Top 20 wellness retreats

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Get the ultimate spa experience at Ranch at Live Oak Malibu
Get away for a mind-clearing recharge at spa resorts, spiritual retreats, hot springs, and more

Work with a spiritual leader

Shambhala. Their brand of soulfulness is more about group study than zipping your lips. The 600-acre sanctuary two hours from Denver has a long list of classes—on ancient wisdom, spiritual healing, and, yes, meditation if you like—plus lots of time to just meander along trails through forests and meadows. From $109/person, including meals.

New Camaldoli Hermitage. Founded in 1958 by a group of Benedictine monks, the Big Sur, California hilltop monastery is a silent refuge for laypeople too. The rooms are strictly, well, monastic, but solitude and breathtaking ocean views (not to mention rock-bottom prices) put serenity within reach. From $115/person, including meals.

Spirit Rock. Even Buddhism newbies feel at home meditating at this pagoda-style center in the open, grassy hills of Marin County, California. Silent retreats are a specialty, and many include an intro session for anyone who’s new to this whole stillness thing.

Restival. A tech-free social sanctuary that was inspired by Navajo and Hopi culture. Take a kundalini yoga class or stargaze with a Native American astronomer, then fall asleep in a tipi. $2,500; Sep 14–18 and Sep 21–25.

Sweat, yoga, and a soak

Esalen. Most come to this cliffside edu-hippie-topia in California’s Big Sur for one of the 400 workshops (shamanic cosmology, anyone?). But you can also make an appointment to stop by for a massage (75 minutes, $165). It works like this: You strip, then soak in the stone-lined springs above the Pacific until it’s time for your rub, set to the rhythm of the waves crashing far below.

Red Mountain. The main draw here is the chance to use the red rock landscape of southern Utah as your personal gym. Plus healthy meals that are far from rabbit food. Yes, Reiki and other energy-balancing sessions make an appearance, but there’s also a good old-fashioned facial if that’s more your style. From $205/person, including meals.

Ranch at Live Oak Malibu. At this pricey new spa, figure on nine hours a day of no-opt-out exercise (hikes in the surrounding mountains, yoga, body sculpting), plus delicious vegetarian food, no cell service or caffeine, and intense bonding with your 13 fellow sufferers. It’s rehab for type A’s, only with a sparely chic cottage of your own. And much better scenery. One week, all-inclusive: $6,800/person.

Glen Ivy Hot Springs. For $46 on weekdays and $64 on weekends, day-trippers to this spot in Riverside County, California, soak in their pick of warm and cool pools, smear themselves in red clay, and join in classes like water aerobics and tai chi. Your call whether to spring for a massage too.

The Coast Ridge. This four-day wellness program has nature at the core of the transformative journey. Co-founded by Yarrow Schley, a longtime instructor at Southern California’s star-studded Ashram, the all-inclusive retreat feels like the purest expression of what a Western spa should be: a splurge-on-yourself experience in which clean food, fresh air, and challenging physical activity work wonders on your psyche (not to mention your waistline). Five days, all-inclusive, from $2,800.

Wanderlust. This retreat started in Squaw Valley in 2009 and has since grown into a series of worldwide yoga-fitness-lifestyle benders. At a festival on Oahu, you can relax with a stand-up-paddleboard yoga class and learn to play the ukulele from a Hawaii native. From $99/one day; Feb 23–26.

Cenote Encantado. Head to an eco village near Tulum, Mexico, where Aqua Zen sessions are led in a swimming hole. Semi-salty water suspends you as you’re guided through dance, yoga, and acrobatic movements. $50 U.S.

Call a time-out on your life

Ten Thousand Waves. A peaceful spot for an afternoon or an overnight, the Japanese “village” winds up a wooded knoll outside Santa Fe. Instead of houses, though, it’s outdoor baths linked by gravel paths. Come after dark to soak under the stars. Rooms from $199.

Rancho La Puerta. A weeklong stay is traditional at this iconic, enchanting spa, just over the Mexican border from San Diego. Choose from its famously endless list of activities (cooking lessons, Pilates, art classes, mountain hikes) before you unwind in your private, beautifully tiled casita. One week, all-inclusive: from $3,750/person.

Hawaii Island Retreat. It’s worth the flight to decamp at this spot on the northern tip of the Big Island. Your stay will be all about dips in the saltwater infinity pool, outdoor spa treatments, and hula lessons. Book a luxurious room or a rustic but charming yurt. Yurts from $185, rooms from $490.

Breitenbush Hot Springs. The clothes-off, everybody-in communal hot springs in the Oregon Cascade Mountains come with evergreen and mountain range views. If you decide to make it a weekend, geothermally heated cabins can be had for under $150 a night, a spot in the dorm for $80, including meals. Expect super-healthy food and a ban on booze.

Just Float. It’s the world’s biggest float center, located in Pasadena. The absence of light and sound are meant to stop your mental ticker tape, while the weightlessness relieves muscle aches. $70/1 hour.

Bernardus Lodge & Spa. During their 50-minute treatment in Carmel Valley, California, a therapist places a tuning fork on acupressure points, and then taps to produce notes and send restorative vibrations into the body. $160.

Claremont Club & Spa. This Berkeley spa offers a Tibetan Sound Vibration massage, in which bronze bowls are set around the body’s energy centers and then struck. The resulting sounds are believed to alter brain-wave frequencies, deeply relaxing you. $249/75 minutes.

Canyon Ranch. In Tucson, Canyon Ranch hosts “Fire Cere-mony: Letting Go, Beginning Anew” sessions, where writing, meditative walks, and drumming are meant to help you cast off negativity. $200/2 hours; Feb 11 and 25, Mar 11 and 25.

Wired for Love. Couples work on their relationship at psychologist Stan Tatkin’s retreat, located at Colorado’s Shambhala Mountain Center. From $345; Sep 15–17.

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