Destination Spas: When You Need More than a Massage

For most of us, the spa getaway doesn’t happen all that often.

So when you finally get the time, money and motivation, you want to pick the perfect spa. Sometimes, that’s spa treatments, a beautiful pool and enough staff so that you’re not lifting a finger—unless it’s to call for another skinny-tini.

But if you want to jump start a weight loss program, lower your husband’s cholesterol or really commit to a yoga practice, consider a spa with all the goodies, plus a dedicated program.

Weight Loss
The Ranch at Live Oak, Malibu CA

Less than a year old, this destination spa is for guests looking for an intensive fitness and wellness program. The week sounds slightly alarming at first, with 10 hours of exercise daily, but Program Director Marc Alabanza emphasizes that the program isn’t high intensity exercise, but more moderate. Guests go on four-hour hikes in the Santa Monica mountains, practice yoga and stretching and indulge in massages. After the week, guests are encouraged to stay in touch with the staff to continue their new healthy habits.
Specialties: Outdoor group hikes, holistic approach to weight loss, unplugging from technology.
Accommodations: Private cottages (encouraging adequate sleep is a priority), outdoor pool and spa, exercise pavilion
Diet: Vegetarian and excludes alcohol and caffeine
More information at

Kamalaya, Thailand

Built on an island in southern Thailand, this exotic retreat is a beautiful place to further your meditation or yoga practice. Founder John Stewart spent 16 years in India studying with a yogi and working on an ashram. With his wife and partner, Karina Stewart, they chose Kamalaya’s location for its beauty and for the island’s cave, which has been used by Buddhist monks for meditation and retreat and can now be used by guests.
Specialties: Yoga packages include one-on-one sessions, classes on meditation, yoga, chi gong and tai chi. Spa services are holistic and include over 70 different treatment.
Accommodations: A mixture of 59 rooms, suites and villas; outdoor pools; meditation spaces
Diet: Detox menus available or fresh local food with vegetarian and non-vegetarian options.
More information at

Heart Health
Andrew Weil, M.D. Integrative Wellness Program at Miraval, Tucson AZ

If you or your spouse need to make a dramatic (or subtle) change in your health, the integrative health program at Miraval includes a consultation with the Medical Director, Jim Nicolai, M.D., and time to meet with nutrition, exercise and stress management staff. Guests are referred to spa, hiking, biking and challenge adventures and given specific recommendations for diet and other lifestyle changes.
Specialties: Outdoor fitness, stress reduction and integrative health education
Accommodations: 117 rooms and suites, 3 swimming pools, yoga studio
Diet: Food is healthy and seasonal, some grown on location; alcohol and coffee available
More information at

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