The Changing Landscape of Health ~ From Luxurious Spas to Wellness Retreats
Apr 12, 2011
It is no secret: people are living longer lives due to better health, nutrition and medicine. Growing old has become an honor in the US, a prestigious event in the cycle of one’s life. However, with growing old comes the raised possibility of illness, disease and physical deterioration. The question now posed is: how do I grow old gracefully and without pain? The idea is to maintain the physical, mental and psychological health of youth in as natural a manner as possible. Alternative health offers a wide range of options.
In my 30 years on this planet, I’ve witnessed many changes, from styles to technology, but one thing remains the same, people strive for healthier lifestyles to lead longer lives. However in recent years people have begun taking greater strides to ensure longevity and increase their quality of life. Every decade has placed its own stamp on history but the 2000’s took the lead in terms of medical advances. Technology and medicine improved greatly and suddenly a cure for cancer and AIDS is in the foreseeable future. Amazing cutting-edge procedures are now available, with stem cells offering a small glimpse into eternity to hip resurfacing promising to restore and retain the vitality of younger patients. We are literally living in an era where anything seems possible and yet, sometimes a return to the basics is exactly what is needed.
In this technologically advanced era, new alternative medical procedures are changing the way in which we regard medicine. Alternative health has entered the mainstream and is being embraced as a natural way to preserve health and youth while not wreaking havoc on the body. More and more physical therapist’s offices are offering acupuncture in addition to chiropractic and physical therapy. Pilates has also been popping up in various medical offices to assist with physical therapy. Yoga classes have replaced traditional gym memberships and spiritual enlightenment can occur in a therapist’s office or home. As Western medicine has advanced, Eastern medicine also improved as well as the acceptance of it in first world countries. Other countries have long embraced it but it has taken the US much longer to see and appreciate the value it can offer. In fact, World Health Organization has actually listed acupuncture as a treatment for a long and growing list of ailments, namely chronic pain; this much to the delight of acupuncturist and natural healers worldwide. Finally, there is an alternative to pain inhibitors, with no negative side effects.
An emerging trend of health is sprouting up all over the world. Among them spas, wellness retreats, yoga retreats and cancer survivor retreats. Patients are spending vacation times restoring their health instead of sipping on a tropical cocktail in Bali. Their preferences now include venturing to a foreign country in pursuit of the ultimate healthy cocktail of exercise, diet and mental wellness. The healthy glow they exude upon leaving is the result of being healthy from the inside. Patients also travel to these retreats and spas to educate themselves on how to maintain the healthy lifestyle at home. Retreats offer various programs including: yoga, Pilates, nature walks, meditation, acupuncture, blood testing, lymphatic drainage, naturopathic treatments, chiropractic treatments, detox, juice fasts, various spiritual exercises and many others.
Health retreats offer weight loss programs, organic diets and exercise in various forms, usually on a wooded path or a beautiful hike up a mountain or a volcano.
Wellness retreats offer a wide ranging number of benefits including yoga, mineral waters, acupuncture for balancing energy channels and relieving blockages and naturopathic consultations. Some also offer ayurvedic medicine which seeks to balance the body according to a complex system of metaphysics and the five elements – fire, air, water, earth -- composing the universe and the human body.
Yoga retreats offer the obvious yoga classes, usually complete with an organic diet or a juice fast in a serene setting. Many yoga retreats can be found in Costa Rica and Mexico where yoga sessions can be held on the beach or in close proximity to the crashing waves. This environment offers a meditative guidance through a yoga session. There is something so calming about the ocean which gives anyone the opportunity to reach deep inside and come back to a simpler place, away from the troubles and stresses of everyday life.
Many retreats are also focused on specific populations such as cancer survivors or women. A bond quickly develops between all because they have been through a particular life changing experience. For women, retreats typically center on letting go, developing independence and embracing their inner strength. Some retreats may even offer couples or family options which serve to deepen bonds. These are becoming more popular in an era when, it’s difficult to simply find time to have dinner together.
Many are now seeking mental and spiritual health and fulfillment in lieu of the traditional spa vacation, with frills and luxuries. The frills and luxuries offered at these retreats come in less noticeable forms, such as happiness, peace and inner calm. Some experience complete transformation and others leave with a renewed vest for life. Either way, the purpose is met, taking some time out of a busy life to find and cherish those tranquil moments offered at these serene locations.
Most are located next to the ocean, while some are nestled in the rustic mountains. Whatever you are looking for, it can easily be found on a retreat. If a rejuvenation of spirit is in order, a retreat may be just what your soul needs.
About the Author
Renée-Marie Stephano is a Founder and the President of the Medical Tourism Association, also known as MTA, which is the first association in the medical tourism industry with an active membership base. MTA is an international non-profit trade association based upon three underlying tenets: transparency in the quality and pricing of healthcare, education and communication. Ms. Stephano also serves as Editor-in-Chief of Medical Tourism Magazine, Health Tourism Magazine, and the Healthcare Development Magazine.
Ms. Stephano received her Juris Doctorate degree in Law in Pennsylvania at Villanova Law School. She has a background in international marketing and health law and then went on to open her own law firm, spending six years serving as general counsel for a national healthcare administrator which was the first US healthcare administrator to implement medical tourism into both self-funded and fully insured health plans in the United States.
Renée-Marie currently works full time for the Medical Tourism Association and is considered an expert in medical tourism. In her role at the MTA, Ms. Stephano helps countries and hospitals identify target markets and execute their strategic marketing plans. She has helped many countries and hospitals towards achieving their goals of attracting foreign patients and international insurance companies. Ms. Stephano works with global healthcare care providers to maintain transparency with respect to quality of care as they increase their flow of patients and she also works with medical travel facilitators to establish best practices to ultimately ensure patient safety through the Medical Tourism Association Certification Program.
Ms. Stephano is not compensated in her role as President of the MTA. Ms. Stephano is also the Co-Author of three new books in medical tourism. The Medical Tourism Facilitator ~ A Best Practices Guide to Healthcare Facilitation for International Patients, Developing and International Patient Center~ A Guide to Creating the Best Patient Experience, and Medical Tourism - An International Healthcare Guide For Insurers, Employers and Governments. Ms. Stephano can be reached at Renee@MedicalTourismAssociation.com