After a long year, there’s nothing like the holiday season and getting out of the city as a pick-me-up. This is why the wellness holiday is a trend that keeps sticking around. It is the perfect answer to the overworked, stress-loaded lifestyle we subject ourselves to every year. When you’re feeling exhausted, overwrought, and ready for a good rest, heading to a destination where you can recharge is what you need.
Research indicates that travel trends keep evolving from one year to the next. Gone are the days when the widely accepted idea of a vacation was lounging on the beach for sun-lovers or being cooped up in a cabin in the snowy mountains. Nowadays, travelers are drawn to the adventure-oriented type of holiday. And when the temperature drops, there’s an abundance of adventure to be found in a winter wonderland.
Why we love snow holidays
Wellness travel is also one of the fastest-growing areas of tourism. In today’s social climate, if you’re going on holiday, in addition to several other requirements, it needs to tick the ‘good for you’ box.
Snow holidays can be an enriching experience for everyone heading along. Skiing is a sport that you can learn at a young age and continue doing well into adulthood. Whether you’re new to skiing or a seasoned skier, there are many health benefits – both physical and mental. We spoke to Olivier Hannaert, MD of Club Med Southern Africa (experts when it comes to snow holidays). When it comes to wellness holidays, there are a few holiday types that can beat the snow for its good-for-you factor.
What are the physical benefits of a snow holiday?
1. Improves cardiovascular endurance and health
Skiing is a physical exercise that helps with staying in shape and maintaining fitness. Being on their feet and sliding down those steep slopes will improve your kids’ heart rate and help burn calories. According to Bethany Garner of Ski Club of Great Britain, “Skiing is good for you because it works for the major muscle groups. Walk up the slope rather than using the ski lift. This really works out the heart and lungs, making it a good overall workout.”
2. Strengthens leg and lower body muscles
If you have ever tried skiing even once, you know just how much balance and coordination are required. Kids have to use their core muscles to support the upper body and their leg muscles to balance on the skis. This also helps improve their balance and coordination.
3. Good for bones and joints
The constant tension placed on the knees, ankles, and feet helps strengthen the legs. In turn, this reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis.
What are the psychological benefits?
- Appreciation of the outdoors
Being outdoors is a great way to escape from the stressors of life. Being surrounded by nature is a good mood enhancer. You also get to get out of the city and breathe the clean mountain air, which in itself has both physical and psychological benefits.
- Improves proprioception
Defined as a person’s ability to feel the position of different parts of the body, proprioception is an integral part of skiing. The coordination and balance involved in skiing require a lot of mental focus. This can help to improve the mental consciousness of body parts.
- Improves confidence and encourages bonding
Skiing is not necessarily an easy sport. It can be quite intimidating for first-timers. After many failed attempts, being able to finally soar down a snow-covered slope without any help is the greatest delight, and will keep you coming back for more. If you have children, this is also the perfect opportunity for a family holiday, since this is an activity that everyone can take part in. Besides, the earlier kids learn how to ski or snowboard, the better!
When and where to go on a snow holiday
The Northern Hemisphere features several different amazing areas when it comes to your perfect snow holiday. Besides, you can choose when to enjoy it for a period of several months.
The best destinations in Europe include the French Alps, the Italian Alps, the Swiss Alps, and the Austrian Alps. These regions enjoy ample snowfall from mid-November until late April.
Asia has a variety of areas that provide favorable ski conditions, most notably in China and Japan. The best time for a snow holiday in this region is from mid-November to late March.
North America & Canada
Both the States and Canada boast majestic mountain ranges where adventurers head during the wintertime to make the most of the snow. This lasts from mid-November until April.
Having experienced the hospitality of Club Med on the island of Mauritius, I can vouch for their expertise in resort-style. I haven’t been on a snow holiday in quite some time, but as we have plans to visit family in Japan, I want to be well-prepared for the slopes. With this in mind, Mr. Hannaert kindly provided me with a list of things that need to go along.
For the slopes:
- A waterproof ski jacket and pants to keep you dry.
- A buff is a versatile accessory that can serve as a scarf or a balaclava. If it’s really cold, take along the triple B’s – buff, beanie, and balaclava.
- Goggles shield your eyes from glare, wind, and snow. Make sure yours are anti-fog so that your vision doesn’t get all steamed up.
- Ski socks are a must. They are nice and warm and padded in all the right places.
- Absorbent under gear. Skiing or snowboarding generates a lot of heat, and you’ll probably work up quite a sweat under all that waterproof clothing. You need something underneath that will keep you warm without getting wet.
- A go-pro or cell phone camera to capture the experience and take the inevitable selfie on the ski lift overlooking the slopes.
- Sunscreen is very important unless you’re happy with a ski-mask tan. The snow is really reflective, so you’re exposed to the sun’s rays from above and below.
- If possible, carry a bit of water with you. It can get very dry out there, especially once you get going.
For resort accommodation:
- Warm clothes and shoes, as well as comfortable casual gear – t-shirts, takkies, etc. While it may be cold outside, it’s nice and toasty in the resort!
- If you like dressing up, be sure to check if there are any theme nights and come prepared for those. There are usually some great prizes to be won. You wouldn’t want to miss out.
- Costume for the pool or jacuzzi (if available at your resort)
- Waterproof shoes if you plan on walking in the snow
Most importantly, bring your spirit of adventure. Oh, and your appetite… the food is delicious!