. A typical wellness package, including accommodation, meals, yoga, meditation, and treatments, can cost around
Rs 50,000. Despite challenges such as a shortage of skilled staff and the need for improved training to meet international standards, the wellness tourism market in India shows promising potential for continued growth.”

Wellness holidays are more demanded by Indians, post pandemic, reflecting a shift from traditional holidays, says Daniel D’Souza, President & Country Head – Holidays, SOTC Travel. He says- “Travellers are now prioritizing reconnecting with nature, maintaining balance, and fully immersing themselves to craft comprehensive experiences. Natural retreats create calming atmospheres with their serene environments, wholesome dining options, and varied wellness facilities. This has emerged as a highly preferred choice of holidays, especially among millennials and young professionals.”

From the food you eat, to the way you sleep and the people you meet, wellness is integrated into all offerings at these resorts and spas. Some of India’s most sought-after upscale cleansing retreats include Ananda in the Himalayas in Uttarakhand, Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra in Kovalam, Ashiyana: Yoga and Spa Village in Goa, and The Zuri Kumarakom Kerala Resort & Spa in Kumarakom, Atmantan wellness resort in Pune overlooking Mulshi Lake and Shreyas Yoga Retreat in Karnataka.

In addition to well-known retreats, there are hidden gems and lesser-known luxury resorts such as the upcoming Svasara Jungle Lodge in Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve which promises a luxurious nature escape with wellness activities and wildlife encounters. The recently launched Jiva Spa Boat at Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur offers bespoke spa experiences amidst Lake Pichola’s picturesque setting. Some others include Evolve Back Resorts in Coorg, Hampi, and Kabini; The Somatheeram Ayurveda Village in Kovalam; Veda Ayurveda & Yoga Retreat in Rishikesh, Goa, and Kerala; Swaswara – CGH Earth in Gokarna; and Shatam Jeeva – Ayurveda Wellness Retreat in Jhansi.

These wellness retreats act as magnets for enthusiasts looking to enhance both their physical and spiritual well-being. “From the moment you arrive, when your forehead is dotted with crimson, and you don your loose-fitting kurta pajamas, to the moment you leave, and your wrist is tied with a red-string blessing, this soothing space serves as a leveler, where you can come as you are and connect to each other and nature without hindrance,” says Jaspreet Singh, General Manager, Six Senses Vana, a resort set in a dense Sal forest just outside Dehradun.

How does a stay at these retreats differ from a conventional holiday? Says Aaron McGrath, General Manager Six Senses Fort Barwara, “There is a deep focus on holistic health. Our exceptional body screening process and personal consultation provide a comprehensive overview of your physical, emotional, and mental health. This in-depth understanding allows us to curate personalized spa treatments, fitness activities, and yoga sessions designed to calm your mind and nourish your soul. Our holistic approach ensures that every aspect of your well-being is addressed, promoting a sense of harmony and balance. One of our standout offerings is the Sleep with Six Senses program, which helps guests break unhealthy patterns and achieve the best sleep of their lives. This program combines scientifically backed techniques and therapies to enhance sleep quality, ensuring you leave feeling rejuvenated and well-rested.”

A Holiday with Health As A Goal

A wellness tour is different from a regular holiday. “There is the rigour of routine with exercises, food, treatment,” says 46-year-old Anita Mehra, resident of Bengaluru who recently spent time at a resort in Coorg. Says Mehra- “Retreats are meant to encourage healing and self-discovery by focusing your attention inwards, calming your senses and clearing your mind. A holiday does the opposite as vacations are often busy and stressful. Wellness trips aim to relieve stress and promote health, so you can re-enter everyday life feeling rejuvenated and grounded.”

