Insider's Guide to Spas

7 Serene Mountainside Escapes

Embrace your inner mountain goat and . . .  ... Read the full article »

Mary Bemis

Embrace your inner mountain goat and . . .


Detox in the Shadow of Mount Kuchumaa

Since first opening in June of 1940, Rancho La Puerta, the original health and fitness retreat in Baja California, has always been about personal empowerment. The ideal, and real life-changer is to stay a week, eat organic, learn how to move in new ways, and work on your inner and outer wellbeing. Weeks are themed (dance, nutrition, yoga, and more) with expert lectures. A noteworthy option: the Detox and Cleansing Retreat.


Slip Away to the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite is a mere two miles from the south entrance to Yosemite National Park and encompasses 48 spectacular acres that border the Sierra National Forest. The views can’t be beaten since the Lodge, named for legendary Chief Tenaya of the Southern Sierra Ahwahneechee people, sits a mighty 5,288 feet up. There’s lots to do at this pet-friendly lodge, including archery, geocaching, hiking and biking, rock climbing, and stargazing. The property recently partnered with Balanced Rock (, a local non-profit travel company, to offer health and wellness programs that focus on inward reflection in combination with an outward exploration of the beauty of the High Sierra.


Find Quiet Amidst the Shawangunk Mountains

Just 90 minutes from New York City, Mohonk Mountain House is a National Historic Landmark that has been committed to environmental stewardship since 1869. Surrounded by the majestic Shawangunk Mountains, Mohonk is popular with families, but also ideal for solo travelers, and is an ideal place to set your own pace. Guests may sign up for a number of Mindfulness in Minutes programs offered throughout the year, as well as private meditation sessions. There are lots of outdoor activities year round, including miles of walking and hiking trails, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice-skating, and much more. End your day at the award-winning spa.


Take Tambo del Inka’s Train to Machu Picchu

Nestled between the city of Cusco and the ruins of Machu Picchu, the Urubamba Valley connects a modern city with ancient Incan culture. The valley is home to Tambo del Inka, a quiet, contemporary hotel that honors its natural environment. Stay at the hotel and explore the surrounding valley with its plentiful archaeological sites and colorful villages, or sign up for The Quinoa Trail, a day full of quinoa-themed activities at the hotel and throughout the Sacred Valley. There’s also a noteworthy spa with indigenous treatments and panoramic views of the Andes. With serene views of the mountains and of the Urubamba River, the hotel makes a great base for culture hounds and adventure seekers—and boasts its own train station serviced by PeruRail with daily morning departures to Machu Picchu.  


Book a Boot Camp in British Columbia

“Find vitality” is the motto at Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat, located in the beautiful mountains of British Columbia. The hiking-based retreat, housed in a simple timber-frame lodge, gives you an ultra-personalized program with activities like Nordic trekking (three to four hours daily), yoga, massage therapy, detoxification treatments, and a variety of fitness options. The program here is specifically designed to “help guests reclaim their functional fitness and natural health.” New to the expert staff is a naturopathic doctor offering food sensitivity testing, and adrenal and sex hormone testing. Fresh, organic food is on the menu.


Chill Out in Sun Valley

There’s a reason why everyone here has a healthy glow—fitness-minded folks have been traveling to Sun Valley Resort since 1936. While it is revered for its championship-level winter sports, Sun Valley is a great destination any time of year. There are 400 miles of single-track and 30 miles of paved trails for runners and hikers of all skill levels, and mountain bikers are sure to appreciate the 30 miles of car-free bike paths and hundreds of miles of single-track paths. Home to the annual Sun Valley Wellness Festival, there are options for all—music, food, and wellness packages (acupuncture, cupping, and Reiki are on the menu here) at the Spa at Sun Valley.


Build Wellness in Banff

Wellness seekers will find what they’re looking for at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, nestled in the heart of beautiful Banff National Park. There are a plethora of outdoor recreations to choose from at this luxe mountain retreat, including skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, river rafting, and more. Recognized for its progressive environmental stewardship and responsible tourism, the resort offers a number of all-inclusive wellness retreats—from mindfulness to “life redesign”—and recently introduced a number of new wellness/fitness classes.

Mary Bemis

Mary Bemis

Mary Bemis is editorial director of She is an award-winning spa journalist, honored with Folio's Top Women in Media Award, and the distinguished ISPA Dedicated Contributor Award. In 1997, she launched American Spa magazine, and in 2007, Mary co-founded Organic Spa magazine. A pioneer in the sustainable spa and beauty worlds, Mary is co-curator of Cosmoprof North America's Discover Green Pavilion. She sits on the board of Wellness Warrior, is a Global Wellness Day Advisor and a co-founder of the Washington Spa Alliance.