10 best exotic retreats to get you fit in body and mind

One of the pitfalls of international travel is that you tend to leave all your good health and fitness habits behind. One way to take them with you is to go somewhere exotic that allows you to detoxify and re-energise in body and mind. You will come back not just lean and mean in body, but also nourished in mind. And to make the time feel even more useful, these retreats are also often replete with business networking opportunities in many cases. Best of all, the getaways are all in some of the world’s most stunning locales, including Thailand, Zanzibar, Turkey and Costa Rica. – Marika Sboros



Chiva-Som, Thailand
Chiva-Som, Thailand – one of many exotic retreats in beautiful locations across the globe offering pampering and fitness for body and mind

By Hannah Elliott

Bloomberg – The holidays are great and all. In December. But come January you’re going to be wishing for something a little less manic. And a little more exotic.

Consider taking a cue from Stephen Cheuk, the Australian- born New Yorker who owns the exclusive S10 Training club in lower Manhattan.

Cheuk has figured out how to get away from it all at just the right time of year but without losing his legendary-in-some-circles muscle tone and agility: Start a posh, invite-only fitness retreat in the jungle, and invite all of your fashion and artist friends to join you. Imagine it like a Summit Series in paradise, but for people with perfect bodies.

“When I travel, I like to stay healthy, and I want people to experience that, too, in a beautiful place,” Cheuk said.

“You should come back feeling leaner, having had some amazing experiences, and having networked with amazing people. I want it to be an adventure.”

If that sounds intense, other more resort-like options abound. Health and luxury original Canyon Ranch has opened a brand-new location in Turkey, while other retreats, such as the holistic-focused Omega Institute, have increased their offerings in Costa Rica.

Some are more focused on losing weight, others on nourishing the spirit or rebuilding your lifestyle philosophy, but they are all situated in some of the world’s most stunning locales. Mallorca, Thailand, Zanzibar this winter? Yes, please.

S10 Training, Costa Rica. Picture At S10, training sessions use nature to strengthen the body. The retreat is invite-only. Photographer: Steven Rojas/Courtesy of S10 Training
S10 Training, Costa Rica. Training sessions use nature to get you fit in body and mind. Photographer: STEVEN ROJAS/Courtesy of S10 Training

S10 Costa Rica

Location: Ostional region, Costa Rica

Style: This is the super-intense and totally bespoke fitness getaway for connected kids only. (Did we mention you must be invited to attend? Networking with thought leaders and fellow creatives plays a big role here.) Each day includes meals and juices of fresh, local-grown food tailored to your own specific nutritional needs, plus full rounds of Thorne supplements (magnesium, turmeric, anti-inflammatory aids, fish oil, probiotics, etc.). Cheuk’s training sessions use naturally occurring tools to strengthen the body, like obstacle courses over fallen logs, wooden walls, and waterfalls; massive tires, kettlebells, and prowlers are the primary outside aids.

Extra Perks: Afternoon activities including riding ATVs, surfing, bike riding, horseback riding, and paddle boarding

Duration: 5 or 7 days, by invitation only

Price: $3,500 for a single room; $3,200 for a double


Location: Hua Hin, Thailand

Style: Rightly famous in healthy living and luxury resort circles, the feeling here is one of inclusive choice: You choose one of eight fitness classes per day (like Pilates Body Conditioning, Kinesis, Private Boot Camp, or Freeform Training), a variety of stretching sessions, massage, and water therapy. It’s largely self-directed, ideal for people who want to retreat alone.

Extra Perks: Cooking classes, skin consultation

Duration: 5, 7, 10, or 14 nights. Extended-stay retreats available upon request.

Price: Prices vary, including 644,000 THB ($17,903) for a large double suite for 7 nights.

Canyon Ranch — Turkey 

Location: Kaplankaya, Turkey

Style: A new chapter in the legendary wellness retreat opened this year with the company’s first international destination on the Turkish Riviera, near Bodrum on the Aegean coast. Thermal suites are a big part of the space with Finnish saunas, igloos, steam rooms, hammams, sound and color therapy rooms, hydrotherapy suites, plus consultations with physicians and therapists in nutrition, exercise physiology, life management, spiritual health, and Eastern and Western medicine. On-site exercise physiologists and personal trainers will address issues ranging from strength training, injury prevention, and cardiovascular fitness to meditation, tai chi, and qigong.

Extra Perks: Scuba diving, wind surfing, sailing, fishing, helicopter tours

Duration: As long as you please

Price: $1,200 per night for a single

Picture: Patrick Cline
A bungalow living room at The Class.  Photographer: PATRICK CLINE

The Class — Taryn Toomey Retreatment

Location: Playa Grande Beach Club, Rio San Juan, Dominican Republic

Style: In the words of company reps, “You shake and use sound to break open and activate stagnant layers in the body where stress, tension, and emotions are stored.”

