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Pre-pandemic, many vacations started with all-you-can-eat buffets and ended with unlimited drinks and late-night partying—but that trend is changing. “Wellness Tourism” has been gaining popularity for years, with many workers now using vacation time to prioritize their mental, physical, and spiritual health.
Whether you’re looking to experiment with healthy new habits, get a jumpstart on your weight-loss journey, reconnect through a couple’s retreat, schedule some self-care with your girlfriends, or seek solitude on a solo adventure, there’s a wellness resort waiting to deliver on these experiences. Read on to discover our seven favorite U.S. wellness-focused resorts that are sure to reframe your idea of vacations forever.
Best for Oceanside Solitude
Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa, Pacific City, Ore. (pictured above)
There’s no place quite like the Oregon Coast, especially during the summer. Immerse yourself in all its glory at Pacific City’s Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa, where you’ll have a front-row seat to miles of Pacific coastline (every room has a view of the ocean and the Instagrammable Haystack Rock) and countless outdoor activities. Climbing the towering Cape Kiwanda Great Dune, located right next to the property, is a great way to get your heart pumping just as the sun begins to rise.
Explore the coast on a complimentary fat tire bicycle; join the Adventure Team for a clamming, crabbing, or foraging expedition; and get up-close-and-personal with sea creatures in the tide pools—you can borrow pretty much any gear you need, including binoculars, trekking poles, bikes, beach chairs, and firewood for beach bonfires. When you’re ready to relax, head to Tidepools Spa for a massage or facial, a private yoga class, or a soak in the saltwater hot tub. The Meridian Restaurant and Bar offers seasonal menus featuring a catch of the day, and culinary classes such as oyster shucking and mixology.
Best for Girlfriend Getaways
Civana Wellness Resort & Spa, Carefree, Ariz.
What better place could there be to rediscover your inner peace than in a town called Carefree? This is where you’ll find Civana Wellness Resort & Spa, which is set among 20 Saguaro- and succulent-studded acres of desert landscape that instantly helps guests connect to Mother Nature. Choose from over 15 daily classes included with your stay—from journaling and chakra balancing meditation to gratitude circles and gong baths—plus additional-fee offerings such as aerial yoga, equine therapy, arts and crafts, kayaking, mountain biking, standup paddleboarding, and mixology.
There’s no need to pack your schedule, though, so be sure to leave plenty of downtime for taking a meditative walk around the labyrinth, booking a Sonoran Sea Facial at The Spa, exploring the healing powers of water in the aqua therapy circuit, lounging at one of two pools, and participating in guided desert hikes. The Seed Café + Market will fuel your mornings and afternoons with delicious and thoughtfully presented plant-forward meals featuring anti-inflammatory and gut-friendly ingredients, while dinners at Terras celebrate farm-to-table produce, sustainable seafood, and grass-fed meat dishes (and, yes, yummy cocktails too).
Best for Spa Treatments and Golf Outings
Destination Kohler, Kohler, Wis.
Does water soothe your soul? Do you rate resorts based on the spa experience? Are you a golf enthusiast? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Destination Kohler is calling your name. Yes, this is the very same Kohler that’s known for its plumbing products (think: faucets, toilets, bathtubs, and sinks), which is why water is a celebrated resource in all of its offerings.
Rooms at The American Club—the Midwest’s only Forbes Five Star and AAA Five-Diamond resort-hotel—feature the brand’s most innovative bathroom amenities, including the Kohler showering experience (with multiple jets), a lighted and jetted bathtub, and sleek fixtures. The Kohler Waters Spa taps into the restorative properties of water with a thundering waterfall in the relaxation area and an impressive menu of water-based services (don’t miss the Cascading Waterfall Massage, featuring warm rain from the brand’s custom Vichy shower). Head to the shores of Wood Lake and visit Destination Kohler’s private Sports Core Health & Racquet Club, Bold Cycle for an indoor cycling class, or Yoga on the Lake for an infrared hot yoga class. Finally, golfers will enjoy championship golf on four top-100 courses designed by Pete Dye, including the famed Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run. In addition, The Baths of Blackwolf Run, which debuted in summer 2021, continues the water theme with a 10-hole par 3 course of water feature “baths.”
Best for Serious Weight-Loss Journeys
Hilton Head Health, Hilton Head Island, S.C.
