Caribbean travelers who want to nourish the mind, body and spirit as much as they want to sate their appetites for wanderlust might consider wellness vacations. Resorts and destinations once known simply for spas now focus on holistic experiences and activities that include healthy dining, yoga, fitness facilities and more. And, as people become more health-conscious and focus on preventative care, Caribbean travel properties and providers such as Zoetry Wellness & Spa Resorts are catering to them.
The Growth of Wellness Vacations in the Caribbean
Wellness travel is young and extends far beyond the Caribbean, but it’s growing at nearly twice the rate of worldwide tourism, according to an SRI International study released in 2013. The Global Wellness Tourism Economy study found that the wellness travel segment accounts for about 14 percent, or nearly $439 billion, of all domestic and international tourism expenditures. It is also projected to grow by more than 9 percent annually through 2017 – nearly 50 percent faster than overall global tourism. And it comes at a time when travel organizations like the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association are working to address issues such as climate change, carbon emissions and sustainable tourism.
Wellness travel is travel to improve well-being, according to the group Wellness Tourism Worldwide that works to develop and promote wellness travel. Wellness Tourism Worldwide considers physical, environmental, emotional, spiritual, social, intellectual and vocational factors as part of wellness tourism – and the diverse and laid-back Caribbean, blessed by Mother Nature, certainly fits the bill. There are parts of the Caribbean that offer travelers glimpses into a rich past, opportunities to be part of Native American rituals, to embark upon educational tours and more.
But wellness travel means something different to everyone, Linden Schaffer detailed. Shaffer is founder and director of Pravassa Wellness Travel, which has conducted Caribbean wellness excursions to places such as Aruba, Puerto Rico and Barbados. Pravassa Wellness Travel employs its own chefs and gyrotonic, pilates, yoga and fitness instructors and coordinates worldwide wellness excursions for individuals, groups and couples. Schaffer’s essentials for wellness vacations are much like the primary components of a Caribbean stay at a Zoetry Wellness & Spa Resort:
- physical activity
- stress reduction
- spiritual connectedness
- food education
- cultural involvement
Why take a Wellness Vacation
Wellness travel is a new way of thinking that lets your next vacation, business trip or getaway put you in control of your own well-being, allowing you to truly relax and rejuvenate – allowing you to look good and live well, even when you’re on the go, and to bring back what you’ve learned, according to a representative of Spafinder.com, which offers a Caribbean spa guide. Spafinder calls the Caribbean a “spa and wellness lover’s dream” with a “rich mix of cultures” that adds to the “sense of escape.” A growing number of Caribbean and Mexico resorts market tech-free zones for travelers who want a “digital detox” experience. Some Caribbean islands are so remote that they don’t even have Internet access.
That might not seem the ideal situation for businesses, but businesses are fast recognizing the need for prioritizing health and wellness as a means of combating soaring obesity rates, the incidence of chronic disease and the impact they have on corporations, according to a Global Corporate Challenge Global Workplace Health and Wellness Report. Many companies have begun to provide financial incentives to employees for developing healthy habits, and studies show that participation in workplace wellness programs increases employee engagement, decreases absenteeism and increases job satisfaction, according to a report in Administrative Professional Today. What’s more, Caribbean travel providers work with the Caribbean Meeting and Incentive Travel Exchange to entice high-volume meeting and incentive buyers.
Zoetry Wellness & Spa Resorts
Zoetry Wellness & Spa Resorts owner AMResorts is among them. Zoetry Wellness & Spa Resorts provide travelers with luxurious holistic escapes in ocean front Caribbean settings. Guests can feast on personalized, heart-healthy à la carte meals made with locally grown fare and get pampered at world class spas where daily wellness activities include yoga, cultural experiences, excursions and more. Zoetry’s Caribbean properties also feature state-of-the-art fitness facilities and offer opportunities to participate in volunteer programs intended to support local communities. In keeping with the anti-stress experience, there are no check-in or check-out times at Zoetry Wellness & Spa Resorts.
In Mexico in the Western Caribbean, Zoetry properties include the Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya; the Zoetry Casa del Mar Los Cabos and the Zoetry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres Cancun. Zoetry Agua Punta Cana is located in the Dominican Republic in the eastern Caribbean. For more information, visit www.zoetryresorts.com or call 1-888-496-3879.
Travelers interested in Caribbean wellness vacations might also consider:
Western Caribbean travelers can enjoy Mayan spa treatments at this boutique hotel’s Yaxkin Spa while staying in the midst of sixth-century ruins and the Yucatan jungle. The treatments at this Caribbean spa include purifying sweat baths, hot-stone therapy, massages and more. And, the Chichen Itza archaeological zone is just outside of the Caribbean hotel’s gardens and wildlife sanctuary, providing easy access to Mayan pyramids and temples. Travelers can also swim cenotes, explore Mayan caves and visit ancient Mayan Colonial towns.
Chichen Itza, Mexico
Maya Spa Wellness Center
This seaside Mayan resort with day spa affords western Caribbean travelers opportunities to combine holistic treatments with oceanfront views as they “journey to the center of self.” Local shamans provide clay massages, baths are infused with coconut and more. Maya Tulum is situated along the Mayan Riviera south of Cancun in the ancient walled city of Tulum and offers spiritual activities such as temazcal, or steam baths that indigenous Mexicans relied upon for purifying the mind, body, and soul.
Maya Spa Wellness Center
Jungle Bay, Dominica
Guests of Jungle Bay resort stay in cottages on the island’s east coast, where they can enjoy a volcanic stone swimming pool, oceanview spa and yoga studios, a rainforest and Caribbean cuisine made with local farm ingredients. This Caribbean property’s Spa du Soleil offers massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and foot therapy inspired by ancient traditions and including natural ingredients. Jungle Bay’s signature travel package: An all-inclusive Jungle Spa Adventure Package.
1-767-446-1789; US: 1-917-338-3749
Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos Islands
This 1,000-acre private Caribbean island is accessed via a 35-minute ferry ride from Providenciales and offers lodging options that include cottages, beach house suites, two-bedroom villas and private residences with butler service. Restaurants specialize in seafood; a Shambala Retreat offers holistic therapies including facials, massages, dead sea mud, marine algae and Ayurvedic therapy. Activities at this Caribbean island resort include yoga, pilates, snorkeling, sunset cruises, beach picnics and visits to protected Little Water Cay, home to the world’s only Turks and Caicos iguanas.
Palm Island Resort
Guests can lounge in spacious lofts and cottages with louvered windows that capture the tradewinds at this all-inclusive property nestled in the secluded Grenadines. Many accommodations are beachfront, equipped with everything from cotton robes to coffee makers, and some feature soaking tubs. Meals prepared with fresh local ingredients are served three times daily, and activities include tennis, croquet, table tennis, cycling, shuffleboard and non-motorized water sports. Massages, facials and body and anti-aging therapies at the property’s Tranquility Body & Soul Spa. Snorkel and picnic excursions are available, as is launch service to nearby Union Island.
Palm Island Resort
Palm Island, Grenadines