2024 Wellness Guide

Montage Healdsburg


Outdoor Recess

Connecting to nature has become a central tenet in a new wellness travel wave.

Nora Zelevansky
Most hotels and resorts give a token nod to wellness with ubiquitous yoga classes, basic massages, and in-room amenities like lavender bath salts. The following nine restorative properties take into account that spending time outside decreases anxiety and blood pressure and increases immunity and self-esteem. Expert practitioners and intentional, often al fresco facilities ensure healing is not just an added benefit of being on vacation but rather a goal and an expectation of the journey.


Healdsburg, California

Floor-to-ceiling windows invite nature into the spa, which opened in early 2021. Views over wine country’s Alexander Valley with Mount Saint Helena in the background affirm the motto of the property, “immersed in nature.” Among the spa’s outdoor wellness offerings is Yoga Among the Vines. The multilayered signature treatments may incorporate honey sourced from an on-site apiary as a natural humectant, lavender plucked on property, and, soon, antioxidant-rich grape seed body treatments from local wineries. “We can learn so much from nature if we can recognize our own reflection in the beauty of our surroundings,” says Carrie Sotebeer, director of spa. “The deeply rooted oak trees and how they’ve weathered so many storms and still stand strong are a perfect example.” montagehotels.com


Accord, New York

This hotel, restaurant, members club, and nine-hole golf course soft opened in July 2021, and its natural surroundings are ideal for unplugging. Set on 225 pastoral acres in upstate New York, the vibe here is a far cry from the Dirty Dancing–era resorts that once populated the Catskills with its bleached-out, quiet, and minimally organic aesthetic in the 28 cabins and 12 farmhouse rooms. A partnership between restaurateur and architect Taavo Somer, Brooklyn design firm Post Company, and others, the ethos is still about family and gathering, yet “the overall interaction with the landscape was a bit of an experiment,” explains Leigh Salem, co-founder of Post Company. “Since the site was originally an 18-hole golf course, we had the opportunity to witness what happens when you let nature reclaim the land, where the tall grasses overtake the manicured. In the end, this juxtaposition became integral to the experience of the property, where people are encouraged to explore the land.” Thoughtful details encourage guests to enjoy the outdoors, such as the restaurant’s location at the top of a hill overlooking the pond and farmhouse, so guests stroll to and from dinner. The spa facilities will soon include four miles of running and parcourse trails. inness.co


Comporta, Portugal

In 2019 hotelier and architect Miguel Câncio Martins designed and opened Quinta in the coastal town of Comporta to evoke “a genuine sense of belonging.” For him, well-being begins with caring for the local ecosystem: Between pine and orange trees, not far from the shore, the sustainable property boasts a 130-foot, solar-heated infinity pool, a circular watering system, electric bicycles, and reclaimed building materials. The aesthetic, complete with landscaped sand, also speaks to nature’s inherent tranquility, combining clean contemporary lines with an airy indoor/outdoor farmhouse feel. Neutral colors essential for a sense of calm are punctuated by pops of colorful art by local craftspeople. “It was important to me that the hotel fit in perfectly with the natural habitat,” says Martins.

For its regularly scheduled yoga, meditation, and life coaching retreats, the restaurant sources from its on-site vegetable garden and creates plant-based menus upon request. The Oryza Spa is housed in an elevated barn constructed with 100-year-old reclaimed wood, stone, and bamboo. The sauna and hammam overlook the rice fields, where raw ingredients will be grown for Quinta’s clean product line used in signature facials and massages. Also available are energy treatments like acupuncture and fire cupping. quintadacomporta.com


Water Mill, New York

Also opened in 2019, this retreat off a main Hamptons drag is driven by Japanese principles of wabi-sabi, or the beautiful impermanence and imperfection of nature. Passing a large lava stone Buddha, guests enter a world—at once geometric and organic—based on the elements of earth, wind, air, and fire. During curated overnight retreats or spa days, a sense of clarity, openness, and precision pervades the large windowed spaces. “From the architecture to the treatments, our intention is to connect our guests with nature,” says Jodie Webber, creative director and head of healing arts, who notes that the resort has added more outdoor experiences since the pandemic began. “We host oceanside meditations and movement classes.” The 13 guest studios have Japanese hinoki, or modern air massage tubs, with windows that face a private courtyard, so, even in winter, “guests see the sky, trees, and climbing hydrangea while they relax.” In-room soaps are crafted with the fragrances of local flora. Among the range of available services are hydrotherapy treatments, massages, bodywork, facials, breath work, yoga, and self-care workshops incorporating sound baths, shamanic healing, and even plant spirit ceremonies. “When we disconnect from the natural world, it is very easy to lose a sense of belonging and balance,” Webber says. “Reconnection with nature is a beautiful process.” shousugibanhouse.com

