Stress-Free, All-Inclusive Wellness Holidays That’ll Have You Feeling Better

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By Diana Ballon

You’ve heard the reports. Sitting is bad for us. That means that what we typically think of when we think of an all-inclusive—reclining on a chaise lounge in a bikini with unlimited margaritas and guacamole and fried food—is really not such a great option for our health.

But there are many all-inclusives where you can take advantage of that stress-free formula: prepay ahead of time, and then enjoy your wellness holiday with everything organized for you, and without having to ever take out your wallet—but do so with some activity and adventure!

Here are four “pre-packaged” all-inclusive wellness holidays that offer fun and fitness, and perhaps, life-changing new discoveries.

Do a Fitness Retreat

If you want to drop some weight; detox with an anti-inflammatory diet free of coffee, sugar and alcohol and chemicals; learn how to boost your metabolism; and do up to seven hours of movement a day, then Mountain Trek is your place.

A fitness retreat and health spa in British Columbia‘s Selkirk Mountains, Mountain Trek offers a week’s immersion into all things healthy. It may just be the reboot you have been looking for.

Located about 40 minutes from Nelson in Ainsworth, B.C., this stunning alpine setting is pretty perfect for some serious hiking. As program director and part-owner Kirkland Shave says, the mountains are the best gym in the world.

The Nordic fitness trekking at the retreat has you climbing some serious hills while using trekking poles to “engage 90 percent of your body’s muscles,” all while moving at a serious clip, so you are burning fat in the process.

Although hiking is the main aerobic activity at the retreat, you also kickstart your day with a 6:30 am yoga class and have a fitness class after dinner.

Along with activity are talks on everything from sleep to metabolism to detoxification, three massages over the week, and a hydrotherapy circuit so you can sweat out any remaining toxins.

Stay at a Dude Ranch

Although we went to White Stallion Ranch near Tucson, Arizona, as a family getaway when our kids were young, you don’t need children to find your own inner child on this kind of holiday.

While the original definition of a “dude” in the late 1800s and early 1900s was of an urban slicker enjoying a “Western cowboy lifestyle” in the open West, dude ranches have morphed into places for people to vacation away from urban stresses in the great outdoors. 

Dude or guest ranches now offer everything from horseback riding to family-style meals, kids’ programming, comfortable cabin lodging and many other activities.

While some ranches have you not just riding the horses but saddling and grooming them, and even working with cattle, others offer a seriously luxurious stay where you are more focused on as the “guest.”

There are many options out there, from luxurious to basic, with locations all over North America, from Colorado to Wyoming, California and Arizona in the United States, to B.C., Saskatchewan, and Manitoba in Canada.

Sign Up for an Active Holiday

Exodus Travels is an award-winning adventure and activity company offering guided and non-guided trips to more than 100 countries, with everything from cycling to walking; photographic, wildlife and cultural holidays; as well as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trips in colder climates; there are tons of all-inclusive wellness experiences to choose from.

Want to go kayaking in the Dordogne? White-water rafting in the Pyrenees? Journeying through Romania? Cruising the Nile? With so many options, the most difficult part is making a choice.

My first trip with Exodus was a cycling trip along the Atlantic Coast from Porto to Lisbon. Scenic coastal rides were punctuated with stops for picnic lunches and visits to small coastal towns, like the beautiful Costa Nova, with its colourful striped homes, and Nazaré, with its main square with boutiques crammed with souvenirs and handicrafts.

Accommodations were in a range of 4-star boutique hotels, including the charming Literary Man, a former convent turned hotel in Obidos, designated a UNESCO City of Literature. My next Exodus trip will be to Iceland to see the Northern Lights!

Immerse Yourself in Wellness

When I first read that Oprah Winfrey and Kate Winslet had holidayed at Rancho La Puerta, I felt a bit nervous. Would this place be out of my league? As it turns out, there’s a place for everyone at “The Ranch.” This wellness retreat and spa in Tecate, Mexico, about a 1.5-hour drive from San Diego, is set on 4,000 acres in the mountains of Baja California.

Here you sleep in well-appointed Mexican casitas with wood-burning fireplaces (reserved for the cooler months) with hand-painted tiles in the bathrooms, wood-beamed ceilings, and expansive patios, many overlooking the mountains. With almost hourly activities—sometimes eight to choose from at one time—it’s like summer camp for grownups. 

Choices include everything from mountain hikes in the early morning to Feldenkrais, water aerobics, pickleball, sound bathing and inspirational talks from guest speakers on topics ranging from nutrition to Chakra health and psychology.

Then in the evening, you may choose a film in the library lounge, a concert in their beautiful octagonal-shaped Oaktree Pavilion or a glass of wine on the patio of their Bazaar del Sol, with views of sacred Kuchumaa Mountains in the distance. 

The lacto-ovo pescetarian cuisine is also healthful and delicious. A typical breakfast includes green juices and antioxidant drinks with ranch granola and fresh fruit, while lunch features an array of soups and elaborate salads and other dishes, and entrées like Mexican-style enchiladas, cauliflower tacos, and spinach lasagna for dinner.

The all-inclusive wellness Ranch also boasts an on-site spa and a cooking school. The Watsu water flow therapy I had at their spa was arguably even more relaxing than a massage. And their cooking school, La Cocina Que Canta, hosts some world-renowned guest chefs—Deborah Madison and Patricia Wells among them.


Diana Ballon

Diana Ballon is a health and travel writer with a specialty in mental health communications. Her travel stories focus on wellness, fitness and outdoor adventure. Connect with Diana at dianaballon.com and on Instagram @dianamaryballon.

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