Insider's Guide to Spas

14 Great Getaways for the Active Traveler

Here's a wide range of experiences to help you expand what you now think is possible with your body.

Mary Bemis

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 Barre 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.

Hilton Head Health, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
This property has long been regarded as one of the best weight-loss retreats in the nation. Stays at Hilton Head Health begin with a 45-minute private consultation with a health specialist to tailor the most beneficial classes and experiences based on your needs. An added bonus: The Indigo Spa, which offers very good signature treatments.

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 Ripple Effects: Where Wellness Meets the Water (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 stand-out spa.

Miraval Resort & Spa, Tucson, Arizona
Winner of numerous awards, this wellness destination offers innovative classes and programs (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 ropes course, a nice labyrinth, and lots more will keep you on your toes.

Mountain Trek Health Spa & Fitness Retreats, Nelson, British Columbia
The focus at this mountain-based, 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. Limited to 16 people, accommodations are at a lovely lodge in a pristine place with limitless trails. Also on the menu: calorie-controlled spa cuisine, massage and other detoxifying spa treatments, nutrition classes, stress management, yoga, and sleep health.

Out N’ About Treesort, Cave Junction, Oregon
The Treesort is for adventurers of all ages. There are 15 treehouses that sleep from two to eight, although not all are for overnight lodging. They are simple, rustic, and safe, and you’ll have fun up high, climbing ladders and traversing a 90-foot-long suspension bridge. If you book the Swiss Family Complex, enjoy the swinging bridge that separates the adult and kids’ units. There’s also horseback riding, rafting, ropes courses, ziplines, and more fun at this Oregon escape.

Rancho La Puerta, Baja California

The mothership of health resorts, Rancho La Puerta first opened in the late 1940s. The original health and fitness resort, the Ranch 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, detox, nutrition, yoga, and more—with expert lectures. This just may be the best week you spend all year.

Red Mountain Resort, Ivins, Utah

An outdoor fitness enthusiast’s paradise that celebrates its 20th Anniversary this year, Red Mountain Resort is surrounded by serious mountains and the towering canyons of Zion National Park and Snow Canyon State Park, you’ll find great trails for biking, hiking, climbing, and walking, plus a golf club and Wellness Center that includes unlimited fitness classes. There’s some really good healthy cuisine here, as well as the full-service Sagestone Spa with solid treatments for sore muscles.

Stoweflake Mountain Resort, Stowe, Vermont
A stay at this resort, with majestic Mt. Mansfield in the background, is an ideal getaway if you enjoy Nordic skiing or walking, mountain biking, and swimming in streams. There’s also the noteworthy Spa at Stoweflake’s Center for Growth, offering esoteric treatments, such as Shiatsu and Reiki, sound balancing treatments, and Ayurvedic therapies. Added bonus: This is a dog-friendly resort.

Sun Valley Lodge

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. Sun Valley is home to the annual Sun Valley Wellness Festival, and there are options for all—music, food, and wellness packages at the Spa at Sun Valley.

Tenaya Lodge

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite is a mere two miles from the south entrance to Yosemite National Park and encompasses 48 gorgeous acres that border the Sierra National Forest. The views can’t be beat since the lodge, named for legendary Chief Tenaya of the Southern Sierra Ahwahneechee people, sits a mighty 5,288 feet up. There’s lots for active people to do at this pet-friendly lodge, including archery, geo-caching, hiking and biking, rock climbing, and star gazing.

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 interesting 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.

The Ranch at Live Oak, Malibu, California
Three miles above the Pacific Ocean in the Santa Monica Mountains, tucked away on silent-film star, Hopalong Cassidy’s historic working ranch, you’ll find this part luxury retreat, part boot camp. Spend a grueling week here and 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. Results guaranteed.

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 takes only between five and 10 guests a week.




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.