Destination: Wellness

Whether you want to focus on detoxification, fitness, or relaxation, this New Year, book yourself in for a getaway where nutrition combines with wellbeing to give your body and soul a new lease of life.

NATURAL HEALING at Alila Villas Soori, Bali

If you love surrounding yourself with nature, and immersing yourself in the local culture, this private and luxurious retreat is the perfect wellness hideaway for your New Year’s wish list. The all-villa resort is located along the southwest coast of Bali, between UNESCO world heritage-protected rice fields and beautiful volcanic-sand beaches that overlook the Indian Ocean.

The award-winning Spa Alila focuses on putting a contemporary spin on ancient Asian healing techniques and age-old beauty recipes that feature fresh, natural ingredients. They have recently launched a range of ‘Relaxology’ packages combining soothing and detoxifiying Balinese treatments using locally sourced ingredients, including the volcanic island sand itself (such as a high pressure warm water massage using detoxifying volcanic sand body exfoliator and rice milk and rice bran lotions to help with blood circulation and boost the body’s immune system), with new spa menus incorporating raw food options, daily yoga and a range of cultural experiences.

Their newly created raw food menu includes dishes such as scallop ceviche with bumbu kuning lime, coconut and chilli and green mango salad, as well as sweet treats like granita, coconut jelly and pina colada sorbet. The wellness offerings are combined with new cultural journeys that enable guests to draw upon the spirituality of the land. Whether it’s learning to make terracotta earthenware with a local Blacksmith, or mastering wayang style artwork or salt making, each experience will be totally submersive.

Need to know: Prices for one bedroom villas start from £365 (around Dhs2,090), visit

at Six Senses Zighy Bay, Oman

With just a two hours drive from Dubai across desert dunes and Hajjar mountains, you will find yourself transported into Zighy time, a far cry from fast paced city life. Six Senses Zighy Bay is an authentic Bedouin-style retreat on the northern coast of Oman, set on a sweeping white sand bay and lapped by the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. The sandy pathways and rustic décor, surrounded by dramatic mountain scenery and endless vistas out over the sea, are guaranteed to make you immediately feel at one with nature and the great outdoors.

Their new Yogic Detox retreat is truly the perfect way to kick off the New Year, offering a gentle but effective way to cleanse the body, combining hatha yoga postures with meditation, breathing exercises and a detox diet plan specially designed by nutritionist Jason Vale featuring fresh juices, vegetable soups and delicious salads. The retreat includes a personalised yoga consultation and classes, guided meditations, massages and other spa treatments (their Basil and Mint Scrub, Ayurveda Aromatherapy facial using Mogra, Saffron and Rose, and Aloe Vera Ice Hammam using aloe vera grown in their own organic garden, are fabulous), plus reiki, yogic intestinal cleanse and detoxifying therapies. All this will be complemented by a detoxifying menu – think squash soup, avocado and tofu salad, courgette and dill soup, tuna salad – to make for a completely holistic getaway.

Need to know: Prices for the Yogic Retreat start from US$1,140 per person for five nights (7-, 10-, and 14-night retreats are also available). Visit

WELLBEING IN THE WILD at Karkloof Safari Spa, South Africa

For a destination spa with a difference, Karkloof Safari Spa is the ultimate wellness and wildlife retreat, located in the rolling hills of Kwa-Zulu Natal on South Africa’s east coast, near Durban. Heralded as the best spa retreat in Africa, Karkloof is set within a 3,500 hectare private game reserve, where spa aficionados can enjoy fantastic facilities and unique Thai-inspired treatments, while witnessing rhino, buffalo, leopard, hippos, and plenty of other wildlife in their natural habitat.

A boutique luxury lodge with just 16 villas, the service here is very personalised, and guests can choose to enjoy meals, safari activities and treatments at any time of the day and night. With a focus on healthy, nourishing cuisine and creative raw food menus which change daily, all the food is made using organic locally sourced ingredients, with plenty of gluten-free and vegan options.

An array of activities, including hikes up to the Karkloof falls nearby are on offer, but if you want to keep the focus firmly on a body overhaul, then their Detox Retreat is just the thing. Specifically designed to help cleanse the liver, kidneys and intestinal tract of impurities and toxins (just what the doctor ordered after the festive excesses!), and leave you feeling glowing and energised, the retreat includes a tailor-made programme of dietary advice, spa treatments, fitness activities and emotional therapies is created individually for each guest. Detoxifying treatments include lymphatic drainage full body massages; detoxifying regeneration facials; herbal baths with epsom salts, fresh ginger and kaffir lime leaves, which are combined with activities such as yoga detox drainage, tai chi body balancing and wildlife cycling sessions. Alongside the cleansing and detoxifying diet planned in consultation with the spa director and head chef, the various therapies you will be swanning in and out of, which focus on both the physical and mental condition, and the stunning setting, a few days here is sure to leave you rejuvenated in ways you hadn’t thought possible.

