Natural

Sleep tight!

pebbles 4A good night’s sleep is important for emotional, physical and mental wellbeing especially in our fast-paced lifestyles. There is an increasing number of therapies and products to help induce this much needed slumber. Hastings Hotels have introduced a natural therapy in the form of a tailor-made new Sleep Ritual spa ritual.

Performed in calming, candlelit surroundings, the ESPA Sleep Ritual is offered at The Culloden Estate & Spa and the Slieve Donard Resort & Spa in Northern Ireland. The treatment includes breathing and visualisation techniques to release physical and emotional anxiety and restore energy. A deep tissue massage to release deep-seated muscular tension is combined with hot stones and warmed fragrant ESPA oil poured onto the body. This concludes with a soothing scalp massage to relieve any final signs of stress ensuring guests completely switch off.

The 5* Culloden Estate & Spa stands on the forested slopes of the Holywood hills, overlooking Belfast Lough and the County Antrim coastline. In close proximity to Belfast City Centre, the luxurious spa is Northern Ireland’s premier sanctuary for mind, body and soul. Guests can revel in a range of ESPA products and therapies with eight treatment suites, two pre and post treatment relaxation rooms. The hotel also offers a variety of different classes at the Health Club including Aquafit, Yogalates and Pilates. Guests can also enjoy relaxing in the pool, Jacuzzi and eucalyptus steam room. In 2017, Hastings Hotels celebrated 50 years of the ownership of the jewel in its crown, the Culloden Estate & Spa, as well as the completion of a £4.8M renovation programme at the hotel over the last three years.

The Slieve Donard Resort & Spa is situated on the seashores of the Irish Sea on Newcastle Bay. The hotel looks out to the Mountains of Mourne. Set in six acres of private grounds, the property is famous for its expansive and luxurious spa. Guests can escape to a cocoon of calm with over two floors of tranquillity, including a 20 metre swimming pool and Vitality Pool, amethyst steam room and high-tech fitness studio.

www.hastingshotels.com

The Next Big Thing in Wellness – Costa Rica 2018

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The Costa Rica Tourism Board has launched a new tourism strategy for 2018 – ‘Wellness Pura Vida’ – a new ethos that redefines what it means to look after the body and soul.  According to the World Health Organization, “burnout”, the state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress, is now a global issue. To combat this, UK travellers are increasingly combining travel with wellness, a trend that the tourist board is responding to with this new movement for 2018.

The phrase “Pura Vida” itself can be heard echoing throughout Costa Rica. Used as a greeting or expression of happiness, the phrase literally translates to “pure life,” however its truer meaning is “full of life,” which accurately symbolises the Costa Rican mind-set of energy and positivism that awaits visitors.

Costa Rica offers a huge number of authentic natural wellness experiences for all visitors looking for a healing holiday. These activities include yoga, meditation, earthing, forest bathing, treatments with hot springs, thalassotherapy amongst others, and can be carried out in pleasant and tranquil natural spaces throughout the country. Smoking volcanoes, dense virgin forests, unique wildlife and endless tropical beaches make this Central American destination one of the most diverse places on earth for a healing holiday.

Costa Rica is not only renowned for being one of the happiest places on Earth, but also one where people live the longest. The Nicoya Peninsula has one of the highest percentages of centenarians in the world.

Visitors should live this ‘Pura Vida’ lifestyle whilst in Costa Rica, taking home new healthy habits, starting with its healthy food based mainly on grains including rice and beans (called “gallo pinto” when mixed). No trip is complete without drinking the calcium-rich water, indulging in the fresh fruits and sampling the local coffee. Other Pura Vida wellness experiences can include ‘forest baths’ (breathing in the fresh air of the forest) and ‘earthing’ (barefoot walks on the earth/sand). Reaching 100 is not guaranteed, but relaxation is!

Visitors hoping for a slice of Zen should head to the lesser known corner of Costa Rica – the Osa Peninsula. Located on the South Pacific coast, this region is a haven for those looking to experience complete unspoilt beauty and escape Wi-Fi. The opportunities for exploration are endless; iconic activities include watching the magnificent humpback whale migration, exploring the mangroves by kayak and the beaches and mountains on a recreational cycling tour, bird-watching, yoga, forest bathing and having a healthy organic meal on the beach. Visitors can expect sunrise yoga, beach Pilates and al fresco group meditation.

