Wellness is no modern invention. Cultures from around the globe have been engaging in wellness rituals for centuries, each with its own unique approach to balancing mind, body, and spirit. Many ancient treatments and wellness practices are still revered today, a testament to their effectiveness and the wisdom of the generations that developed them. A luxurious addition to any journey, take a look at some of the ways you can enjoy these timeless wellness practices as you travel the globe.
With its ancient volcanic landscapes, Japan is filled with natural hot springs, known as onsen. This practice of soaking in an onsen has been part of Japanese culture for over a thousand years, with the oldest recorded onsen dating back to the 8th century.
Rich in minerals, the thermal waters of onsen are believed to have healing properties that range from relieving muscle pain to improving skin conditions. They are also an integral part of Japanese social life and mental wellbeing.
Where to experience Japanese onsen
Japan offers a plethora of onsen experiences, from the snow-covered baths in Hokkaido to the coastal hot springs in Kyushu. Traditional ryokan inns often have onsen as part of their wellness offerings.
When you travel with Luxury Gold, you can treat yourself to soothing onsen bath at the Hoshino Resorts Oirase Keiryu Hotel in Oirase Gorge. Wander through the natural haven of Oirase Gorge, with its crystal-clear streams, lush forest and waterfalls. Then enjoy a relaxing onsen while overlooking the beautiful forest.
Experience it: Majestic Japan
Yoga is one of the most ancient wellness practices with its roots deeply embedded in India, dating back over 5,000 years. Originating as a spiritual practice, yoga in its modern form is most commonly associated with physical postures (asanas), breath control (pranayama), and meditation (dhyana).
Renowned for its ability to reduce stress, Yoga also improves mental clarity, and enhances physical flexibility and strength. Recent studies have also shown that regular yoga can help with conditions like anxiety, depression and chronic pain.
Where to experience yoga
From the ashrams of Rishikesh to the studios of New York, yoga wellness practices can be found worldwide. If you want to experience yoga where it was born, speak to your Travel Concierge about the best places to practise yoga in India. You can also experience it at most luxury hotels, including Ranthambore’s Aman-i-Khas, a luxury safari lodge. Here, you can start every morning with a complimentary morning yoga session in the jungle. If you want to discover more Indian traditions, women can take part in mehndi (henna) sessions, while men can experience outdoor shaves with traditional barbers.
Experience it: Essence of India
Developed by Sebastian Kneipp, a Bavarian priest, in the 19th century, Kneipp therapy involves various forms of hydrotherapy. The most iconic form of Kneipp therapy is walking through a stream of cold water, a ritual that originated in Germany. Kneipp therapy is said to strengthen the immune system, improve circulation and invigorate the body. It has been credited with treating a host of ailments, from rheumatic diseases to insomnia.
Where to experience Kneipp therapy
While Kneipp therapy is widely practised in Germany, particularly in Bavaria, you can also find specialized Kneipp facilities in many European wellness retreats. Some modern spas around the world have also begun to incorporate Kneipp streams into their hydrotherapy offerings.
When you travel to Switzerland with Luxury Gold, you’ll stay at the Grand Hotel des Bains Kempinski in Saint Moritz, home to a Kneipp stream as part of their luxurious spa facilities. You can walk through the Kneipps stream or drink the iron-rich mineral water directly from the famous Mauritius Spring. If you’re looking for even more pampering, dive into the 50-foot indoor pool with spectacular mountain views, relax in the saunas, steam bath, laconium, and sun terrace, or indulge in a world-class spa treatment.
Experience it: Majestic Switzerland
Natural hot springs
Long before the concept of a spa even existed, humans were drawn to the restorative powers of natural hot springs. The use of hot springs dates back thousands of years and spans multiple cultures, from the elaborate bathhouses of the Romans to Indigenous communities, such as Native Americans and Aboriginal Australians, who considered their springs to be sacred healing grounds.
Similar to onsens, natural hot springs are rich in minerals like sulfur, calcium, and magnesium. Depending on the spring, the water can help with various ailments, including skin conditions, joint pain, and even digestive issues. The warmth of the water also aids in improving circulation and relieving muscle tension.
Where to experience natural hot springs
Natural hot springs are all over the world, often in areas with volcanic or geothermal activity, such as Iceland’s Blue Lagoon or California in the United States.
You’ll find plenty of opportunities to soak in hot springs and thermal baths on our Luxury Gold tours. Budapest is home to many renowned thermal baths like Gellért, Széchenyi, and Rudas. Each bathhouse offers a unique experience, from the Art Nouveau splendor of Gellért to the Ottoman-era designs of Rudas. In the aptly named city of Bath in England, you can visit the Roman baths and the Georgian Pump Room, home to Britain’s only natural hot springs. Or head down under to New Zealand, where you can sink into the bubbling mud baths of Rotorua or the luxurious hot pools in Queensland, all with views of the stunning wilderness.
Experience it: Harmony of Central Europe
Experience it: British Royale
Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art dating back to the 17th century, although its roots are thought to extend much further into Chinese history. Often described as “meditation in motion,” Tai Chi blends philosophical elements from Taoism and Confucianism with martial arts techniques.
Originally conceived for self-defense, Tai Chi has since become a popular exercise for its health benefits. Its slow, flowing movements improve balance and coordination while reducing stress and anxiety. Many studies have also shown that Tai Chi can be effective in managing conditions like high blood pressure and osteoarthritis.
Where to experience Tai Chi
Tai Chi classes are widely available worldwide, however, for a truly authentic experience, consider traveling to China where you can study the art form at its source. Schools and monasteries across the country offer in-depth courses, particularly in regions like the Wudang Mountains, where Taoist priest Zhang San Feng is said to have developed Tai Chi.
When you travel to Vietnam with Luxury Gold, you can practice Tai Chi at the Pilgrimage Village Boutique Resort & Spa in Hue. The hotel is a natural oasis and you can take Tai Chi, yoga and meditation classes in the lush gardens. You can also soak in the pool or go cycling past the emerald rice fields for a truly peaceful retreat.
Experience it: Inspiring Indochina
The sauna has been part of Finnish culture for over 2,000 years, with the tradition spreading to other Scandinavian countries. Saunas offer a range of health benefits, including improved circulation, detoxification through sweat, and relief from muscle aches. The heat can also release endorphins, contributing to mental wellbeing.
Where to experience Nordic saunas
Finland is the mecca of authentic sauna culture, with more saunas than cars in the country. However, saunas now also feature in many wellness centers and gyms across the world. You can experience a Nordic sauna at the luxurious Hotel Union Geiranger in Norway. Perched on the edge of the spectacular Geiranger Fjord, you can enjoy a sauna and other soothing spa treatments, surrounded by breathtaking scenery.
Experience it: Timeless Scandinavia
Originating over 5,000 years ago in ancient India, Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems. The practice is rooted in the belief that wellness is the balanced interaction between the body, mind, and spirit. Ayurveda offers an extensive range of treatments, including diet modifications, herbal medicine, and various types of massage. The philosophy addresses the prevention and treatment of illness, as well as the preservation of life.
Where to experience Ayurveda
Today, Ayurvedic wellness practices are global, from specialist wellness centers in India to clinics in the United States. One of the most popular destinations is the Indian state of Kerala, the birthplace of Ayurveda. Many luxury hotels also offer Ayurvedic treatments. A favorite destination is Andana, set in the Himalayan foothills of North India. Set on a former palace estate with over 100 acres of gardens and forests, Ananda is a world-renowned wellness retreat. You’ll find a range of ancient traditions, from Ayurveda to yoga and meditation, all practised in the serene natural surroundings.