Travel Tips

From Active Fitness to Spiritual Growth: Spas to Visit in 2015

Locations in this article:  Miami, FL San Diego, CA Tucson, AZ

cal a vieIf your New Year’s resolution has anything to do with health and wellness, you may want to start 2015 off with a trip to a spa. I’m not talking about a day spa, but a real getaway—a destination spa.  There are numerous types to choose from: Active Fitness, Medical, Pampering, Spiritual, and Weight Loss, among others. Many spas offer various specials throughout the year, especially in January, which means now is the perfect time to go. Contributing writer Lea Donosky explores a few spas to visit:

Active Fitness

You will feel like you earned your pampering sessions at Green Valley Boutique Hotel & Spa (although, no one will force you out of bed if you’d rather sleep). They host daily hikes and adventures in the stunningly beautiful Red Rock Canyon country of Southern Utah. Or, sign up for the tennis, golf, or horseback riding programs. After all that activity, you’ll find spa treatments and low-calorie meals waiting. For its 30th anniversary, overnight guest rooms start at $99 in January. Looking for something more all-inclusive? Green Valley offers a package of meals, a daily guided hike and a spa treatment, plus unlimited classes for $299 a night. Pets are welcome as well.


A number of spas now offer executive physicals and a medical approach to spa care, but the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami was among the first health-based wellness spa around. Check into the Mediterranean-style mansion and get a physical and an exercise prescription for your stay, and one for when you leave. In addition to spa services, choose from a menu of medical ones: sleep disorder evaluation and treatment; biomechanical and musculoskeletal evaluation for those aches and pains; heart and circulation testing; and, a bone density scan. You’ll dine on the modernized Pritikin diet, which is heavy on fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and lean protein. Check with your insurance company to see what tests and treatments might be covered. 


There’s no need for a passport to feel transported to a European village. Cal-a-Vie in the rolling hills outside of San Diego provides pampering in a 400-year-old chapel from France. But the chapel isn’t the only beautiful part of Cal-a-Vie. With 20 miles of hiking trails, fields of lavender, acres of vineyards, and its own labyrinth, this is truly a place to unplug and enjoy nature as well. “We cater to what a guest’s needs are,” says marketing director Jacquie Matzat of the spa, which has 32 villas. “Some want to lose a few pounds, some want to learn to meditate.” Mornings start with a brisk walk, followed by a choice of classes, and two spa treatments in the afternoon. Cal-a-Vie is near the top of the price list—about $1,100 a day—but check for specials, like the “Mom & Teen” week, where a second person is half price. Plus, there’s no need to pack; clothing is provided.


If you are a seeking a renewal of mind, body, and spirit, there are a number of spas from which to choose ranging from bare bones, inexpensive retreats—many of which focus on yoga and can cost as little as $100 a night—to more extravagant options that offer pampering along with the search for peace and mindful living. One of the latter is Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona. This destination spa has continued to build the spiritual side of its program since 1979. They now offer meditation walks and multi-level yoga classes as well as “spiritual service providers,” and sessions on crystal energy, feng shui, and numerology. Prices are toward the high end, with winter sessions being the most expensive. Check for special programs and rates. First-time guests get 20 percent off.

Weight Loss

If you are serious about shedding pounds, one of the best spa centers is the Hilton Head Wellness Retreat and Weight Loss Spa in South Carolina. Its focus since opening in 1976 has been weight loss, but the seaside location and new full-service spa, Indigo (opening in 2015), will ensure you don’t feel deprived. What makes this center unique is the sense of camaraderie you experience, as most guests stay a week or more. The program, which emphasizes smart nutrition and health decisions, offers a structured environment of exercise, low-calorie meals, cooking classes, and more to let attendees focus on issues such as emotional eating. One-on-one mentoring further helps you continue a healthy lifestyle when you return home. An all-inclusive “lose well” program is $495 a night. A year-end sale—with savings up to $750—is offered for two-week stays and can be used throughout 2015. Check your insurance for possible coverage with a doctor’s prescription.

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By Lea Donosky for