Raa Atoll, Maldives

Founder Esin Güral Argat of Joali Being, the first nature-immersive well-being retreat in the Maldives, says, “Nature is healing and purifies the soul. We are fortunate to live in one of the most naturally beautiful and incredible destinations in the world … we would be remiss to not incorporate nature into our well-being experience.” Opened in November 2021, the island paradise was conceived with biophilic design principles or “a scientific system of integrating architecture and design with nature … to achieve harmony by eliminating negative vibrations.” Guests take transformative journeys and personalized Immersion Programs based on four pillars: mind, skin, microbiome, and energy. Guided by experts, the program targets everything from nutrition and fitness to “sensory exploration” and “soulful reconnection,” often integrating nature. A Discovery Sound Path, set in the lush jungle, is a perfect example of how to harness the outdoors in an innovative way: This meditative sound therapy garden is a retreat for music and sound healing. joali.com


Lenox, Massachusetts

Since opening in July 2020, Miraval Berkshires has introduced innovative ways to foster healing and personal development. The resort offers countless spa treatments inspired by everything from Ayurveda to energy healing, incorporating flower- and herb-based Laurel Skin products tailored specifically for this property, including a Tulsi Rose Balm. But they also offer an outdoor Challenge Course with 20 different curated problem-solving experiences such as Soul Flight and Warrior Challenge involving elements like zip lines, climbs, and leaps of faith. To come into further self-awareness, guests can take meditation and art classes, interact with the farm and garden, or explore mindful equine therapy with resident horses, said to effectively release past trauma. Every element of this experience has been considered in encouraging equilibrium. “While the aesthetic is an important aspect of creating a pleasing environment, the design goes deeper,” says Simon Marxer, director of spa and well-being. miravalberkshires.com


Albuquerque, New Mexico

In the 1930s, the site of Los Poblanos was established as an experimental farm designed in part by famed New Mexico architect John Gaw Meem and pioneering landscape architect Rose Greely. At the heart of the 25-acre property is a 45-room hotel with an award-winning field-to-fork restaurant and curated Farm Shop.

During their stays, guests wander rose and wildflower gardens, lavender fields, and secluded woods, and befriend alpacas and guinea fowl at the organic farm. “Peacocks stroll by the patios as diners enjoy the beauty of the setting sun on the Sandia Mountains [in] their signature watermelon color,” says Wes Brittenham, director of horticulture. “Sandhill cranes and Canada geese fly overhead towards the Bosque, the cottonwood forest. The setting is beyond measure.”

Hacienda Spa, opened in 2021 in the farm’s original hacienda, reflects the same slow-living energy, incorporating a garden, a lotus pond, and an enclosed courtyard with a Moorish foundation and kiva pueblo fireplace. A circular Wellness Yurt, tucked in the woods, is a perfect, peaceful setting for meditation and yoga classes from restorative to vinyasa flow. Treatments include nature-connected rituals like a Seasonal Facial reflective of the changing high-desert climate and integrate products made from homegrown botanicals such as a signature lavender salve. lospoblanos.com


Rio San Juan, Dominican Republic

If anyone can speak to an intersection of wellness, nature, and travel, it’s upscale hotelier Aman. Their destinations throughout the world have long offered elevated rituals with local inspirations, particularly since launching their location-specific, multiday Wellness Immersions. In recent years, the company has expanded these programs with preventative medicine and the outdoors in mind. At Amanera, set between the jungle and ocean in the Dominican Republic, try mind- and body-expansive immersions like Healing Through Lunar Forces, based on indigenous Taino beliefs and practices, which includes three to five days of yoga, medicinal walks though the virgin forest to learn about herbal remedies, and multiple treatments including a New Moon ceremony with palo santo smudging. aman.com

For more of the best places around the world to get mindfully and physically healthy, log on to our comprehensive 2022 Wellness Guide at luxurycard.com/wellnessguide.