Luxury destination spas aren’t just places to lie around a pool or get a back rub. Destination spas are truly destinations, opulent modern day palaces with trained massage therapists, chefs and medical professionals in one complex located high on a mountain or nestled in the bottom of a canyon; on sprawling acres of manicured lawns and gardens, far, far, far from car traffic, family responsibilities, bills, the office and every other stress of daily life. Because the fact is, daily life is filled with necessary stresses which eventually build up, sometimes in some hidden crevice just adjacent to the spinal cord. People go to day spas to luxuriate and get their nails painted before they go home to make dinner for their kids. People go to destination spas for a lot of reasons that may have to do with personal necessity, health, or sanity. People also go to destination spas because they can.
So travelers looking for a real break, not just a fake one that replaces every day stresses with even more emotionally taxing travel stresses, go to the kind of places that hand you slippers and a robe upon entry and expect you to wear it for the duration of your visit (not that you mind). Go to these places.
Located in the Red Rock foothills of the northern Arizona’s Boynton Canyon, Enchantment Resort and Mii amo Spa is 20 minutes north of Sedona, but worlds away from the stresses of everyday life. Mii amo means "Passage" or "Journey" in the Native American Yuman dialect – fitting, because the experience in the isolated 70 acre oasis hugging the canyon curve is truly a physical and spiritual journey. At the spa, guests can indulge in Ayurvedic facials and therapies, snuggle in their famous prickly pear butter wrap, and check out their variety of different massages ranging from Abhyanga and Shirodhara to Lymphatic Drainage, to Shiatsu. Their list of treatments goes on seemingly forever, but outside, the canyon invites guests to hike, horseback ride, and golf the two nearby championship golf courses. Throughout the day, visitors can head back to the Mii amo Café for gourmet and nutritious meals made from organic and local ingredients, as well as the Juice Bar for natural energy drinks, smoothies, organic wines and other specialty beverages. Mii amo might be a journey, but it’s also a prime destination resort for people who like to really get away.
Visitors can easily explore various surrounding state parks, like Lake Waramaug State Park, Kent Falls State Park, Macedonia Brook State Park, and more; while popular family ski mountains are just a quick drive away. However, the 58-acre property itself is home to resplendent gardens, soothing streams, and charming cottages. Each of their 30 uniquely designed guest rooms and suites ensure a peaceful and personal experience every time. Their famous spa facility houses a pristine indoor pool and a mosaic domed whirlpool, four fully equipped exercise studios, large treatment rooms, a salon, and outside, a breathtaking view of the Blue Heron Pond and the woods beyond. It’s easy to call a nice house in New England "charming," a term that only starts a long list of superlatives in descriptions for the Mayflower Inn, but let’s just say visitors to this New England resort do not miss the concrete of city life.
Located in the Lake Region of Pennsylvania, just 95 miles from New York and Philadelphia on 150 manicured acres of woodland, this adult-only retreat offers world-class spa amenities and treatments, tons of nature activities, a long list of new and innovative fitness and creative discovery classes like drawing and mosaic-making. In essence, this is a place for people to escape everything they know to find comfort and renewed passions – fly fishing, for example, is never as calming as it is after a specialty morning massage out in the picturesque Lackawaxen River. TREE Restaurant and Bar dishes out naturally raised meats and other proteins, and organic, locally sourced vegetables – many from the three functioning gardens on the grounds. This huge private country estate has 57 guestrooms, each featuring a private balcony, lake views, down comforters, marble bathrooms, oversized showers with rain showerheads, and more.
Like a rich uncle’s lake house, Lake Austin Spa Resort likes to really lay on the opulent amenities and upscale comforts while still providing a welcoming and happy, nature-filled environment. After all, simple comforts are simple comforts: a dock with a gorgeous view of the lake, a fluffy, soft robe and a well-prepared light meal. Everything else – whether it be a signature facial, a massage, a professional French chef preparing the light meal, and a fine vintage to go along with it – is designed to enhance lakeside robe-garbed dining. Since Lake Austin Spa has only 40 guest rooms, peace and quiet are absolutely guaranteed. With each stay, guests get their own private porch with a garden or lakeview, robes and slippers, Kohler soaking or steeping tubs, and plenty of sunlight in the morning. Their highly acclaimed restaurant serves upscale and portion-controlled meals using ingredients fresh from the gardens and a keen commitment to health consciousness. And the spa life! A local favorite, this luxurious 25,00-square-foot spa offers over 100 spa treatments and services to suit anybody’s fancy, including massage therapies, body treatments, East Asian therapies, facials and more. With a wide range of spa treatments from men and teens, as well as a buxom list of perks, like free run of the gardens, a gourmet four-course lunch, decked out wet areas, and two sparkling swimming pools.
Just being on the grounds of Green Valley Spa is an instant de-stresser. Bursting with flowers and surrounded by the brilliant expanse of the Red Rock Canyon, spotted with domo-style accommodations and clear blue leisure pools, even just a walk around the premises will unwind the soul. This lays a great foundation for an exploration into the body and the mind. Their programs are designed to target stress recovery, weight loss, and living fit, while the spa menu offers a range of over 60 holistic and alternative treatments to increase physical fitness, accelerate mental adeptness, detoxify, increase emotional stamina, or simply offer deep relaxation and a fresh face. They use only the best and freshest ingredients: sun-drenched sand, wild desert plants, real powdered pearls, sea clay, and rare essential oils. Those who wish to venture away from the spa can go far away: golfing, tennis, hiking Red Rock country, rock climbing, mountain biking, and even more activities are available for the pure oxygen deprived. Consistently named among the best spas in America by SpaFinder, Conde Nast, Travel + Leisure, and TripAdvisor, Green Valley Spa is simply perfect people who just want to live better.