No wellness holiday to Costa Rica is complete without a visit to the hot springs, which are said to have healing and restorative properties due to the high mineral content. Visitors can harness the water for personal renewal by letting positive energy flow throughout the body. Arenal, Rincon de la Vieja, Miravalles Volcano, Orosi area, Perez Zeledon and the Caribbean are the country’s best destinations for thermal soaks, some of them boasting highly-rated hot springs, mud baths and spa facilities.

www.visitcostarica.com

Connect with the cosmic energy of ancient Peru

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From healing spa treatments using indigenous Andean plants and herbs, to cleansing ceremonies bathed in nature and mystical culture, the Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel is offering its guests the opportunity to awaken and nourish mind, body and soul.

The hotel’s Aqlla spa uses treatments using local ingredients and curative Peruvian traditions. These include the Sabai Massage for Body & Face; a 60-minute pinda-style massage that uses warmed compresses loaded with 32 natural medicinal herbs. The Incas have used pink salt from Maras, a town near Cusco, for centuries for its energy boosting, high-mineral content and is used in the Maras Body Massage as a therapeutic natural scrub. The 90-minute treatment begins with an exfoliating salt scrub, followed by a body mask of papaya, lemon and lettuce that leaves a prolonged refreshing sensation. The treatment concludes with a relaxing massage with Andean herbal oils with medicinal attributes, including chamomile, eucalyptus and lemon grass.

Other treatments using indigenous ingredients include the Body Massage with Coca and Muña Essential Oils, which uses two time-honoured healing plants of Peru’s ancient Inca culture; Muña, renowned for being a digestive aid, as well as its soothing and calming effects on aches, pains and arthritis; and Coca leaves, loaded with vitamins, protein, calcium, iron and fibre that help to counter the effects of high altitude in the Andes. The Deep-Hydration Cleansing Facial with Quinoa taps the nutritional benefits of the quinoa to prevent premature aging of sensitive and dehydrated skin.

Beyond the spa, the Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel offers spiritual and wellness experiences that connect with the cosmic energy of ancient Peruvian civilisations, while touring nearby natural and cultural sites. During the full day Machu Picchu Mystical Tour, guests can visit the historic sanctuary with a local shaman who uses his natural gifts to help them discover the spiritual and natural energy side of Machu Picchu, as well as its magical connections to Pachamama or Mother Earth. During the visit, the shaman will lead a cleansing session, while back at the hotel in the evening; travellers will participate in a private coca leaf reading.

Guests can participate in a one-hour Payment to the Earth Ritual on the hotel’s private terrace. This traditional practice of making offerings to Pachamama, or Mother Earth, has been passed down from the time of the Incas, as Ancient Peruvians held Pachamama sacred. This ritual remains a part of daily life for many locals in surrounding regions of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. With a shaman and private interpreter as guides, guests can discover a realm beyond the physical world and become more open to emotional and spiritual healing. Coca, which is a traditional Peruvian symbol of community and respect, plays a significant role in the ceremony.

Rooms at the Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel start from USD 602.80 per room per night (from GBP 427) based on double occupancy and including buffet breakfast, lunch or dinner, luggage assistance between the hotel and Aguas Calientes train station

Silvotherapy – the art of Tree Hugging in Italy

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Hugging a tree could seriously improve the quality of your life as demonstrated by a new package offered by Adler Dolomiti’s “Yoga & The Healing Power of Trees”

This three-night half-board package includes two sessions of outdoor yoga amid the natural beauty of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Italian Dolomites that will help to re-charge guests’ batteries, while helping to establish inner harmony and peace. During the walk guests will be introduced to the theory of silvotherapy (the art of healing the body by harnessing the energy of the trees). It also includes access to the hotel’s spa and wellness programmes. This is available for one weekend only, from 21 to 24 September.  To book this unique package, visit:www.adler-resorts.com/en

Adler Dolomiti is accessible by flying to either Innsbruck or Verona, then to Ortisei by private transfer, rail or airport coach.

In the early 1980s, Japanese scientists discovered that simply inhaling the aromas produced by trees could immunise the body against disease. Phytonicides, which trees emit to protect themselves from harmful insects and germs, have strong anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities when inhaled by humans. American medical research has also proved that just being among trees is good for well-being, with stress levels and blood pressure lowered within three minutes of being in a green space.

Touching, stroking, leaning on and, above all, hugging a tree is beneficial to your health, with individual tree species having different effects on people. Among the trees that are prevalent in the Dolomites, beech improves concentration and well-being, will help ease a sore throat and improves kidney function, while pine is good for the respiratory system, helps to treat depression and restores balance, while reducing fatigue.

Many pharmaceuticals are derived from trees: aspirin comes from willow bark and Pycnogenol, which protects against deep vein thrombosis, is made from pine tree bark.

