Destinations

The 20 Best Destination Spas

If you're hoping to shed a few inches-or simply kickstart a healthier lifestyle-here's where to go.
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Looking to hit the reset button now that the calendar has ticked up another digit? Each of these 20 picture-perfect destination spas offers everything you need to relax, reprogram, or reshape yourself. Whether you want to jump-start serious weight loss, master a rock labyrinth, or indulge in daily rubdowns, book some time at one of these wanderlust-worthy health and wellness sanctuaries.

Lake Austin Spa Resort

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BOOK NOW Austin, TX

If you had a rich uncle with great taste, who just happened to own a sun-drenched lake house in the Texas Hill Country—the Lake Austin Spa Resort would be that home. After a walk in the flower, herb, and vegetable garden (preferably with the insanely knowledgeable flora and fauna director Molly Pikarsky) and some time spent gazing out at the Balcones Canyonlands Nature Preserve from the spa's light-filled Blue Room lounge, you'll never want to leave. Lake Austin also has something that no other spa in North America can truly claim: a water view. Nothing relaxes like some time on a lake (or looking at a lake, for that matter) and whether you want to paddle board, pedal-board, or just do yoga on the dock, it's all there for the taking. The food is plentiful and garden-fresh (literally, often picked minutes before preparing) but French Chef Stéphane Beauchamp doesn't believe in deprivation so there's no need to sneak in a secret saltshaker at this spa.

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We Care Detox Spa

BOOK NOW Desert Hot Springs, CA

To detox like the red-carpet-ready stars of Hollywood, head to the desert about 125 miles north of Los Angeles—but leave your fork and knife at the entrance. (And your squeamishness.) That's because the entire program is based on juice fasting—oh, and colonics. While that might sound painfully abstemious or downright torturous, We Care has a few key things going for it. For one thing, it works: guests looking to reset their bodies and minds emerge after long-weekend "tune-up" or weeklong "retreat" leave with enviably flatter bellies—thanks to a 1-3 pound per day weight loss—as well as clearer heads and brighter eyes and skin. Credit goes to both the clean liquid diet and to the raft of classes offered, including breath work, Reiki, sound-healing, yoga of every flavor, "creative visioning" and even sessions about transitioning back to solid food. Also, it's straight up gorgeous, surrounded by palm trees, cacti, flowering vines, and dramatic mountain vistas in the distance. About the colonics: they're not mandatory, but most packages include at least two. Wander the labyrinth walk, amble over to the far-infrared sauna, or just rest between classes on a floating bed and let the motion rock you to sleep. One unique spa treatment to try: Raindrop therapy, in which 9 essential oils are dropped in sequence along the spinal column and then massaged in specific directions, to help with inflammation, immune system, and breathing.

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The Lodge at Woodloch

BOOK NOW Hawley, PA

It used to be that New Yorkers searching for a luxurious destination spa experience had to board a plane, until the Lodge at Woodloch (just two hours from NYC) arrived in 2006 with 57 nature-inspired rooms (each with a private veranda) and a 40,000-square-foot spa. The 150 wooded acres feature a private 15-acre lake, and there's no stone unturned in terms of what you can do to get healthy: from golf to kayaking to fly fishing; from snowshoeing and hot tubbing amidst snowflakes; from bathing in the hydro massage pools to working up a sweat at TRX, spin or yoga sessions. Want more? There's an archery range, a Healing Garden, a Pollinator Garden, a Hammock Grove, an orchard and a farm-to-table garden with buzzing honeybee hives. Once you're tired out, check if Power Napping class is on the schedule and grab some shuteye. There are no calorie counts on the menus at the three-meal-a-day Tree restaurant, but the waistline-friendly cuisine comes from the hands of a French Culinary Institute-trained chef, so it doesn't disappoint discerning gourmands.

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The Ranch Malibu


BOOK NOW Malibu, CA

As you lace up your hiking boots and set off for a strenuous but scenic hike in the Santa Monica Mountains, don't expect a hearty trailside snack. This is one of those handful-of-almonds programs—a luxury but no-messing-around boot camp for Type As and A-listers that only takes 18 guests a week, during which time you'll forgo things like cellphones, coffee, soda and email. The simple (think lots of crisp whites and sunlight) but beautiful private cottages come with a daily aphorism placed on pillows, and you'll need all the shut-eye you can get. There's hiking in the morning, followed by strength conditioning, yoga, or circuit training in the afternoon—a total of 8 hours of activity. Thankfully, there's a scheduled hour of naptime as well as daily restorative massages. Guests report that the vegan and plant-based food—however scarce—is imaginative and delicious, and there are never any leftovers.

