7 Rejuvenating Wellness Destinations to Rest, Relax & Recharge - United Hub

7 rejuvenating wellness destinations to rest & relax

By Betsy Mikel

Craving a vacation that will rejuvenate your body and mind? Design your own wellness retreat. From solo trips to relaxing with the whole family, these wellness destinations are all within easy access to nearby airports.

Sedona, Arizona

Middle-of-the-desert outdoor oasis

Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon Landscapes

Perfect for: A healthy getaway to unwind in nature's magnificence

Sedona's magnificent scenic red rock formations, canyons and vortexes have long attracted outdoor enthusiasts and casual hikers. The Native Americans believed this was a spiritual place of healing and renewal. It's since become one of the United States' top wellness destinations. From spiritual centers and alternative healing centers to traditional massage and spa treatments, Sedona is quite literally an oasis in the desert for wellness travelers. It's just a 90-minute drive from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX).

Amelia Island, Florida

Family-friendly island getaway

Amelia Island, Florida

Perfect for: A relaxing family trip with activities for all ages

Dad wants to golf. Mom wants a spa day. The kids want to play in the surf. Cater to everyone and head to Amelia Island, a quick 30-minute drive from Jacksonville International Airport (JAX). Experience spectacular sunrises, abundant native wildlife and 13 miles of beautiful, uncrowded beaches. Visit during the annual wellness festival in November, stay at one of Amelia Island's health-focused resorts, or simply enjoy Amelia Island's beaches and family-friendly activities, which include a pinball museum, aquatic center and pirate-themed park.

Taghazout, Morocco

Surf-and-yoga retreats galore

Perfect for: An energizing trip packed with surfing, yoga and beach time

Kick off your day with sun salutations on the beach, then hit the surf. Or just relax with a drink in hand in this leisurely, laid-back beach town where the sun shines nearly all year round. Taghazout is Morocco's premier surf destination, attracting seasoned surfers and total newbies alike. Taghazout has plentiful surf and yoga retreats, many which allow you to customize your class schedule depending on how energetic you're feeling. When you're surfed out, head to one of the local hammams to relax in the traditional Moroccan steam baths. To get there, fly into Agadir – Al Massira Airport (AGA), and take a 30-45 minute taxi or bus ride to Taghazout.

Calistoga, California

Hot springs getaway in the heart of wine country

Vineyard in Calistoga

Perfect for: Completely unwinding while soaking in scenic Napa Valley views

With more than two dozen spas and resorts, Calistoga has been called the spa capital of Northern California. The small town is walkable, charming and close to many wineries, though this isn't primarily a wine destination. Most everyone is here to relax in the geothermal waters and mud baths. After a few minutes of soaking in mineral-rich 100-degree thermal waters, you'll realize why. Add a massage or mud treatment, and you'll wish you'd booked a longer stay. Calistoga is a two hours' drive from San Francisco International (SFO) and Sacramento International Airports (SMF). It's a 30-minute drive from Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport (STS).

KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Spiritual Buddhist retreat

Perfect for: A restorative and contemplative stay away from it all

Practice mindfulness and meditation in the supremely tranquil Buddhist Retreat Centre. Choose from guided group retreats and workshops, or do your own thing and design your own solo experience. The retreat center stands on 300 secluded acres of well-manicured gardens, forests and valleys, with many peaceful paths for contemplation. Walk through raked zen sand gardens, visit the Buddhist shrine and enjoy the natural surroundings. There's even a well-stocked library where you can read and listen to recorded talks from visiting teachers. Lodging is simple but comfortable. The all-vegetarian meals are freshly prepared, featuring organically grown produce. Though the retreat center feels rural and isolated, it's just a two-hour drive from Durban International Airport (DUR).

Traben-Trarbach, Germany

The upscale holistic healing resort

Ruins of Grevenburg castle above Traben-Trarbach

Perfect for: Detoxing and resetting your body to get back on track

Feeling tired, overworked, stressed or burned out? Germany's luxurious Ayurveda Parkschlösschen resort specializes in one of the world's oldest holistic approaches to help your body feel its best. Choose from personalized programs that target different conditions and ailments. With massage treatments, cleansing therapies, nutritious meals and more, your stay here is all about helping you feel healthier and more energetic. Ayurveda Parkschlösschen is in Traben-Trarbach, a two-hour drive from Frankfurt International Airport (FRA).

Resort in Goa, India

Goa, India

A yoga-centric wellness destination

Perfect for: Deepening your practice in the country where yoga was born

Goa is one India's friendliest destinations for Westerners to study yoga, and it caters to all experience levels and forms of the practice. Travel here to pursue your 300-hour teaching training, or stay at one of the wellness-themed resorts with optional beachside yoga classes. If you don't want to go all-in on yoga, the region also has many incredible beaches, waterfalls and wildlife sanctuaries. Goa International Airport (GOI), the region's major airport, is located in the city of Dabolim.

Getting there

United Airlines flies to these places or to airports within a two-hour drive. For details and to book your trip, visit united.com or use the United app. Don't forget to share your story on social media with the #MyUnitedJourney hashtag.

