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Fewer things are more soothing to the soul than sitting in a chaise lounge on a sandy shore, gazing out at the endless ocean. When said chaise is attached to a plush resort and a stellar spa, you have all the makings of the perfect summer escape. Here are 11 resorts that up the wellness ante on a classic beach vacation.
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Why it’s great: Located on the wild northeast coast, Caneel Bay, a Rosewood Resort, is a nature lover’s paradise. The 170acre compound — a 30-minute ferry ride from St. Thomas — was built by Laurance Rockefeller in the 1950s. To stave off development, he bought the surrounding 5,000 acres and it became the Virgin Islands National Park. Nearly all of the 166 rooms are steps from one of seven beaches. Throw in a simple massage and facial-focused spa menu, 11-court tennis complex, water sports, and four open-air restaurants, and there’s really no reason to ever be inside. What to get: The onsite mind/ body-oriented Self Centre may be shutting its doors (yoga classes will remain), but the spa treatments are still fantastic. Book the Bee-utiful Facial (50 minutes, $145), which includes a mask of organic honey cultivated from on-site hives. Treatments are best enjoyed in one of the two massage cabanas with cliff-top views. What else to do: Take off on one of two hiking trails on the grounds for incredible vantage points of St. Thomas, Tortola and Jost Van Dyke. Rooms from $425, caneelbay.com — Amy Cassell
Why it’s great: The creation of entrepreneur and philanthropist Tony Robbins, Namale embraces a philosophy that both the land it sits on and the bodies it pampers are sacred. That land — 525 acres of lush rainforest and soft sand beaches — sits at the edge of Fiji’s coral- and fish-filled Kora Sea. The property is dotted with five villas, 14 bures (luxury bungalows) and a stunning, 10,000-square-foot cliff-top spa constructed of local wood, stone and palm thatch. Everything, from the isolated location to the all-inclusive meal and beverage plan, is designed to make Namale feel like a retreat from the world at large — and it works. What to get: The Cagi (“Thangi”) Air-Balancing Treatment includes exfoliation, body brushing, hot stone therapy and a massage of your choice (2.5 hours, $349). What else to do: Get to know the friendly Fijians and their culture during a ritual kava ceremony, where you’ll be welcomed by the village chief to sip the brewed root tea from a communal cup. Divers will be blown away by Fiji’s underwater magnificence. Rooms from $975, including meals and beverages, namalefiji.com — Donna Heiderstadt
The BodyHoliday LeSPORT
Why it’s great: A fitness fanatic’s haven, BodyHoliday LeSPORT is an all-inclusive spa retreat nestled on Cariblue Beach. Choose between specialized multiday packages or a la carte itineraries; daily class schedules run the gamut from spinning (made easier while looking out to the sea) and yoga to archery and meditation. The Wellness Centre also offers customized two-day programs focusing on special interests like detox, ayurveda and sleep restoration. Plus, almost everything (meals at the three restaurants, fitness classes and one daily 50-minute spa treatment) is included in the rate. What to get: Take in the pre-treatment area — an al fresco garden set at the top of the hill overlooking the sea. Try a holistic treatment like Reiki, then go for the locally sourced Lucian Lime & Ginger Scrub (60 minutes). What else to do: Climb Gros Piton, a 2,619-foot-high mountain. The five-hour hike will leave you with amazing views and possibly, a rainbow. Rooms from $300 per person, all-inclusive, lesport.com — Tara Bradley 76 77
Banyan Tree Mayakoba
RivieRa Maya, Mexico
Why it’s great: Olé meets om to create multicultural magic at this 103-villa enclave, an hour south of Cancun. The ambience here evokes an East-meets-West blend of Mexican warmth and Thai tranquillity. Even the resort’s design is a hybrid, blending spare, Asian lines with vibrant, sol-inspired walls and fabrics, while its dining venues are equally adept at fish tacos and pad thai. All accommodations are in spacious villas — book a Spa Pool Villa to enjoy treatments on a personal massage deck. What to get: All of the therapists for this storied spa brand have been trained at Banyan Tree’s Spa Academy in Phuket, Thailand. The sumptuous Royal Banyan is a circulation-boosting journey featuring a lemongrass and apple scrub, foot massage and body massage using an herbal pouch dipped in sesame oil (3 hours, $380). What else to do: If golf’s your game, the championship El Camaleón Golf Club is on site. For culture, visit the Mayan ruins in Tulum, and on the way back, stop for a lunch of Yucatecan specialties at Yaxche in Playa del Carmen. Villas from $605, banyantree.com — DH
