How To Pick A Destination Spa

Destination Spas Vary In Price and Personality

Lake Austin Spa Resort
••• Lake Austin Spa Resort Garden. Lake Austin Spa Resort

Destination spa means that the spa is 100% geared to health and fitness.  It is an experience you can only find at just a few dozen locations, many with famous names, like Canyon Ranch, Golden Door, and Rancho La Puerta.  They are the pioneers of peaceful wellness retreats where adults could spend their vacation exercising and getting healthy.  In the 90s, they wanted a way to distinguish themselves from  resorts, where the spa was just another amenity, like a golf course, swimming pools and kids club.

 

But increasingly, destination spa has dropped from popular usage.  Only true spa aficionados know what it means.  The reason is the growing power of internet search engines.  Consumers don't search for "destination spas.  They search for "spa resorts."  So destination spas had to change their name to get closer to how consumers search. 

It's still useful to know what destination spa means.  That's because it still means something to the spa industry and spa insiders.   They can all tell you: a destination spa provides a total immersion experience in healthy living, with fitness classes, healthy food, and lectures to help inform and inspire you. 

But destination spas provide very different luxury levels, with prices ranging from $250 per person per day up to $8,000 + a week. How do you choose the right one for you? And how do you make sure that the "destination spa" is not an old motel that is really a dump?

It pays to do your research.  Canyon Ranch Lenox is a sprawling destination spa with fabulous facilities and more programs and classes than you could possibly attend. Golden Door in Escondido is an intimate yet luxurious experience. Active people on a budget go for New Life Hiking Spa from May through September in Vermont.

Think about what you're looking for in terms of facilities, price, amenities, and special programming.

Questions To Think About When You're Choosing A Destination Spa

  • Do you have a special interest or goal like losing weight, detoxing, or revving up your fitness routine? Do you want to go on yoga retreat, learn how to meditate, spend lots of time hiking, or just hang out with a friend and get some relaxing spa treatments? Thinking about what you want will help you narrow down the right destination spa for you.   
  • Do you want to be restricted with alcoholic beverages, caffeine, or calories?  It is fairly rare these days.  Most spas serve healthy food but give you as much as you want, including extra desserts.  Look for a detox spa or weigh loss spa if this is important to you.  
  • Do you have a medical issue you want to address? Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Mass. or Tucson are unparalleled in their medical programs.
  • Do you want an outdoors experience, with hiking and rock climbing? Try Red Mountain Spa in St. George, Utah.
  • How important is the educational aspect?  Larger destination spas like Canyon Ranch give lectures almost non-stop, while smaller spas might limit it to one in the evening.   how many lectures they have and what the qualifications of the speaker are.
  • Do you want an intimate atmosphere where it's easy to meet people or is a larger setting acceptable?
  • Do you want to be in town or in the country? Photos can be deceiving. Find out exactly where the destination spa is located.
  • How long do you want to stay at the destination spa? The minimum stay can range from two nights to a week.
  • How important is a luxurious room? Some destination spas have basic rooms, on the theory that no one is going to be hanging out there much.
  • How important is a luxurious spa facility? Less expensive destination spas might be somewhat basic. Remember to find out if spa treatments like massage, facials and body treatments are included in the package. You might also want more treatments than the package allows for.