Cape Town: A first-timer’s guide to the Mother City

By Eric Rubens , December 07, 2019

Eric Rubens (@erubes1) is a MileagePlus member based in Southern California. He is a photographer/videographer who loves meeting new people and traveling the world.

When planning a vacation, one of the first steps is picking a theme. If you're in search of mountains, many look to the Rockies, Swiss Alps, or Dolomites. If a tropical vacation is desired, Hawaii, Mexico, or the Caribbean may be calling your name. There are so many beautiful destinations in this world, but is it possible for one of them to be blessed with incredible mountains, picturesque beaches, and some of the best wildlife viewing in the world?

Cape Town is one of the few places I've found that seems to have it all. With the iconic Table Mountain and Lion's Head rising out of the city, there are hikes leading up to majestic views down the African coastline. The beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay are some of the most incredible beaches on this planet. If wildlife peaks your interest, there's Boulder's Beach, home to one of the only land-based penguin colonies in the world. Did I mention the safari is a short trip away? Add in an exchange rate that is very favorable and you have all the makings of a trip you'll never forget.

Camps Bay Beach

Planning a trip to Africa for the first time can be both intimidating and a bit challenging. I found very few of my friends or family had been, which made my voyage to South Africa even more exciting. Cape Town is home to a hip urban scene, a vibrant melting pot of culture, and jaw dropping landscapes that'll make you wonder why you didn't visit sooner. There's no city quite like it, and this list of top things to do will make sure you maximize your time in the Mother City. Several theories exist regarding the origin of Cape Town's nickname as "The Mother City." Some say it can be traced back to the beginning of the city's history as a trading hub in the 17th century, or its status as South Africa's first metropolis. But many locals have their own theories – one running joke is that it takes nine months to get anything done in the very laid back city.

View from the top of Table Mountain

#1: Take a hike or tram up to the top of Table Mountain

This iconic mountain rising from the city is arguably home to Cape Town's best views. The 2 to 3-hour hike to the top makes for a fun activity if you're up for it. Otherwise, take in the view from the aerial cableway, complete with 360-degree rotating floor and running every 5 minutes from the base. Once up top, there's plenty of walking trails, souvenir shopping, and food and drinks. Table Mountain is known for the blanket of fog that rolls over the peak, so weather at the top can change quickly. Make sure to check the weather before heading up and bring a jacket, since the wind can be intense!

Penguins at Boulder Beach

#2: Visit the penguin colony at Boulder's Beach

Even though it's an hour or so drive from the city, visiting Boulder's Beach and its nearly 2,000 penguins is an unforgettable experience. Watching the penguins lounge on the beach and come in and out of the waves makes for some incredible pictures and a unique encounter. You can also swim in the nearby waters and will often come face to face with members of the colony.

#3: Wake up for a sunrise hike up Lion's Head

One of the most bucket list-worthy activities on a visit to Cape Town is catching sunrise atop Lion's Head. It's a challenging hike and not for those with a fear of heights, but you won't soon forget the view from the summit. If you're willing to scramble and make your way up the final ladders, 360-degree views of the city await, and the sunrise over the city is one for the ages.

#4: Explore the Cape Winelands and the beauty of Constantia

South Africa has some of the best vineyards in the world. Even though the towns of Franschooek and Stellenbosch get the majority of the press, nearby Constantia is home to the oldest wine estate in the country, Groot Constantia. Its proximity (just 15 minutes from the city center) makes it perfect for a day trip. The city sightseeing "Hop-On Hop-Off" bus tour has a purple line that connects through this region, so getting here is easy! If wine tasting isn't your thing, the Alphen Trail is a beautiful trek through the countryside and sure to put you in a relaxing mood.

Chapman's Peak Drive

#5: Take a road trip down Chapman's Peak Drive

One of the most beautiful drives awaits just south of Cape Town. Carved into the cliffs and winding along the ocean, this road between Hout Bay and Noordhoek offers majestic views of the coastline. Just make sure to keep your eyes on the road since the sheer beauty can be distracting!

#6: View the diversity of flora throughout Kirstenbosch Gardens

The flora and fauna of South Africa is some of the most diverse in the world, and no place showcases it better than Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Tucked along the slopes of Table Mountain and widely recognized as one of the most impressive gardens in the world, Kirstenbosch is home to over 7,000 species of plants. The newly completed Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway allows you to walk above the tree line. If you visit in summer, try to make one of the Sunday concerts in the gardens, which are a hit with locals and visitors.

V & A Waterfront

#7: Shop your heart out along the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront

Known as one of the biggest tourism hubs of the city, the always bustling V&A Waterfront is home to many of Cape Town's finest restaurants, shopping, and the launching point of many tours. There are countless ways to spend your time here, but make sure to stop by the V&A food market, where over 40 vendors sell gourmet street food from around the world.

#8: Make your way to the Southern tip of Africa

If you're up for an adventure, take a trip to The Cape of Good Hope. You'll most likely encounter penguins, baboons, and who knows what else along the 1.5-hour drive. The weather can be very unpredictable, so make sure to check it before making the trip south. While there, visit the lighthouse and if you're hungry grab a bite at the appropriately named Two Oceans Restaurant.

