Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.


Top 10 Health Retreats 2006

While almost every luxury hotel around the globe has its own signature spa, few take the concept one step further and provide a full-service health center. We're talking about the kinds of places that cater to holistic wellness with comprehensive programs—corresponding spa treatments are a bonus. The retreats we've chosen offer the widest range of mind-body-spirit enhancers possible, from basic yoga to cabaret dancing. The settings, too, play a significant role: tranquil island and remote countryside locales seem to be the top choices for health retreats. With "hectic" being one of the defining adjectives of the 21st-century lifestyle, making time for yourself is crucial. So choose a destination that suits your personality and prepare to not only unwind, but also learn how to nurture yourself long after your vacation is over.

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USA

Arizona
Miraval, Life in Balance

www.miravalresort.com

As far as this resort's philosophy is concerned, the name says it all. This destination is about balancing your life. You're here to do more than just get into shape. You're here—in a gorgeous desert setting outside Tucson—to focus on your life's purpose. We recommend The Ultimate Package, which gives you unlimited access to all scheduled activities (desert landscape photography hikes, drumming, meditation, petroglyph walks and horsemanship classes), as well as a spa service or round of golf per night. Feeling stressed out, undertaking a life transition or working on your weight? Life in Balance Programs (for stays of four days or more) combine a customized itinerary with the resort's core elements of healthy eating, exercise and the mind/body connection.

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Massachusetts
Canyon Ranch Lenox

www.canyonranch.com

Canyon Ranch Lenox is among the granddaddies of the United States's "wellness as lifestyle" resorts. This outpost is located in the beautiful Berkshires, and the only thing you might find stressful here is the array of choices. Stays begin with a basic three- to seven-day package, which includes a selection of 45 complimentary fitness classes daily (as varied as Tai Chi hikes and Broadway dancing), and allowances for health and spa services—there are more than 225 options. As well, there are lectures, workshops and cooking demonstrations. You can supplement your experience with focused health packages such as Ayurvedic or Stress Management. Sure, it may seem overwhelming at first, but with professionals on hand to guide you, inner serenity is just a check-in away.

New York
New Age Health Spa

www.newagehealthspa.com

Whether you're looking to tone your body or soothe your soul—and whether you're just beginning your search for well-being or are a confirmed "health nut"—New Age Health Spa provides direction and ample opportunity for improving your life. This 280-acre estate, with its country inn accommodations, is an all-inclusive venture, where days might entail silent meditation, strength training and a lecture on nutrition. Physical and spiritual programs take advantage of the serene natural setting (in season you might find yourself hiking in the Catskills), and obligatory Pilates and kickboxing classes are accompanied by atypical activities, such as cabaret dancing. The Cayuga Yoga and Meditation Center complements the resort's excellent health facilities.

Texas
Lake Austin Spa Resort

www.lakeaustin.com

Many pleasure-seekers head to bucolic Lake Austin Spa Resort solely for the delicious treatments at its LakeHouse Spa, but there's much more to this destination than hot stone massages. Each day a full schedule of fitness classes and activities is offered. Surrounded by organic gardens and pastoral hills, you can balance your seven chakras, take Bollywood aerobics, or even return to the realm of grade school recess with a class that incorporates hopscotch and skipping. Yoga is a highlight. The yoga deck is suspended over Lake Austin, and programs (which range from meditative to restorative) even include one for the face. Creative types will enjoy mingling activities such as watercolor lessons and lantern making with Spinning and Pilates.

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INDIA

Himalayas
Ananda

www.anandaspa.com

This sacred locale—the Himalayan mountains overlooking the Ganges River—is an ideal site for a wellness retreat. And if the magnificent landscape isn't enough for you, this resort also resides in a palace estate, the former residence of the Maharaja of Tehri Garhwal. Along with Raj-era décor, Tantric art and spa cuisine, you'll find The Wellness Centre. It is staffed by nutritionists, physicians and spa therapists who use a combination of traditional Indian and modern Western techniques, many of which incorporate Himalayan spring waters. Programs include the three- or five-night Ananda Wellness Bliss and three-, five- or seven-night Ananda Sanjeevni, which builds on Bliss's spa and wellness activities with customized yoga sessions and Ayurvedic mind and body therapies.