Like the NYC- based class that made Toomey a cult fitness instructor, the intent is to build a lean body and cleanse the emotional self through intense physical exertion and music. It’s a spiritual experience. Done next to celebrities.

Extra Perks: White sand, poolside cabanas, long lazy meals

Duration: 6 days

Price: $4,500 per person for a double bungalow

Tiger Muay Thai

Location: Phuket, Thailand

Style: Old-school mixed martial arts fight training. Do not go here if you want comfort and ease! The school offers beginning, intermediate, and advanced Muay Thai training classes that include running, shadow boxing, technique, sparring, pad work, bag work, clinching, conditioning, and cool-down.

Extra Perks: Certified nutritionists and fitness instructors help plan meals around training sessions. Kata and Karon beaches are 15 minutes away, but we’re pretty sure you’re going to have barely enough energy to get back to your room, let alone go for a swim.

Duration: As long as you like, up to six months. Classes operate on a 6-day training cycle.

Price: Tuition varies, from 18,500 THB ($515) for a week of all-inclusive VIP training, or 63,000 THB for a month.

The Ashram, Mallorca
You don’t have to get quite so vertiginous, but this spot at The Ashram in Mallorca, Spain helps to focus the mind in an instant, to improve mental and physical fitness

The Ashram — Mallorca

Location: Mallorca, Spain

Style: “Expect to lose weight,” it says in company brochures (and if you don’t, are you actually Hurley from the hit TV show Lost?). Days are filled with morning hikes, afternoon strength training, and a bounty of fresh vegetables from the on-site organic garden prepared in Spanish favorites like tortilla espanola, coca de trampo, and vegetarian paella. This is among the gentler getaways we found—think the California original on holiday—perfect for subtle weight loss and general nourishment, body and mind.

Extra Perks: Kayaking, daily massages

Duration: One week

Price: $5,200 per week for a double

The Farm at San Benito

Location: San Benito, Philippines

Style: The Farm, a former coconut plantation turned luxury resort a couple of hours outside Manila, bills itself as a destination away from routine and toward your dream body. “Transition diets” and juice cleanses are the focus here, starting with nutritional assessment and continuing with organic vegan food, exercise, and meditation.

Extra Perks: Yoga, circuit training, aqua aerobics, flower arranging, and guided walking tours

Duration: 7 nights and 8 days

Price: 132,900 PHP ($2,818) per person

Wildfitness Zanzibar

Location: Zanzibar, Tanzania

Style: “We’re not in the business of punishment over here,” according to trip organizers, and the waterfront villas and white-sand beaches seem to bolster that claim. The idea, they say, is to learn new philosophies of movement, living, and eating. Exercise classes are halfway between a boot camp and a health spa—difficult but not beastly. They include running, boxing, swimming, circuits, climbing, and hiking, as well as group structural hygiene sessions to enhance joint mobility and flexibility. Groups are capped at 16 people.

Extra Perks: Optional massages and therapies

Duration: One week; extended stays are possible

Price: £3,100 ($4,707) per person for the week

Omega Blue Spirit Costa Rica

Location: Nosara, Costa Rica

Style: The retreat focuses heavily on spiritual improvement through qigong practices. Longtime therapists, nutritionists, psychologists, and holistic physicians are imported from the U.S. locations to help you with your advancement through intensive mind and body training sessions. The focus here is as much on intellectual as physical stimulation.

Extra Perks: Infinity swimming pool, daily morning yoga, full beach access, surfing, canopy tours, salsa dancing, horseback riding

Duration: 7 nights

Price: $3,200 per person for a superior ocean-view room

The Ranch at Live Oak

Location: Malibu, California

Style: Be ready to do everything here—you don’t have a choice. And that goes for the no-sugar, no-alcohol, no-caffeine vegetarian cuisine, too. “Results are achieved through our no- option daily group fitness routine,” application papers state, including group hiking, core and ab work, weights, daily group yoga sessions, and private afternoon massages. The idea here is to do long-term, low-impact movement (9-10 hours daily, rather than short bursts of effort) to enhance metabolism, cleanse and detoxify your body, allow for healthy weight loss, and offer a heightened sense of mental wellness. Extras: The setting is silent film star Hopalong Cassidy’s historic working ranch in California, built into a Spanish hacienda three miles from the Pacific Ocean. Oh, and there are daily massages and a mandatory nap time.

Duration: One week, minimum

Price: $6,800 per person for one week; $24,260 for four weeks

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