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Europe, Flash photography, Italy

The five best destinations for a wellness holiday in the new year

New year, new you, right? Whether or not you’re into New Year’s resolutions, one thing is for certain, we all deserve a little pampering from time to time. Wellness holidays are one of the easiest ways to do that.

We’re covering the five best destinations for that perfect wellness holiday. Think luxury, beachside retreats in Thailand; quiet lake-stays in Italy; mineral spa soaks in Iceland; traditional Hammams in Turkey; and relaxing retreats with fresh mountain air in Austria. Are you with us? Read on for our top picks for wellness holidays and the deals to get you there! 

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Check out these great deals for a wellness holiday

Wellness holidays in Turkey

Those looking for the most economical wellbeing holiday in Europe should head to Turkey. With beautiful beaches and luxury spas mixed with traditional health spas such as hammams at affordable prices, not to mention the fact that the Pound is currently so strong against the Lira, Turkey is an easy choice!

Head to the south-western and southern coasts, in cities such as Bodrum, Mugla, Fethiye, Antalya, as well as Istanbul. If you find yourself in Istanbul, we can recommend a visit to Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı, which has one of the largest domes of all the hammams in Istanbul. Entrance to the hamman costs 960TL (~£42) and includes a full-body and face scrub. If you really want to treat yourself, try a 50-minute full-body massage, which costs 1,000TL (~£44).

Wellness doesn't have to be just about spas, sometimes it’s about getting fit and feeling right. You might think that exercise and holiday are two words that shouldn’t go together, but they totally can!

Practising mindfulness, for example, can really help to melt anxiety and stress and help you to get into the holiday mood. One of our favourite offerings from wellness hotels is candlelight Yoga at TUI SENSATORI Resort Turkey. These sessions are held in the evening, so no need to wake up at the crack of dawn for sun salutations. End your day in gratitude as you stretch to the light of flickering candles. Even better, a guitarist provides an unplugged soundtrack, which sounds like the perfect way to start a chilled-out evening to us!

Where to stay for a wellness holiday in Turkey

This 5-star beachside club is a big hit with sporty types – golf, catamaran sailing, yoga and tennis are just a few of the activities on the line-up. Try a Sun Salutation class, held outdoors and always take place at sunrise, so you can start the day on the right foot. Literally.

Those looking for a bit of both an active and relaxing holiday will enjoy this 5-star hotel. A stay includes everything from the BLUEf!t® offering. Partake in morning meditation, then get your body moving at a TUI FlowTheBeat session – a fusion of Yoga and dance; after, play a round of tennis before finishing the day with a Stretch & Relax class. There's also a sauna and Turkish bath in the spa. Guests can book a massage, skin care treatments, or a mani-pedi for an extra fee.

Wellness holidays in Iceland

While Iceland is usually touted as an adventure destination, we could easily argue that it’s just as much a wellness destination, as well. In fact, the well-known Blue Lagoon is one of the country’s most visited sights. The geothermal spa hovers around a toasty 37°C, and the milky waters are packed full of minerals like silica and sulphur, which are great for your skin - some even claim it can help alleviate skin irritations. There’s also a swim-up bar, so you can enjoy a drink or two while you relax. Like most things in Iceland, the entrance fee is high, costing around £50 per person.

If the Blue Lagoon is too pricey, however, there are a few different options that are also slightly less touristy, but that offer a similar experience. Mývatn Nature Baths, which is only £36 to enter, is pirate-tested, so we can vouch that it is a very nice spot to have a dip. Another option is Vesturbæjarlaug, located directly in Reykjavik, just a few minute’s walking from the city centre. Vesturbæjarlaug is a small, local pool that is heated volcanically. Entrance to the pool costs £7 (or free if you have the Reykjavik City Card) and includes entry to the steam rooms, sauna and hot tubs.

🏴‍☠️ Pirate Tip: If you are staying in Reykjavik, then we suggest getting the Reykjavik City Card for the day. The pass includes unlimited bus rides and free entrance to a variety of museums, plus a free ferry ride to Viðey Island.

Check out these hotels for a wellness retreat in Iceland

The Grand Hotel Reykjavik has a nice spa, plus you'll get 20% off of the entry price of the spa as a guest at the Grand Hotel Reykjavik. It comes with saunas and hot tubs, and for a bit extra you can also treat yourself to a range of massages and treatments, including Icelandic hot stone massages, coconut body scrubs, and lavender manis and pedis. Oh la la!

The hotel itself doesn’t have its own spa, however it’s centrally located in Reykjavik and each room has its own light theme paying homage to the ever changing lights in Iceland throughout the seasons.

🏴‍☠️ Pirate Tip: Every TUI package holiday to Iceland includes two excursions - a Northern Lights tour and a Golden Circle tour. The latter takes you to a dramatic glacial waterfall and an active geyser.

🏴‍☠️ Pirate Tip: If you'd rather book a holiday in Iceland that gives you the flexibility to plan your own itinerary and go at your own pace, take a look at the First Choice packages. These include just your flights, airport transfers and accommodation.

