While there are many spas, just a select group are dedicated to helping you renew, relax and reconnect with what you really want from life. Destination spas are all-inclusive, with accommodations, meals, classes, and lectures all part of the package. Prices start around $300 per person, per day, (double occupancy) at the Red Mountain Spa in Ivins, Utah, and go up to a stratospheric $9,000 for a week-long stay at Cal-A Vie or Golden Door near San Diego. For budget travel, see best budget destination spas.
Golden Door in Escondido, Calif., is an ultra-luxury health spa serving no more than 40 guests. Usually its women-only, but sometimes it has co-ed weeks and men-only weeks. Wooden walkways link a series of serene garden courtyards inspired by the ancient inns of Japan. This wellness spa emphasizes individualized service, guiding guests towards a balance of mind, body and spirit.
Rancho La Puerta in Mexico is the original destination spa and still one of the very best. Started in the 1940s by Edmond and Deborah Szekely, Rancho La Puerta is just four miles across the border from California, an hour from San Diego. "The Ranch" has lots of things going for it—great food and classes, hiking in beautiful mountains, outstanding guest speakers and a friendly atmosphere. And it's an excellent value compared to destination spas in the U.S.
Canyon Ranch has two locations that offer the ultimate wellness spa experience—Tucson, Arizona and Lenox, Massachusetts. The staff and programming at both locations is unparalleled, with medical doctors at the cutting edge of wellness medicine, exercise physiologists, movement therapists, energy healers, hypnotherapists, psychologists, even spiritual counselors. Both Canyon Ranch locations have fabulous exercise classes and outdoor programming, especially hiking. The Tucson, Arizona property accommodates 240 guests in adobe cottages on 150 acres in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Canyon Ranch Lenox can serve 200 guests in 126 guest rooms and suites on 120 woodland acres in Western Massachusetts.
Set on 135 acres at the foot of the Santa Catalina Mountains in Catalina, Arizona, Miraval has 106 adobe-style casitas, most with private patios. buildings and great views. While it offers spa cuisine, it also serves alcohol and wine. Its signature program is the “Equine Experience,” where working with a horse gives you insight into how you deal with people—and life. It's famously "Oprah's favorite spa" because of the emphasis on growth through challenges.
Bordering a national forest two hours from Phoenix, Mii Amo in Sedona is a village of six adobe casitas near the Spa, within walking distance of the larger Enchantment Resort. The hottest service here is an Aura-Soma reading of your life based on the colored bottles you choose from more than 100.
The food is so good at this spa on a lake outside Austin you'll have a hard time believing the calorie counts on the menu. With just 40 rooms it's intimate and easy to meet people, but the spa is big and lavish. Outdoor treatment spaces with screened porches, garden tents, poolside cabanas and a private couple's suite. Separate men's and women's wet areas, two swimming pools, native gardens, cascading streams and fountains, and more than 100 spa treatments.
If you love adventure and are inspired by Southwestern scenery, Red Mountain Spa in Ivins, Utah, is for you. Try rock climbing, go kayaking or mountain bike through rugged terrain. The heart of the spa is its hiking program and outstanding outdoors guides. It’s also a beautifully designed resort, with unusually good spa cuisine and a wine list. And it's one of the most affordable spas in the Top Ten.
This elegant spa is set on 200 rolling acres north of San Diego. Its 24 guest cottages are decorated in elegant European style. Most people come to stay for an entire week and eat spa cuisine and follow a highly programmed exercise agenda, but shorter stays are possible It has both co-ed and women-only weeks throughout the year.
One of the best new wellness retreats is Skyterra Wellness Retreat about an hour from Asheville, North Carolina. A talented staff on the cutting edge of fitness and healthy living teaches guests the latest in wellness thinking. No matter what shape you're in–obese to super-fit–the program and classes can be adapted to you. It's a small program that encourages longer stays (one to four weeks) and is affordable compared to most spas. Skyterra simply can't be recommended highly enough.You will learn a lot about yourself and have a great experience.