Vacation Bliss: Top Health Retreats

Yoga at Villa De Palmar, Health Retreats, Marin Magazine


Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay

Lanai City, Hawaii

Where’s Shaw Cote? For those Cavallo Point Spa devotees out there, you’re going to have to travel a bit farther to find the über-popular cranial-sacral massage therapist: he’s now spa director at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai. Famously isolated, this jewel of the Four Seasons Crown properties has quietly grown into its own and is one of our top picks for a wellness getaway. Cole has taken over Hawanawana Spa and created a menu featuring luxurious yet natural brands such as Kypris, Osea, Knesko and Soleil Toujours. A 1,000-square-foot yoga studio has aerial yoga, meditation, tai chi and the new Zen Sports Wellness program. Beyond the spa, a famous golf course and luxury digs, the resort offers numerous land, ocean and air activities.

Specialties Don’t let being on an island in the middle of the Pacific limit your expectations; the food here rivals any big city’s, thanks to restaurants Nobu Lanai and Malibu Farm and a hotel buffet breakfast that’s been named best in the state.

Accommodations Top-line luxury doesn’t come cheap: rooms here go from $1,000 on up to $21,000 per night for the three-bedroom Alii suite.


Villa del Palmar Beach & Spa Resort

Loreto, Baja California, Mexico

Tucked away on pristine Danzante Bay, with the Islands of Loreto winking just offshore, Villa del Palmar is a prime place to detox, unwind and reboot. Start your day with asanas in the beachside pavilion and finish with detoxifying hydrotherapy in the resort’s award-winning Sabila Spa & Wellness Center. In between, play a round of golf at TPC Danzante Bay, the spectacular 18-hole course designed by Rees Jones, or join a whale-watching excursion in the Sea of Cortez, once dubbed “the world’s aquarium” by none other than Jacques Cousteau.

Come for the resort’s signature Wellness Week (December 1 through 8 and in April) and enjoy a full menu of fitness and nutrition therapy led by visiting experts Rebecca Broxterman, trainer to Hollywood celebs, and yoga instructor and nutritional therapist Beth Manos Brickey, with cooking demonstrations and meals by Food Network chef David Fuerte. But no matter when you visit, your mind and body will thank you.

Specialties Spa, golf, yoga, water sports, hiking, general fitness, and personalized nutrition.

Accommodations Rooms, suites, penthouses, spa and fitness center, five pools, tennis court, and affiliated golf course.


The Retreat at Blue Lagoon

Grindavik, Iceland

One of the 25 Wonders of the World, Iceland’s Blue Lagoon is now featuring a luxury offering aptly called the Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland. Sited on a private inlet of the UNESCO Global Geopark, the 62-suite retreat includes a spa, private area of the lagoon and world-class restaurant. Guests can partake in complimentary daily yoga sessions as well as guided hikes and northern lights viewing tours.

Specialties Built into an 800-year-old lava flow on the south shore of the Blue Lagoon, the Retreat Spa promotes rejuvenation through nature, design and the radiant powers of geothermal seawater. Don’t miss the Blue Lagoon Ritual, a spacious sanctuary of interconnected chambers where guests cover their bodies with three treasures of geothermal seawater — algae, silica and other minerals.

Accommodations Each of the 62 suites features a minimalist aesthetic to highlight views from the floor-to-ceiling windows.


Retreat at Blue Lagoon IcelandRetreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland

Rejuvenate at the Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland.


Golden Door Health Retreat & Spa

Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia

Set in the Hunter Valley, Australia’s scenic wine country, only a few hours’ drive from Sydney, Golden Door takes a holistic healthy-living approach. Each day starts at 6:30 a.m. sharp; after meditating under the rising sun, ease into a leisurely session of tai chi and qi gong, followed by a walk through fragrant eucalyptus groves — an early start, but rewarding.

The Golden Door offers specialty retreats all year, plus health-related activities of all kinds, from placid yoga to gung-ho fitness boot camp. The luxurious Elysia Spa provides treatments for post-exercise recovery, including a circulation-improving hot stone massage. It’s an ideal place for people who struggle with fitness self-discipline or who want to hone their health routine; the environment exudes serenity in every corner, from the spacious and airy suites to the refined healthy dining.

And in case you max out on being so well-behaved, the Golden Door is surrounded by some of Australia’s finest wineries, so there are plenty of ways to let loose after your stay.

Specialties Spa, fitness, holistic wellness and beautifully presented Australian-inspired fare, free from red meat, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and saturated fat.

Accommodations One-, two- and three-bedroom suites with five-star amenities. Also included are a spa and fitness center with two pools, tennis and basketball courts, activity studios and more.



Bangalore, Karataka, India

Sample the ancient healing arts in the jungle not far outside the bustling IT hub of Bangalore. A Relais & Chateaux property, Shreyas is the ultimate authentic upscale yoga retreat, with lush grounds, elegant accommodations, and attentive staff — a comprehensive Indian wellness experience if there ever was one.

Shreyas embraces the true meaning of yoga, encouraging mind-body connection in addition to physical practice. A day here includes morning asana practice, walks around the fragrant grounds and meditation. The Anaha Wellness Spa incorporates Ayurvedic, naturopathic and modern techniques, and for those with specific ailments, on-site Ayurvedic doctors might recommend a full healing program like the demanding but purifying panchakarma. Refined and healthy curries are carefully served in ideal portions by candlelight near the sparkling pool.

Sheryas takes seriously the idea of compassion in yoga practice. Every guest can visit a nearby orphanage supported by the resort to help serve food to local children.

Specialties Ayurveda, yoga, naturopathy, spa and vegetarian fare.

Accommodations Poolside cottages, garden tented cottages and a wellness spa.


Four Seasons Resort Oahu

Kapolei, Hawaii

Since opening a few years ago on Oahu’s West Side, the Naupaka Spa has attracted plenty of press accolades especially for its local lomi lomi practitioners.

New this year is a customized Sodashi (an Australian skin care company) Healing Journey, which can be done over five days or less. The treatments are intended to reconnect guests to the healing energies of pure organic plants, crystals, and ancient Ayurvedic techniques. The customizable program includes private yoga and various body and facial treatments.

Specialties Throughout the journey you’ll complete at least one body treatment a day, (or opt for both) such as the Aina Kai (land and sea) marine body wrap or the Papa Lani (heaven and spiritual powers) massage. The latter is an 80-minute massage that employs the power of intention along with ancient healing stones and crystals to align mind and body.

Accommodations Four pools are on the property, including an adults-only infinity option. Various room categories from garden view to oceanfront are available. For the ultimate night’s rest, opt to sleep under the stars on the Sky Terrace of the presidential suite.


Melanie Haiken

Melanie Haiken is a writer, editor and web project manager based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She operates on two simple assumptions: Everyone has a story to tell. And a story well-told will always find an audience. Her work is characterized by exceptional clarity, depth and insight – no matter the topic covered. Haiken writes for AFAR, Forbes, Via, Yoga Journal and many other national magazines and websites. She has also created award-winning marketing and custom publishing materials and communications campaigns for clients like Adobe, Wells Fargo, Lane Bryant, Kaiser Permanente and Safeway.