Six Senses Spa at Puntacana Resort & Club
Why it’s great: The ways to unwind are endless at this convenient (10 minutes from the airport) yet exclusive property. Boasting two resorts — the five-star Oscar de la Renta-designed Tortuga Bay, with its 15 elegant villas, and the affordable mahogany-meets-mod Puntacana Hotel — set next to each other on 15,000 acres along a three-mile beach. The abundance extends to dining, with eight restaurants, from elegant French to rustic pizza, and five bars. What to get: After a gentle bronzing by the Caribbean sun, feel a glow from within during a Hot and Cold Stone Facial (90 minutes, $150), as warmed stones relieve stress and chilled stones improve circulation. What else to do: Golfers and tennis types will be in heaven, given the 36 holes of Tom Fazio and P.B. Dye-designed links and six lighted Har-Tru clay courts. Water lovers can kiteboard, windsurf or scuba-dive, while landlubbers can horseback-ride or take a tour on a Segway. Rooms from $120, puntacana.com — DH
Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Resort & Spa
LoS caBoS, Mexico
Why it’s great: You’re practically guaranteed sunshine — desert-meets-sea Los Cabos has an average of 350 perfect days annually. With Zen-like design and a secluded beachfront ambience, this 154-room adults-only resort has five restaurants and the holistic Armonia Spa, an ideal spot for fun in the sun balanced by self-renewal. Further lowering the stress level: all-inclusive pricing, which includes accommodations, all meals and beverages in a single rate (spa treatments are extra). What to get: Try the Temazcal, a group detoxifying steam bath ritual based on Mayan wellness traditions (90 minutes, $130). Prefer something one-on-one? The spa also offers Watsu, Reiki and beauty treatments by Natura Bisse. What else to do: Los Cabos is famous for its golf and sport fishing, but there’s more. Adventure seekers can go on ATV desert safaris, while animal lovers can whale-watch or volunteer to help protect sea turtles. Rooms from $185 per person, pueblobonitopacifica.com — DH
Ponte Vedra Inn & Club
Ponte vedRa BeacH, FLoRida
Why it’s great: This AAA Five-Diamond vacation retreat on Florida’s northeastern coast has been drawing generations of repeat guests since its opening in 1928. The 300-acre property has expanded to include golf, tennis, four swimming pools and 250 guest rooms along a half-mile of sand. PVIC was the region’s first resort to invest in wellness, and still leads the pack with a 30,000-square-foot complex that includes 22 treatment rooms, a full-service salon, dining room, and a swimming pool with five jetted grottoes. What to get: The Island Castaway (90 minutes, $200) melds a Papaya Pineapple Body Scrub, extended hair-nourishing scalp massage and Hawaiian lomi-lomi body massage into an afternoon of beach bliss. What else to do: PVIC introduced golf to the area, meaning the two courses here have a dedicated following. Or hit the 15 courts at the Tennis Club and see why Tennis magazine consistently rates PVIC #1 Tennis Resort on the East Coast. Rooms from $179, pontevedra.com — Susan Moynihan 80
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The St. Regis Princeville Resort
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Why it’s great: The cliff-top view of Hanalei Bay has been there forever, but 2009’s multimillion-dollar renovation and the addition of the Halele’a Spa has amped up the luxury in this iconic South Pacific setting (the 1958 movie was filmed nearby). And it’s about nature at the 252room St. Regis, with décor inspired by the island’s red-clay earth and leafy green flora. Dining-wise, savor Hawaiian hula and storytelling at the Mailani dinner show, or indulge in French-Asian fusion cuisine at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Kauai Grill. What to get: Halele’a means “house of joy,” and the spa jubilantly embraces Kauai’s botanicals, so you can have your massage infused with maile cream, taro butter or organic seaweed oil (50 minutes, from $165). Or try an la carte service done poolside overlooking the bay. What else to do: Golf, horseback-ride or kayak. Then rent a car and drive the North Shore to Hanalei (stop at Postcards Cafe for an organic lunch), before hiking part of the cliff-hugging Na Pali Coast trail. Rooms from $399, stregisprinceville.com — DH 83
