SwellWomen: Active Wellness Retreats for Women

SwellWomen is capitalizing on the upcoming market in wellness travel.
SwellWomen is capitalizing on the upcoming market in wellness travel.

By Mary Govoni

For some travelers, the next destination isn’t determined by landmarks, but rather by the ocean. Surfers are constantly on the move chasing the perfect beaches, the perfect conditions, and the perfect wave. And SwellWomen may have just found the perfect destination.

Surfers are constantly on the move chasing the perfect beaches, the perfect conditions, and the perfect wave. And SwellWomen may have just found the perfect destination.

SwellWomen is a company that offers females of all ages and all backgrounds the leading choices in surf, yoga, and wellness vacations. And the company has recently featured two new destinations to its agenda. SwellWomen now offers exclusive trips to Sri Lanka and Thailand, two places that provide top notch conditions for surfers of all experience levels.

Lulu Agan, SwellWomen's founder, encourages her guests to "follow their bliss".
Lulu Agan, SwellWomen’s founder, encourages her guests to “follow their bliss”.

Up-and-Coming Wellness Travel

Rather than spending a week or two at a resort sitting on a beach and sipping a cocktail, SwellWomen encourages its guests to push themselves to learn something new during their time off from their daily routine. Lulu Agan founder and owner of SwellWomen explains that wellness travel is a growing industry, as more people are beginning to crave the excitement and reward of accomplishing something new for the first time.

Lulu Agan founder and owner of SwellWomen explains that wellness travel is a growing industry, as more people are beginning to crave the excitement and reward of accomplishing something new for the first time.

She explains wellness travel as a new form of relaxation, “people still desire the cocktail on the beach, but prefer it after they have tried something new and worked their bodies”.

Wellness practices and products now make up a $439 billion industry, and it is one that is growing rapidly.  Seventeen percent of that sum is spent on wellness-related travel. There is a growing interest in the “experience over ownership” locations and activities, as travelers are beginning to seek a sense of well-being through their time away from home and their daily routine.

SwellWomen encourages its guests to increase their mental wellness alongside their physical wellness.
SwellWomen encourages its guests to increase their mental wellness alongside their physical wellness.

Organizations such as National Geographic and Virtuoso have identified this type of “active journey” as it is now being referred to, as one of the top-five leading trends in 2017.

SwellWomen aims for all guests to achieve that wellness – a sense of personal gain, both physical and mental – from their experiences with the company. They pride themselves on “creating life-transforming experiences for women all across the world”.

About the Founder

Agan explains that the type of women that do partake in the SwellWomen trips are individuals that work hard in their career and for their families and want the chance to do something simply for themselves. And after endlessly searching the internet for wellness travel, SwellWomen usually checks all the boxes.

And after endlessly searching the internet for wellness travel, SwellWomen usually checks all the boxes.

The company’s founder, Lulu Agan, spent more than a decade as a private chef and founded the company with the desire to help others achieve their health potential. She believes primarily in the mantra: “Follow your bliss”. This is exactly what Lulu strives to achieve both for herself, and her guests, as her trips incorporate elements of many of her passions.

Southern Sri Lanka waves are perfect for the intermediate surfer.
Southern Sri Lanka waves are perfect for the intermediate surfer.

From surfing to yoga, to cooking, to mindfulness, the trips help all women follow the personal bliss they are searching for. She explains the trips by for her and her guests by saying, “it’s like we are all kids again and everyone is on the same playground”.

For several years, SwellWomen offered its retreats through private enclaves that were part of larger properties, but in 2017, is beginning to make the shift to a more exclusive type of retreat for its guests.

SwellWomen has begun its collaboration with Ani Villas, an expanding private resort operator, that is offering properties solely to trips of SwellWomen in multiple surf destinations.

The two newest locations that have been added to SwellWomen’s surf destinations include Thailand and Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s Swells

Sri Lanka is world renowned for its blue waters and white sand beaches. The SwellWomen estate sits perched atop a bluff on the central southern coast. Guests can take in the view as they admire set after set of perfectly surfable waves roll in. The surf conditions in Sri Lanka offer beginner and intermediate surfers with the perfect type of wave — one that is clean, peels off the point, and ranging from two to three feet.

SwellWomen in Thailand offers other activities besides surfing like stand up paddle boarding.
SwellWomen in Thailand offers other activities besides surfing like stand up paddle boarding.

The sets roll in long waves, separated into fast and slow sections, and the sandy bottoms provide perfect conditions for duck-dives and easy paddle outs. The Girl Surf Network Blog sums up Sri Lanka as the perfect destination with quick, five bullet points: “small waves, sandy bottoms, easy paddle out, cool stuff (like elephants!), and friendly locals”.

Thailand Retreat

The SwellWomen retreat in Thailand is situated on the island of Koh Yao Noi in the Andaman Sea. This island is one The Guardian refers to as “one of Thailand’s last unspoiled islands, untouched by mass tourism”.

The SwellWomen retreat, partnered with Ani Villas, offers a ten bedroom enclave on the beach, with buildings inspired by the ancient temples from Northern Thai history.

The waves here in Thailand are best suited for beginner surfers, they’re small and break clean, but don’t necessarily offer the best ride for someone that can quickly and effortlessly stand up on their board.

Because of this, the island also offers opportunities to take part in other activities such as cave kayaking, rock climbing, kickboxing, and stand up paddleboarding.

A Community of Travelers

SwellWomen prides itself on the intimacy of its trips, gathering up to 15 women for each retreat. The small sizes allow the guests to build a sense of community, one that creates a supportive environment and encourages the women to try new things while getting to know one another.

Lulu Agan strives for the women to foster friendships within the group because she considers such a retreat a unique opportunity to meet women with the same desires and the same passions, but with very different perspectives.

SwellWomen keeps its groups intimate so you get to know all the women you are vacationing with.
SwellWomen keeps its groups intimate so you get to know all the women you are vacationing with.

The trips range from $3,000 to $6,500 for seven days depending on the destination. Once there, everything is included in that price (food, transportation, activities, surf lessons, yoga classes, gratuities), except for airfare. Compared to other wellness vacations, SwellWomen puts up a fairly affordable price, but also targets a very specific audience.

SwellWomen and other wellness similar companies will be gaining more and more recognition from the travel industry in the coming years.

There’s something truly inspiring about riding your first wave or reaching the mountain’s summit, and that accomplishment is what makes the pina colada afterward so much more rewarding.

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Mary Govoni

Mary Govoni

Mary Govoni is a freelance writer from Cape Cod, Mass. She loves traveling to find food, good conversation and good company.