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Best Retreats for the Active Traveler

Practice
Two women paddleboarding at Lake Austin Spa Resort

Photo Courtesy of Lake Austin Spa Restort

The spiritual path leads toward “total aliveness” and entails peace and calm and simplicity, but it may also include bucket-list-level indulgence. The problem of course is that the brilliant minds of the travel retreat industry keep inventing new and more extraordinary experiences to add to the bucket. Active spiritual travelers are invited to connect with horses, dolphins, falcons, forests, and rocks—as well as to connect with ourselves and each other in ways we may never have thought of.  Should we get sucked into at least dreaming of such pursuits? Of course! Here’s a wide range of experiences to help you expand what you now think is possible with your body.

Red Mountain Resort | Ivins, Utah

If you’re looking to change your views about life and yourself, there is nothing like hiking in the majesty of the red rocks of Utah. Red Mountain is luxury Zion, an outdoor fitness enthusiast’s paradise that’s surrounded by serious mountains and endless red cliffs. You’ll find great trails for biking, hiking, climbing, and walking, plus a Wellness Center that includes unlimited fitness classes. There’s really fine healthy cuisine here, as well as the full-service Sagestone Spa with rejuvenating treatments for your sore muscles.

redmountainresort.com; 435-673-4905

VeraVia | Carlsbad, California

You’re paired with your own naturopathic doctor, human movement specialist, master trainer, nutritionist, and behavioral health psychologist at this unique retreat, held at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf, Club & Spa. This super-personalized program with its comprehensive approach to fitness is guaranteed to get you into tip-top shape. The retreat only takes between five and 10 guests a week.

veraviafit.com; 800-527-1936

The Marsh, A Center for Balance & Fitness | Minnetonka, Minnesota

Located on scenic marshlands, this is a wonderful community center, as well as a destination retreat. The Marsh is all about balancing the mind and body, improving flexibility, staying strong, and expanding your health knowledge through a number of lectures and events (Slowing Memory Decline with Food Choices, and Health and Wellness for Mid-life Transitions, to name a few). Classes like tai chi and Nia are popular choices, and there are always a number of new ways to learn how to move: Kettleball, Barre-Fusion, Water Ballet, and even Line Dancing.

themarsh.com; 952-935-2202

Laluna | Grenada, West Indies

Laluna is a hidden jewel in a secluded bay on the island of Grenada where you can practice your yoga or Pilates at the beachfront yoga pavilion to your heart’s content (there are also weeklong yoga retreats available). A state-of-the-art gym, organic cuisine, and an Asian spa make your stay memorable. Feeling more adventurous? Choose one of three different Experience Packages: the Stay and Sail (three nights at sea and three at the resort); Diving; and Wellbeing.

laluna.com; 473-439-0001

Triple Creek Ranch | Darby, Montana

This all-inclusive hideaway is a pastoral working ranch with a ton of outdoor activities to keep you fit and energized. There are daily horseback rides along Bitterroot National Forest, birding tours, cross-country skiing, fly-fishing, guided nature hikes, tennis courts, and much more to keep you moving. Rustic elegance and excellent cuisine that doesn’t come cheap.

triplecreekranch.com; 406-821-4600

Miraval Resort & Spa | Tucson, Arizona

Miraval epitomizes the extremes of high-end spirituality—and that’s not an oxymoron. You may find the path to your bed outlined in rose petals, and then eat in the excellent kitchen of the restaurant as you talk with the cooks. This luxury wellness destination is constantly innovating for those who have everything: Dream Yoga, Aqua Power Barre, Mindful Energy Movement, lots of outdoor activities (it put the equine experience on the map), and delicious healthy spa cuisine. Great hiking for all levels, fun art classes, a very high and scary ropes course, and a serene labyrinth.

miravalresorts.com; 800-232-3969

Lake Austin Spa Resort | Austin, Texas

A true destination spa in the Texas Hill Country, Lake Austin is an award-winning, all-inclusive property offering a number of creative programs ranging from Quench Water Weeks (stand-up and paddle fitness classes and more) to Rhythm and Moves. (With a special nod to Austin and its status as “The Live Music Capital of the World,” classes feature live music by local musicians.) The 19-acre resort boasts a lakeside location with a variety of water activities, as well as hiking trails, gorgeously landscaped gardens, memorable spa cuisine, and a great spa.

lakeaustin.com; 800-847-5637

The Oaks at Ojai | Ojai, California

If unfussy, casual places are your style, look no further. This destination spa, in the heart of Ojai, is known and loved for its down-to-earth approach to food and fitness. Exercise machines are in the hallways near the dining areas, and you’ll feel comfortable just jumping on one. Classes are divided into three categories—Cardio, Tone and Strength, and Stretch and Flexibility—and there’s a good range for beginners, intermediate, and advanced levels. The aqua fitness classes are wonderful, and there’s even Hula Hoop Fitness and something called Drum on the Ball that combines syncopated motion with drumsticks on a stability ball for toning.

oaksspa.com; 800-753-6257

The Epic Hotel | Miami, Florida

This hip Kimpton Boutique Hotel has an upbeat and energetic vibe and is located in downtown Miami, along the Miami River and overlooking Biscayne Bay. It houses the 12,000-square-foot Exhale spa, known for its unique mind-body approach to fitness, most notably its signature Core Fusion classes and yoga classes. Exhale offers about 52 different classes a week, and there’s always something fun and fitness-oriented happening at the spa, like “Shake Your Chakra.” The property scores extra points for being pet-friendly, eco-conscious, and offering guests complimentary on-demand yoga, Pilates, and meditation channels on TV, as well as a basket of yoga accessories for use during your stay.

epichotel.com; 305-424-5226

Mountain Trek Health Spa & Fitness Retreats | Nelson, British Columbia

Limited to 16 people, your accommodations are a lovely mountain lodge in a pristine place with endless trails. The focus at this hiking fitness and weight-loss program is on metabolism and providing a holistic approach to each guest—addressing issues like hormonal rebalance and mind-body-spirit connection. The end goal is to help you reclaim your overall functional health. Also on the menu: calorie-controlled spa cuisine, massage and other detoxifying spa treatments, nutrition classes, stress management, yoga, and sleep health.

mountaintrek.com; 250-229-5636

The Ranch at Live Oak | Malibu, California

Three miles above the Pacific Ocean in the Santa Monica Mountains, tucked away on the historic working ranch of silent film star Hopalong Cassidy, you’ll find a luxury retreat/boot camp. During a grueling week here you’ll get used to 5:30 a.m. wake-up calls, four to five hours of group hiking, hundreds of sit-ups, and daily yoga classes, massages, and naps. Seasonal organic vegetarian cuisine makes it all the more palatable. Change is guaranteed.

theranchmalibu.com; 800-711-1197

Hotel Matilda | San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, San Miguel is beloved for its beautiful Spanish colonial ambiance, art galleries, and art schools—and it’s a great walking city. Home to this chic boutique hotel, it’s an ideal choice for the independent traveler who wants a creative and sophisticated getaway. It’s an art destination within an art destination, thanks to the hotel’s gallery-like interior that’s full of artwork and installations by noted contemporary Mexican artists. (Much of the artwork was commissioned especially for the hotel.) Not to be missed: a meal at Moxi restaurant, a true foodie destination, and a treatment at the lovely, intimate Spa Matilda (try the Walking Matilda Leg Therapy).

hotelmatilda.com; 855-628-4532


Mary Bemis is the editor in chief of Journey to Renewal and the founder of InsidersGuidetoSpas.com.


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