RESORTS AND PRIVATE RETREATS THAT COMBINE PRIVACY, NATURAL WONDER, AND EMPHASES ON FITNESS RELATED ADVENTURES AND POST WORKOUT SPA INDULGENCES
BY AMBER GIBSON AND MATT SCANLON
TIERRA PATAGONIA HOTEL & SPA
Torres del Paine, Chile
The best vacations are not just escapes, but diverting and thrilling pathways toward a greater awareness of the world and ourselves. They can also be methods of either kick starting or affirming health and fitness goals. The best resorts combine all these qualities almost imperceptibly, in presentations that are at once indulgent, diverse, and breathtaking. Our pick of the world’s best health and fitness centered destinations.
From the Punta Arenas airport, it’s still a several hour drive to Tierra
Patagonia along the Ruta Del Fin Del Mundo. It really does feel like the edge of the earth when you get to Torres del Paine National Park, and for outdoor enthusiasts, the trek is worth it. A mecca for creative visualists, serious photographers can even book a five day photo safari here with renowned Chilean photographer Pía Vergara (who shot for the stunning coffee table book Tierra Patagonia).
This two story lenga wood resort hugs Lago Sarmiento, the largest lake in the national park. All 40 guest rooms offer panoramic views of the glittering lake and snowcapped mountains beyond, and the same unobstructed vistas can be enjoyed at the spa’s infinity pool and outdoor hot tub. Often, sheep and guanaco (wild llama) frolic in the grass just outside, with stealthy puma a rarer find. The minimalist décor allows nature to shine, with hand crafted furniture and local textiles in each accommodation. Half and full day hikes are available for all fitness levels, from an easy geological walk to a windy climb up cornices to view condors, to the steep, challenging trails to the Ferrier Viewpoint to survey the four mile wide and 100 foot high Grey Glacier. The latest addition at Tierra Patagonia is a yoga room at Uma Spa, where regular morning classes offer a chance to stretch sore muscles. (A nourishing goat’s milk bath and volcanic hot stone massage will do the trick, too.) Tierra Patagonia faces west, so dinner sunsets are magnificent, and even better enjoyed with a glass of Chilean wine or the national drink, the Pisco Sour.
Rates start at $2,900 per person for a three night all inclusive stay, based on double occupancy. Torres de Paine, tierrahotels.com
Visiting this Southern California health retreat, just outside San Diego, is like attending an adult summer camp in an idyllic French village. Guests at this all inclusive destination spa retreat seem to be happier, healthier versions of themselves after a few days of clean eating (and being massaged more often than Kobe beef). Among the hiking trails, golf course, and more than 150 fitness classes to choose from, health here equates to fun. Each morning at breakfast, there’s a personalized itinerary tailored to each guest’s goals and preferences, with more strenuous interval weight training, spin, and TRX classes scheduled in the morning.
Come afternoon, relax at the spa (every package includes multiple treatments per day) or perhaps take a meditative labyrinth walk before trying guided meditation or gentle yoga. The food is excellent, as one might expect when there’s an organic garden on site. Nutrient dense meals, like bison Bolognese lasagna wrapped in eggplant instead of pasta, can be altered to accommodate any allergies or dietary preferences. Cal a Vie also grows its own grapes for wine, which guests can savor while stargazing at the resort’s new observatory. Standard massages and facials are part of the package, along with more specialized therapies, from acupuncture and chakra balancing to Botox and anti cellulite wraps.
Everything from furniture to chandeliers is antique French, including a few buildings from the 17th and 18th century that have been reconstructed on site. Laundry is done daily, and no request is too obscure to be happily granted by a staff whose demeanor is as sunny as the weather.
Rates start at $4,675 per person for a three night Sunday to Wednesday stay, inclusive of meals, unlimited fitness classes, and six spa treatments. 29402 Spa Havens Way, Vista, California, calavie.com
Costa Rica has long been revered among luxury travelers as a sustainable tourism destination with its impressive biodiversity and friendly locals. The Arenal Volcano National Park captures that quintessential Costa Rican vacation with equal parts adventure and relaxation. Within the park is Nayara Springs, a romantic Relais & Chateaux retreat comprising 35 villas, each with a private terrace and mineral spring plunge pool. Last year, a major renovation included the addition of 19 villas, a new gym, cafe, pool, and yoga pavilion overlooking the rainforest, but even with this expansion, the resort maintains an intimate atmosphere.
A hearty breakfast of rice, black beans, eggs, and plantains sets the tone for a day of adventure. Choose from canopy hikes across suspension bridges, bird watching, and treks across lava fields. For a real adrenaline rush, try canyoning or whitewater rafting. Staying on property is equally tempting, though, with a swim up pool bar serving passion fruit infused guaro cocktails. The spa offers soothing volcanic mud massages in open air treatment pavilions and a chocolate scrub with organic cacao beans.
Nayara Springs also employs three naturalist guides to inform and inspire guests, as well as to help them take stellar smartphone photos of monkeys, sloths, and birds with the help of spotting scopes. The resort’s admirable commitment to conservation and sustainable tourism proves that luxury can also preserve the planet.
Springs Villa (seen here) rates start at $825 per night. San Carlos, nayarasprings.com
It’s hard to imagine finding a resort as tranquil as The Siam in bustling Bangkok, yet this all suite urban oasis will calm even the most frenzied mind. Upon arrival by private boat, a handsome butler awaits to assuage any worry and attend to every need. Thirty nine luxurious suites include the Art Deco inspired Pool Villa (seen here) with river views and Connie’s Cottage, a century old traditional teak house with charming historic flair.
Schedule an ayurvedic consultation with Dr. Adrish Brahmadatta to improve fitness and renew spiritual health. There are yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, and Reiki classes to help align body with mind, but for a serious workout, try Muay Thai, the national sport, with a professional trainer. Private lessons can be tailored to all levels at the resort’s beautifully equipped gym, and soon flailing elbows and legs are transformed into powerful, precise movements a strategic cardio workout that is certainly more elegant than boxing.
Enjoy an authentic Thai meal at Chon Thai restaurant, or at the pier for a more romantic riverside experience. Chef Damri Muksombat grew up with incredible Thai home cooking, and he’s passionate about creating nutritious, flavorful menus for guests (foodies can also take an immersive private cooking class with the friendly chef). Begin the day with a morning tuk tuk journey to the local market in Old Town to purchase seasonal produce, where Muksombat will explain various exotic fruits and vegetables, spiced by stories from his youth. Then return to The Siam’s world class kitchen to prepare three healthful and delicious dishes like spicy green papaya salad, chicken and coconut milk soup, and jungle curry sea bass.
Unwind after a busy day with a Sodashi treatment at Opium Spa or a dip in the infinity pool overlooking Chao Phraya, the River of Kings.
Pool Villa Riverview rates start at $1,386 per night. 3/2 Thanon Khao, Vachirapayabal, Dusit, Bangkok, thesiamhotel.com