Founded in 1958, the Golden Door Spa was the first luxury spa retreat of its kind, proving once and for all that while money might not be able to buy happiness, it can, for just one week, buy complete serenity and inner peace. It’s not your average spa retreat: it can be a boot camp, an ashram, a summer camp or a luxury spa, depending entirely on the visitor’s needs and desires. This East-Asian inspired SoCal getaway excels in the details: meals are tailored to the diner’s specific body weight and optimal caloric intake, breakfast is served in room, the produce for meals are picked the day they’re served, and even just a walk around the meticulously groomed 377-acre grounds is a restorative process. What also sets Golden Door apart from the others of its kind is that every visitor sits down with a fitness staff member at the beginning of the week to discuss fitness goals and create a daily schedule. The week includes four sessions with a personal fitness trainer, a customized take-home fitness plan, a choice of 12 different mountain and meadow hikes all over their 20 miles of private trails, a selection of over 40 fitness classes, a cooking class and customized meals, a daily in-room massage, special signature spa treatments and skin-care and hair consultations and more. The Golden Door isn’t just a destination spa, it’s a place of renewal and an internal exploration into mind, body and soul.
The world-renowned Canyon Ranch is not the kind of spa where guests go to chill out in a pool for a few days and maybe get a Swedish massage only to claim a state of zen. The cell phone free zone of Canyon Ranch is a place that takes a holistic and integrative approach to health and general well-being – pools and Swedish massages are just the tip of the iceberg. Located in the Sonoran Desert just in the shade of the Santa Catalina Mountains, guests can enjoy all of the nature adventures high in the mountains and around the resort grounds, like yoga and pilates, golf, biking, hiking, High Ropes, and racquet sports. Their luxury spa offer traditional Asian therapies, Ayurvedic body treatments, full body wraps and more. For guests who are ailing, Canyon Ranch keeps a staff of medical professionals like licensed therapists, chiropractors, movement therapists and board-certified physicians in their Healing Center, often available for a life management session, lecture, medical service or food and nutrition coaching.
Less of a spa resort than it is a lifestyle reset (in the best possible way), this 400 acre all-inclusive resort in the Santa Catalina Mountains in the High Sonoran Desert in Tucson specializes in delivering a wide and varied range of programs and activities designed to improve overall well-being and harmony. The all-inclusive nature of their resort ensures that guests can experiment with fitness classes from golf and tennis to fitness and pilates, take an experiential workshop in nature photography, dive into nature headfirst on the High Ropes Challenge Course and improve nutrition with finely tuned cooking classes and lectures. Or, if necessary, guests can just hang out in their hugely impressive spa – after all, renewal begins with the body. Their trained massage therapists bring their global perspectives to zero in on each client’s specific needs – whether it’s acupuncture, chi nei tsang, craniosacral, reiki or their famous Thai massage, these therapies are sure to ease the body and soul. At the end of the day, guests should have no trouble falling asleep in the casita-style accommodations with windows overlooking the gorgeous Santa Catalina Mountains.
Three miles above the Pacific Ocean in the Santa Monica Mountains, this gorgeous working ranch is surrounded by private hiking trails, mountains, canyons, and running water. A lot of the guests at The Ranch at Live Oak in Malibu go to get their butt kicked in a healthy and sustainable fashion while lapping up the luxuries of world-class amenities and dining. But more than a fitness boot camp, it’s an emotional retreat from the stresses of everyday life to center on strength renewal, soul-searching, healthy living and nature chasing. There’s no cell phone reception or WiFi, no coffee, alcohol, meat, dairy, white flour or sugar – just days filled with long, guided hikes, fitness classes, yoga and core training. It sounds intense, but the personalized programs are designed to help their guests physically and mentally detoxify as well as gain mental clarity, increase strength and energy, and feel a general sense of calm of personal empowerment. For these major life-changing paybacks, the Ranch only accepts stays of at least a week in length.
Canyon Ranch’s East Coast location in the quintessentially New England town of Lenox allows guests a taste of the opulence of the Gilded Age. Canyon Ranch is for every season, and every season presents a new thrill: Autumn invites bursts of colorful leaves and gorgeous Berkshire hiking. In the summer, hikers and boaters follow two miles along the Appalachian Trail and canoe the pristine Goose Pond. Music enthusiasts head to Tanglewood to listen to the sweet swings of the Boston Pops. Winter might be cold, but it’s a blast! Guests get to trek through the premises on cross country skis and snowshoes, still getting in a proper aerobic workout. After these activities, the spa is ready to receive the sore and achy: their 100,000-square-foot fitness and spa complex offers luxury treatments including restorative touch therapies, Ayurvedic body treatments, scrubs and masks and innovative facials. Reliably and true to Berkshire spirit, of all the Canyon Ranches in the world, their Lenox location is truly the most classically stunning. A network of New England-style buildings surrounds their centerpiece 1897 Bellefontaine Mansion, which houses a rich and homey leather bound library and a state of the art spa facility. Located within gazing distance of the mighty and majestic Berkshire Mountains, this East Coast getaway brings a little classic romance to anyone’s vacation plans.