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Boat International May 2018

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Calming seas: The rise in luxury wellness charters


Yachting’s reputation for sinful bliss is getting a makeover thanks to the rising trend in healing holidays. Risa Merl explores how superyachts are doubling up as bespoke wellness retreats for charter guests

There is a growing challenge to champagne soaked parties on board, decadent meals and white glove service. According to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness travel is expected to rake in $800 billion per year by 2020, and charters are getting in on the action: after all, a yacht is a ready-made luxurious wellness retreat. This new breed of charter goes way beyond yoga on the sundeck or the chef blitzing up some fresh fruit for your morning smoothie. We investigate the cutting edge of health on the high seas.

Complete package

Charter companies now offer bespoke services that bring the retreat experience into the privacy of a yacht. Edmiston has partnered with Pure Balance Retreats, whose founder Woody Edmiston (brother of Edmiston’s chief executive Jamie Edmiston) was part of the physiotherapy team for GBR’s 2001/2 America’s Cup campaign. Pure Balance offers a thorough initial “discovery session” – conducted in-person, via Skype or over email – to pinpoint your wellness needs. The company then sends a pro team to you anywhere in the world to deliver its Genesis Programme regime. “It’s an introduction to sustainable well-being catered to the individual client, encompassing mind, body and spirit without the woo-woo,” explains Woody. So far the company has created retreats on yachts in the Mediterranean, Caribbean and Bali.

“We have a long-held belief that yachts are the perfect place to rest mind and body,” says Charlie Carvales, a broker with Edmiston. “As knowledge and sophistication in wellness have developed, we wanted to ensure we could offer our clients the same level of health and well-being they would enjoy at home and perhaps even introduce people to a few new experiences.”

Beat the lag

The downside of travelling halfway around the world to an epic charter destination is the jet lag that goes along with it. But what if you could start recovery the moment you step on board? It will soon be possible to readjust your circadian rhythms in a specially designed “jet lag cabin”, like the one being developed by Oceanco’s Innovation Lab in conjunction with Temeloy Advanced Lighting. “With the use of the proper light at the proper times, we can actually reset our body clocks,” explains Tiphaine Treins of Temeloy. The cabin is a dedicated space where blue light is delivered at ideal times in order to overcome jet lag. “Oceanco has yet to install a ‘jet lag’ cabin on a yacht, but with the trend towards health and wellness and luxury spas aboard yachts, it is only a matter of time,” says Paris Baloumis of Oceanco.

Until jet lag cabins are available, experiential showers and baths with targeted light therapy – which give off specific lights to affect brain chemicals linked to mood – are an effective way to help your body adjust to the time difference. Charter yacht Sherakhan has experiential bathtubs that are lit from the inside with colour-changing lights. “The entire space could be described as an ‘experiential spa’, with the illuminated tubs, and a range of therapeutic heat – including hot and cold-water experiences, steam and sauna areas – but the lighting really gives the whole area an aspect of restoration,” says Tom DeBuse of Y.CO.

Staffing up

“I have one client who always travels with a masseuse, yoga instructor and beauty stylist,” says Jim Webster of Webster Associates. “I think it’s definitely becoming more popular, but there are a lot of crew dynamics to consider – for instance, where do they sleep? And do they eat with crew or guests? I’ve had the situation where they ate with crew, but slept in guest cabins.”

The allocation of a guest cabin for additional wellness staff must be taken into consideration. “It has to be understood from the start they will take a guest spot in the accommodation,” says Seonaid Thomas of Burgess, who notes that the firm has worked with guests who have needed to bring doctors or physios on board during a charter.

Webster believes that, if handled correctly, bringing experts on board can help to relieve pressure on the crew. “An issue I’ve found is that unless it’s a really big crew, the massage therapist on board is also a stewardess and can only devote limited time to a massage,” he adds. It can also create the opportunity to sample a new expert or type of treatment. Thomas recommends Noona Ayres, a former yacht manager who became a yogi and reiki master, founding the company Revitalize with a mission to help people searching for well-being and peace. “She now goes on board offering her services all the time,” says Thomas.

First published in the April 2018 edition of Boat International.