- healthy spa cuisine that emphasizes whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and nutritional education
- a full program of fitness and stress reduction classes
- therapeutic spa treatments including massage
- educational lectures that teach you how to bring your healthy habits back home
Health spas, also known as destination spas, usually require that you stay at least two or three nights and some require a week. Prices at health spas usually include all meals, classes and some spa treatments.
Traditionally, resort spas offer spa treatments "a la carte" alongside golf and tennis. They focus more on relaxation and pampering than wellness. Recently, though, some resorts and even small inns are calling themselves “destination spas” even though they don't match all the traditional criteria of health spas. Other resort spas are offering exercise classes at no extra charge and lots of healthy food options. Your best bet is to decide what you're looking for and see who offers it.
Health spas serve healthy food exclusively, but there are different philosophies. Some health spas are geared towards weight loss, with restricted calories and strict portion control. Others have an all-you-can-eat philosophy. Many don't serve alcohol, while others serve wine with dinner. While health spas emphasize healthy, whole foods, it might not necessarily be organic.
Health spas have a spirit of camaraderie. You’re with like-minded people who share your interest in health. Many have a small number of guests at any one time and you can get to know people even if you go by yourself. Small groups go on hikes, take exercise classes, and share tables together. There is usually a high staff-to-guest ratio, and staff is enthusiastic.
Health spas have different personalities and vary widely in size, price, setting and programming. They can accommodate anywhere from 8 to 250 guests, with an average around 60. They come in a wide variety of prices, from most budget spas that are a few hundred dollars a night to $8,000 a week. Some are restricted calorie and others are all-you-can-eat. Here’s more information on how to choose a health spa.