The Medicine of the Forest

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Walking on stones, smelling the trees, lying on log beds and gazing at leaves- this is Shinrin-yoku, meaning “forest bathing”, a medicine derived from simply being in the forest.

The concept was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine.

With many forests coating a green landscape, walking tours in designated forests are popular in Japan. And with the growth in healthier lifestyle attitudes and natural therapies, Shinrin-yoku has taken root with walking tours for groups led by specialist forest therapists. These tread along ancient pilgrim routes such as the Kii Peninsula in Wakayama, home to the Kumano Kodo and its network of Unesco-protected pilgrim routes dating back thousands of years.

Forest Bathing involves gazing at trees, deep green breathing, mindful walks through lush green valleys, listening to birdsong and the appreciation of the beauty of a wild flower. This sensory immersion in a natural healing environment promises mental and physical rejuvenation.

Researchers, primarily in Japan and South Korea, have conducted studies on the health benefits of spending time amongst the trees, demonstrating that forest bathing positively creates calming neuro-psychological effects through changes in the nervous system, reducing the stress hormone cortisol and boosting the immune system.

Japan is also renowned for other natural therapies:

Hot spring bathing in a natural hot spring onsen in Japan. Here it is the tradition to bathe naked in these popular springs. Japan is home to 10% of the worlds active volcanos

Rui-katsu (tear seeking) involves groups of people watching sad movies and crying together to release stress.

Moss Meditation (philosophical meditation) involves staring at green moss for positive mantras.

Alternatively, closer to home in the UK, the New Forest is following the same path. From your base in a luxury forest cabin or tree house you can sample this ancient art of re-connecting with nature.

Forest Bathing sessions will start in September 2017, http://www.forestholidays.co.uk/things-to-do

Or you can practice Shinrin-Yoku in your local park. Here are a few tips to help you bathe in the forest…..

If you have to take your phone, put it on silent and hide it in a pocket – you need to be completely present in the moment.

Wear low shoes or preferably bare feet to feel “at one” with the earth – you will be more aware of the earth and nature beneath you.

Walk aimlessly, don’t plan your journey – this will help to empty your mind and appreciate what’s around you.

Don’t rush, use all your senses – breathe slowly, notice the aromas around you,  the colours, shapes of leaves, flowers and trees. Look and see in all directions, hear the sounds. Pause to hear your heart beat and feel at peace.  Enjoy!

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Asia’s Emerging Spa, Vietnam

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The JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay in Vietnam has announced that the Chanterelle – Spa by JW has been named South East Asia’s top Luxury Emerging Spa in the 2017 edition of the World Luxury Spa Awards.

As a leading spa, Chanterelle – Spa by JW presents an exclusive range of holistic and locally-inspired therapies based on four pillars: Calm, Indulge, Invigorate, and Renew. The treatments are personalized, allowing guests to shape their own wellness journey. The spa spans seven couples’ treatment rooms, one exclusive suite (which includes a luxurious VIP body treatment room, dedicated bath with separate steam and sauna), two reflexology rooms, as well as a salon room providing hair styling and nail services for both ladies and gentlemen.

Chanterelle – Spa by JW has a menu of intuitive offerings such as Thai Yoga Stretching, a body and spirit exercise combining classic Thai movements and controlled breathing to refocus the mind; DIY classes teaching guests to create their own scrubs, bath salts, and facial masks; and a Private Bath Ritual. Available in all room types, the Private Bath Ritual allows guests to experience a taste of the spa in the comfort of their rooms. Choosing from four themes – Detox Bath, Phu Quoc Signature Bath, Home Sweet Home, and Touch of Romance – the Bath Butler can deliver the ingredients and set up everything needed for a pampering soak in the oversized jetted tubs. Additional touches such as take away pocket guides and a comprehensive retail counter allows guests to continue the surreal spa journey at home.

JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay is the flagship of JW Marriott Hotels and Resorts in Vietnam. JW Marriott Phu Quoc offers a selection of 244 artistically unique well-appointed rooms, suites, and villas with Bill Bensely’s whimsical touches.

www.jwmarriottphuquoc.com

 

Watsu – Water Massage in the thermal waters of Bath

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Watsu, otherwise known as water shiatsu, takes advantage of the therapeutic mineral-rich waters of the Thermal Bath Spa. This the new massage treatment in vogue and the latest addition to the wellness landscape.

This signature treatment is performed in the historic Hot Bath by a specially trained therapist who gently supports, stretches and guides your body through a series of flowing movements in the warm thermal waters.

