Eating, laughing, sleeping: Holidays for every basic human need

Eating, laughing, sleeping: Holidays for every basic human need

Barely got time to eat, sleep or breathe? You need a vacation to one of these functional retreats

Was Mel Brooks' notion of selling air in his 1987 movie "Spaceballs" all that ridiculous?

Not if you look at some of the vacations on offer around the world today.

While not quite as simple as air in a can, tour agencies and holiday retreats are tapping a trend for back-to-basics R and R, where biology is turned into the central premise of a break.


1. Laughter retreats

laughing holidayFake or real, laughter works.

It's been scientifically proven that a burst of face-aching laughter can lower stress levels, which is why there are workshops dedicated to learning to laugh even when there's nothing funny going on.

Through breathing techniques, Laughter Yoga Workshops teach guests how to use “yoga laughter” to help lighten up their lives physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

Using “real” and “pretend” laughter, people can learn to laugh on their own without being provoked by jokes, good mood or the “Vandelay Industries” episode of Seinfeld.

Laughter yoga retreats are available worldwide; check for upcoming events

2. Sleep retreats

Work out who snores, then go somewhere else.
It’s cruel and unusual how fast the mind races when you’re trying to slink into unconsciousness.

For those who have serious insomnia, The Sleep School is designed to teach sleep seekers how to mentally escape everyday stress to focus on reversing the painful ritual of tossing and turning in the sheets.

Located at La Source resort in sleepy Grenada in the West Indies, and led by sleep physiologist Dr. Guy Meadows, the week-long course includes workshops, group therapy, yoga and more.

The Sleep School, Grenada. Prices vary by date. LaSource, Pink Gin Beach, P.O. Box 852, St. George's, Grenada, West Indies, +1 473 444 2556,,

3. Food safaris

Catch your own dinner.
Anyone can go on a “foodie” holiday, but only real aficionados capture their meal live.

You might not eat the ones you catch, but in the small locality of Grebbestad in Bohuslän County, Sweden, fishermen take tourists on “lobster safaris” and teach them how to catch and cook lobster.

The boat trip runs for about two-and-a-half hours and includes horseradish cheese, Grebbaestad seaweed crisp-bread, coffee and drinks.

The safari package includes choice of one or two nights of accommodation.

The pièce de résistance is a succulent fresh lobster supper.

Lobster Safari Everts Sjöbod, Grebbestad, Bohuslän, Sweden. Lobster season from September 26-November 6. SEK 2,200-2,700 (US$450) for two nights, Everts Sjöbod, Grönemadsvägen 61, 45795 Grebbestad, +46 525 14242,,

4. Colonic detox programs

A quick cleanse, then back to junk food.
If you’ve been on a bender and need your system purged like an old tube of toothpaste, this holiday is for you.

Scrub your insides at The Sanctuary, where the strict 10-day Master Cleanse regimen includes (but isn’t limited to): herbal intestinal cleaners, psyllium husk and bentonite clay purification “shakes” five times a day and a daily organic coffee “colema board” colonic flush.

The schedule looks something like this: shake, herbs, shake, herbs, juice, colonic session, herbs, broth. Go nuts.

The Sanctuary, Koh Phangan, Thailand. THB 23,100 (US$730); for more information, visit

5. Prenatal holidays

Take a break before the birth.
Relaxation during pregnancy should be more than just unlimited ice cream and putting up your feet.

With a luxurious "babymoon" you can enjoy your last days of freedom in the Italian Riviera.

This two-night holiday includes a daily American (Italian for "large") breakfast, a special present for the baby, a “pre-mama” message designed to relax the expecting mother, a bottle of wine and two inclusive meals for the expectant parents.

Babymoon Package, Portofino, Italy. Prices vary by date. From March 30, 2012–June 14, 2012, and September 17, 2012-November 11, 2012. Rate per couple €1,965 (US$2,600).

From June 15, 2012–September 16, 2012. Rate per couple € 2,415 (US$3,195).

This program must be booked in advance and is subject to availability.

6. Breathing holidays

Not recommended for hay fever sufferers.
There’s a reason you’re told to “take a deep breath” during a violent outburst or labor.

Breathing coaches such as Alan Dolan claim the way we breathe affects our overall well-being and mood. His happiness-inducing, stress-relieving breathing advice has been featured in publications such as Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Condé Nast Traveller and The Guardian.

Breath-seekers can stay at the resort for as little as three days or as long as a month.

One-on-one breathing sessions are held in a choice of villas with sea and volcano views. Packages include vegetarian meals. The retreat is a 10-minute walk from Famara beach on the small island of Lanzarote, Spain.

Breathing Retreat, Lanzarote, Spain. For prices and other information, visit

7. Drinking tours

Drinking as the focal point of your holiday. What's new?
It’s not the healthiest of holiday ideas, but at least you’re educating yourself.

A two-night tour at the Glenmorangie Distillery will teach you how to schmooze and use small talk facts to impress the boss at the staff party.

Under the sober guide of a whisky expert, the tour includes meals, production, maturation and tutored tastings, visit to Tarlogie Springs, drinks, canapés, a formal Gala Scottish Dinner (kilts required) and a stay at a five-star hotel.

Malt Whisky Weekend, Scotland. Malt whisky weekends cost from £416 (US$660) per person (2012 prices).

Next scheduled tours are planned for November 2-3, 9-10 and 16-17.

Jane Leung is a Hong Kong-born Canadian who has dabbled in the mixed media bag of film and television production, the professional sports industry and magazine publishing. 

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