5 unusual wellness getaways to banish the Covid-19 blues

From “flag and forest therapy” in Bhutan to evening gong baths in Iceland, these are…

5 unusual wellness getaways to banish the Covid-19 blues


a man standing in front of a window: From “flag and forest therapy” in Bhutan to evening gong baths in Iceland, these are the retreats we all need right now. Photo: Amankora Bhutan


From “flag and forest therapy” in Bhutan to evening gong baths in Iceland, these are the retreats we all need right now. Photo: Amankora Bhutan

Are you reaching your Zoom limit? Do you never want to hear the phrases “new normal” or “unprecedented times” ever again? Then you, my friend, need a getaway. Not just any getaway, but the kind that will recalibrate, nay, positively edify, your uncertainty-filled existence.

Cue these ultra-novel wellness and spiritual-inspired experiences, which are as far from any Zoom cocktail or yoga session as you can get.



a person standing in front of a window: Yoga with a sense of serenity at Eleven Life at Deplar Farm, Iceland. Photo: Handout


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Yoga with a sense of serenity at Eleven Life at Deplar Farm, Iceland. Photo: Handout

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Eleven Life at Deplar Farm, Iceland



a house with a mountain in the background: Eleven Life at Deplar Farm, Iceland: Handout


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Eleven Life at Deplar Farm, Iceland: Handout

Created by boundary-pushing experience designer Eleven Experience and set in Iceland’s rugged Troll Peninsula, this four-day, adventure-filled programme is designed to help you sleep, think, eat and breathe better. Priced from US$2,240 per room per night, it may seem steep, but activities are designed to push you out of your comfort zone – think axe-throwing, group laser tag, sea-kayaking and sensory-deprivation night walks under the Northern Lights, all while taking lungfuls of pure, Icelandic air. Meanwhile more relaxing pursuits – like the sauna which combines drumming and hot and cold plunges, and soothing evening gong and breathing technique sessions that encourage slumber – ensure you return feeling prepared to attack life anew.

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Evening gong baths and breathing technique sessions locally curated for Eleven Life guests. Photo: Eleven Life


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Evening gong baths and breathing technique sessions locally curated for Eleven Life guests. Photo: Eleven Life



a man sitting on the side of a snow covered mountain: Ice water plunging treatment at Eleven Life's The Viking Spa. Photo: Eleven Life


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Ice water plunging treatment at Eleven Life’s The Viking Spa. Photo: Eleven Life

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Cloud bathing at Santani Resort & Spa, Sri Lanka



a train traveling through a lush green forest: Santani Resort & Spa's secluded mountain top estate. Photo: Santani Resort & Spa


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Santani Resort & Spa’s secluded mountain top estate. Photo: Santani Resort & Spa

At Santani, located in a mountaintop tea estate 850 metres (2,800 feet) above sea level, just step into your guest room balcony and you’ll experience the novel sensation of being immersed in the clouds rising from the lush green valley below. Cloud bathing – a cooling, dewy and hypnotically soothing experience – is available to all guests at this award-winning resort, which has drawn accolades for its customised detox and weight-loss programmes combining cleansing diets, yoga and Ayurveda treatments. Bespoke travel agency Lightfoot Travel praises the stress-reducing feature of cloud immersion, and natural clouds’ ability – at least temporarily – to make you forget about to-do lists waiting in digital ones.

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a lake with a mountain in the background: Cloud Bathing experience. Photo: Santani Resort & Spa


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Cloud Bathing experience. Photo: Santani Resort & Spa

Well Men and Well Women programme at Sangha Retreat by Octave Institute, China



a bench in front of a building: Sangha Retreat by the Octave Institute in Suzhou, China. Photo: Preferred Hotels


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Sangha Retreat by the Octave Institute in Suzhou, China. Photo: Preferred Hotels

Perched on an island in Suzhou’s picturesque Yangcheng Lake, this high-end wellness village’s programme offers an incredibly thorough treatment menu. A stay could involve experiences as diverse as sound healing, flotation pool therapy, learning about Huangdi Neijing (an ancient Chinese medical text) and testing your gut bacteria. For a total overhaul, the price is US$6,400 for the Well Woman programme and US$6,180 for the Well Man for a six-night programme scrutinising your health from every conceivable angle – including a comprehensive medical check-up (with gynaecological consultations for women), hydrothermal and spa sessions, TCM-designed meals, personal training and life coaching.

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a man sitting in a dark room: Well Man spa experience. Photo: Sangha Retreat


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Well Man spa experience. Photo: Sangha Retreat

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Amankora flag and forest therapy, Bhutan



a bedroom with a bed and a mirror: Amankora Punakha Lodge's Mo Chhu Suite. Photo: Amankora Bhutan


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Amankora Punakha Lodge’s Mo Chhu Suite. Photo: Amankora Bhutan

Personal epiphanies are not unusual in Bhutan, which might be attributed to how naturally visitors tend to feel “present” in its largely unspoilt – and spiritual – landscape of virgin forest, fish-filled streams and mountaintop temples. Amankora’s flag and forest therapy is, for many guests, a valuable experience that allows them to “ground” or reconnect themselves to the earth, while they simply listen, breathe and feel in the moment, anchored by the natural backdrop and the ever-present rhythmic flutter of the prayer flags dotted throughout the country.



a room with a mountain in the background: A private picnic experience organised by Amankora. Photo: Amankora Bhutan


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A private picnic experience organised by Amankora. Photo: Amankora Bhutan

Rosewood Mayakoba’s ‘Marry Oneself Journey’, Mexico



a group of people sitting at a table: A spiritual experience inspired by ancient pre-Hispanic rituals. Photo: Rosewood Mayakoba


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A spiritual experience inspired by ancient pre-Hispanic rituals. Photo: Rosewood Mayakoba

During this four-day experience, guests are encouraged to become more self-aware by consulting a shaman, who will impart key spiritual lessons inspired by ancient pre-Hispanic rituals. Each of these incorporate the natural elements of earth, air, fire and water, involving rites such as drumming, silent beach walks, aquatic therapy and purifying steam baths. All this mental and physical cleansing and pampering then culminates in an intimate yet momentous shaman-led wedding ceremony in Sense, Rosewood’s private-island spa, where your best self (and a lifetime of happiness) awaits.

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a living room filled with furniture and a table in a garden: Sense Spa at the Rosewood Mayakoba. Photo: Rosewood Mayakoba Handout


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Sense Spa at the Rosewood Mayakoba. Photo: Rosewood Mayakoba Handout

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