The shores along the UAE’s eastern region have long been a magnet for the residents seeking a quick getaway, particularly during the public holidays. Whilst the term ‘staycation,’ has become far too familiar amongst the residents, there has been a growing trend of ‘wellcation,’ which caters to those yearning for a relaxing experience.
A number of hotels and resorts in Fujairah, Khor Fakkan and Kalba are offering packages that revolve around health and well-being. Though there are a handful of wellness resorts operating in the country, many hospitality groups are incorporating such experiences into their strategy to offer new and unique experiences for their visitors.
I would class myself as among those staycation fans, who would claim to have exhausted their options of the regular weekend retreats. However, my attempt of trying the ‘wellcation’ at Intercontinental Fujairah Resort turned out to be quite a pleasant experience, and one which I would encourage the readers to try.
What makes a ‘wellcation’ different?
Unlike a regular weekend getaway, where one would sleep in and indulge in a scrumptious breakfast followed by laying around the pool the whole day, a wellness experience offers a set schedule. This means healthy meals, spa therapy and early morning yoga sessions along with something that I tried for the first time, which was a ‘Cacao ceremony’ on the beach with a bonfire.
What is on offer?
Packages will vary with each resort offering their own signature services. A recently concluded camp at Kingfisher Resort in Kalba featured a two-day ‘Journey of the heart retreat’ which offered a transformational experience through yoga sessions, sound healing and sharing circles.
The ‘Relax and Rejuvenate Wellness Experience’ at the Intercontinental Fujairah Resort starts from Dh1,099 onwards, which includes a two-night stay, sunrise yoga and meditation sessions along with a 60-minute spa treatment. They say that this experience is expected to soothe the stress away and help people to unwind and recover.
Once you’ve checked in, you get a chance to meet the chef to discuss your dietary expectations, which allows the team to prepare specially curated healthy meal plans for the stay. This way you can avoid feeling guilty of overindulging during the ever so popular breakfast buffets.
I have to admit that my flexibility levels are subpar, and I have often shied away from yoga sessions at a gym or the occasional sessions the HR teams would organise. Waking up early and attempting the poses, whilst listening to the waves crashing on the seashore coupled with the sounds of birds chirping away was quite an enjoyable experience. It was an hour-long group session with fellow ‘wellcation-ers’ which helped in ensuring an uplifting start to the day. Though, I was not successfully convinced to jump on the yoga bandwagon, such a practice does come with benefits as mentioned by Mukti Sangar, the Yoga instructor at Intercontinental Fujairah Resort, who said it helps in relaxing the mind and the soul.
“According to studies, simply looking at beautiful scenery releases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in the brain. These reduce cortisol levels, lower blood pressure and pulse rate, improve parasympathetic nerve activity, lower sympathetic nerve activity, decrease tension, anger, and depression. When nature is involved, yoga becomes both a physical and sensory experience,” said Mukti Sangar.
This is a ritual of the past dating back to Aztec and Mayan times which would lead to a spiritual awakening or offer a creative guidance. As part of the itinerary that we receive, the guests are offered a chance to attend this ceremony at a set time after dinner, on the beach with a bonfire. The attendees meditate by the sea whilst sipping the cacao beverage, which is a pure form of chocolate. This lasted for just about 30 minutes and included a lot of breathwork. Cacao is believed to offer stimulating effects that focus more on blood flow and the heart.
This was also led by the wellness allrounder, Mukti Sangar, who said, “Sharing cacao brings us into the same energetic frequency. This often results in deeper, more intimate connections with those around us. When multiple people share cacao together, there is a shared experience of mood elevation, increased vitality, enhanced intuition and empathy and a more open, present heart.”
The resort plans to offer this wellness package twice a month, both on weekends and weekdays, which could be an ideal gift or an opportunity to celebrate an occasion with an uplifting experience. I personally felt refreshed after two days, being away from the steering wheel and bustling urban life that most of us tend to have in the city. Healthy eating options and early morning yoga sessions helped in ensuring a good start to the day, however, I would personally prefer if resorts also included group fitness classes, which would involve a quick cardio workout. Overall, it should be a pleasant new addition to the services to encourage tourists to go back to their favourite resorts, this time to work on themselves as opposed to a usual getaway.
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