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Mii Amo


BOOK NOW Sedona, AZ

Those in search of balance, mental clarity and a hefty dose of pampering will find all three at this red rock country resort, located amongst the towering rock formations and mystical "vortexes" of Boynton Canyon. These storied spots have such swirling, powerful energy that they're said to help people take huge leaps with spiritual development. But even if you don't buy into the spirituality, you'll love the 16 meticulously appointed rooms, and can take part in over 100 weekly activities—from hiking and biking, to indulging in the prickly pear butter wrap at the spa. You'll have access to the aptly named Enchantment Resort, and guests say you don't want to miss the morning ritual at the Crystal Grotto, where therapists guide you to set a daily intention through meditation and smudging with fragrant eucalyptus.

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Canyon Ranch

BOOK NOW Tucson, AZ

The term destination spa is virtually synonymous with a trip to Canyon Ranch in Arizona, the industry's unrivaled Grande Dame. Here, you'll find some of the most knowledgeable and cutting-edge experts in the country, from leading fitness instructors to top doctors in charge of medical assessments. Expect early morning hikes in the high desert, QT in the 80,000-square-foot spa and the chance to test your limits on the High Ropes Adventure Course. (Yes, there's a zip line.) If losing weight is a goal, you'll no doubt shed some, thanks to the delicious but portion-controlled cuisine. Coming with your mom, who hates every sport but loves tee-time? Send her over to the 3,400-square-foot Gold Performance Center to practice her swing.

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Miraval Resort & Spa

BOOK NOW Tucson, AZ

Ever used a horse's flank as your canvas? Sign up for one of the Equine Experiences at Miraval, and you can grab a brush and start painting the side of a horse. That's just one of the entirely unique (and surprisingly centering) experiences you can have at this luxury spa in the Sonoran desert. With the Santa Catalina mountains in the distance, this 118-room resort is not only known for being a favorite of celebrities like Oprah, but for actually allowing you to have drink or two while you're there. (Many other spas restrict booze altogether, or insist you only drink in your room.) Whether you want to learn to cook, rock climb, meditate, bee-keep (seriously), or just work out so much that you sweat out all the bad stuff you did last year, you can do it here.

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Rancho La Puerta

BOOK NOW Tecate, Mexico 

There's something about crossing over that border from San Diego—the flowers are just that much brighter, the sunshine more sparkly, and those who call Rancho La Puerta their "happy place" come back again and again. This 3,000-acre property (owned by the same family for nearly 80 years) is just 45 miles Southeast of San Diego, and encompasses a tapestry of mountains, meadows and gardens. The property's motto, "siempre mejor"—always better, but always changing—is reflected in the guests' desire to spend their days challenged, yet pampered. Other changes of late: three gorgeous new "Heavenly Villas," a new organic juice bar, male-specific fitness programming, and a salsa y salsa food/fitness mash up class that you can't help but want to try. Don't miss: the spa's Xocolatl Skin Replenishment treatment, where you actually get to whip up the chocolate mask the therapist will use in the treatment.

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Cal-a-Vie

BOOK NOW Vista, CA

You may be in a quiet suburb just north of San Diego, but the aesthetic of Cal-a-Vie (at least in terms of décor) is all French country chic. That's no accident, since the entire 30-year-old resort is designed to look and feel like a quaint Provençal village. And as befitting the French, the Cal-a-Vie way is gracious and relaxed, with an occasional hit of intensity. Start your day at 6am by hiking through the canyon right in the resort's 440-acre backyard, then indulge in a vinothérapie-based spa treatment—massages, wraps, and scrubs with body products made from resort-grown grapes. This is an intimate but casual setting—there are only 32 guest rooms—and with a 5:1 staff-to-guest ratio, there's plenty of attention and guidance.

