9 Off-the-Grid Getaways

In need of a wellness-themed escape? We’ve handpicked these rustic getaways around the world that focus on the body and mind.

1 Redonda Bay, Tola, Nicaragua
Seclusion and tranquility are the new forms of luxury in a world that is so accessible and plugged in. Aqua Wellness Resort successfully marries contemporary luxury accommodations with serene surroundings, providing a memorable and rejuvenating experience for travelers. Accessible by a two-and-a-half-hour drive or 40-minute helicopter ride from Nicaragua’s international airport in Managua, Aqua offers peace and privacy so that you can enjoy the beautifully wild landscape of Nicaragua’s Pacific “Emerald Coast.” 24 Tree Houses accommodating 50 luxurious villas and suites dot Aqua’s forested hillside, which overlooks a private, white sandy beach. Some of the Tree House accommodations feature kitchens, and incredible plunge pools that make it difficult to even consider leaving the deck. Wellness services such as spa treatments, yoga, and meditation, coupled with fresh and tasty international and Nicaraguan fare served in an open-air beachside restaurant, create an enjoyable “barefoot luxury” experience for guests. Eco-friendly practices are well ingrained in the Aqua experience, and for those who appreciate and support sustainable, environmentally friendly travel, this is where you want to book. Aqua surpasses the standards and services of other luxury resorts while operating in an environmentally responsible manner. The staff is accommodating and friendly. Upon check-in, a cell phone is provided for you to use during your stay, so you’re always just a phone call away—whether you want to reach the front desk, the spa, or friends who are staying at Aqua too. While Aqua’s peaceful seclusion is perfect for an off-the-grid escape, the resort offers adventure as well: You can hike a 300-foot cliff and rappel down, or learn to surf on neighboring Playa Gigante, both within walking distance of Aqua. Should you want to venture out for a day, the front desk can arrange for a boat excursion to one of Nicaragua’s best surf breaks for surfing, or to its deep-sea waters for fishing. They’ll send you off with a guide in a private car to explore Nicaragua’s famous lakes and volcanoes, or its colorful colonial city of Granada, just an hour and a half away. When you return to the resort just in time to enjoy a spectacular ocean sunset, you’ll discover why Aqua is the perfect jumping off point for a vacation in Nicaragua -- and the best place to return.
09420 Clermont, France
At a French Pyrenees mountain retreat in the village of Clermont La Grausse, yoga is practiced in a renovated barn and the top-floor studio of a château that overlooks a lake. Hour-long hatha-based classes are taught twice a day in English and are geared to all levels. Guests stay in converted stone barns and have access to three kitchens. Bikes are available for guests to ride to nearby markets where they can buy groceries. This story appeared in the January/February 2012 issue.
933 Fernleigh Rd, Brooklet NSW 2479, Australia
Singer Olivia Newton-John and three partners founded a 25-acre retreat in the hinterlands outside Byron Bay in 2005. You can participate in daily yoga sessions designed for all levels as well as tai chi, qi gong, and Pilates. Organic cooking classes and guided bush walks through the nearby Nightcap Range are a nice study break. For an additional cost, you can customize your stay with one-on-one lessons in yoga, guided meditation, and pranayama. This story appeared in the January-February, 2012 issue.
Ruta Provincial 82, Km 38, M5507 Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina
If you’re looking for a day of grape-free respite in Mendoza, head off-the-grid to the hot springs of Cacheuta. The Terma Spa welcomes guests with an assemblage of thermal baths overlooking the scenic Mendoza River flowing downstream from the Andes. The indoor/outdoor thermal spa circuit winds through waters ranging in temperature from 73 to 105 degrees. Bubble beds, a water volcano and foot baths are strategically placed throughout the circuit to knead tense muscles. The Natural Solarium has a basin of therapeutic mud for slathering all over your body and baking on the pool deck. Scrub yourself clean in the bithermal hydrojet shower and kick back on the flowering Andaluz patio. Next, head underground to the vaporarium and detoxify in its natural steam. Relax in the verdant garden until you’re ready for an afternoon spa treatment or another convalescing soak in Cacheuta’s healing mineral waters.
Jl. Surapati, Tua, Marga, Kabupaten Tabanan, Bali 80116, Indonesia
With Indonesian names that translate to earthy concepts like “wind song” or “forest in the mist,” the terracotta and thatched-roof residences at the 22-acre Como Shambhala Estate encourage quiet reflection. They jut from the hillsides and line the Ayung riverbed, offering refuge from the frenetic scene nearby in Ubud. Most people come here as part of a yoga or health retreat, and everything—from the dining experiences to the custom health programs—is designed to guide guests toward reaching their wellness goals with help from a cadre of resident experts, including a dietician, Ayurvedic doctor, reflexologist, and an Oriental medicine specialist, as well as fitness, yoga, Pilates, and qigong instructors. But it’s not all work. After a day of rugged outdoor adventure—the resort can arrange for hiking, biking, and paddleboarding down the Ayung—retire to your private spring-water infinity pool and meditate on the events yet to come.
Bazaruto, Mozambique
Two plane flights, plus a drive and you arrive to this tiny island off the coast of Mozambique in the Bazaruto Archipelago. The former Indigo Bay Hotel was the nicest accommodation on the island when it opened in 2001. In May 2014, the property was touched up and relaunched by Anantara, giving travelers a comfortable base to experience Bazaruto’s natural beauty and local culture. The hotel has its own in-house naturalist and a whip-smart, PADI-certified dive instructor who can take guests snorkeling and diving. The Bazaruto Archipelago has been a national park since 1971 and is home to more than 100 species of coral, four types of whales, sea turtles, mantarays, dolphins, and it boasts the largest population of the rare dugong on the African east coast. In addition to water activities, Anantara can arrange cooking classes, horse riding, dune boarding, and bird watching (Bazaruto is home to 180 species of birds).

But this resort isn’t only for active types. It equally caters to sybarites who are seeking R&R in a remote place. The 44 villas are all spacious and many come with large outdoor patios with dining areas and plunge pools. A highlight is the spa, perched high above the property. Make sure to arrive early and save time after to truly enjoy the views. The resort works closely with the local community, many of whom are employed by the hotel. Guests can visit one of the local villages and observe some of the community projects Anantara helps fund. But the best way to get to know the locals is simply by interacting with the friendly staff.

Guests at Anantara Bazaruto Resort can opt to explore this very different side of the island by sandboard (think snowboarding down sand dunes), safari Jeep, or on horseback. I went on a horseback ride up at sunset. The uphill was lovely, but going down a towering sand dune atop a horse is about as scary as dropping down a double black diamond run on skis. But my horse mastered the vertical drop expertly. More terrifying than the drop was the ride around the freshwater lake, which my guide said is inhabited by 12-foot long Nile crocodiles. Luckily the few we saw were snoozing far away.
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AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
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