An article created in partnership with Huffman Travel.

Destination spas and retreats have come a long way! I remember in the ’80s when my parents ventured to Pritikin Health Resort with some friends to experience its “cutting edge” approach to weight loss and health, with hours on treadmills and calorie-restricted meal plans. Let’s just say it was a one-and-done for them. Flash forward to the early 2000s when I longed for a spa getaway as a young working mother and found only a few choices, including Canyon Ranch and Miraval. I tried both back then and found them to be a nice reset at the time, complete with fitness classes, nutrition lectures, massages, and some mediocre “healthy” eating options. By the time I reached 40 years old, I was ready for something that strengthened me more, and I found it at The Ranch Malibu, where I spent a week, off the grid, rising at 5:30 a.m., hiking for six hours a day, eating a vegan diet, and detoxing. I would say that now that I am in my 50s, my interest in wellness spas has grown, and I’m seeking retreats that also fuel my spiritual and emotional well-being, not just the physical. I think this is where things are evolving as more people seek to get away and realign their well-being from a holistic approach that incorporates all aspects of mind, body, and spirit. 

The good news is that, unlike in the 1980s, there is a ton of options for great wellness getaways in the 2020s. The important thing is to consider what is suitable for you right now; seriously consider what you need, communicate those goals to your travel advisor, and let them help you find the right fit. Maybe you’re looking for the most state-of-the-art medical experience where they draw your blood daily, and there are doctors on site. There are places like that! Maybe you are looking to relax on the beach with some girlfriends and where the only thing you have to manage are your spa appointments. There is also a spot for that! 

The best thing you can do to reach your health bliss is research and tune into yourself to discover what is best for you. Below are a few of my favorite options to consider.

Credit: Sensei Lānaʻi – A Four Seasons Resort


The ultimate luxury wellness retreat begins with a complimentary, semi-private flight from Honolulu to the island of Lānaʻi, where guests are invited to indulge in luxury. Once at the resort, enjoy a variety of fitness classes, including meditation, yoga, hiking, and lectures daily. The resort’s one-on-one private well-being consultations with professionals include physical and emotional well-being assessments. Sensei uses state-of-the-art technology and a unique partnership with WHOOP to track your every move. The menu offerings are unique, like Thermal Body Mapping and Massage: a 150-minute experience, which uses Sensei-developed thermographic technology to create a map of your body to reveal asymmetries, muscle tightness, and areas of pain. Then, you can get a customized, targeted massage to best fit your needs in the most luxurious private spa “hales,” the Hawaiian word for house.

Credit: The Mayflower Inn & Spa – Auberge Resorts Collection


Looking for a short getaway reset on the East Coast? Check-in for a few nights at this ultra-chic and idyllic country retreat. Far enough from New York City to center your mind and reboot physically, this infamous inn is located amidst Connecticut’s gorgeous woods and rolling hills. The Mayflower’s partnership with The WELL has created a heavenly spa with innovative therapies like sound healing, lymphatic drainage, and private breathing classes.

Credit: The Ranch


If you are looking for a total no-joke reset, book the 7-day program at The Ranch, Malibu, and spend a week in nature with absolutely no distractions. The Ranch Malibu sits on 200 acres in the Santa Monica mountains, where guests are sequestered without television, limited wifi, and no cell service for “further aid in mental detoxification.” Stay in a private cottage and eliminate all decisions with a rigorous and strict health and wellness schedule that includes strenuous daily hiking, fitness classes, meditation, massages, and a specialized vegan menu for the week. It is all planned for you, but you have to do the work to get the physical results. You will leave a few pounds lighter and better appreciate the tools you can use once back home to manage your health better.

Credit: Mii Amo Spa


This unique spa has a cult-like following, with guests returning year after year to this sacred, beautiful resort. They come for all the amazing healers drawn to Sedona for its unique energy vortexes, and incredible red mountains. Enjoy spectacular hikes, mountain biking, and many other activities like color aura readings and astrological consultations to get you more in touch with your spiritual self.

Credit: Blackberry Mountain


Set amidst the gorgeous Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, Blackberry Mountain is a boutique luxury, health-focused property with cozy, chic rooms and cabins, a great culinary program, and a daily schedule of fitness classes. If you’re looking for an active adventure, this is the place, with offerings including hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking, spin, HIIT, and aerial yoga! The food is designed to energize with portions that leave you feeling nourished but don’t weigh you down. The cozy Nest Spa offers many holistic treatments, including acupuncture and aromatherapy massages. There is also a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine on the property to teach you all about herbal and Chinese medicine. If you’re seeking a unique experience in nature, you can learn foraging skills that are sure to strengthen your connection between land and body.

Credit: Bamford


If you are looking for a perfect country getaway, check out the idyllic Daylesford Farm and Bamford Spa, located in the beautiful Cotswolds, about an hour and a half outside London. Book a few nights at the adorable golden limestone cottages that come with their own kitchenettes stocked with all the fresh daily essentials (organic coffee, baked bread, eggs from the coop, and milk from the onsite creamery). Everything at Daylesford is organic and locally sourced from the gorgeous farm. Spend the morning walking the scenic property, visiting the cows, pigs, and hens (who lay the eggs for the omelets served at the café). The vegetable gardens are out of this world; you can get a first-hand lesson on how to grow veggies both outside and in greenhouses from the resident gardener. You should also try your hand at the many cooking classes at the onsite Cookery School to learn how to prepare delicious and nutritious meals once back home. Spend your afternoons visiting the Bamford Haybarn Spa, where you will find pilates, yoga, and personal trainers, as well as a full menu of facials and massages.

Credit: Hacienda AltaGracia – Auberge Resorts Collection


For the more adventurous traveler, be sure to check out the newly-opened Hacienda AltaGracia, the Auberge Resorts Collection’s newest property nestled into the foothills of Costa Rica’s Talamanca mountain range. With fifty exquisitely outfitted casitas boasting panoramic views of the surrounding emerald hills, you can feel the healing powers of nature surrounding you. Once settled into a casita, meet your “compa,” an experienced designer who helps personalize an itinerary just for you based on your pre-trip consultations. But the real star of the property is the holistic spa, AltaGracia’s Casa de Agua, a unique collaboration with THE WELL that is other-worldly. The farm-to-table menu is a creative fusion that incorporates the local flavors with special herbs and spices from the on-property organic garden. But it is not all yin; you can get your yang too by pushing your limits and climbing to tree canopies 100 feet above ground or riding horses through the sugar-cane fields! The energy-healing circles and the deeply centering gong baths should not be missed. Welcome to the new age of wellness.


Looking for a passionate travel advisor dedicated to helping make your travel dreams a reality? Our friends at Huffman Travel are here to help!

Watch this interview of Elizabeth on WGNTV’s show Living Healthy Chicago for pointers on how to stay healthy when you fly.


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