You Need A Vacation Before The Holidays – Here’s Where to Go

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You Need A Vacation Before The Holidays – Here’s Where to Go

Words by Ms Suze Olbrich

6 November 2022

Ho, ho, holy hell. Only six more weeks until Santa Claus descends. A month and a half until we briefly shake December’s compound hangover to find ourselves slumped upon chaise, white-knuckled fist gripping the sherry as we serve Auntie May some serious Grinch-eye. Whatever happened to goodwill to all?

You got it: the holiday season. Like good little elves, we’ve toiled year-round, burnout and seasonal bugs be damned. Fulfilled professional duties by getting merrily tanked with colleagues. Social duties by, well, same diversion – vibier crowds. No wonder each year we drag our newly plumped derrieres to the family do while visions of retreats dance in our heads.

Well, that pitiful cycle ends now. We’ve realised a sneaky autumn reset is our best shot at shoring up festive spirit, before the only decompression route left is liquor. So, we gift you (and every soul blessed with your company this turkey day) our joy-making list of idyllic and restorative getaways.


Tuscany, Italy

The exterior of Fonteverde Lifestyle & Thermal Retreat, Tuscany, Italy. Photograph by Mr Antonio Saba, courtesy of Fonteverde Lifestyle & Thermal Retreat

Fonteverde Lifestyle and Thermal Retreat

Atop a mineral spring in beautiful Val d’Orcia sits the Medici-established, Fonteverde palazzo, borne of a Renaissance portico. Since Roman times, Tuscans and travellers alike have taken to these mineral-dense waters to ease ailments and aches. Except now, visitors can bathe while taking in Sienese panoramas from Fonteverde’s infinity pools.

After towelling off, visit the nearby Etruscan tombs or make a wine pilgrimage to Montepulciano. On return, take advantage of the spa’s extensive range of medical, bodywork and beauty treatments, before a dip in its Light Bath. This being a glitterati-magnet of a Tuscan hotspot, rest assured Fonteverde’s restaurants are star-worthy.

What to pack


Bali, Indonesia

The swimming pool at The Retreat at Nirijhara, Bali, Indonesia. Photograph courtesy of Nirijhara

The Retreat at Nirjhara

With miles upon miles of dense jungle, volcanic beaches and verdant fields, Bali’s lesser-travelled southwest coast remains a veritable idyl. While its Tanah Lot region is home to an iconic Hindu temple. Nirjhara (Sanskrit for waterfall), an ecologically conscious haven and healing destination, aims to channel such marvels through every element of guests’ experiences. For example, its Retreat spa specialises in ancient Balinese herbal, body and energy-manipulation practices to restore and replenish beleaguered muscles, joints and tissues, while incorporating blessings to soothe ailing souls.

Once holistically realigned, it will be a breeze to amble to the beach for a swim or surf. Or, perhaps, head inland to cycle through rice paddies; tour Bali’s resplendent Unesco-protected Tabanan hills, or delve deeper into sacred healing with a day-long retreat that ends with a cleansing ritual at Sebatu’s holy springs.

What to pack


Kakheti, Georgia

The Forest Spa at Lapota Lake Resort & Spa, Kakheti, Georgia. Photograph courtesy of Lapota Lake Resort & Spa

Lopota Lake Resort & Spa

What better place to toast the dawn of the holiday season than Europe’s ancient wine cradle? Indeed, South Caucasian people have been fermenting grapes in qvevri for 8,000 years. Yet, it’s only recently the rest of the world’s awoken to Georgia’s extraordinary viticulture and the Kakheti region’s wonders, such as breathtaking alpine scenery and man-made cave cities.

Lovingly designed to harmonise with its biodiverse landscape, the Lopota Lake Resort & Spa with on-site winery, chateau and stables, is the ideal spot to unwind, while sampling authentic Georgian culture. Naturally, winemaking and tasting classes are available for those who wish to up their festive booze game. But there are also plentiful zero per cent activities on offer, such as fishing and water-biking, and horseback and quad bike tours of the stunning Alazani Valley. If that’s not enough exertion, the region’s top ski resorts are a couple of hours away. Conversely, if all you have strength for is pampering, hit the sauna and Slavic baths, then scope out the Forest Spa’s vino- and thalasso-therapies.

What to pack


Alicante, Spain

The Yoga Dome at MasQi Energy House, Alicante, Spain. Photograph courtesy of MasQi Energy House

MasQi, The Energy House

As you may have gathered, this beguiling and remote natural park-set farm property has been redeveloped and designed to recalibrate the residents’ qi. Thus, their on-site aficionados offer guests a pan-global abundance of emotional, psychic and physical release practices, including talking therapy and mentoring to ease mental turmoil, yoga classes in a geodesic dome and chakra and meridian balancing sessions.

Even if wellbeing-oriented decisions may be a stretch by this point in 2022, an advantage of MasQi’s packaged retreats will be soothing to your soul. For example, the Executive Anti-Stress programme, which equips participants with tools to effectively combat tension for decades to come. Having de-stressed, tarot and natal chart readings entice as gentle means of illuminating is just what 2023 might have in store.

What to pack


Arizona, US

The Bungalows at Andaz, Scottsdale, Arizona, US. Photograph courtesy of Andaz

Andaz, Scottsdale

Nestled in a bona fide Paradise Valley oasis, the Andaz Scottsdale promises a blissful Sonoran sojourn. As the serene estate boasts solely single-story bungalows, villas and suites, unbroken desert and mountain vistas invite body and soul to finally, fully let go. The beatific luxury extends across Andaz’s cultivated grounds, which encompass three pools (one adults-only), and into every airy, mid-century modern and Art Deco-appointed residence.

Once settled, select from a dynamic array of complimentary wellbeing classes: from bootcamp workouts that will see you sweat out repressed stress to rebalancing meditation and sunset stretch sessions. Once revived, book into the acclaimed Palo Verde Spa and Apothecary, where consultants craft bespoke botanical tonics and treatments, which harness the regenerative powers of desert flora, and apply medical-grade wizardry via the likes of DNA renewal facials. Alternately, face-plant onto a Massage Cabana table for 90 minutes of unadulterated “restoration and relaxation”. Come sundown hour, it will almost feel like 2022 never happened.

What to pack


Pennsylvania, US

The swimming pool at The Lodge at Woodloch. Pennsylvania, US. Photograph courtesy of The Lodge at Woodloch

The Lodge at Woodloch

Already renowned as one of the finest destination spas in the US, this sophisticated and ineffably warm, Poconos’ resort has just added the country’s first Snow Room to its cutting-edge portfolio. Contrast therapy (alternating immersion in heated and cooling waters) as popularised by elite athletes and Mr Wim Hof acolytes has been around for millennia. And The Lodge at Woodloch’s spin on the ice and fire theme is inspired by 18th-century Bavarian priest’s naturopathic use of snow, alongside a Himalayan Salt Sauna and Tyrollean Bucket Shower. Quite the pulse-quickening trio. Just beyond, 40,000 further feet of spa space, including 27 treatment rooms, lie in wait.

Still, Woodloch’s fern-carpeted forest and meadow grounds, including a land preserve, are too divine to ignore – whether you appreciate them vis shinrin-yoku, or by hiking, trail-biking, foraging or even a spot of archery. By night, tuck into lavish, locally grown and sourced farm-to-table fare, while looking over treetops and onto The Lodge’s shimmering lake.

What to pack