This relaxing treatment combines elements of shiatsu massage and acupressure while using the buoyancy to manipulate muscles and unravel those stress knots!

www.thermaebathspa.com

 

Four Signature Therapies at The Grand Resort Bad Ragaz in Switzerland

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The five star Grand Resort Bad Ragaz is regarded as one of the top medical health and wellbeing resorts in Europe. Hiding in the Heidiland area of the Swiss Alps, with memorable views, a tranquil setting and  thermal pools, it provides the ideal place for recuperation and recharging.

The Grand Resort Bad Ragaz offers a wide range of wellness treatments ranging from caviar skin treatments, magnesium-centered therapies, signature stress treatments and a therapy inspired by redwood trees.

The Caviar Spectaculaire treatment utilizes La Prairie’s Skin Caviar Collection and takes advantage of the Skin Caviar Luxe Cream specifically to enhance the tone, elasticity, and suppleness of skin.

The Transdermal Magnesium Ritual focuses on releasing muscle and joint tension to reduce stress levels. This 90 minute treatment combines a detoxifying magnesium massage and a rejuvenating, aromatic bath to stimulate the limbic system.

Integrating the local resources, The Sequoia Ceremony, is inspired by the redwood tree, found in the Resort’s own grounds. This signature treatment starts with a foot bath and reflexology followed by a full-body massage using local herb-filled massage stamps dipped in warm oil.

The latest additional to the extensive therapy list is the new Haki Flow Deluxe treatment which aims to relieve stress by creating pressure in the head and feet, either in thermal water or on the massage table. (This treatment was developed by Harald Kitz, a musician and therapist and recognised by the European Health & Spa Awards).

The Grand Resort Bad Ragaz is just one hour from Zurich.

Visit: www.resortragaz.ch

 

 

UNIQUE THERAPY: Laughing Yoga at Amankila, Bali

Proving that laughter is the best medicine, Amankila in Bali, offers guests Hasya or laughing Yoga, a practice based on the belief that voluntary laughter provides the same psychological and physiological benefits as spontaneous laughter. This also strengthens all immune functions, bringing more oxygen to the body and brain, and fostering feelings of positivity.

Sessions are offered three times a week and are led by Pak Eka, a natural Hatha and Hasya yoga teacher, and begin with warm-up techniques which include stretching, clapping and body movements (asanas) all of which help break down inhibitions and trigger happy feelings and thoughts. Breathing exercises are followed by a series of laughter exercises that combine methods of acting and visualization techniques with playfulness. The session concludes with laughing meditation, a period of unstructured laughter where participants sit or lie down and allow natural laughter to flow from within, which in most cases leads to real and contagious laughter.

Hasya yoga is available at Amankila three times a week, throughout the year.

UNIQUE THERAPY: “Song of the Rainforest” Ritual Langkawi, Malaysia

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The Andaman Resort is tucked between a 10 million-year-old rainforest and the tranquil Datai Bay on Malaysia’s Langkawi Island. Styled in a Malaysian contemporary design are 178 rooms and suites which enjoy sweeping views over the Andaman Sea and ancient rainforest.

The Resort’s V Botanical Spa is set within the natural surroundings of the rainforest hillside, offering a number of unique treatments and rituals.

The “Chi Nei Tsang” treatment is rooted in the ancient Taoist tradition. It aspires to heal the body from within by removing unprocessed emotions that manifest themselves in the form of energy blockages. Blockages impair the body’s vital functions and constrict the flow of the life-force Chi. Upon reading the navel, the therapist works on the knots (carefully) and tangles in the abdomen, stimulates the intestines, abolishing toxins, improving digestion and metabolism and revitalising the entire body.

Its signature “Song of the Malay Rainforest “Ritual is designed to evoke the rainforest spirits with a unique ritual that focuses on a sensory journey. It aims to revive the body mind and spirit into a deep meditative state. It uses villages remedies, blended with traditional home-made treatments and herbal remedies potent for purification, balancing and regeneration. It draws inspiration from the Malay healing practices and uses ingredients from the rainforest to capture the healing powers of plants and medicinal herbs.

“The Holistic Gemstone Facial” uses selected gems for specific purposes. Jade drains toxins from the facial tissues, Jasper improves microcirculation, Aventurine calms the skin, Obsidian balances uneven skin tone and Unakite regenerates skin affected by free radicals. When heated these precious stones relax the jaw area, open the pores to allow antioxidants and organic essential oils to penetrate and nourish the underlying tissue.