Admit it: In this crazy, post-pandemic world, there’s probably a thing or two you want to tweak about yourself. Maybe you’re not sleeping as well as you used to, or you’re carrying a few extra pounds, or you want to make a spiritual connection. Whatever the goal, retreats abound, offering opportunities to check in, check out, sleep, hike, commune with nature, and generally find your better, happier self. Here are five of our favorites from around the globe.
Best for Fitness
The Ranch Italy
Southern California’s The Ranch Malibu is one of the most popular fitness retreats in the world, and now, much to the delight of the spa’s devoted fans, it has a new European outpost: The Ranch Italy at Palazzo Fiuggi, located in a private 20-acre park surrounded by sequoia trees, just 50 minutes from Rome. Known since the 14th century for its healing waters, the region was a favorite of royalty, popes, and Michelangelo, who came to, well, chill.
Today, the area is still a haven for wellness, albeit at a far less relaxed pace. Limited to 25 participants per week, The Ranch’s seven-night, eight-day program will help you kick your fitness up to the next level. A typical stay includes daily four-hour morning hikes in the Apennine Mountains, passing through forests, open meadows, and stream-cut valleys on the way to hilltop hamlets, medieval villages, and ancient monasteries. These excursions are done for time, not distance, and can reach as high as 6,000 feet.
Although a brief nap is baked into the schedule, there’s little time to kick back . In the afternoon, guests receive strength and core training classes in the 4,300 -square-foot fitness center, along with daily 60-minute massages to aid in recovery. (There are indoor and outdoor pools, and a spa with hydrotherapy and thalassotherapy pools featuring the ancient healing waters of the area.) Want to learn more about your true fitness level? Sign up for diagnostic testing, a blood panel, and a consultation with one of the on-site doctors. You’ll be rewarded for all of your hard work with delicious plant-based meals created by three-Michelin-starred chef Heinz Beck.
“We are long overdue in expanding to another special location outside of California, and Palazzo Fiuggi embodies our values and sensibilities in every aspect of the guest experience,” says Alex Glasscock, founder and CEO of The Ranch. “There’s nothing like our program in the European market.”
From $9,100 per week for double occupancy, theranchmalibu.com
Best for Detoxing
We Care Spa
Desert Hot Springs, California
This beloved Coachella Valley resort, which caters to Hollywood elites such as Gwen Stefani, Heidi Klum, and Matt Damon, is on a mission to help guests eradicate toxins from their bodies and souls. The first step in this process? Drinking gallons of all-natural, organic, raw juices, with no sugars or preservatives. Nothing solid passes through your lips for your entire stay. It’s juice, juice, and more juice. That may not sound like a particularly satiating regimen, but We Care cofounder Susan Lombardi insists hunger isn’t really an issue. “You’re drinking from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed,” says Lombardi, whose mother opened the resort in 1986 . “Every drink has a different purpose. Your body gets a rest because you’re not taking in solid foods.”
After eliminating food, the next goal is to remove the toxins from your body as quickly as possible, Lombardi explains, “so you have the best results in the shortest amount of time.” More than 40 treatment s help accelerate the detox process, including colonics, facials, and wraps in castor oil and magnesium. The spa offers pressure-point massages on the feet to stimulate the organs, along with scrubs that open the pores. “Everything,” Lombardi says, “is focused on pulling toxins out of the skin.”
There’s also a mental and spiritual component. When you’re not eating, Lombardi says, “It’s like opening up a can of worms,” making it an ideal time to do spiritual work. Reiki, numerology, and hypnotherapy are among the more popular offerings. Since the pandemic, Lombardi adds, “everybody needs a mental shift.”
From $1,830 for three days/two nights, with longer stays available, wecarespa.com
Best for Weight Loss
People have been flocking to Movara (formerly Fitness Ridge) in Ivins, Utah, for 20 years, and demand for an East Coast program grew so great that owners Michelle and Cameron Kelsch finally decided to open a branch this past summer in Harrisonburg, Virginia, in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley.
Movara East is similar to its Western counterpart: Guests go on extensive hikes in the mornings, spend the afternoons in the gym, and keep their food intake to about 1,200 calories per day. While weight loss is clearly a focus, the goal is not to shed a lot of pounds quickly but to learn how to bring a daily practice and a healthy attitude home with you.
