Well Traveled

A tour operator mixes fitness with relaxation and more

By: Marty Wentzel

As Betty Alexander considered destinations for her new wellness travel company, Well Traveled Tours, she knew the Big Island had to be on the list.
“The Big Island is a dream location for restoring your energy while helping you unwind,” she said.

A self-described fanatic traveler, Alexander created Well Traveled Tours according to her life philosophy: “To live it with vigor and with energy, to enjoy great food, to have fun exercising, to learn from other countries and to keep trying new experiences.”

Established in November 2005, Well Traveled Tours offers trips to Hawaii, Thailand and Mexico with plans to expand into Europe, Alaska, Canada and Central and South America.

Headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla., Well Traveled Tours fashions each tour based on three key elements: fitness and healthy lifestyle activities along with spa visits and relaxation techniques. The third element, called world discover and self-discovery, incorporates such options as coaching seminars and classes on local cultures.

“We define wellness travel as broadly as possible, from learning to cook a culture’s food to doing a journaling workshop,” Alexander said. “It’s about discovering wisdom from other places and learning how to integrate a wellness approach into your lifestyle.”

Well Traveled Tours is the first wellness travel company to offer vacation packages designed by professional travel writers.

The Big Island tour was put together by Susanne Sims, author of a book on wellness vacations in Hawaii.

“The Hawaii tour really takes advantage of the atmosphere, both in nature and in the native Hawaiian spirituality,” Alexander said.

On the Big Island tour, clients meet Aunty Mahealani, a teacher who shares traditional stories of her homeland. They partake in a cleansing and healing ritual at one of the island’s most sacred sites, Honua O Honaunau. They trek through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, snorkel in the marine life sanctuary of Kealakekua Bay and hike the ridgelines and bird sanctuaries of Hualalai Mountain.

For accommodations, Alexander selected four-star luxury resorts known for their spas and close proximity to tourist sites. Host hotel for the Big Island excursion is the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort and Spa, where clients can try out body treatments and wellness classes in the oceanside Hoola Spa.

“Our Hawaii vacation should appeal to the traveler looking to unwind but not gain 10 pounds in the process,” said Alexander. “We eat well, but we also integrate fun and physical activity to burn off those calories.”

Alexander is looking forward to working with agents who want to tap into the wellness travel trend.

“Well Traveled Tours is one of the first companies to offer an organized vacation that combines touring to exciting locations with a toned-down version of adventure tours,” she said. “Travel agents who recognize this new travel trend have a chance to position themselves as experts in attracting the fast-growing baby-boomer market.”

To up its profile, Well Traveled Tours is running a contest with a trip to the Big Island as the prize. Clients must enter on the company’s Web site by March 1.

The Details

Well Traveled Tours

The company’s 2006 Big Island trips run Feb. 12-18 and April 2-8, with a December trip in the planning stages.

The rate of $1,995 per person, double, includes seven nights in deluxe mountain-view accommodations at Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort and Spa, with upgrades available. Clients get daily breakfast, airport transfers, ground transportation, four yoga lessons, two lunches, one luau, one farewell dinner, one spa treatment and all tours listed on the itinerary.

For an additional fee, clients can sign up for optional activities such as golf. Roundtrip airfare is not included in the rate.

Commission starts at 5 percent.