6 get-in-shape spa getaways

Vacations reduce stress. Exercise reduces stress. Not surprisingly, one of the latest vacation trends is spa getaways where fitness is the focus. A change in scenery is good for the soul, and it’s also a good opportunity to break with unhealthy habits and get back on track with health and fitness goals.

Don’t worry — you can still get some world-class pampering and tasty treats, but you’ll have to work for them first. Here’s a sampling of some vacations that will rejuvenate both your mind and body:

Coastal Trek Resort, Courtenay, British Columbia

From its perch on Vancouver Island’s Forbidden Plateau, this intimate resort offers an ideal setting for some serious exercise. With its views of the mountains and the Georgia Strait, it’s no surprise that hiking is the star attraction.

In addition to daily outdoor excursions — which feature guided adventures for every level and interest — a typical week-long program includes assessments with a personal trainer, two full-body massages, healthy cooking classes and two full workouts. In addition to fitness facilities, guests can start their days off right with yoga and stretch classes. Guests can also add extra spa treatments and optional activities to their itinerary– like visits to local farms, fishing, kayaking and marine tours.

The resort offers a variety of programs including a 2-day “Taste of Trek” ($1295/person or $2195/couple) and week-long Health, Hiking and Fitness Programs (starting at $2695/person or $4575/couple). Feeling ambitious? Make it a three week stay for $7275/person or $13200/couple.

For more information, visit CoastalTrek.com.

Canyon Ranch, Tucson, Arizona

Winner of countless accolades from the travel media, you’d be hard pressed to find anything lacking at this resort. In addition to the fitness facilities — which include six gymnasiums, large studios, a Golf Performance Center and comprehensive Aquatic Center — you can also tend to your spiritual side with meditation and yoga. The ranch employs a diverse group of experts to offer a wide range of services like personal training, health assessments and counseling,

Don’t forget to pack your appetite. Packages include three gourmet meals each day made from healthy, nourishing ingredients. Take a cooking class to help you eat better at home, or purchase one of their cookbooks.

Packages can be pricy, but the “Two New, Too Terrific” promotion offers a 15 per cent discount for two people trying the resort for the first time. (There are specials available for mother-daughter getaways and solo travellers too.) All inclusive packages start at $3,550 USD/person for a four-night Spa Sampler stay and vary depending on length of stay and choice of accommodations.

For more information, visit CanyonRanch.com.


Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, California

Looking for something family-friendly? While not a fitness resort per se, this resort caters to just about everyone with its all ages’ activities and offerings for the under 18 set. Camp Ojai offers full and half-day sessions year round for children age 5-12, including art projects, plays and outdoor sports. Kids can enjoy Animal Yoga and combine swimming with a flick with the Dive-In Movie.

The Teen Spa caters to family members 13 and up with special offerings like make-up and skin care lessons. Teens even have their own programs and places to hang out — like “The Nest” where they can indulge in their favourite sports and video games — sans younger siblings and parents.

And if a spa is a tough sell for the gentlemen in your travel party, how about one that’s renowned for its tennis and championship golf offerings? Nearby beaches also offer deep fishing, sailing, surfing lessons and kayaking too.

Pricing and promotions depend on day of the week, time of year and number of people. For more information, visit OjaiResort.com.

Fitness Boot Camp Vacation, St. Pete Beach, Florida

Looking for something hard core instead? Getaway Fitness resorts promise five hours of “kick butt” activity each day including beach boot camp workouts, biking, Pilates, yoga, core strengthening, team sports, swimming and Zumba — not to mention personal training sessions. Your visit also includes a fitness assessment and nutritional education to keep you eating healthy at home.

The days are intense, but you’ll be rewarded for your efforts. Packages include three gourmet meals a day and energizing snacks, plus there is ample time for more leisurely activities — like same pampering at the onsite spa.

All inclusive packages range from $1,095 USD for a two night getaway (per person, based on double occupancy) to $6,095 USD for a two week stay. Special boot camp vacations are available for “girlfriend getaways” as well as “mancations”.

If Florida isn’t your style, the company also has offerings in California and the Caribbean. For more information, visit www.getawayfitness.com.

Rancho La Puerta, Tecate, Mexico

Looking for a Mexican resort that offers more than sun and sand? Rancho La Puerta offers a blend of physical activity, pampering and learning. When you’re not enjoying a guided hike or one of the many fitness classes, try your hand at a cooking class with food from the resort’s organic farm, take a workshop with a visiting artist or unwind with an afternoon of bird watching.

Accommodations — and pricing packages — are available for three or four people as well as double and single offerings. With the sunny, warm climate, the resort is open year round, but the best deals can be found during the summer months (starting at $3,100/person). The week-long packages include all meals and snacks, fitness classes and fitness facilities as well as evening entertainment and special events, like guest speakers. Watch for special packages for the gentlemen in the crowd as well as early booking specials and mother/daughter getaways.

For more information, visit RanchoLaPuerta.com.

Spas at sea

Who says you have to be limited to land? Canyon Ranch has taken its SpaClub® services to the seas on board luxury liners like the Queen Mary 2, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. The SpaClub Passport gains you access to a suite of cardio and strength training equipment where you can work out between exploring ports and taking advantage of other onboard activities (including decadent spa treatments).

Another option: choose from a variety of complimentary fitness classes including yoga, aerobics, Pilates and indoor cycling. Personal training sessions are also available for guests looking for a fitness plan for their vacation — and beyond.

And yes, you can find Canyon Ranch’s famous cuisine too. For more information, visit Canyon Ranch SpaClub .

Of course, this is just a small sampling of the many offerings out there. With our increasing interests in wellness and fitness, this trend won’t be subsiding any time soon. Admittedly, spa fitness vacations aren’t budget-travel destinations, but watch for season promotions and special discounts — especially in areas hard-hit by the recession.

Additional sources: TraveltoWellness.com, Destination Spa Group

Photo courtesy Rancho La Puerta

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