Wellness travel’s wildest treatments — from laughing yoga to lunar healing

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By Dan Sears

Finding your zen? Turns out it’s trendy for 2024.

According to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness tourism is projected to grow by 16.6% annually, reaching $1.4 trillion in 2027. It is one of the fastest-growing tourism trends, and despite a 2020 dip due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, wellness travel is back and better than ever for 2024.

“Wellness tourism has gradually recovered from 2020-2022, along with the relaxing of pandemic-related travel restrictions and the recovery of the overall tourism market. Wellness tourism reached $651 billion in 2022,” reads the site. “GWI projects that spa revenues will [also] recover beyond their pre-pandemic levels in 2023 and will reach $156 billion in 2027.”

While many think wellness is just a trip to the spa or a soak in a nice in-room tub at the hotel, it can mean a whole lot more — if you know where to look.

“Wellness tourism continues to be a prominent trend among travelers heading into 2024. In recent years, people have largely shifted their mindset around wellness to take a broader and simultaneously more holistic approach, including an emphasis on spiritual and financial wellness,” Christine Kettmer, senior director of global enterprise insight and strategy at Marriott International, told The Post. “From Dry January to No-Spend January, people often reevaluate their priorities in the new year, and wellness is certainly at the forefront.”

For more typical wellness retreats and resorts, Kettmer recommends hotels that cater to your specific goals, be that embracing fitness with personalized coaching at the new The Whole You Well-Being Retreats at the JW Marriott Edmonton ICE District in Canada, or going the relaxation route with wellness pools at their Hawaii property.

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However, if you want to get wacky with your wellness in 2024 and go for an out-of-the-box experience, we’ve rounded up the most unique travel destinations and treatments around the world, from right here in the USA to Mexico, Oman and India.

The 7 wackiest wellness trends to try in 2024

1.  Tandava Retreat Center in Tepozlan, Mexico

Sweaty ayahuasca tents are so 2023 — head to Mexico and try 5-MeO-DMT for 2024, if you can pronounce it.

The substance found in toads, also called O-methyl-bufotenin, is used medicinally at the Tandava Retreat Center in Tepozlan, Mexico. Choose between two different retreats: one for groups of up to 12 people, starting at $2,995, and a more intimate retreat with a max of six people, starting at $4,495.

“We are definitely seeing this as a wellness trend where people are traveling to destinations for plant medicine healing of all kinds, and Tandava is at the forefront of this,” a spokesperson for the resort told The Post.

2. Laughter yoga in Bali, Indonesia

OK, don’t laugh at us. Or actually, do — as it may be good for you.

Visiting Bali may leave more than a smile on your face with laughing yoga — it may also enhance your mood, help you let go of stress and even improve sleep, circulation and more.

According to the National Institute of Health, the benefits may add up.

“It has been reported that laughter yoga physiologically increases breathing in the body; relaxes muscles; strengthens mental function by reducing the level of stress hormones; reduces burnout, depression, and anxiety levels; positively affects quality of life; improves sleep quality; and provides psychological well-being by increasing interpersonal relationships and social interaction,” the NIH reported. “In addition, it has been emphasized that laughter yoga stimulates the immune system, increases endorphin levels, reduces the production of stress hormones, such as cortisol and epinephrine, accelerates the circulatory system, and has vasodilation effects in the veins.”

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While you could just laugh it off on your own, visit the Amankila Aman resort in Bali for some expert help, allowing their yoga guru Bapak Eka to guide you in an hour-long laughter yoga session on the beach, with the sounds of waves mingling with your giggles. In the session, you can expect a warm-up with stretching, breathing exercises and acting and visualization techniques to get your body ready.

“The session concludes with laughing meditation, a period of unstructured laughter where participants sit or lie down and allow natural laughter to flow from within, which in most cases leads to real and contagious laughter,” reads a review.

3. Lunar healing with Larimar gemstone, Dominican Republic

Aman

The Aman resorts really shoot for the moon when it comes to unique wellness experiences. The Amanera Aman resort in the Dominican Republic offers “lunar journey therapies” featuring a blue gemstone called Larimar. The stone is said to have connections to the moon and is used in conjunction with a palo santo smudging ceremony.

4. The Ranch Malibu (and Hudson Valley in 2024)

The Ranch

If you’re a more traditional wellness fan — or just a fan of Rebel Wilson, Mandy Moore, Connie Britton, Lea Michele and Julianne Hough — you may have heard of The Ranch Malibu. However, if you want something new for 2024, keep an eye out for the new location, set to open in the Hudson Valley in the spring.

If you can’t wait, then book your stay at the Malibu location and spend a seven- or nine-day journey, where each day will be made up of stretching, hiking, strength classes, yoga, massage, light and clean eating and even separate time set aside for naps.

The experience starts at $7,600 per person but can cost as much as $35,850 for the four-week program in a single room.

5. Six Senses sleep-specific wellness regimens in India and Oman

Six Senses

Most people go on vacation to catch up on some much-needed R&R, but have you ever wanted to actually study your sleep while on vaycay?

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Six Senses offers wellness experiences based on sleep, which includes sleep therapies, yoga, massage, an expert to track your sleep patterns and even an herbal nighttime drink to aid in sleep.

The program in India is offered from $850 per night, while the location in Oman costs about $1,169 when converted to USD.

6. Hilton London Bankside’s fully vegan room

Hilton

Eating vegan isn’t anything new, but the existence of a vegan hotel room may surprise you.

The Hilton London Bankside has booking available for the first ever “vegan room,” which includes more typical vegan amenities like faux leather furniture and plant-based toiletries. However, they also conduct a special check-in at their plant-based check-in desk, complete with a plastic-free keycard and different vegan pillow options (there is a pillow menu!) — and even the housekeeping staff’s cleaning products are swapped out for eco-friendly alternatives.

7. Desert bathing 

Four Seasons

Perhaps you’ve heard of forest bathing, but how about something a little … drier?

The Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale in Arizona uses its arid climate for good, offering a unique wellness experience in the great outdoors. If you can handle the heat, head out into the desert and do yoga, practice mindfulness and set intentions in the Sonoran Desert.

“The key to Desert Bathing is to engage the five senses, letting nature enter the ears, eyes, nose, mouth, hands and feet,” reads the Four Seasons press page. “Take the time to listen to the birds chirping, see the different varieties of cacti and native plants, and smell the rich scent of creosote bushes and desert sage. Taste the freshness of the air and feel the desert sand beneath underfoot.”

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