The UAE is spoiled for choice when it comes to options for wellness getaways – with India, Sri Lanka, The Maldives, Oman and Jordan all just a short hop away. But which ones to choose? We’ve made it a little easier, with five tried and tested options.
Yoga in Goa
Where: The Beach House Goa, India
Home to more yoga teacher trainings than you could throw a stone at, Goa has plenty to appeal to the detoxing traveller. Between the clear skies and spice farms, spirituality is a reccurring theme. You just have to step off the sand long enough to find it. Combining the appeal of the beach with the need for relaxation is The Beach House Goa. Nestled on the sands of Sernabatim Beach, this all-inclusive wellness center mixes holistic therapies with a dash of modern technology. Book into the five-night yoga and spa program, which involves daily yoga, two holistic treatments daily, nutritionally balanced meals, body measurements, pH monitoring and more. If you want something more intense, there’s a vigorous juice fasting program. If it’s a full-body reboot you are after, the resort offers a celebrating life retreat, which includes urine examination, body measurements, daily Ayurvedic practices and a stress management workshop.
Oman wellness getaway retreat
Where: Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara, Oman
Salalah is Oman’s tropical paradise. During the rainy season (from June until August), this entire area turns lush and green, more like Sri Lanka than the region’s surrounding mountains and desert. Steady drizzles create total oasis vibes. It’s here, nestled between a freshwater lagoon and private beach, that you’ll find Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara’s new wellness getaway retreat, one designed to give you health with a helping of luxury. The program starts with a consultation, followed by a range of wellness activities (like yoga and mountain hiking), healthy eating and plenty of spa time. All of this is overseen by industry veteran and wellness guru Ratheesh Krishnan. For a bit of extra luxury, you can book into a private pool villa — perfect for enjoying all your meals from your own terrace. Wherever you eat, food is a selling point here. The retreat’s detox menu has been created by the renowned Italian vegan chef Valeria Agnelutto, with items including chickpea burgers with rosemary and raw tiramisu.
Where: Kempinski Hotel Ishtar, Jordan’s Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is said to have health benefits for everything from arthritis to psoriasis. Part of this, experts stipulate, is because the Dead Sea is made up of 33 percent salt plus other minerals. Researchers have even discovered psoriasis sufferers who bathed in the sea for an hour a day improved by 88 percent. The Kempinski Hotel Ishtar embraces all elements of the Dead Sea, with a minimalist design and windows meant to draw the outdoors in. At the venue’s award-winning spa (it has taken home ‘best spa in Jordan’ for four years running), you’ll find Dead Sea pools. Try one of the venue’s day packages for spa treatments combined with customized food and drinks. When not at the spa, you can roam between gardens dotted by lagoons, waterfalls and private pools, or unwind amid olive trees.
Musandam wellness getaway
Where: Six Senses Zighy Bay, Oman
There are plenty of ways to enjoy the Musandam Peninsula, including affordable overnight dhow cruises that involve dolphin spotting, or a simple drive from Dubai. This gorgeous area of land and sea offers a striking mix of clean beaches, mountains, Omani history and clear waters. For relaxation, head straight to Six Senses Zighy Bay. This luxurious venue sets itself apart from the word go; you can arrive by paragliding in, boat or car. The personalized wellness getaway programs start with a health screening, followed by sessions with everyone from a sleep doctor to personal trainer. Non-invasive techniques help cleanse your body, while massages and spa treatments allow you to unwind. As for food, healthy dishes are marked on the resort’s regular menus, allowing for easy decisions at meal time. Much of the produce is from the Six Senses own garden, part of the brand’s active sustainability policy. If anything ever becomes too much, you can take a hike into the mountains or stroll along the beach.
A Maldives retreat
Where: Anantara and Four Seasons
Whether you’re a couple looking for romance or a solo traveller who just wants some alone time, the Maldives provides pure, calming magic. Malé, the capital, is about a four-hour flight away from Dubai. Expect to take a smaller seaplane once you land. Once there, you’ll be on some variation of a gorgeous island paradise, with palm trees and white sands, and plenty of sunbathing for serenity. Almost all Maldivian hotel will have some form of solidly equipped spa, but when it comes to more intensive detox, Anantara’s two Maldives properties do it well. Anantara Veli won best wellness retreat at the World Spa Awards in 2017, thanks to a program that involves personalized multiple-day treatments. These combat things like weight management and sleeplessness and soon, IV therapy. Meanwhile Anantara Kihavah adds in a specialized medi-spa, where you can use electric currents to stimulate your skin or unwind with a vampire facial. Another reliable option is Four Seasons Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru. Here you’ll find a 14-day intensive cleansing program, which is organized by an Ayurvedic physician, and involves plenty of massages, yoga, and healthy food.
Flight times are based on Dubai departures. Featured photo courtesy Six Senses Zighy Bay, Oman.
Danae Mercer is a freelance health and travel journalist. In addition to working as editor-in-chief of Women's Health Middle East and Men's Health Middle East, Danae has written for The Sunday Times, CNN Travel, Dubai Tourism, The Guardian, Afar, Bloomberg and many more. She's based in Dubai and is a trainer at Crank. instagram.com/danaemercer