Taking a real, stress-free holiday

We had a taste of what that was like at The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa, where we were introduced to the Well-being Movement, and chatted with Jojo Struys, now a Well-Being Brand Advocate.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
We had a taste of what that was like at The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa, where we were introduced to the Well-being Movement, and chatted with Jojo Struys, now a Well-Being Brand Advocate. 
My Reading Room

Going on a break once every few months is the ultimate indulgence, but planning a getaway can get a little crazy – and sometimes we even feel like we need another vacay afterwards to recover! To deliver a completely relaxing experience for all guests, Westin Hotels & Resorts introduced their brand-wide Well- being Movement in 2014. 

This comprehensive programme focuses on promoting comfort and balanced living in six main areas, referred to as Pillars of Well- being: Sleep Well, Eat Well, Move Well, Feel Well, Work Well and Play Well. 

Under this initiative, guests enjoy yummy SuperFoodsRx dishes that have been created with doctors and nutritionists, so they are low-calorie while being loaded with antioxidants and nutrients. You also get to experience the chain’s famed Heavenly Beds, all dreamily plush and made to support a restful night’s sleep. 

More good news for travellers who want to keep their fitness routines: Westin has mapped out running routes around its properties, and it lets you borrow New Balance shoes and athletic wear for a nominal fee if you are packing light or have simply forgotten your workout togs. 

Several times a year, holidaymakers can also sign up for Wellness Escapes led by Westin’s Well-Being Brand Advocates. All are appointed experts in the fields of fitness, nutrition, mindful meditation and more, and include personalities like Australian Rachael Finch, a certified health coach, TV presenter and top model, Waka Nozawa, a prominent model and yogi in Japan, as well as Indian actress and former Miss Universe Lara Dutta. 

The newest member of the line-up is Singapore-raised Jojo Struys, who is hosting two Wellness Escapes in Malaysia this year. A travel show host, accredited reiki master, wellness author and corporate trainer, Jojo sat down with us to chat about her new role with Westin, travelling, and breathing techniques to nix stress.

My Reading Room

● So what does serving as a Westin Well-being Brand Advocate entail? 

I help guests learn how to get into a more positive mindset and understand their stress triggers. I also share breathing techniques to combat stress, and routines you can do before bedtime if you have trouble sleeping or disconnecting. Plus, I contribute travel articles to Westin’s website. 

● You’ve said that breathing techniques can beat everything from stress to headaches. Tell us more about your interest in this.

What’s great about breathing techniques is that you can do them anywhere and anytime, like while you’re sitting in traffic or before a meeting, and you don’t necessarily need equipment. Even just 15 minutes of this practice is said to deliver the same oxygenation as two hours of sleep. 

What’s more, breathing is connected to your emotions. The moment I meditate, I become more in touch with myself. I find it grounding, and the inner peace it brings – even if it’s just for a few minutes – carries you into your next course of action. It’s so powerful that it interrupts the fight or flight stress response. 

● Can you share some helpful breathing techniques? 

For example, when you are stressed or feeling anxious, you can do alternate nostril breathing where you breathe in from a different nostril with each breath. It maximises oxygen to both hemispheres of the brain and is very calming. Do it for 10 minutes and you will receive tremendous benefits. If you have insomnia, close off your right nostril and keep breathing from the left. It’s quite soothing. 

● You’ve travelled a lot. What are some of your favourite destinations? 

Siem Reap in Cambodia was incredible! It was like being in a lost world. If you like exploring ancient temples, it’s really unique for that. They’re huge. 

I also loved the onsens in Japan. I was in Sapporo during winter and it was such a contrast to be in the hot bath while being surrounded by snow and snow-capped Christmas trees. Also there’s something therapeutic about immersing yourself in those mineral springs. It’s almost addictive and said to be really good for people with stiff joints – the heat just releases tension and relaxes your body. 

I love Bali in Indonesia, too. It’s so spiritual and artistic. In fact, I got married in Bali. And I find Nepal’s rustic charm irresistible. The people are so friendly and have such beautiful faces. It’s a photographer’s paradise. Flying past Mount Everest was amazing – it was like flying past a layered cake! 

● What else is on your travel bucket list?

I’m fascinated by the thought of going to Alaska or Iceland. I couldn’t go when my family went on a cruise there a long time ago. My dad hates the cold but went because people kept saying it was really spectacular. When he came back, he said it was something to add to my bucket list. The animals you’ll see are so different and the landscapes are completely diverse. That appeals to me. 

● What makes you happy? 

Being in nature. You can’t buy a beautiful sunset. And travelling. It’s very humbling and mind-broadening. It’s exciting and makes you present, too. Some people get used to a routine and become jaded. Nothing beats a change of scenery and a breath of fresh air. I also love spending time with my four pugs as well. I feel all the tension just melt away when I’m with them. Dogs are always so unconditionally happy to see you.