Health and Wellness on Vacation
If you live in a state that has all four seasons like me, then somewhere between November and the beginnings of spring, which may stretch until April/May, the cold becomes an enemy you learn to co-exist with. On the other hand, I have always liked to do a getaway around February and March to really break things up and remind me the end of winter is indeed coming to an end. Also, my birthday is at the end of February, which is another excellent reason to vacation.
Typically, I choose spots that are warm and balmy, with warm beaches and sand. While visiting these places, I have found it is hard to stay on the healthy path just due to the fact you are enjoying different cultures and food, as well as navigating a new environment. In those instances, I tried to stay as healthy and fitness-focused as I could during the week. However, that can be hard when on vacation, all around you are reminders of how to indulge, play and just let go! This year, since I turned 40, I wanted to seek out a health-centered wellness vacation specifically designed to enhance vacation through diet and fitness. That being said, I didn’t want to partake on a yoga wellness retreat where I was detoxing and doing yoga all day. I wanted luxury mixed in as well.
On a recommendation by friends who live on Maui, my husband and I decided to stay at The Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea. We would fly out to Maui and stay with our friends for the first 2 nights and check into the Four Seasons the balance of our time. I had stayed at another Four Seasons on a different occasion, but not on Maui. I had read a lot of research about the integration of health and wellness to their resort, so I was very curious to know more.
The Four Seasons Maui was built in 1990, but has had a series of upgrades throughout the years, with the most extensive and elaborate renovation completed recently in November 2016. This most recent renovation included refurbishments of all 380 rooms, pools, ocean front sanctuaries. The modernization of the hotel coincides with a renewed focus on health and wellness, which is translated into a “lifestyle plan”, as coined by Dr. Mark D. Emerson, who is a Chiropractor specializing in clinical nutrition and the Health& Wellness consultant to the Spa and Culinary Teams at Four Seasons Resort Maui.
The Four Seasons approaches health and wellness through 3 focal points: spa services, nutritional consultations, and wellness menus. The spa offers body treatments using natural-based ingredients and products to holistically recharge the body. One of the more cutting edge treatments is called i-Lipo, which is a low level laser light which stimulates fat cells for 20-30 minutes. The treatment itself is safe and requires no recovery time and clients are swimming and exercising within an hour. Of course, no vacation would be complete without a spa treatment so I had the signature E Ola Hou (Hawaiian Healing Wrap), which was 110 minutes and included exfoliation, a detox wrap in local t’leaves, with a moisturizing massage at the end. This treatment was refreshing, rejuvenating and simply delightful.
The lifestyle plan, according to Dr. Emerson, is “an adjustment and shift in lifestyle, supported by a whole food diet.” The doctor offers nutritional consultation through an educational experience for guests both on-site while they are on vacation as well as once they return home. In fact, when I met with the Dr., he excitedly told me about a client of his who had been pre-diabetic when he initially visited the resort several months prior. The man followed Dr. Emerson’s nutritional plan after returning home and recently reached out to thank him and let the Dr. know he is no longer pre-diabetic. Once he fixed his eating habits, the body began to heal. At first I was skeptical about doing nutritional consultation while on vacation, but I came to the realization that it is probably the best time to begin since you are taken out of your comfort zone and old habits to try newer healthy patterns to bring home.
Once a year, Dr. Emerson holds an Immersion program, which is a solid week at the resort with a focused daily itinerary that might include cooking classes or visits to a local farm to get educated on health and wellness.
The last piece of the puzzle is the wellness menu, with healthier options that actually taste good. Offerings of acai bowls, smoothies, quinoa trail mix and savory chickpea pancake for breakfast definitely didn’t make me feel as though I was depriving myself since they were healthy and tasted good. For dinner, one of the restaurants I frequented was Wolfgang Puck’s Spago, which focuses on Pacific Rim cuisine, using many local ingredients. It definitely felt easier to stay on track since the healthy options were readily available instead of actively seeking them out at other hotels I have been to.
Lastly, one of the biggest highlights of this trip was the cardio/ treadmill room, which was on a patio outside facing the ocean. If you have read my articles, you know I am a running fanatic- I never miss a day, but typically I am up early – around 4 or 5am. Most hotels have gyms that are either not open early enough or are enclosed in a basement somewhere- depressing. This was such a treat to be able to get up early as I normally do and run on the treadmill looking out to the ocean.
The Four Seasons also offer daily exercise classes such as Pilates (my favorite!), Yoga, and spinning. While I don’t have any kids, the hotel offers childcare in addition to activities as well as a Kid’s pool section.
I am so glad I decided to change it up and go specifically to a resort catering to health and wellness- not only was I able to stay as fit and healthy as I normally am, but I was allowed to learn a thing or two about nutrition and take it into my daily life.
For more information:
Rates start at $589
E Ola Hou (Hawaiian Healing Wrap) - $360 for 110 minutes