Talk about targeting a very specific consumer! The other day, while looking through my Facebook feed, I noticed this interesting trend of companies or stores specializing in one single product or service. First, it was an ad for a restaurant in Tokyo, Japan, dedicated to the avocado aficionado. Every item they serve is centered around avocadoes. If you don’t like avocados, don’t go there. Then there’s the restaurant in Los Angeles whose every single dish is smothered in melted cheese; not for the lactose intolerant, that’s for sure. Another ad was for a store in Texas that exclusively sells hot sauces; and yet another ad was for a website that sells only socks.
This trend of carving out a special niche to cater to a very specific consumer has also carried over to wellness retreats. It used to be that every health retreat or spa offered the same services: different types of massages, beauty treatments and that old standby, the jacuzzi/sauna/pool trifecta. There is nothing wrong with that formula, and if that’s what you’re looking for, you can readily find one almost anywhere in the world, for any budget.
However, if you are looking for a retreat that offers something different, there are as many choices out there as there are types of pickles at The Pickle Store in Saranac Lake, New York.
Here are just a few examples of boutique retreats and some of the activities you can expect to find at each one.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES AND SPORTS
If you are a fitness junkie or sports nut, and the thought of sitting around staring at a serene view for three days while sipping lemon-ginger water and listening to sitar music makes you crazy, a retreat centered around your sport or activity of choice is for you.
There are retreats in many countries that offer intensive training for everything from tennis, cycling, surfing, and yoga to boot camp, rock climbing and even acrobatics (for those of us who have fantasized about running away with Cirque du Soleil).
Typically, you will spend up to 8 hours a day immersed in the main activity through lessons, workshops and mini-tournaments, while the rest of the day can be spent recuperating with traditional spa treatments and re-fueling with 5-star dining options.
If you are looking for an adrenaline-fueled escape, a retreat that offers extreme sports and adventures is for you.
Worldwide, there are retreats that offer activities centered around jumping down of, or climbing up, extremely high structures, both man-made and natural.
Survivalist retreats teach you how to live off the land and off the grid, while other retreats offer different daily adventures such as hot-air balloon or helicopter rides and driving a real race-car. If all those activities leave you yawning, you can always go to a retreat in the Maldives where you can swim alongside giant Hammerhead sharks.
MEDITATION AND MENTAL WELLNESS
On the other side of the coin, we find retreats that cater specifically to those of us looking for total relaxation, deeper connection to our inner selves and stress relief through enlightenment.
Typically, depending on location, these mind-centric retreats offer meditation and mindfulness workshops, yoga practices and stretching classes, languid hikes and bike rides through beautiful scenery and healthy food choices.
The ambiance is usually serene and subdued, with some more extreme retreats even having a no-talking rule for several hours a day! There are also some retreats that have a strict no-electronics policy, and some that have no phones or TVs in the guest rooms. You are, in essence, forced to disconnect from the crazy digital world and to reconnect with yourself and those around you.
The aim of these retreats is the send you back to your real life refreshed, relaxed and better able to deal with job, health and family related stresses.
SELF-HELP and PERSONAL GROWTH
Similar in scope to the mental wellness retreats, self-help and personal growth retreats are geared to enable participants to learn more about themselves, conquer fears and master tools for a more successful life.
These retreats offer a wide variety of lectures, classes and workshops on anything from assertiveness training to public speaking to improving your self-image and learning self-acceptance.
In the higher-end retreats, featured speakers and guest lecturers might include top figures from the mental-health, business and entertainment industries talking about their lives and journeys to inspire and motivate attendees.
Nature retreats are for those individuals who want to leave behind the noise pollution, crowded conditions and nervous energy of the big bad city. Depending on your tastes, you can enjoy the splendor of a forest, the expansiveness of the seashore or the majesty of a mountain range.
Activities at these retreats can include anything from walks, hikes and bike rides through the scenic areas to wine-tastings, cooking classes and lectures on the local flora and fauna.
Many of these retreats will also offer the ubiquitous beauty treatments, massages and dining options of traditional spa retreats.
Some of the types of retreats mentioned above are likely cost-prohibitive for the average person. Most of us will probably just have to make do with dreaming about escaping to a retreat in some exotic location where we can indulge our favorite pastime or beef up our self-esteem. But then a dream is the easiest, cheapest and most accessible retreat there is, isn’t it?