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Re-defining wellness for the HNWI

Re-defining wellness for the HNWI

By Henry Cookson - January 1, 2020

If there was one thing my expedition to Antarctica’s Pole of Inaccessibility taught me, it’s that a real adventure pushes the limits of your mind and body. Facing the profound silence and isolation of the planet’s southernmost point was an exercise for my brain as much as it was for my legs.

Recently at Cookson Adventures, we’ve been thinking a lot about how adventure enriches our lives as a form of ‘wellness’. The term and trend spread at lightning speed across the globe, so you would be forgiven for thinking its definition is now a little vague.

The concept of a ‘wellness retreat’ was born as far back as the Romans, where groups congregated in public baths and pools to reap a number of health benefits. Today, spas in the likes of Switzerland or Germany, where beautiful high-end facilities have been carved into the mountains, allow a slightly more affluent clientele to avoid the crowds and enjoy a taste of exclusivity.

But the wellness retreat is missing a crucial part of its offering – that of complete personalisation. So, this year, we have developed innovative new concepts around the world.

A rustic stone hiking path goes under an old cedar tree in the moss covered forest of Yakushima Island

Named Breathe, our new exploration-led programme elevates the wellness elements of a retreat such as yoga, healthy eating, meditation and mindfulness, by challenging guests to engage their body and mind in some of the most isolated and idyllic locations on Earth. We take them away from civilisation and spa resorts, to offer them wellness with a sense of adventure.

Autumn Forest onsen lake at Jigoku Numa, Hakkoda Aomori Tohoku Japan

Yakushima, a rarely visited island off the southern tip of Japan, is the location we have scouted out for Breathe Zen, which explores martial arts techniques that delve into the body’s energy fields. We will arrange for a Renshinkan Karate Master to guide you through the principles of the ‘bushido’ code (the Samurai Warrior code) in a specially built dojo, and teach you the concept of ‘hara’. According to Zen monks, this breathing technique that focuses on drawing energy from the lower abdomen, is key to controlling your movement, unlocking power and maximizing awareness. What’s more, the mountainous, forested interior of this island provides the perfect setting for ‘shinrin-yoku’ (forest bathing), a scientifically proven restorative process of spending time in nature.

Snow monkeys (Japanese macaque) relaxing in a hot spring pool (onsen), Hakodate, Japan.

Breathe Deep invokes the liberating sensation of exploring the vast expanses of our oceans, whilst experiencing an unrivalled sense of freedom and peace under the water. Based on a private island, guests will receive one-to-one tutorship in the skill of freediving, using techniques from yoga and meditation. Learning to lower your heart rate and restrict blood flow, whilst mastering breathing techniques, unlocks the mammalian dive reflex, allowing for extended periods of submersion. Meanwhile, guests can appreciate some of nature’s most beautiful and graceful creatures, swimming alongside whale sharks, and even team up with conservationists to help restore local coral reefs.

Freediver descending along the vivid reef wall. Red Sea, Egypt

In Norway, Breathe Ice is a regenerative regime that will help guests reap the health benefits of exposure to the cold, which include fat loss, muscle recovery and a fortified immune system. Core to this exhilarating concept is the Wim Hof Method, a discipline that heightens oxygen in the blood to improve endurance. Based out of a private camp, taking inspiration from the indigenous Sámi people, guests will be led by a Wim Hof Method instructor, learning the discipline’s three core pillars of cold therapy, breathing and meditation. Guests can complement this experience with snowmobiling, sea kayaking, nights under the Northern Lights, and many other activities.

Diver swimming along an iceberg in crystal clear water holding a video camera with lights on, Tasiilaq Fjord, East-Greenland.

Our wellness adventures are designed to be deeply personal and, for this very reason, we take time to understand our clients’ interests, ambitions and curiosities. Each one is then meticulously crafted alongside dieticians, personal trainers, chefs, yogis, mindfulness coaches and the experts that specialise in their chosen activities.

As we say – adventure never came from standing still, neither does wellness.

Aurora borealis Lofoten islands, Norway.

Henry Cookson is the Founder of Cookson Adventures. For more information or to enquire about expedition possibilities, visit:



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