Wellness and Beauty Retreats
Travel opportunities that put self-improvement at the forefront -- things learning a new skill, pushing your physical limits or focusing on strengthening your emotional wellbeing -- span a range of interests and destinations. And while most wellness and renewal retreats incorporate some form of physical pampering into the equation, the true concept of a wellness vacation requires more than ticking a quick massage off your to-do list. Wellness retreats are rarely easy on the wallet, but no matter where you travel and what you do, seeing the planet and improving your inner and outer self along the way is a worthwhile investment.
Travaasa Experiential Resort
At Austin's Travaasa Experiential Resort, with beautiful views of Lake Travis, it’s worth going beyond the admittedly excellent spa treatments (detoxifying juniper and olive stone massage, anyone?) to sample the resort’s other offerings. Choose from culinary classes, where you’ll learn the ins and outs of juicing for better health, learn the art of journaling as a tool for cultivating happiness and push your adventurous limits with a slacklining class or cruise down a zip line at the resort’s Prickly Pear Challenge Course -- a series of rope ladders, balance beams and wall climbs that culminate in a thrilling 250-foot-long zip-line ride over the treetops.
Swellwomen Surf and Yoga Vacations
It’s been said the saltwater -- sweat, tears and the sea -- is the cure for anything. Let the healing properties of the Pacific Ocean (and the stoke of riding a wave!) soothe your soul during 6-night surf and yoga retreats with SwellWomen, a surf vacation company founded by Me-Shell Mijangos, a woman who used to work in New York City before quitting her corporate job to surf and travel.
Your base during the program is the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa on the island of Maui. A typical day consists of early morning surfing lessons right in front of the hotel, followed by roughly 2 hours of free surf time. After that, spend your day doing things like standup paddleboarding, traditional Hawaiian lomilomi massages at the hotel’s spa, yoga on a grassy lawn near the ocean or just lounging poolside at the hotel’s free-form lagoon pool overlooking the ocean.
Yoga and Eco-Wellness Tours
There's no lack of quiet, soul-stirring places in this beautiful nation situated between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, making Costa Rica a major destination for wellness tours. Lux World Travel, a tour agent based in Rochester, NY, offers customizable wellness retreats for women and men that mix yoga classes and meditation with eco-minded discovery outings.
Seven-night packages include lodging in private bungalows, daily yoga and meditation classes, eco tours, surfing classes and options for adding things like jungle tours and horseback riding to the itinerary. For additional fees, you can enhance the wellness aspect of your trip with many different therapies that may include energy-balancing with Tibetan singing bowls, volcanic clay detoxification therapy or consultations with a nutritionist about how to make positive diet changes and incorporate herbal remedies into your personal health plan.
Ranch 4.0 Program at Four Seasons Hotel
About 40 minutes west of Los Angeles International Airport, the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village’s garden-fringed locale is a deceivingly serene setting for an intense 4-day fitness program called Ranch 4.0. The program is an abbreviated (read: more realistic) version of a renowned offering at Ranch at Live Oak in Malibu.
Each day, you’ll embark on 8 hours of intense exercise made fun and scenic with hiking sessions in the mountains rounding out more standard exercise classes. Chef-catered meals, included in your stay, focus on organic garden-grown food and exclude all alcohol, caffeine, soy, gluten, processed sugars and dairy to get you glowing from the inside out.
The Spa at the Grove Park Inn
There’s a reason this indoor/outdoor spa set on the property of a circa-1913 hotel in the mountains of Asheville is consistently ranked among the country’s best spas. A true bastion of wellness, the 43,000-square-foot subterranean escape (the spa was built underground, with skylights to bring sunlight streaming in) takes you on a walk through rock archways and past waterfalls to soak in one of 10 chlorine-free mineral pools or breathe eucalyptus-infused steam in a special inhalation room.
Let the aromas clear your lungs and the minerals soften your skin and ease joint and muscle pain as you move from pool to pool. Day passes are available for non-hotel guests, with discounts for twilight sessions several days during the week. Stone and hot towel massages in an outdoor pagoda with Blue Ridge Mountain views are worth the splurge. Can't you just feel the good health vibes and inner glow already?