Most of these properties are located at scenic locations, often in the mountains or facing a water body and they build an ambience for transformation of health. Take the case of Ananda Spa, spread out across the former royal estate of the Maharaja of Tehri Garhwal in the foothills of the Himalayas. Ananda offers visitors a choice of suites as well as independent villas surrounded by the sal forest. Says the spokesperson, “We offer 80 varieties of spa therapies, including a range of Ayurvedic treatments – abhyanga, Shirodhara, shloka, takradhara, mukh lepa. Our team of experts, doctors, nutritionists, yoga instructors, and therapists help create tailor-made packages to address the wellness needs of their guests.” One of people’s favourites is the Choornaswedana, a traditional Ayurvedic therapy, commonly known as ‘the bundle massage’ which has choorna used in this therapy that is often a blend of specific herbs chosen for their medicinal properties. It is renowned for its efficacy in relieving pain, reducing inflammation, and improving circulation. This therapy also helps in neurological disorders and aids in detoxification by promoting the elimination of toxins from the body through the skin pores.

Cutting across these resorts are certain programs such as “sleep programs” where they track sleep patterns and help guests reset their sleep patterns through yoga Nidra, holistic massages, night-time soporific drinks, and more. Then there are “Detox programs” which include a curated meal plan and come with Ayurvedic treatments and therapies to slow the fight/flight response and digital detox to reset your energy levels bringing newfound clarity. In the “weight management” program, a mindset reset helps people achieve gradual weight loss or gain through fitness activities, stimulating body treatments, meditation, biohacking, and a personalized meal plan. On arrival, the guests go through personalized screening processes to identify doshas. “Ayurveda treatments” are delivered by doctors and therapists to heal imbalances in the body’s doshas and natural healing therapies help remove energy blocks, improve body alignment, and achieve emotional release through reflexology, acupuncture, Raag therapy.

When planning a holiday centered around wellness and rejuvenation, several factors merit consideration to ensure an enriching experience tailored to individual preferences. Jasmeet Singh, Chief Commercial Officer – Holidays, MakeMyTrip shares some tips- “Firstly, the choice of destination is of paramount importance, as each locale offers a distinctive ambiance and set of experiences. Equally important is the selection of accommodation type, whether it is a luxury resort and spa, a boutique hotel specializing in wellness, or an offbeat healing retreat. Then comes assessing the actual treatments, therapies and the skill level of the staff dispensing these treatments and sessions. A lot of wellness travelers also like to have a fix on the additional activities on offer at these properties – ranging from yoga sessions and nature walks to massages, farm-to-fork experiences, and meditation sessions. Dietary preferences or restrictions, budget constraints, desired duration of the retreat, and the opportunity for a digital detox are some of the other factors that influence choices. By disconnecting from the digital world, travellers can fully immerse themselves in the rejuvenation process, nurturing both mind and body and fostering a sense of renewal.”

How much time is needed to spend at these retreats to rejuvenate, and what kind of budget should one ideally have? The amount of time needed to fully rejuvenate at these retreats depends on the type of session or treatment plans they are opting for. Says Jasmeet Singh from MMT, “For a leisurely detoxing and rejuvenation holiday, where relaxation is complemented by various activities and amenities, the budget typically ranges from Rs 50,000 to 80,000 per person for a duration of 5-7 nights. For those seeking a deeper healing and disconnection experience, on the other hand, typically opt for retreats spanning closer to 2 weeks. These can command a budget of approximately at least Rs 1,00,000 to 1,60,000 per person.” Ultimately, the ideal duration and budget will vary based on personal preferences, goals, and financial considerations. It’s essential to carefully assess the requirement to ensure that the chosen retreat aligns with one’s wellness objectives and budgetary constraints.

Your mindset is as important as your physique. You must enter the space of wellness retreat with a different mindset. Says Rajeev Kale – President & Country Head, Holidays, MICE, Visa – Thomas Cook (India) Limited, “When undertaking a rejuvenating holiday focused on cleansing and wellness, customers should approach it with a mindset of self-care, introspection, and healthy habits. Unlike traditional vacations, these experiences prioritize activities like yoga, meditation, healthy eating, and spa treatments. Embracing a structured routine and letting go of typical holiday expectations can lead to inner healing and rejuvenation. Keeping an open mind, being receptive to new experiences, and committing to the wellness journey are crucial for maximizing the benefits of such holidays.”

Source: Business Standard

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