As we prepare to enter the new year and make new resolutions, health and wellness usually come to mind. If you’re looking to focus on and treat your mind, body, and health, you may want to consider booking a wellness retreat.
Ashley Helmick is the director of spa and fitness for the Salamander Resort and Spa, which recently opened a new outpost in Washington, DC. We sat down with her to discuss what a wellness retreat is, what makes a retreat different than an extended stay at a spa or resort, and how to make sure your stay is relaxing, effective, and restorative — rather than hurried and over-too-soon or boring and overly long.
Answers were edited for length.
First, explain why someone might want to book a stay at a wellness retreat?
With so many stressors in life, it’s important to take time to focus on your well-being. With so many aspects to wellness, it can be quite the task to find what’s right for you. Wellness retreats are the perfect way to take time for yourself in a setting that should be just as relaxing as it is beautiful, where your daily needs are taken care of so you can focus on yourself.
What is the difference between a spa day or weekend, and a wellness retreat?
Spa days are focused on the treatments and relaxation — you can enjoy a massage that’s customized to your needs or, here, you can spend some time soaking in the Vitality pool or decompressing on the Tepidarium lounge chairs. Lunch is also served here.
On the other hand, wellness retreats create an experience that’s custom designed to meet a guest’s needs for overall well-being — that is holistic health and happiness — as opposed to solely relaxation. From wellness activities like meditation or yoga, to the healthy food and beverage offerings, and the spa services you can book, a wellness weekend or retreat is totally curated to your needs and thoughtfully planned out, with all aspects of the visit centered on well-being and holistic health.
What are the similarities between the two? How do you not get confused about what you’re asking for?
Both spa treatments and wellness retreats offer the guest an experience that is designed for wellness, whether that’s a single treatment that promotes relaxation or a retreat that’s designed for a person’s overall well-being.
One way to avoid asking for the wrong thing is to think about the time you have available and where you need to be immediately following the treatment. If you only have time for an afternoon spa treatment on your lunch break, you don’t want to book a longer, more intense service if you have to head back to the office — that would be stressful. If you have a few days off, during which you want to take care of your well-being, you want to be in a space where you’re able to let go and focus on yourself and your well-being. Based on your personal wellness goals and the amount of time you have to invest in your well-being, you can decide which is right for you.
It can be confusing to know what you really need, though. If you’re fried at work and need an afternoon reset, a spa service might help you focus for the rest of the day and clear your mind for the rest of the week. If you’re in the mood for more of a mini or complete vacation that caters to your well-being as opposed to meeting your need for fun, a wellness retreat is the option you’d want to explore.
If wellness is new for you, start out small with a treatment at a spa you know is professionally run, clean, where the staff is highly trained, and the product line is top-notch — this ensures you have the type of experience that you’ll want to repeat for a longer period of time. You can also take a yoga or meditation class to get a feel for what you enjoy in terms of holistic health, and for what truly helps ground you, and allows you to decompress.
How do resorts like yours aid in a person’s overall well-being and happiness?
Salamander Resort and Spa is perfect for someone who wants to get away and unwind, but still would like to indulge in a top-notch experience. We have the perfect location to really balance the two. We are “wellness lite,” and we offer a wide variety of wellness activities in our fitness and recreation center, a selection of bespoke spa treatments, and the ability to just relax in a beautiful environment, like by the Infinity Edge pool.
The outdoors is an important element when it comes to wellness, and you can also enjoy a walk along the countryside. You can focus on wellness and spend time in the spa or fitness center but you also don’t have to feel guilty indulging in delicious foods and a glass or two of wine afterward.
In 2023, we’re excited to announce new wellness programming that may include events and retreats.
A lot of people are talking about “bespoke wellness.” What does this mean, and what’s an example of a treatment offered at a bespoke wellness resort?
Being able to completely customize and personalize your wellness journey is really what bespoke wellness is all about. Wellness is not one size fits all, so it is super important to be able to tailor it to your specific needs and intentions.
When you’re booking a bespoke service or retreat, you’re going to have a truly customized experience. Here, we start by having our guests set an intention for their spa visit. Whether they choose to find balance, to renew, or be calm, their wellness experience and treatments are unique and tailored to the intention.
If you want to try something bespoke, I recommend the Salamander Signature Massage, which will be a hyper-customized massage experience. We wanted to move away from the standard Swedish and Deep Tissue massage options and give our guests a chance to book a treatment that they can make their own.
Salamander Resort: 500 North Pendleton St., Middleburg; Salamander DC: 1330 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington, DC
Feature image courtesy of Salamander Resort
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