Wellness holidays in Thailand

A little further away than some other destinations on this list, Thailand is one of our personal faves for a wellness holiday. Here, your money will go a lot further, allowing you to get a truly relaxing holiday for a fraction of the price. Massages on the beach, facials in a spa, fish pedicures, spiritual retreats–the options here are almost endless when it comes to wellness getaways.

Plus, the land of smiles is big on sun, just make sure to plan your holiday outside monsoon season which falls from June to October. Khao Lak, Koh Samui, or Phuket, are great places to be for a wellness break. Expect to pay around £1,200 for a week package that includes flights and hotel during the shoulder season. In more touristy places, an hour massage costs around 300 baht (~£7.50), so we definitely suggest having more than one while you're there!

🏴‍☠️ Pirate Tip: Feeling a bit more adventurous? We recommend booking a wellness retreat in Pai, located in Northern Thailand. The laid-back lifestyle of this village is perfect for those looking to connect with nature or themselves. Just be mindful that the road to Pai has 762 curves.

Check out these hotels for a wellness retreat in Thailand

Besides being an adult-only hotel and boasting 5 swimming pools, the 4-star Khao Lak Resort is located directly on the beach and offers relaxed activities like yoga and guided walks. You can book romantic side-by-side massages for two in one of the beachfront treatment huts.

For those who are looking for a family-friendly wellness getaway, this might just be the place. The hotel features wellbeing sessions for parents and children under 3, as well as family wellbeing sessions for all ages. They focus on mindfulness, using yoga poses, play and relaxation techniques. Other treats include Thai massages, coffee body scrubs and floral baths at the hotel’s onsite spa. There’s also a steam room, a sauna, and a well-stocked gym.

Wellness holidays in Italy

While digital detoxes are big on the wellness scene, for those that find the idea of ditching your phone both relieving and terrifying, then maybe a bit of R&R is more suitable. Why not book a spa stay in Italy's lake country?

Surrounding yourself in nature can be quite therapeutic, and there's just something about the tranquil setting of a lakeside stay that has the ability to set oneself at ease. While there's plenty to do outdoors here, we suggest splurging by booking a spa holiday. While you can find cheaper accommodation around Lake Como, Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore, we recommend spending a bit more and doing it in style. For a luxe 4 to 5-star experience, expect to pay around £700 to £800 per person for a week holiday package.

If you're looking for something a little less expensive, another great spot for a more traditional wellness holiday is on the beautiful Sorrento coast. Here, you can find affordable 3 & 4-star hotel packages with flights from around £400 to £500 per person in the shoulder seasons (spring and autumn). Summer is peak season, but gets hot and crowded with tourists, so it's not completely conducive to those looking for a wellness holiday. The focus here is more on getting yourself a healthy dose of vitamin D and settling into the slower pace of life, rather than luxury spas and massages. Though, that's not to say you can't also indulge yourself in a spa treatment for an added bit of luxury, too!

Where to stay for a wellness holiday in Italy

With a breathtaking view over the Mediterranean Sea, Mount Vesuvius and the inlets of the Sorrento Coast, this hotel really stands out to us. TUI rates it 5-stars, and as one of their platinum hotels, it's easy to see why. The spa boasts an extensive range of gym equipment, massages and beauty treatments, including mud baths! Plus, there is a sauna, Turkish bath and whirlpool.

Located on Lake Garda, just a 30-minute stroll to Bardolino, this 4-star hotel is all about the on-site luxurious spa. With free access to a sauna and Turkish bath, you'll be able to get yourself some much-needed pampering. Plus, there's a tempting menu of massages and treatments if you want to splurge. The hotel has seven pools, two of which are just for kids.

Wellness holidays in Austria

Mountain-loving pirates will get their dose of wellness in Austria, where you’ll find spa hotels with facilities beyond anything we’ve seen elsewhere in the world.

Imagine luxe hotels with infinity pools, which make you believe you’re swimming directly into the Alps. There are spa facilities with sauna varieties you might not even know exist! Ever been to a hay sauna, a sauna full of crystals or salt?

Make sure to read up about the sauna rules before you go. There’s usually a guide provided by the hotel. It’s seen as breaking the etiquette going into a sauna with a swimming costume, for example. It’s more a clothes-off, towel-on approach in the Austrian spa culture. Also, there’s a job called “sauna master” - yep, expect a trained professional coming into your sauna, making sure the temperatures are right, for some efficient sweating!

But that’s not all the wellness you can get in Austria! There are hotels specifically designed for the well-being and re-creating of body and soul. You can book yoga retreats, therapy sessions that involve Kneipp rituals (healing through water), detox mud packages (yes, that’s a thing!). You can go on a hiking retreat in combination with spa or even a fasting therapy holiday, it’s all down to what you need for the ultimate wellness factor.

Where to stay for a wellness holiday in Austria

This 4-star hotel in the cute market town of St Johann in Tyrol boasts a 800m² wellness centre with saunas, an infrared cabin, a steam room and gym. The massive indoor pool has panoramic views over the hills. You can book loads of activities and classes, from yoga to horse riding or zumba.

This deluxe hotel sits not far from Lake Zell and features a good choice of adults-only wellness facilities for the extra bit of relaxation. There’s a heated outdoor pool and an indoor pool, plus saunas, two whirlpools and a Kneipp bath.

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