You check in to someplace fabulous, and a few days later you check out a whole new person. It’s an appealing thought, but is it a realistic goal? Not so much. Contrary to what TV shows would have you believe, a life transformation is a long-term project. On the other hand, if there’s something specific you’d like to overhaul—maybe your diet, your stress level, or your ability to squeeze into your favorite jeans—a spa sojourn can be the ultimate “nudge.” The very act of going away helps you make a break from the routine you’ve fallen into and establish new habits without distractions. So kick off your makeover plans with a trip to one of these get-healthy destinations. Over the course of a week—or just a few days—they’ll give you all the tools you need to change your life for the better. We like to call it Project You.
The Lodge at Woodloch
You don’t go to this resort, located in eastern Pennsylvania, specifically to lose weight (in fact, you won’t even find calorie counts on the menu). You go to learn healthy eating habits you can maintain once you leave. At Woodloch you’ll find an emphasis on portion size, fresh ingredients, and the creative use of “superfoods” (spinach, berries, sweet potatoes, melons, salmon, and soy).
To show you how to use these ingredients at home, the resort offers some of the most professional cooking classes in the spa world. (You’ll work in a kitchen complete with an overhead plasma screen so everyone gets a close-up view of the demos.) You might learn how to make a turkey, sun-dried tomato, and avocado aioli wrap or pan-roasted herb chicken with sweet potato–apple hash. There are also chef-hosted educational dinners and courses, such as the Energetics of Food, that offer a deeper look into how your body reacts to the things you eat. Book a one-on-one with the resident dietitian ($150 an hour) to address questions about your eating triggers or get a diet specifically designed for your needs. Round out your days in one of 130 weekly fitness classes.
Details From $425 per night for the Intro to Spa Plan, including meals, group fitness classes, lectures, and cooking demos; thelodgeatwoodloch.com.
The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua
If you feel like you could snooze for a month and still not be caught up on your rest, consider a getaway to the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, where several of the offerings are based on the pursuit of deep, high-quality sleep. The twiceweekly 90-minute Snooze You Win class ($35) takes place on Tempur-Pedic mats and blends yoga, meditation, stretching, aromatherapy, and head and foot massage. The goal is not only to induce sleep on the spot (a 20-minute nap is built into the class), but also to learn take-home tranquility techniques. You can even schedule private hypnosis appointments ($90 for 50 minutes) to help eliminate a myriad of sleep problems or to personalize the many relaxation strategies you will have learned in the class.
And then there’s the Drift to Sleep spa treatment. This two-hour ($300) ritual primes you for peaceful slumber with an aromatherapy milk bath and a cup of herbal tea, then all but sings you a lullaby: You get a massage that incorporates warm aromatherapy oils, Reiki, lymphatic drainage, craniosacral holds, and other snooze-inducing techniques before being left to rest on the warmed down duvet that covers your oversize massage table.
Details From $395 per night; ritzcarlton.com.
Casa de Miel
When you see the word “cleanse” in a weight-loss context, thoughts of juice fasts, sketchy herbal supplements, and colonics come to mind. But there’s a new cleanse on the scene—that scene being Mexico’s gorgeous Riviera Maya region—that helps you shed a few pounds without sabotaging your metabolism, your health, or your mood. Casa de Miel was developed by Melissa Perlman, the brain behind Tulum’s popular Bikini Bootcamp at Amansala, and includes an activity-packed schedule and a 1,500-calorie-a-day diet. Don’t worry; you’ll eat lots of fresh fish and produce, so you won’t feel deprived.
This new complex of thatched-roof, beachfront cabanas is sandwiched between the Caribbean and the jungle, so there’s plenty to do. Mornings begin with journaling, a long power walk, and stretching, then you’re free to take fitness classes or join in the cooking demonstrations. Midday usually brings beach time, when you can do your own thing for a couple of hours. Afternoons might include massage, yoga, meditation, snorkeling in freshwater swimming holes, boat rides, exploring Mayan ruins, and more. The full activity menu combined with the low-cal (but not low-flavor) diet ensures you’ll lose just enough weight to get motivated—and stay that way once you get home.
Details From $1,825 for six days, allinclusive; casademiel.com.
Golden Door is the kind of place that de-stresses you before you even get on the plane: After all, almost everything you’ll need is waiting for you, including T-shirts, tank tops, shorts, sun hats, sunscreen, and toiletries. All you need to bring are socks, underwear, sports bras, and sneakers.
One of the most popular tensiontaming offerings at this hideaway (designed to resemble a traditional Japanese retreat) is Healing Sounds, which uses Tibetan singing bowls, drums, rattles, and other instruments to induce relaxation. Other stress busters include tai chi, qigong, yoga, and walking through a labyrinth. There’s even an on-site stress management consultant who teaches group sessions and will work with you individually. She’s your go-to person for general angst alleviation.
A typical stay lasts a week, but if you can’t spare that much time, consider one of the new three- or four-day Interlude packages. Scattered throughout the year, they allow time-pressed guests to get a taste of the amazing food, local hikes, out-of-the-ordinary fitness classes, and spa.
Details From $3,625 for a three-day Interlude package, including all of your meals, most activities, and five spa treatments; goldendoor.com.
Duke Integrative Medicine’s Health Immersion
Durham, North Carolina
Maybe you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure. Or you have chronic back pain. Or you just don’t feel right. Whatever the case, you want to take charge of your health, but you’re not sure how to go about it. Duke’s Health Immersion program will give you the advice, tools, and ongoing support you need to reduce your risk of disease and limit complications from illnesses you already have.
The first thing you’ll do during this three-day workshop is participate in an 80-minute consultation with a physician, a nurse, and an integrative health coach. Then the team will create specific health-oriented recommendations for the duration of your visit. These might include tests, such as blood work or an EKG, and treatments, like acupuncture and massage. Your health coach will help you incorporate the doctor’s recommendations into your lifestyle and will check in with you regularly for the next three months.
On your own, you can de-stress in the spa, sample the bevy of wellness classes (such as Nutrition Workshop, Power Yoga, Conscious Cooking, and Movement Workshop), or escape to one of the many meditative spaces on the grounds.
Details From $2,995 for three days, including all consultations, meals, classes, and treatments; dukeintegrativemedicine .com. There’s no lodging on the property; most attendees stay at the Washington Duke Inn (from $205 per night; washingtondukeinn.com).
Canyon Ranch SpaClub
Las Vegas, Nevada We know, we know. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas—except for one thing: your soon-to-be-amped-up exercise program. If you cut back on the usual Vegas pursuits—blackjack and allyou- can-eat buffets—in favor of fitness rehab at this Canyon Ranch satellite (it’s part of both the Venetian and Palazzo hotels) you’ll have endless workout options at your disposal. Now that the facility has doubled in size to an epic 134,000 square feet, it’s the largest hotel spa in North America.
There are multiple workout areas where you could do cardio and weights all day. Or you can take your pick from a range of classes, including Core Camp, Ballet Workout, Pilates, and Cardio Kick (as in boxing). In addition to trainers, there are two staff exercise physiologists who can assess your fitness level and develop a personalized routine.
The piéce de résistance is the 40- foot indoor climbing wall, which you can work your way up individually— you’re always supervised—or with a partner (from $20 for 25 minutes). Rappel down and reward yourself for a successful climb—or just a tough workout— with a session on the massage table (from $140 for 50 minutes). Details From $199 per night at the Venetian or the Palazzo, plus a $35 fitness passport fee; canyonranch.com.