Time Out talks to expert Paul Joseph to get some tips for taking fitness holidays and retreats, including wellness holidays in Asia and Europe
Wellness travel is big business. After years of being viewed as a gimmick, the market for healthy holidays is growing quicker than you can say “I’d like a spa retreat for two in the Maldives, please”.
With so many companies now jumping on the wellness wagon, it can be a tough task sorting the wheat from the chaff and the experts from the chancers.
Paul Joseph, co-founder of Health and Fitness Travel is certainly a man who knows a thing or two about the market. Having been immersed in the spa business from a young age and becoming uninspired by his day job, he decided to combine his passion for wellness and travel while at the same time plugging a very obvious gap in the market. He now devotes his time to scouring the planet for the perfect destinations to suit a legion of clients seeking to improve or maintain their health while on holiday.
“I grew up a dreamer, and the dream of creating a hub providing a personalised service that recognised what the true meaning of a wellness holiday is became my motivation, and a reality,” he tells Time Out.
“At the time, it was easy to book a spa holiday, but not a wellness one. There were no travel companies with bespoke wellness holidays for both men and women, so it was important for me to create something that I knew would grow as more people began choosing to live a healthy lifestyle.”
Despite being instantly rebuffed when he first pitched his idea to resorts seven years ago, Joseph, who took up yoga after a serious car accident aged 20, remained undeterred, certain that he could make a success of his brainchild. The last laugh, it seems, is all his.
“Today, with wellness tourism projected to grow nearly 50 percent faster than overall global tourism, it’s clear that this kind of travel is not a trend anymore. It’s here to stay,” he tells us. “Certain hotels that refused to work with us when we started are now coming back to us and creating wellness retreats, so it’s interesting how things have developed so fast.”
Now, Health and Fitness Travel offers a variety of packages worldwide. At The Banjaran resort in Malaysia, guests can enjoy a detox, rejuvenation, weight loss and longevity experience, meanwhile at Paradis Plage in Morocco, one of best-selling packages is the spa and yoga retreat, with classes taking place on the beachfront yoga pavilion.
The clamour for such getaways is growing louder in the UAE, so much so that Joseph will soon be opening an office in Dubai to handle the swathes of clients he and his team are catering for here. And with the well-documented weight problems facing many within the Emirates, Joseph is determined to help people change the way they look at their health.
“I understand the UAE government is looking at ways to reduce the obesity percentage, which continues to increase,” he says. “With a personalised diet designed to balance metabolism and reduce blood sugar, along with an introductory fitness programme, our holidays inspire clients to kick-start a healthy lifestyle.”
For some, personal health issues remain a thorny topic causing them to shy away from the expert help they might need. However, the company can tailor packages for all shapes, sizes and wellness backgrounds – you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic or experienced yogi to get something out of the breaks.
“All classes and programmes are adapted to all levels, so think about what you want and need from your perfect wellness getaway,” Joseph says. “These holidays are about self-discovery, but your destination is a big part of the journey, so once you’re committed, start a little research and plan your trip with one of our travel specialists.”
Health and Fitness Travel’s work doesn’t end at check-out, though. To ensure clients truly get the most out of their packages, a series of follow-up sessions will help them maintain the good habits they have picked up while away.
And although Joseph and the team offer packages in Dubai and Zighy Bay, Oman, the carrot of a wellness trip to such places as Bali, Mauritius, Antigua and Hawaii would surely appeal to any globetrotter who fancies holidaying healthily (for a change).
Three to try - Health and Fitness Travel Favorites
Kamalaya This sanctuary and holistic spa nestled in a valley overlooking the Koh Samui coast focuses on creating a stimulating environment for personal growth and long-term healthy transformation. From Dhs11,820 per person for seven nights (two sharing).
Como Shambhala Set in nine acres of tropical grounds, the estate has a holistic approach to wellness. Outstanding private villas, each with their own infinity pools, set the tone for the experience. From Dhs15,540 per person for seven nights (two sharing).
The Body Holiday A combination of one of the world’s most beautiful islands and a resort that provides a luxurious and personal service. From Dhs11,390 per personfor seven nights.