#9 Take a tour of historical Robben Island

Even though the prison has been shut down since 1996, a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of Cape Town's most popular tours. Tours take around 4 hours including a ferry ride to the island famous for housing Nelson Mandela for 18 of the 27 years he was imprisoned.

Insider tips:

-Use the "hop on hop off" bus for an easy guided tour of the city. The route takes you to many of the best spots throughout Cape Town and allows you to explore at your own pace. Buy tickets ahead of time to save on fare!

-Cape Town has some incredible boutique hotels and bed & breakfasts. My favorites are: Tintswalo Atlantic, 52 De Wet Luxury Boutique Hotel, and Derwent House Boutique Hotel.

-Make sure you don't carry too many valuables on you if you're walking around at night. Although beautiful and mostly safe, there is still a good amount of opportunistic crime throughout the city. Always pay attention to your surroundings.

You can purchase tickets now at united.com or on the United app for three weekly nonstop flights from New York/Newark to Cape Town beginning December 15.

Opinions expressed by the author are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of United.

Say Halo to Curaçao

By Bob Cooper , December 06, 2019

Planning a Caribbean vacation around hurricane season isn't necessary if you head to Dutch-affiliated Curaçao. The southernmost of all Caribbean islands — just off Venezuela's coast — is rarely even grazed by hurricanes. It also has an ideal tropical climate with average winter highs in the 80s (and water temperatures to match) and only about one inch of rain a month.

Curaçao will be more accessible beginning December 7, 2019, when weekly nonstops begin from New York/Newark on United Airlines. The new seasonal service on 737-700 aircraft makes Curaçao the 21st Caribbean island destination for United, which already flies to the other two nearby "ABC islands" — Aruba and Bonaire. Why choose Curaçao? Because like the island's famous blue liqueur, it's colorful, exotic and appealing.

Settling in

Jet lag won't be an issue for Americans flying to Curaçao because it's in the same time zone as New York. Nor is it a long flight — about five hours nonstop from New York/Newark. Upon arrival you can take a taxi, rental car or hotel shuttle from Curaçao International Airport to your accommodations — a resort (reserve early), boutique inn, vacation house or B&B. Most are in Willemstad, a coastal city only five miles from the airport.

Forts above the port

Straat Curaçao Getty Images/iStockphoto

The historic city center and harbor areas of Curaçao's only city of Willemstad are designated as a UNESCO Heritage Site, mostly for the 17th to 19th century Dutch colonial architecture of the houses and forts. The houses are painted a rainbow of bright colors in the Caribbean tradition, and the city is packed with forts — Fort Amsterdam (built in 1636), Fort Beekenburg (1703), Fort Nassau (1797) and Fort Waakzaamheid (1803). All four offer stellar views and are free to visitors.

On the waterfront

Curacao colorful houses Getty Images/iStockphoto

Along with forts, the harbor area is home to the oldest continuously operating synagogue (and museum) in the Western Hemisphere, an African art museum that tells the story of the slave trade through West African art and artifacts, and a maritime museum. These visits can be followed by a tour and tasting at the Curaçao Distillery, where you'll see how the peels of the native Laraha bitter oranges are turned into curaçao liqueur.

Snorkel from the sand

Two people snorkeling off coast of tropical island Getty Images

The chief allure of this 38-mile-long island is, of course, the ocean. Besides sunbathing at any of the dozens of powder-sand cove beaches, you can wade right in and snorkel in the turquoise, bathlike sea, usually around 80 degrees. Visibility is up to 100 feet, a snorkeler's dream. More adventurous types can snorkel or dive from day boats that head to prime diving sites like the Mushroom Forest (mushroom-shaped coral), Blue Cave and several shipwreck spots. There's also a nice aquarium on the shoreline where marine life is seen up close in their natural habitat —from land or aboard a minisub that dives 1,000 feet.

Ready, set…

Curaçao is a convenient tropical destination for Americans because U.S. dollars and credit cards are commonly accepted, English is widely spoken and no visa is required. But the local culture and cuisine are still exotic enough to be intriguing with local specialties like stewed iguana and cactus soup served in restaurants and from food carts in Willemstad.

If you go

Flight reservations from New York/Newark (EWR) to Curaçao (CUR) can be made at united.com on the United app. Use miles to reserve a hotel, rental car or both with MileagePlus®.

Fantasy Flights: Making holiday wishes come true

By The Hub team , December 04, 2019

One of our most treasured events of the year is here – Fantasy Flights! Our Fantasy Flights bring holiday cheer to children in need by taking them on a special trip to the "North Pole." Each station creates a North Pole with care, in preparation for all the children who will soon be there…

Our participating stations this year are HNL (Honolulu), FRA (Frankfurt), CLE (Cleveland), DEN (Denver), IAD (Washington Dulles), LAX (Los Angeles), SFO (San Francisco), MCO (Orlando), ORD (Chicago O'Hare), GUM (Guam), EWR (New York/New Jersey), NRT (Tokyo-Narita), PHX (Phoenix), IAH (Houston), MCI (Kansas City) and SAT (San Antonio).

Please stay tuned for stories, photos and more from these magical events. #UAFantasyFlights

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