The Ranch Malibu
Photo courtesy of The Ranch Malibu.

Get away for a mind-clearing recharge at spa resorts, spiritual retreats, hot springs, and more

Sunset  – December 1, 2010 | Updated January 27, 2020

The Ranch Malibu

Garden overlooking the Malibu hillside.
The organic garden at The Ranch Malibu. Photo courtesy of The Ranch Malibu.

At this week-long retreat, figure on nine hours a day of invigorating exercise (challenging hikes in the surrounding mountains with rewarding views; restorative yoga; interval training), plus meditations, daily massages, ample stretching time and check-ins with the knowledgeable, inspiring (and tough!) staff over plates of inexplicably delicious vegan food. There’s no cell service or caffeine, and the level of physical activity may feel intense (especially after a few days of plant-based eating and zero coffees), but bonding with your fellow participants is just as rewarding as the physical and mental feats expected of you. It’s rehab for type As with a chic cottage of your own, Michelin-worthy meals and much better scenery. If you’re interested in more (or less!) time in the program, check out The Ranch’s four-day version at the Four Seasons Westlake Village. You can either participate at the Four Seasons only, or continue on to the week in Malibu for a total of ten days. The Ranch also offers a version of their program in Northern Italy , a week-long, mountain-based “pop-up program” in the Dolomites. One week all-inclusive: $7,800/person.

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 $135/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. If you’re interested in Spirit Rock, they host Community Welcomes Monday evenings from 6:15-7pm.

Esalen

Bath overlooking Big Sur.
The baths at Esalen. Photo by Ali Kaukas.
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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, $115). 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.

Mountain Shadows

A hideaway for Hollywood’s elite in the 1950s, this Paradise Valley, Arizona retreat reopened in April 2017 after long, meticulous construction. The massive new wellness center features a stunning gym, moonlight rooftop yoga, and a core class designed for golfers, as well as two pools with views of Camelback Mountain to enjoy while sipping on organic juice. From $274/night.

The Blake

Hotel pool against the mountain backdrop.
The Blake Hotel in Taos, New Mexico. Photo courtesy of Taos Ski Valley.

Ski-in/ski-out access draws snow hounds to New Mexico’s Taos Ski Valley. But you’re really at this LEED-certified resort for a couple of New Age massages at its elegant spa. Arrive early to take in the historic Taos Valley photographs in the secluded waiting room. Or relax in the heated outdoor pool and hot tubs that are slated to open in early 2018. From $358/night.

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. Rejuvenate & LiVe Well Retreat (five days), from $2,240.

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 $3,600.

Cal-a-Vie Health Spa

Arial view of Cal-a-Vie spa resort.
Arial view of Cal-a-Vie spa resort in northern San Diego County. Photo courtesy of Cal-a-Vie Health Spa.

Wake up at this all-inclusive getaway with a hike along one of the 11 trails in Vista, California, before cooling off with a stand-up paddleboard class in the pool. After dinner, stargaze at the new observatory via panoramic big screens or the high-powered telescope. Three night packages starting at $3,595/person.

Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa

Jonesing for an extreme makeover? In Rancho Santa Fe, California, sign up for the Wellness Collective Retreat—a choose-your-own adventure with more than 95 fitness classes, spa treatments, and one-on-one consultations. But leave time to lounge with a cocktail at the adults-only pool and outdoor bar. You’re not a saint, after all. From $595/night.

Glen Ivy Hot Springs

Hot spring baths.
Glen Ivy’s 104 degree, geothermal mineral baths. Photo courtesy of Glen Ivy Hot Springs.

For $62 on weekdays and $82 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.

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.

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. Three and a half hour, Whole Body Restoration for $392.

The Allison Inn & Spa

Indoor swimming pool.
The Allison Spa has an indoor swimming pool, whirlpool and sun terrace. Photo courtesy of The Allison Inn & Spa.

Nestled in Oregon wine country’s Newberg, this spot has long been a home base for indulgence and fine dining. But in September 2017, the spa debuted a cafe full of healthy eats to keep you going from treatment to treatment—or winery to winery. From $455/night.

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 $4,500/person.

The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Waikiki Beach

Spa entrance.
Entrance to the Ritz-Carlton Waikiki Spa. Photo courtesy of Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach.

This swank Waikiki resort spa is steeped in Hawaiian traditions and ingredients, like hot volcanic stones, leaves from Oahu’s rain forest, and native lehua blossoms. Revitalize with a full-body sugar scrub made with healing ‘olena and a deep lomilomi massage. When you’re done, tuck yourself into one of the resort’s ocean-view studios. From $450/night.

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 $195, rooms from $425.

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 $100 a night, a spot in the dorm for $75, including meals. Expect super-healthy food and a ban on booze.

Bernardus Lodge & Spa

A man and woman lay on massage tables in front of outdoor patio.
Guests can select from 10 massage therapies on Bernardus’ spa menu. Photo courtesy of Bernardus Lodge & Spa.

During their 50-minute Tuning Fork Ritual 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. $175.

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. $59/1 hour (introductory float), $79/1 hour.

Canyon Ranch

Swimming pool in Arizona behind potted Cacti.
The Flagstone pool is heated to 86 F and is located next to the Double U Cafè. Photo courtesy of Canyon Ranch.

In Tucson, Canyon Ranch hosts “Rite of Passage” sessions, helping guests celebrate, commemorate, release, unite or reconcile through dialogue and ceremony. $245/50 minutes.

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.