Maybe it’s a side effect of our over-stressed, under-rested, digitally saturated lives: destination spas seem more popular — and more prevalent — than ever before. Wellness has become an “it” word, as people look to stay fit, eat better (juice cleanse, anyone?), and even keep their minds healthy.
So it’s not a total surprise that Travel + Leisure readers voted a very down-to-earth spa as the best in the U.S. this year. New Life Hiking Spa is open only from May to October, and its program focuses on long hikes in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Meals are communal, and the spa offers straightforward treatments that are meant to soothe sore muscles. New Life is also, as one reader observes, “one of the most affordable destination spas available.”
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise lines, spas, airlines, and more. In the domestic destination spas category, readers rated properties on their accommodations and facilities, treatments, service, food, and overall value.
Several other top-ranked spas are known for their focus on health, including the Ranch in Malibu and Cal-a-Vie, a Provençal-inspired retreat set in the canyons of Vista, California, that offers more than 100 fitness classes. But our winners don’t leave pampering out of the equation, whether it comes to spa treatments or food.
“The spa offered a variety of unique massages and facials, which made the experience all the more special,” said one reader of Lake Austin Spa Resort. “The French chef there cooks everything to perfection, with beautiful food presentation.”
Another focus of destination spas in the United States: experiencing the great outdoors. No one travels to a retreat to be cooped up in their guest room. And it’s no surprise that some of the winners this year are in stunningly beautiful places. Westglow Resort & Spa, set on 42 acres in North Carolina, offers yoga classes overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains, in addition to life coaching and aquacise classes.
The hardest part of visiting one of these spots might be having to leave.