For some, a few-day reset is all that’s needed to get back on a path of prioritizing their health. Others, however, benefit from a more comprehensive and longer-term program that addresses and supports all facets of weight loss—and while Hilton Head Health has offerings to accommodate both needs, this property truly excels in the latter. For the past 45 years, H3, as it’s affectionately known, has helped guests achieve healthy and sustainable weight loss through its medically-based approach.
The seven-day JumpStart Program addresses mental and emotional barriers to weight loss while immersing guests in fitness training, meal planning classes and cooking demonstrations, and coaching support. For a more comprehensive plan, the four-week LoseWell Program is an immersive experience providing a customized fitness and nutrition strategy, plus access to a personal fitness coach and wellness counselor to help create lasting behavioral changes. There’s an Extended Stay Program available as well.
Best for Luxurious, International Feels
Golden Door Spa, San Marcos, Calif.
Upon reaching the actual golden doors of the Golden Door Spa, you’ll immediately be transported to a passport-free slice of Japan that magically resides just outside of San Diego. The property is steeped in Japanese architecture, décor, and traditions—for instance, the grounds feature Japanese-style gardens and a large koi pond, and guests are encouraged to wear a provided kimono, called a yukata, to dinner, after being summoned to their evening meal by the ringing of a 300-year-old bronze bell rehomed from a Buddhist temple.
Your all-inclusive stay comes complete with daily laundry service, twice-a-day housekeeping, a daily in-room massage, personal trainer sessions, more than 40 fitness and mindfulness classes, evening programs and lectures, skincare sessions, personalized meal plans (featuring truly delectable farm-to-table cuisine thanks to five acres of bio-intensive gardens), and an impressive staff-to-guest ratio of 4:1 for the ultimate pampering. Plus, there are over 600 acres to explore, seven gyms, two swimming pools, two labyrinths, a lighted tennis court, a bathhouse, and 25 miles of private hiking trails. And the best part? One hundred percent of the net profits are pledged to charities that help abused children.
Best for a Couple’s Retreat
Castle Hot Springs, Morristown, Ariz.
Built into a canyon surrounded by the Bradshaw Mountains, Castle Hot Springs is a true desert oasis so far off the beaten path that you and your better half will quickly forget the rest of the world even exists. The property has come a long way since it opened in 1896 as Arizona’s first wellness resort, but its claim to fame remains its natural hot springs—you’ll find three pools of mineral-rich hot water (each progressively warmer) that are perfect for melting your stress away.
Fill your days by relaxing poolside, enjoying spa treatments, or joining a mix of classes including yoga, meditation, archery, paddleboard yoga, guided hikes, mixology, and mindfulness crafts. And don’t miss the farm tour, as you’ll get to see first-hand where much of the produce served in your daily meals and cocktails come from—the chefs and bartenders rely heavily on the acres of fields filled with herbs and veggies and orchards of fruit trees for their creations. Your romantic evening meal consists of a five-course tasting menu, but don’t be shy about asking for a s’mores kit for dessert. This property is a prime location for stargazing, which is why each cabin is outfitted with a telescope and furnished deck (though the best view may be from your private outdoor claw-foot tub).
Best for a Weekend Escape With Your Pup
Lake Austin Spa Resort, Austin, Texas
Only 20 miles from downtown Austin, yet worlds away from big-city life lies the peaceful Lake Austin Spa Resort. While you could arrive via car, booking a private water taxi provides the most scenic experience and an instant understanding about what makes Lake Austin so special. There’s no need to board your four-legged friend, either, as the Pampered Pets program will keep their tails wagging with a comfy bed, turndown treats, and chef-inspired dog menu.
You’re in the heart of Texas Hill Country, so it’s no wonder there’s an impressively curated wine list to accompany your meals, which can be enjoyed al fresco lakeside, in the Aster Café, or in your room. Spend your days participating in a chef-led cooking class, reading a book in a hammock, wake surfing, hiking, taking a sunset wine cruise, doing yoga, working out, sound bathing with crystal bowls, or trying your hand at Bokken-do Japanese swords. The LakeHouse Spa is a tranquil spot for your choice of more than 100 treatments steeped in Eastern influences, complete with a heated lap pool in the Pool Barn and a second pool with hot tub.