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Sundara Inn & Spa

BOOK NOW Wisconsin Dells, WI

This Midwest gem has made a big impact in the world of destination spas. For one thing, Sundara's presence means that just because you live in the heartland, you don't have to hop on a plane for a full-blown spa experience. (It's about a 4-hour drive from Chicago, a 2-hour drive from Milwaukee, and a 3.5-hour drive from Minneapolis.) Located amongst 26-acres of fragrant pine forests in the Wisconsin Dells, the spa goes for an East-meets-midwest vibe, taking inspiration from Ayurveda principles (Sundara means beautiful in Sanskrit), plus an abundance of Feng shui. Think curved walls, open space and light—anything to help you relax and unplug. (Speaking of unplugging: no devices are allowed in any public areas of the property.) The entire experience is one of plush and hushed beauty: quiet hikes, swimming in the infinity-edge pool, wandering along the meditation trail or the tranquility garden, and sinking into the down featherbeds come turndown time. Look for freshly brewed nighttime tea and caramels on your pillow.

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VIVAMAYR Altausee

BOOK NOW Altausee, Austria

For those who are looking to do a sugar cleanse or kickstart a healthier lifestyle, look no further than the VIVAMAYR Altausee Spa. Located in the heart of Europe and the center of Austria, the VIVAMAYR Health Hotel in Altausee is situated right by a lake and surrounded by the central alps — but the serene location is just a bonus. Guests are offered a host of programs and perks such as access to a score or experts and medical professionals who have all been trained in the Mayr method as well as some of the foremost experts in developments in modern medicine. The team helps each guest detox, and set better eating habits with holistic and tailored plans for each guest's goals. Bonus: treatments are centered around the healing properties of the local salt.

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La Reserve Geneve


BOOK NOW Geneva, Switzerland

Come for the sauna, hammam and indoor pool set inside the 20,000 square-foot lakeside Nescens spa, leave with a medical report, custom exercise program and recipes tailored to your health needs.

Villa Stephanie


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BOOK NOW Baden-Baden, Germany

State-of-the art healing meets Old World luxury at this 15 room, intensely private facility that specializes in digital detox (there's the option to switch off WiFi in your quarters). Meet with experts in dentistry, cardiology and physiotherapy to detox the mind and body and rejuvenate from the inside out.

Schloss Elmau


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BOOK NOW Elmau, Germany

Escape to the Bavarian Alps to nurture your min and body with art, music, literature, as well as yoga, massage and hiking excursions. The facility first opened in 1916 and is complete with 162 rooms, a family-friendly hotel, five spas, three libraries—even a concert hall. For the renaissance man or woman who also has a penchant for wellness.

Nihi Sumba Island


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BOOK NOW Nihi Sumba Island, Indonesia

Touch down at a luxury resort 250 miles east of Bali, which also happens to be home to the most exclusive surf break in the world (Occy's Left). The vibe is spa-meets-safari, and guests embark on excursions such as sunrise walks through rice patties and local villages, into a secluded valley where they receive a full day of unlimited treatments and swimming along private, secluded beaches.

Borgo, Egnazia


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BOOK NOW Fasano, Italy

Visit this modern take on a traditional Roman bath house, complete with a troop of artist therapists that include a psychologist composer, scent masters—even a hair doctor. Guests can treat themselves to candlelit soaks, garden produced scrubs and music therapy sessions. And the digs? Shack up in one of the 29 villas designed to look like a traditional Puglia village.

Kamalaya


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BOOK NOW Koh Samhui, Thailand

A holistic retreat founded by a former yogi and his wife, who happens to be an acupuncturist and ancient Chinese Medicine specialist, which has devotees flying halfway around the world to Koh Samhui. Visitors practice both eastern and western healing methods, as well as follow a raw diet, infrared sauna sessions and chi nei tsang (a kind of Taoist abdominal massage).

Aro-Ha


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BOOK NOW Glenorchy, New Zealand

This 21-acre Scandinavian minimalist retreat is host to strenuous 6 to 10 mile hikes and treks and daily mindfulness sessions all while taking in the snowcapped Southern Alps and Lake Wakatipu. Get ready for bonding activities such as acroyoga — this trip is definitely for the outdoorsy wellness aficionados.

Amangiri


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BOOK NOW Canyon Point, Utah

Destress in a desert setting at the otherworldly Amangiri, in the Four Corners surrounded by the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion National Parks, Lake Powell and Grand Staircase Escalante. Relax at the 25,000 square-foot spa inspired by Navajo traditions, and indulge in outdoorsy hobbies with on-staff archaeologists, geologists and naturalists.

Vana


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BOOK NOW Uttarakhand, India

The Vana retreat in India combines traditional yoga, meditation and aryuvedic medicine with organic food, beauty treatments and cultural outings. The signature program hinges upon a 21-night stay, but you can stop by for a 7 night minimum too. And for the boldest among us, there's even a silent retreat.

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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