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Travelers visit wellness resorts for a number of reasons, including spiritual awakening, unplugging from the modern world, weight loss, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and simply being with nature. Wellness retreats vary depending on the type of experience you are seeking, but most tend to be located in a beautiful setting that is isolated from day-to-day distractions. Yoga, meditation, hiking, and other activities are often bundled into the hotel price, and accommodations range from basic, unexciting rooms to luxurious bungalows. Here are the best wellness hotels and resorts in the United States and Central America.
Best Budget: Pura Vida Retreat and Spa (Costa Rica)
While many wellness retreats carry a hefty price tag, Pura Vida Retreat and Spa is an affordable option surrounded by the volcanic mountains and healing hot springs. The 46-room retreat bundles a massage, guided hike to a coffee plantation, eco adventures, daily yoga and meals into the nighty rate for an amazing value. Located in Alajuela, Costa Rica, the retreat is just 30 minutes from the capital of San Jose, but offers a peaceful getaway with outdoor activities such as zip lining and whitewater rafting. An on-site spa has Reiki, hot stone massages and bio-energetic healing, as well as a relaxing pool with tropical gardens. Accommodations vary drastically from “glamping” style tents to luxurious suites overlooking the mountains.
Best on the Beach: Sansara Surf and Yoga Retreat (Panama)
For those seeking a quiet, tropical getaway right on the sand, the intimate, Sansara Surf and Yoga Resort is tucked away on Panama’s Los Santos Province on the Pacific Coast, and is perched right on a private, soft-sand beach. The nine, Zen-like cabanas grant tranquil views of the ocean and have tropical hardwood furniture and private patios. The resort features a yoga studio, saltwater swimming pool and an on-site spa for traditional Hawaiian massages, acupuncture, as well as Thai, Egyptian or Greek-inspired treatments. Signature retreats include surf, yoga and women’s retreats; however, the resort also offers stand-up paddleboarding, meditation retreats and more.
Best Spa Resort: Canyon Ranch (Arizona)
The Canyon Ranch brand can be found on cruise ships, in day spas, and in resorts such as the Tuscon, Arizona location. Hidden in the deserts of the Santa Catalina Mountains on a 150-acre property, Canyon Ranch is an all-inclusive resort for those seeking a mix of outdoor activities and spa treatments. The 80,000-square-foot spa has rituals for detoxifying, soaking in aromatherapy tubs and purifying rubs. There are also fitness facilities, activities such racquetball, wallyball and squash courts, as well as Pilates, dance and yoga studios. Guests of the resort can enjoy hiking, biking and outdoor dining with locally sourced, Mediterranean-style fare. The 163-room hotel also has an aquatic center with several pools, classes and healing sessions. Canyon Ranch is 30 minutes (by car) to Tucson's city center and 40 minutes to the airport.
Best for Solo Travelers: Sedona Mago Retreat (Arizona)
Sedona is known to contain an “energy vortex,” and is a popular destination among solo travelers seeking to improve spiritual wellness. Surrounded by stunning red rocks and mountain scenery, Sedona Mago Retreat is set on 163 acres about 25 miles from Sedona. The spiritual center is a smoke, alcohol and meat-free property. Each of the 120 rooms or “casitas” have no Internet or televisions and guests can choose between private or shared options – making it more affordable for solos. Tao ceremonies, meditation weekends and Ki energy healing classes are all on offer. Amenities include swimming pools and lounges and small healing vortexes – which Trip Advisor members say greatly contributed to their experience.
Best for Weight Loss: Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa (Florida)
For travelers who are primarily interested in getting in shape and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, the Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa in Miami delivers results. The all-inclusive resort has medical exercise programs, cooking classes, gourmet dining and wellness education to jump-start a change in lifestyle. But it’s not all about weight loss: the resort has plenty of ways to unwind, including swimming pools, spa and massage treatments and golf courses. A variety of spacious guestrooms and spa suites include amenities such as aromatic pillow menus, rainfall shower heads and lanais or private balconies. Miami’s premier shopping and attractions are within easy reach, with trendy South Beach just 15 miles away.
Best for Views and Meditation: Art of Living Retreat (North Carolina)
Spread along the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the 175-room, Art of Living Retreat Center in Boone, N.C., has stunning views combined with yoga and meditation. Rooms are extremely basic – allowing you to focus on inner growth without distractions. Guided meditation classes, Hatha yoga, healthy dining and an Ayurveda spa provide a well-rounded healing program. The center frequently hosts detox, weight loss and silent retreats, so be sure to check the schedule. Other activities include hiking, pottery lessons, rafting and a mediation labyrinth the explore. Meditation halls range in size, with some holding up to 3,700 people – but most average 15 to 200. The center is removed from most area attractions, but shops and restaurants can be found 20 minutes away in the center of Boone.
Best for Romance: Little Palm Island Resort and Spa (Florida Keys)
For couples looking to unplug from the grid in a warm-weather getaway without leaving the continental U.S., Little Palm Island in the Florida Keys is a romantic oasis. Located about a 40-minute drive from Key West on a five-acre private island, Little Palm Island has sun, sand, a marina and a lavish spa. There are no televisions or cell phones allowed and the island is accessible by a short ferry boat ride. Enjoy yoga, meditation and numerous spa treatments that incorporate coconut, bamboo and other herbs. Thatched-roof bungalows have Caribbean décor, a minimum of 550 square feet of space, Jacuzzis, and private outdoor bamboo showers. The resort is a popular destination for honeymoons, weddings and anniversaries.
Best Splurge: Amangiri (Utah)
For those seeking a “bucket list” splurge, Amangiri is operated by the opulent Aman resorts, the crème-de-la crème of active wellness resorts (with a top-tier price tag to match). Set in a remote location near the Arizona-Utah border, Amangiri rests between two stunning parks: Grand Canyon National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The resort is set on 600 acres with suites and public spaces carved out of the landscape, and has an expansive 25,000-foot spa with massages, scrubs, wraps and flotation therapy. Unwind in therapy pools and saunas or in the private suite lounges, practice yoga or enjoy freshly prepared dishes from the woof-fired oven. The resort features miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding, as well as morning hot air balloon flights over the spectacular desert.
Best Pet-Friendly: Red Mountain Resort (Utah)
Fort travelers seeking peace and outdoor adventures with their furry friends, some of the 82 deluxe rooms at the Red Mountain Resort are set aside for pets for a nominal fee. Anchored along the stunning red rocks and desert in Ivans, Utah, the resort is an ideal base camp for exploring Zion or Bryce Canyon National Parks, as well as Snow Canyon State Park. Your pet will love the private hiking trails around the 55 acres, while guests can relax with yoga, meditation, swimming pools, whirlpools or cooking classes. The on-site spa provides treatments that infuse local honey, clay and salt. TripAdvisor members were especially impressed with the guided hikes and fitness classes.
Best Hiking Spa: New Life Hiking Spa (Vermont)
The New Life Hiking Spa in Vermont pioneered the idea of “hiking spas,” and has been drawing travelers interested in active lifestyles for nearly 40 years. The hotel combines a rustic stay in the Green Mountains with guided hikes followed by a relaxing spa treatment – included in the price. The hiking program is ideal for weight loss and combines yoga, fitness classes and healthy meals. Accommodations are basic, but comfortable with exposed brick walls, private baths, Internet and TV. Some TripAdvisor members noted that parts of the hotel are showing its age and may be in need of a refresh. The hiking spa is fairly remote, but if guests need a change of scenery several quaint country towns are a short drive away.