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The Best Destination Spas in the U.S. and Mexico

Get Fit & Healthy With a Destination Spa Vacation


The best destination spas are a select group of "health spas" that help you renew, relax and reconnect with what you really want from life. Destination spas are all-inclusive, with accommodations, meals, classes, and lectures all part of the package and (sometimes) a credit towards spa treatments.

Prices for destination spas start around $250 per person, per day, (double occupancy) at the Red Mountain Spa in Ivins, Utah, and go up to $8,000 for a week-long stay at Cal-A Vie or Golden Door near San Diego. Here are my picks for the best destination spas. For budget travel, see best budget destination spas.

1. Golden Door

Golden Door
Photo by Golden Door
Golden Door in Escondido, Calif., is a women-only spa that serves no more than 41 guests. Wooden walkways link a series of serene garden courtyards inspired by the ancient inns of Japan. It has 377 acres of Japanese gardens, orchards and waterfalls and a Japanese bathhouse. This spa emphasizes individualized service and guiding guests towards a balance of mind, body and spirit. Men are welcome during men-only weeks.

2. Rancho La Puerta

Photo by: Anitra Brown
Rancho La Puerta in Mexico is the original destination spa and still one of the very best. Started in the 1940s by Edmond and Deborah Szekely, Rancho La Puerta is just four miles across the border from California, an hour from San Diego. "The Ranch" has lots of things going for it - great food and classes, hiking in beautiful mountains, outstanding guest speakers and a friendly atmosphere. And it's an excellent value compared to destination spas in the U.S.

3. Miraval Life in Balance

Set on 135 acres at the foot of the Santa Catalina Mountains in , Catalina, Arizona, Miraval has 106 adobe-style casitas, most with private patios. buildings and great views. While it offers spa cuisine, it also serves alcohol and wine. Its signature programs is the “Equine Experience,” where working with a horse gives you insight into how you deal with people -- and life.

4. Canyon Ranch

Photo by: Canyon Ranch
Canyon Ranch has two locations that offer the ultimate wellness spa experience -- Tucson, Arizona and Lenox, Mass. The staff and programming at both locations is unparalleled, with medical doctors at the cutting edge of wellness medicine, exercise physiologists, movement therapists, energy healers, hypnotherapists, psychologists, even spiritual counselors. Both Canyon Ranch locations have fabulous exercise classes and outdoor programming, especially hiking. The Tucson, Arizona property accommodates 240 guests in adobe cottages on 150 acres in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Canyon Ranch Lenox can serve 200 guests in 126 guest rooms and suites on 120 woodland acres in Western Massachusetts.

5. Mii Amo

Photo by: Anitra Brown
Bordering a national forest two hours from Phoenix, Mii Amo in Sedona is a village of six adobe casitas near the Spa, within walking distance of the larger Enchantment Resort. The hottest service here is an “Aura-Soma” reading of your life based on the colored bottles you choose from more than 100. Read a review of Mii Amo .

6. Lake Austin Spa Resort

Photo by: Lake Austin Spa Resort
The food is so good at this spa on a lake outside Austin you'll have a hard time believing the calorie counts on the menu. With just 40 rooms it's intimate and easy to meet people, but the spa is big and lavish. Outdoor treatment spaces with screened porches, garden tents, poolside cabanas and a private couple's suite. Separate men's and women's wet areas, two swimming pools, native gardens, cascading streams and fountains, and more than 100 spa treatments. Read a review of Lake Austin Spa Resort

7. Red Mountain Spa

If you love adventure and are inspired by Southwestern scenery, Red Mountain Spa in Ivins, Utah, is for you. Try rock climbing, go kayaking or mountain bike through rugged terrain. The heart of the spa is its hiking program and outstanding outdoors guides. It’s also a beautifully designed resort, with unusually good spa cuisine and a wine list. And it's one of the most affordable spas in the Top Ten. Read a review of Red Mountain Spa

8. Green Valley Spa, St. George, Utah.

This spa is just a few miles from Red Mountain Spa and has a reputation of being a little more luxurious and pampering. Right on the edge of both town and public lands, it has an extensive hiking program. It also offers Tennis College on its 15 outdoor and four indoor courts, and has a Golf Learning Center. You can play on any of six nearby courses.

9. Cal-a-Vie, Vista, California.

This elegant weight-loss spa is set on 200 rolling acres north of San Diego. Its 24 guest cottages are decorated in elegant European style. Most people come to stay for an entire week and eat spa cuisine and follow a highly programmed exercise agenda, but shorter stays are possible It has both co-ed and women-only weeks throughout the year.

10. Mayflower Inn & Spa

One of New England's most opulent inns, The Mayflower in Washington, Connecticut, has reinvented itself as an destination spa -- from Monday through Friday. It accommodates just 28 women at any one time in a super-luxurious atmosphere. There are co-ed and men's weeks during the year.

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