J.W. Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa at Ko Olina oaHu
Why it’s great: Oahu’s most expansive resort sits on a series of private coves on the sunny Leeward Coast — easy to get to, but far away from the crowds of Waikiki. This 640-acre property recently debuted its renovated 35,000-square-foot Ihilani Spa and 387 refreshed rooms and suites. Dining options are four restaurants, from locally sourced fine dining at Azul to sushi at Ushio-Tei, with spa cuisine available in all. What to get: “Healing by the Sea” is the spa’s motto, so try the Dream: a 25-minute Deluxe Thalasso with Color Light Therapy, a 50-minute specialty massage and a 50-minute Radiance Facial ($400). What else to do: Golf and tennis keep landlubbers active, while snorkel trips, a mermaidinspired “Fin to Fitness” class and a Hawaiian Ray Experience appeal to aficionados of the sea. Bonus: There’s also a “shoppers’ shuttle” into downtown Waikiki. Rooms from $379, ihilani.com — DH
Four Seasons Resort at Jimbarin Bay denPaSaR, BaLi
Why it’s great: Long considered one of the top retreats on an island known for healing and wellness, Four Seasons offers unsurpassed service in a stellar Balinese-style setting. The 156 villas and residences offer luxury indoors and outdoors with courtyard living areas, sexy garden showers and private plunge pools overlooking the ocean. The list of complimentary on-site activities is extensive, from sailing lessons to learning traditional Balinese dance. What to get: Traditionally embraced by Javanese royalty, the Lulur Ritual (120 minutes, $145) incorporates turmeric, cinnamon and other spices in a skin-smoothing scrub followed by a soak in an oversized flower-filled tub. What else to do: Don’t miss Bali’s cultural attractions, from sunset at the striking Uluwatu Temple, set on a westward-facing cliff-top peninsula, to the master craftsmen who specialize in woodcarving and jewelry-making. Rooms from $680, fourseasons.com — DH
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman
Why it’s great: At this five-star, 365-room resort, situated on Seven Mile Beach, resort attractions are headlined by world-class experts: Blue Tip, a ninehole golf course designed by Greg Norman; The Courts, with tennis programs by pro coach Nick Bollettieri; Blue, a signature restaurant from Eric Ripert of New York’s renowned Le Bernardin; and a sumptuous spa from La Prairie. What to get: The Silver Rain Recharge Overnight Facial (60 minutes, $270), launching this fall, is only offered in the evening to give skin a chance to rejuvenate overnight. Included in the treatment is a scalp, face, hand, and shoulder massage, guaranteed to leave you — and your skin — feeling dreamy. What else to do: With Ambassadors of the Environment eco-excursions, founded by Jean-Michel Cousteau, activities include night snorkeling, riding in a sub and visiting the local tide pools. Another must: Sting Ray City, a sandbar where you can stand in water and feed a friendly swarm of stingrays. Rooms from $249, ritzcarlton.com — Rona Berg 85
beyoNd the beach
if your vision of summer involves trees and mountains instead of sand and surf, here are eight more picks for a spa summer vacay. B y M a r g i e g o l d s M i t h
Make your home base at Virginia’s Williamsburg Inn. Built in 1937, it’s within walking distance of everything from the Historic Area and boat tours of the James River to golf and shopping. At the 20,000-square-foot Spa of Colonial Williamsburg, the treatment menu is set up by century, drawing on traditional ingredients used at the time. Our pick: the orange and ginger used with the 18th-century Colonial Herbal Spa Experience. Plus, all the profits from the Inn support the not-for-profit Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Two-night Spa Escape package from $530 per person (includes room, one massage or facial per person and admission to the Historic Area), colonialwilliamsburg.com In Napa Valley (above), nothing pairs as well as good girlfriends and great wine. Solage Calistoga, the 83 studios are designed with Italian linens and outdoor patios. Capella suites have living rooms and fireplaces, and bikes make the area easy to explore. Tapping into the region’s history of mud baths, the 14-room spa offers custom Mudslide treatments with your choice of oils. Then, book a table for seasonal NorCal cuisine at Michelin-starred Solbar. Two-night Girlfriends Getaway package from $1,060 (includes room, access to geothermal pools, a Mudslide treatment per person, winery tour and more), solagecalistoga.com 86
