Whether guided or self-guided, a wellness retreat can jump-start a new pattern of healthy behavior for a new year. No wonder vacation destinations in Hawaii and California’s Wine Country are reporting an increase in clients focused on health and fitness goals.
Feature Photo: Sensei Lanai
On Hawaii’s tiny island of Lanai, for example, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison opened Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort, in late 2019 as his first in a planned series of luxury wellness-themed resorts. The pandemic kept it closed for much of 2020, but ever since guests have enjoyed customized schedules of classes and activities, often based on individual, data-driven health analyses they receive as part of its new Optimal Wellbeing Program.
“As a result of the past year, many of our guests have been seeking wellness programs that can truly impact their health — both mentally and physically — and provide actionable steps that they can use in their daily lives once they travel back home,” said Meaghan Carlson, Sensei director of brand and marketing.
“At Sensei, we believe a healthy lifestyle combines a balance of move, nourish and rest,” Carlson explained. Guests can practice that through a series of one-on-one sessions that include meditation, nutrition, fitness, yoga and mindset classes and lectures, and activities such as guided hikes, open sky meditation, Vinyasa yoga and resistance training.
On Kauai, guests at the more moderately priced Cliffs at Princeville condo resort are enjoying creating their own wellness retreats, thanks to on-site amenities such as a free morning yoga class and rental bikes as well as the North Shore’s ample opportunities for recreation, according to General Manager Jim Braman.
“People appreciate this even more now that they have been locked up for so long,” Braman said. “First and foremost, the yoga on the bluff with Noah (Peregine) is literally right outside your door looking out at the ocean, and the way he teaches is not so much of a crazy, ‘strike extreme yoga pose and hold it’ method, but a combination of yoga and stretching.”
Over the summer, the resort bought additional beach cruiser bicycles to keep up with demand, said Braman, who also sees many guests doing daily walks around the 22-acre resort or nearby Hanalei Bay.
“There are miles and miles of walking paths and biking paths around Princeville before you even leave to go other places,” Braman said. “There are all kind of beautiful hiking trails that range from a leisurely stroll through the rainforest to things with some pretty intense elevation gains where you can really push yourself.”
The addition of a fishmonger to the weekly organic farmers market at the resort has also seen an uptick in people grilling fresh food and “eating healthy,” Braman said.
California Wine Country
Vegan cuisine is often a highlight of new experiences for guests at NewTree Ranch in Healdsburg, a 120-acre biodynamic farm and ranch that began hosting private, customized wellness retreats in fall 2020. A San Francisco tech executive, who asked that her name not be used, said on a recent stay she and her family practiced yoga, kayaked in the ranch’s lake and “had beautiful dining experiences in their garden every day. . . Their food is healing, and it has inspired both my mom and me to incorporate more plant-based cooking into our diets.”
Solage, an Auberge Resorts Collection resort in Calistoga, has long had a reputation for do-it-yourself wellness retreats, given the variety of fitness classes and wellness activities, including its renowned spa. Still, Alison Abbot, the resort’s director of wellness, has noticed a difference in guests’ use of their time since the pandemic began.
“Not only have more guests been drawn to outdoor activities, but they’ve also been truly taking in the tranquil beauty of the property and natural surroundings in Napa Valley. You find guests connecting more with nature, observing and appreciating the flowers and wildlife abundant throughout the resort,” she said. “Now more than ever, guests are aware of the importance of wellness and the effects it has on them physically, mentally and emotionally. We’re continually hearing more guests comment on making their well-being a priority.”
An earlier version of this story appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.