INTERNATIONAL REPORT—Wellness vacations are not a new trend. However, as travelers crave a break from hectic, hyper connected living, there is growing interest in immersive activities designed to revitalize the mind, body and soul. Getting away from it all on the rhythmic Caribbean island of Dominican Republic, home of white—and sometimes pink—sand beaches and endless sunshine could be just what the doctor ordered, along with an ample dose of healthy food, fitness and healing treatments.
In Cabarete, a town on the Northern coast with calm waters suitable for water sports, the eXtreme Hotel Cabarete is an eco-adventure sports and yoga retreat for healthy living pursuits. Offerings include a Zendo Fitness Center, beachfront yoga studio, farm-to-table restaurant supplied by an on-site organic farm, as well as surfing and kite boarding. A new circus school will provide classes in aerial silks, lyra, acrobatics and flying trapeze, and a stand up paddleboard school is coming soon. The resort is committed to sustainable practices, operating off the grid with 100% solar power.
“Initially, it was meant to be a financial investment in real estate, but it grew into far more. We were looking for a place that was at one with its surroundings—community and environment—that had all of the fun, healthy activities in one place. It’s a place to come and live healthy in body and mind. As maturity set in, it started to become a bigger part of the Dominican community, a more holistic place for health and a solar-powered, eco-action sport center,” said Rob Battye, owner, eXtreme Hotel Cabarete. “Similar to our approach to gardening, we believe that by helping strengthen body, mind and soul, your body takes care of itself. Diet is obviously a huge component, as we seek out nutrient dense food and educate people about the importance of proper nutrition. Instead of taking things away, we encourage people to add more vegetables, more greens and more movement. It is about simple, tangible ideals.”
Sometimes all you need is music to inspire and motivate guests to get moving. The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in the Dominican Republic’s Punta Cana is just one of the all-inclusive properties in the chain partnering with Les Mills to offer on-site, exercise-to-music group fitness classes and complimentary, trial access to the online streaming service Les Mills On Demand.
“The partnership was established in response to the growing demand for wellness while traveling. This collaboration is successful because both Les Mills fans and all-inclusive Hard Rock vacationers are looking for high-energy experiences. Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana sought to add a fitness program on-property that matches the high quality and consistent experiences the hotel provides guests. This is why they turned to Les Mills,” said Frank Maduro, VP of Marketing for AIC Hotel Group.
The Les Mills program development team spends up to 12,000 hours researching and developing each program format before bringing it to the market to ensure it meets consumers’ needs and provides a safe and effective workout for exercisers.
“Based on the latest available fitness research and its own original clinical fitness research, Les Mills updates each program every three months with new choreography, matches the moves to chart-topping music and provides ongoing instructor education to ensure each program is effective, fresh and engaging. Additionally, Les Mills develops new program formats based on need. We know millennials are looking for short, effective workouts. This is why we created the Les Mills Grit Series and Les Mils Sprint. Both programs are short, 30-minute, high-intensity and interval-training workouts,” Maduro said.
Whether it’s back-to-nature or BodyPump exercises to thumping beats, more travelers want to spend precious leisure time making their own lives better. It’s about enabling a healthy indulgence, noted Maduro.
“Yes, they’re definitely there to relax and lounge poolside or at the beach, but they do want healthier options at the restaurants and, more importantly, they want to keep up with their workout routines and be active,” said Maduro. “After seeing the success of our partnership with Les Mills at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana and Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya, we’re planning on incorporating this program into one of our future all-inclusive Hard Rock hotels.”
According to Battye, it’s also about eating from the land and exploring new ways of staying fit.
“We make it easy and convenient for everybody to be active and healthy during their stay. The hotel restaurant is provided with produce from our own organic farm. Our yoga classes and gym workouts are designed to push (future) fitness enthusiasts to their limits and are accessible for all levels,” said Battye. “The clients are so busy with the activities, they are not eating out of boredom or anxiety eating—which is a big aspect of weight gain. When you’re in a group of fun people with tons of activity, you are too busy to remember to eat, and when you do, you eat healthy as that is the large part of our offerings.”