One of Costa Rica’s premier outdoor playgrounds is the very active Arenal volcano, a prime spot for canyoning, hiking and thermal soaking. Set at the base of the volcano, Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort boasts steamy waters that flow directly into the resort’s pools. Check into an open-air treatment bungalow at Tabacón’s Grand Spa, where the menu includes hot-stone massage, Watsu and the signature Temazcal Steam Bath Ritual. Tabacón’s mineral springs (above) are a two-minute shuttle ride away. Soak in natural geothermal mineral pools and sip cocktails at the swim-up bar as you listen to the volcano rumble. Rooms from $305, tabacon.com Montana’s newest resort, 27-room The Ranch at Rock Creek, takes full advantage of its epic location midway between Missoula and Butte. Stay in one of the Westerninspired rooms in the main lodge (think wooden walls, leather furnishings, cowboy-boot lamps) or in a deluxe platform tent (with detached private bath) overlooking the river. Activities range from the expected (horseback riding, rafting) to the novel (archery, skeet shooting). The spa menu is equally intriguing with Dr. Murad facials or the Saddle Sore Soak, an herbal bath followed by a massage. From $900 per person (all-inclusive), theranchatrockcreek.com
FaR LeFt: MaRtin SundBeRg/getty iMageS
Say goodbye to outside distractions at the new, upscale Ranch at Live Oak Malibu (above) in the Santa Monica Mountains. This luxury boot camp takes only 15 people in private cottages, requires a seven-day stay and bans all cell phones (guests can “borrow” a computer one hour per day). The strict “no options” program includes 10 hours a day of low-impact exercise (yoga, hiking, toning and weight classes) and a massage (additional treatments from chiropractic care to acupuncture are also available at an added cost). The menu is strictly vegetarian, much of it sourced from the spa’s own organic garden. The goal: for guests to lose up to 5 percent of their body weight in a week. From $5,600 per person (all-inclusive), theranchmalibu.com Each summer, The Inn of Six Mountains in Killington, Vermont, becomes Jimmy LeSage’s New Life Hiking Spa. Three daily hikes leave the lodge each morning, ranging from three to six miles and at three fitness levels, depending on your degree of comfort. Afternoons are left free for Pilates, strength training and an ever-changing array of activities from cooking classes to excursions into nearby Woodstock. Three-day packages from $229 per night (double occupancy, including accommodations, meals, activities and a massage), newlifehikingspa.com
The cathedral-ceilinged Yoga and Meditation Center at New Age Health Spa in Neversink, New York, is one of the country’s most beautiful, with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the forested Catskill Mountains. Enjoy three yoga classes per day in the redwood sanctuary, partake in others like Chi Kung or Tai Chi in the fitness center, or set off on a hike through the resort’s 280 rural acres of Sullivan County Catskills. Two-night Solo Traveler Special from $761 (includes accommodations, meals, classes and two spa treatments), new agehealthspa.com COMO Hotels and Resorts are known for their commitment to mind-body wellness, practiced in some of the world’s most beautiful places. Fifteen minutes from the cultural center of Ubud, their Bali flagship, COMO Shambhala Estate (above), sits on the island’s forested interior with views of the River Ayung. Guests come for three-, five- or seven-day all-inclusive wellness programs, with a complimentary schedule of classes including daily yoga and options from Pilates to mountain biking. Splurge on a one-bedroom retreat villa, which comes with its own treatment room and lap pool. Rooms from $720, cse.como.bz. 87
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