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INDONESIA

Ubud
Como Shambhala Estates at Begawan Giri

cse.comoshambhala.bz

Begawan Giri has long been a favorite with those seeking to salve their spirits, but now that it's operated by Como Hotels and Resorts, its rejuvenating properties have been taken to a new level. The setting alone is healing. On forested, riverfront grounds outside the artisan village of Ubud, Como Shambhala Estates at Begawan Giri invites you to detox, manage your stress level, learn to cook or join visiting masters for a single-subject retreat. These generally include around five hours of practice each day, seminars and treatments that incorporate water from the sacred spring onsite. Personal eating programs rely on organic foods, and accommodations—suites and standalone villas—beautifully incorporate local design elements.

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IRELAND

Galway
Delphi Mountain Resort & Spa

www.delphimountainresort.com

Irish eyes are smiling on this gem of a wellness retreat in County Galway. It's surrounded by the incredible beauty of Killary Harbour and Connemara National Park, and the concept is to unite this natural setting with fitness, mind/body therapy and spa pampering. Each of the two basic programs—Health Spa and Great Outdoors—features its own complimentary activities, ranging from Tai Chi and herbal massage to sea kayaking and dolphin watching. There are also specialized packages such as Spa Indulgence and Relax and Destress. Architecture of native stone, ash, oak and elm works in harmony with the environment. Peregrine restaurant's all-natural cuisine emphasizes local seafood and produce from the resort's own greenhouses.

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ITALY

Saturnia
Terme di Saturnia Spa Resort

www.termedisaturnia.it

According to legend, a flash of lightning thrown in anger by the god Saturn is responsible for the natural thermal springs at Terme di Saturnia Spa Resort. This Tuscan retreat employs medical professionals as well as therapists to implement its well-being plans. Among the programs, LIMPHA of Saturnia is a completely personalized course; you'll experience evaluations of every aspect of body and spirit, from biological age, stress level and memory assessments to reviews of your skin, articular flexibility and more. Treatments are designed to improve your overall quality of life, and to be taken home with you. Although the clinical aspect of health is emphasized here, you can enjoy classic spa treatments alongside diet programs, help with circulatory disorders and more.

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MEXICO

Baja California

Rancho la Puerta

www.rancholapuerta.com

Those interested in the history of the wellness movement will love this place, which dates back to 1940. Founders Edmond and Deborah Szekely were holistic health forerunners, preaching the threats of cholesterol and processed foods long before such denouncements became vogue. Just an hour's drive south of San Diego, Rancho la Puerto offers self-designed weekly stays—guest briefings guide you through the Six Facets of Fitness (Cardiovascular Workouts, Personal Rewards, etc.), which will provide the framework for your stay. There are also specialty weeks, such as Mind-Body-Spirit Growth and Tai Chi in Paradise. Lodgings are done in charming casita style, and the kitchens are served by the six-acre Rancho Tres Estrellas organic farm.

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U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS

St. John
Caneel Bay

www.caneelbay.com

Those who want a full-on luxury resort experience with their fitness retreat will appreciate Caneel Bay. The property offers everything you'd expect from an upscale Caribbean resort, with the added bonus of The Self Centre. A mind/body approach to stress relief, relaxation and wellness is emphasized in activities such as qi gong on the beach and Breathwalk, an aerobic program that incorporates breathing, walking and meditation. Customized wellness treatments include Tuning the Body: Vibrational Sound Therapy, Shamanic Healing and Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultation; personalized programs can be created with the assistance of the staff. Can't decide how best to heal your spirit? Try the Self Centre Sampler, which brings six sessions together in one unique experience.

Top 10 Health Retreats
Top 10 Health Retreats 2005

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