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(2012 - Winter/Spring Issue)


A growing number of us aim mainly for stimulation, exhilaration or the total sense of transformation a rare experience brings. So why not break free to find what really inspires us?  Here are a few ideas:

Feed the Soul

The primary feature of a girlfriend getaway is the opportunity to compare notes and feelings—and this means choosing an environment conducive to talking. A woman does, after all, carry the concerns and fears of her best friend with her. She hears an anguished story, mixes it with sunshine and then helps her friend notice how well she is doing. Suggestion: rent a chalet. The snowy slopes of Blue Mountain, Mont Tremblant, Mont-Sainte-Anne, Whistler and Panorama first come to mind. Chalet rentals across Canada are found at goski.ca, where, once you’re done talking, there’s still time for wining, dining, shopping and socializing.

Tingle the Spine

You are the master of your own extreme. Men and women alike will swim with sharks; river raft over waterfalls; bungee jump in New Zealand; zip line over Costa Rica; ride horseback in the Andes; and even eat roasted grubs in the Outback of Australia. Such escapades are found at reidsguides.com, where fearless host, Reid Bramblett, ventures well outside the average comfort zone. Or, maybe it’s time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Early last year, DREAMSCAPES reader and media company president, Ruth Douglas, rallied a group of Canadian businesswomen to do just that. Take a look at ultimatekilimanjaro.com for insight: if you opt for the five-day climb, the success rate is only 27 per cent. If, however, you have trained and take eight days to trek up the 5,895 metres, the success rate to the “grandest summit of Tanzania” is an encouraging 85 per cent.

Rekindle the Romance

You both need to de-stress from everyday demands, so why not decompress and get pampered together? A growing number of spas specialize in replenishment for two, where body treatments might include massages, facials, skin cleansing and pedicures with individual attendants in a luxuriously fragrant, candlelit room. At spafinder.com, look for adult-only facilities and sign up for treatments that will have the best effect on you.

Marathon Mojo

Around the world, a host of marathons are scheduled annually bringing registered hopefuls to magical settings such as Petra, Berlin, Dublin, Greenland for the “Polar Circle Marathon,” Australia for the “Solar Eclipse Marathon” and China for the “Great Wall Marathon.” See adventure-marathon.com. For human resources specialist, Nicola Thompson, travelling away from home to achieve her personal best has given her a heightened sense of freedom and engagement with the rest of the world. Nicola’s next 42-kilometre challenge: San Diego.

Volunteer Abroad:

So you would like to change the lives of others for the better. Be prepared, since they will likely change yours. Assist in a Nicaraguan kindergarten or at a medical clinic in Vietnam or hammer nails on a new house in Nairobi. You provide needed skills while they return the gift of trust only possible from the purest heart. For opportunities, start with an online “voluntourism” search. Leading names include Habitat for Humanity, Projects Abroad and Hands Up Holidays.


Rediscover yourself, by yourself. Believe in the replenishment powers of mind over body achieved by varying degrees of solitude. Getaways include spiritual retreats such as those found at spiritsite.com. If you want or need a much deeper realization program, consider multi-day silence with Buddhist-inspired meditation (retreatsonline.com) where you also learn sitting, walking, standing and breathing exercises.

Learn Out of Sheer Joy

Far from the distractions of home, immerse yourself in something personally valuable, such as cosmology, archaeology, culinary arts, painting or learning a language. Ideas might crystallize if you start at shawguides.com or classicalpursuits.com. This year, for example, music enthusiasts are invited to join primetime radio broadcaster, Rick Philips, as he hosts his great “Salzburg Tour” in Austria, as well as themed weekends in Chicago and New York City. More information at soundadvice1.com.

Kick it Out of the Stratosphere:

Quit smoking permanently with professional counselling in a sensational setting. Many health and beauty spas offer cessation programs in places such as France, Germany, Turkey, Portugal and the USA. See a sampling at spaindex.com. In Canada, take a look at the all-inclusive A Home Away Retreat in Kelowna, B.C. (ahomeaway.org). On the one- and two-week summer programs you are coached to completely break the nicotine habit while rejuvenating in the midst of luxurious surroundings, gourmet meals and countless resort activities.

Lose Weight, Gain Freedom

A panic, fad diet may shed a pound or two for a special occasion, however if body biology has its way, tomorrow that pound will be back. Instead, a specialty weight-loss spa will focus on permanent lifestyle changes, giving you a better understanding of food chemistry, the power of exercise and how to fuel your body to be more efficient. All of it will take place with qualified advisors in a welcoming setting, accompanied by the delights of body treatments as well as nutritious cuisine. Specialists in Canada include Hills Health Ranch (B.C.), Grail Springs (Ontario) and Balnea Spa (Québec). Many more are found at spasincanada.ca.

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