Need to know: Detox Retreats are offered in three-, five, and seven-night packages, prices from 10,900ZAR (around Dhs3,520) per person including all meals, game drives, guided hikes and unlimited spa treatments.

at Velaa Private Island, Maldives

Think of the Maldives and you think of powder white beaches, and a fly-and-flop holiday with not much else but sunbathing and snorkelling to fill your days. But Velaa, this year’s hottest new opening in the Indian Ocean, and a must-visit on any spa fan’s radar, is set to change all that. Owned by a Czech Billionaire, who, having tried and tested all the leading resorts in the Maldives, decided to design his own dream castaway island and create the ultimate Maldivian experience, the resort has a firm focus on wellness.

Executive Chef Ghuashan De Silva has created an exquisite and innovative raw cuisine wellness menu, with organic ingredients sourced from local islands. Bringing together a creative blend of south East Asian flavours with wellness principles, all the food is created using 100 per cent organic produce. The small and daily-changing menus promote the Maldivian ‘locavore’ concept, to highlight fresh ingredients and natural cooking methods – such as sprouting, dehydration, fermentation and maceration – to retain maximum nutrients, with a singular aim to get their guests to eat healthier and feel better.

Combined with the My Blends by Clarins Spa, a stunning relaxation zone, the island is the perfect destination for a few days of inside-out beautification. Designed with glass panelled flooring for guests to enjoy the exotic fish swimming below while having a tailor-made treatment, the spa is also home to Maldives’ first ‘snow room’, excellent for improving skin tone and circulation, and the unique Cloud 9 experience – cloud-shaped reclining treatment pods which slowly sway and cradle you, accompanied by soothing music and colour therapy, to lull you into complete relaxation. A world class gym and yoga pavilion complete the mix.

For significant others who are looking for a different kind of holiday, or even if you want to mix it up a bit, there’s plenty on offer at the island – from covered tennis and squash courts, and a mountain climbing wall, to a football field, and the only Troon short game Golf Academy in the Maldives. Plus of course, there are jet skis, sea-bobs, kite surfs and every water sport you can imagine, as well as expeditions in a semi-submarine to explore the magical underwater world, to choose from. And on days when you feel like you deserve a treat, Velaa’s signature restaurant, Aragu, offers a menu designed by Michelin-star chef Adeline Grattard from Paris!

Need to know: Prices for Beach Pool Villas start from US$1,500 per night (Dhs5,510), visit

FITNESS FUN in Zanzibar

If this is the year you decide to really decide to go the my-body-is-a-temple route, then sign up for an award-winning retreat from Wild Fitness. Billed as ‘transformative fitness holidays’, these retreats are designed to rebuild the body’s athleticism and strength using the natural environment, healthy food, and plenty of rest.

In the picturesque island setting of Zanzibar, you can find yourself sprinting on the beach, swimming in the ocean, running through jungles, boxing in a coconut grove, crawling, hanging – basically drawing on the lifestyle of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, who were fit and agile with nature providing all the fitness resources they needed – guided by expert coaches. Accompanied by fresh, wholesome and nourishing meals, massages, and educational sessions including cooking classes and nutritional workshops, the retreat promises to unleash each person’s physical potential, and take their fitness to never-before levels, while restoring mental and emotional balance too.

There is lots of time to chill as well, when you can enjoy the beautiful beaches of Chakwa Bay, wallow in the turquoise waters, or discover the delights of the ancient city of Stonetown, an exciting place to explore with its winding alleyways and rooftop cafes where you can watch the dhows sail by.

With scenic settings and comfortable and atmospheric boutique accommodation, their back-to-basics approach means the luxury element here lies not in fancy hotels or being pampered, but in things like sleeping under starry skies, and getting to truly reconnect with nature.

Need to know: Wildfitness retreats range from 3-day Energiser courses to 3½ week long retreats, prices start from £725 (around Dhs4,165). Several fixed-date courses for Zanzibar are planned throughout January, they also offer retreats in Kenya, Andalucia, Crete, and the Isle of Wight. Visit for more information.