With that in mind, the resort offers cooking demonstrations, nutritional lectures, and workshops in self-love, along with “Movara Home,” a post-resort program. Angel Naivalu, a life coach at the Utah property, designed a regimen that helps guests tap into their inner strength and learn to love themselves no matter their size. “We all need to treat ourselves with compassion, the way we do other people,” Naivalu says. “It shouldn’t be hard to learn, but it is.”
As for the food, Chef Rob Daily’s offerings are delicious. The menu includes seemingly non-diet delights such as Reuben sandwiches, pizza, and peanut butter cups, leaving guests amazed at just how much food 1,200 calories can really be.
Unlike its sister property, which caters to 75 guests each week, Movara East limits its capacity to 20. The intimate size is ideal for building close connections; lifelong friendships develop when your muscles ache in tandem.
From $1,895 per week, movara.com/east
Best for Burnout Recovery
The Retreat Costa Rica
Atenas, Costa Rica
Perched on a 60-acre quartz mountain overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Nicoya Peninsula, The Retreat Costa Rica offers guests a place where they can escape the chaos and stress of the “real” world. Do you need a break? Try out the resort’s Art of Resting package.
“We created it to nurture people who were frazzled and scared and having all these mandates and lockdowns and financial problems and sharing bedrooms with their kids who weren’t going to school,” says Diana Stobo, the celebrity chef, author, and health and wellness life coach who founded the resort. “The need for emotional support was huge. People weren’t resting, sleeping—the universe was going through chaos.”
Everything is designed to facilitate serious chillaxing. “People can come and do fitness reboots and yoga classes,” Stobo says. “We have it aligned so people are doing more Reiki and restorative yoga and crystal healing. The idea is to spend that quality time with yourself.”
There’s much to recommend here beyond the Art of Resting program. The Retreat is located in the central valley region of Alajuela, which the National Geographic Society has lauded for having one of the best climates in the world. Among the amenities are two farm-to-table organic restaurants (80 percent of the food is grown on-property), two saltwater pools, a yoga studio, a meditation deck, river swings, jungle paths, and an 8,000-square- foot spa.
The 18 rooms , meanwhile, provide total tranquility, with no phones or televsions to distract from the peaceful natural surroundings. Each has a diffuser loaded with essential oils known to reduce stress, neutralize bacterial and viral pathogens, and more. “Our rooms are sacred,” Stobo says. “We purposely decorate them so there’s nothing over-stimulating, other than nature. You can see greenery and birds—it’s in and of itself a meditative state.”
From $500 per night for a minimum stay of five nights; theretreatcostarica.com
Best for Spiritual Growth
Art of Living Retreat Center
Boone, North Carolina
Looking to connect your mind, body, and soul? The Art of Living Retreat Center is here to help you find balance. Founded in 2012 by spiritual and humanitarian leader Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the 380-acre resort, two hours from Charlotte in the Blue Ridge Mountains, offers a range of happiness, silence, and meditation retreats, along with Ayurveda wellness programs. Upcoming workshops include “You Are Not Stuck,” which connects guests with their deepest selves; “Cultivating Hope in Difficult Times,” which focuses on empathy; and “On Being Human,” led by author Jennifer Pastiloff, which explores the power of vulnerability.
In addition to daily yoga and meditation, the Center offers guided hiking, educational workshops, creative outlets (pottery! watercolor!), a labyrinth, gardens, and the Shankara Ayurveda Spa, which is home to signature programs such as Panchakarma cleanses and Ayurvedic cooking classes. All of the meals are vegetarian and primarily sourced from the on-site garden, and accommodations include 27 hotel-style rooms, 300 simple retreat-style rooms, and loft apartments for longer stays. “Our guests come to nourish their minds and bodies and reconnect with their true selves,” says director of operations Ven k at Sr i n iva s an . “We provide a welcoming environment for guests seeking to gain skills for living with inner peace, to begin or advance a daily practice, to develop insight into life’s big questions, or to simply feel renewed and relaxed in the serenity of our mountain-top setting.”
From $243 per night for R&R retreats, artoflivingretreatcenter.org
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