Looking for a healthy and wellness retreat? Here are our healthy holidays for foodies, spa resorts and yoga holidays with a foodie focus for healthy foodie vacations. From spa resorts with special wellness menus and healthy breakfasts, to wellness retreats with healthy cookery courses, and health retreats with fresh and vibrant dishes that list the protein, carb, fat and calorie content. These retreats will ensure you relax and unwind while enjoying the best healthy food.
Chiva Som health retreat, Thailand
At this spa resort on the Gulf of Thailand – set in seven tropical, Thai pavilion-pricked acres – you can savour spicy shredded lemongrass salad with mixed seafood, zingy pomelo and grilled prawns, creamy coconut soups and skewers of moreish chicken satay, guilt-free. This is not the kind of place where you nibble on a lettuce leaf and overdose on tofu. Portions of light, aromatic Thai dishes served in the open-air beachfront restaurant, might be small, but they are packed full of flavour.
Most of the vegetables, herbs and salads are harvested from the resort’s own organic kitchen garden where sweet basil, holy basil, tree basil, Thai watercress, lemongrass, mustard leaves, okra, Indian spinach (good for digestion), aubergine and tomatoes are grown. You can sign up for a tour of the garden with the chef, wandering among the raised beds, peering into the six grass huts where they grow mushrooms or the tubs of vibrant green wheatgrass.
In the restaurant, each dish has a helpful calorie tally beside it as well as a breakdown of the protein, carb and fat content. How many bowls of Yam Mamuang Boran, a spicy green mango salad with prawns, you eat (120 kcals each) – or grilled sea bass for that matter – is up to you.
There are also regular healthy cookery classes (you cook and eat) with the head chef. At these lunchtime classes, taken in a sleek kitchen with its own mini kitchen garden, you learn how to whip up a tasty raw daikon and spinach or raw asparagus and mushroom salad and tasty Thai broth before sitting down to tuck in.
Gwinganna wellness retreat, Australia
A heavenly, 500-acre mountainside wellness retreat on Queensland’s Gold Coast, at Gwinganna you can check in and zone out. It offers two- to seven-day all-inclusive retreats featuring a mix of indulgent spa treatments, wellness seminars and delicious organic food in a ‘low-tech environment’ (that’s no TV, no radio, no phones – a digital detox). The three-night Organic Living retreat teaches guests how to use and grow their own medicinal herbs and shares some of the retreat’s mouthwatering recipes.
Much of the food at Gwinganna is picked each day from the on-site organic garden and orchard and the menus are dairy- and gluten-free, as are the recipes in the retreat’s award-winning cookery book, A Taste of Gwinganna. For breakfast think pumpkin granola or poached egg with sweet potato rosti, for lunch and dinner seafood paella might be on the menu or prawn bobo (an Afro-Brazilian stew) with kale rice, earthy mushroom pate or a refreshing cucumber soup. For dessert? Raw cheesecake.
RAAS Devigarh spa retreat, India
Ravishing RAAS Devigarh is a dreamy, cream Indian palace outside Udaipur on the edge of Rajasthan’s Aravalli Hills. The antithesis of a stuffy heritage hideaway, this ornate 18th-century palace houses a modern boutique hotel, all minimalism and eclectic charm. There’s also a blissful Ila Spa which offers three, five or nine-day retreats.
Food is, naturally, another highlight. For guests who want a lighter take on Indian cuisine, the palace offers a curated wellness menu. For breakfast, start the day with sweet lime or watermelon juice or one of an encyclopaedic range of juice combinations, from carrot, ginger and apple to pineapple, papaya and milk. There’s gluten-free granola with toasted nuts, porridge with turmeric milk – and turmeric lattes on tap. The all-day dining wellness menu offers delectable dishes such as pear and fennel soup or moong lentil and holy basil soup, basil paneer tikka, a cottage cheese kebab with olives, basil and cinnamon and salads such as soy lentil, low fat yoghurt, roasted cumin, fresh coriander and shallot or home-grown organic aragula, fennel and orange from their kitchen garden.
Hidden Pond resort, Maine
Open May to October only, this New England gem (here’s another that we visited) is a bucolic resort in Maine surrounded by 60 acres of woodland with a cluster of clapboard cottages and a host of restorative activities to choose from: morning yoga and tai chi at The Farm, a treehouse spa, guided nature walks and and bikes to borrow to pedal down to the beach for a spot of paddle-boarding or kayaking.
The resort’s restaurant is called Earth and guests eat in two rustic-chic dining sheds in the forest choosing from a menu of inventive farm-to-fork dishes. Think stir-fried rice noodles with Maine lobster, Calabrian chillies and green onions or broccoli greens and kale with pecans, fried shallots, pickled local beets, goat’s cheese and miso vinaigrette. There’s also an organic kitchen garden where you can help yourself to vegetables and herbs if you want to rustle something up in your cottage’s kitchen, plus a weekly farmer’s market on-site.
Wheels Across Morocco yoga holiday, Essaouira
If you’re looking for an alternative to a hotel-based holiday, check out Wheels Across Morocco. The company’s six-night yoga holidays are based in a luxurious villa outside Essaouira and include twice-daily yoga lessons, meditation and breathing sessions. The tranquil villa is surrounded by olive groves and pine forests a short-drive from Essaouira’s bustling medina (easy to reach if you fancy a mooch around the city’s vibrant souk).
What sets this trip apart, however, is the focus on food. These trips cater to a wide range of guests, literally, so don’t expect bread or dairy but do expect an emphasis on seasonal local fruit and vegetables. The break also includes two Moroccan cooking classes in a nearby village, showcasing key spices in Moroccan cuisine and teaching guests how to prepare classic dishes with a healthy twist such as lentil dal and couscous salad and prawn and parsley soup.
Words by Lucy Gilmore
Photographs by Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, Chiva Som