The 5 Best Wellness Retreats for Summer Vacation

Wellness retreats have become increasingly popular in recent years, moving beyond basic diet and exercise to embrace a more new age-y approach. What may have seemed woo-woo only 10 years ago is suddenly finding a place in the mainstream, along with sage sticks and concepts of mindfulness.

While there’s certainly fun to be had in touring cathedrals and instagramming all 12 courses of dinner, sometimes the best summer vacations are less about exploring new places and more about unplugging entirely.

If that sounds like something you could use right about now, drop everything and check into one of these 5 U.S. wellness retreats this summer.     

Esalen Institute

A former hang out of Timothy Leary, Hunter S. Thompson, Joan Baez, and other movers and shakers of the '60s, this Big Sur hippie haven remains very much in tune with its counterculture roots. Guests attend workshops related to spiritual and physical wellness, such as yoga, meditative practices, environmental studies, and psychology. Its touchy-feely couples therapy was featured in the 1969 film Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, and, more recently, the series finale of Mad Men signed off with a meditation scene at a very Esalen-esque retreat.

Tuition isn’t cheap, but does include million dollar cliffside views of the Pacific. Prices will vary by course length and type of accommodation, from $420 to $7,000, with sleeping bag arrangements and off site stays being the cheapest option.

Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health

The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Massachusetts is the largest holistic health facility in North America, with a focus on Ayurvedic wellness and the healing arts. Visitors can plan their stay around scheduled programs, of which there are about 700 on average every year. A selection of upcoming programs includes Yoga Retreat for Women of Color, Narrative Medicine, Judgement Detox, and Qigong and Herbs for Depression.

For those who prefer less structure, R&R bookings include access to yoga, hiking, and saunas to be enjoyed at your leisure.

Choose between shared or private rooms, or, the cheapest option, dorm housing. Rates range from $92 for midweek dorm housing to $466 for a weekend private room with private bath.

Two Bunch Palms

Somewhere between Palm Springs and Joshua Tree is the tiny town of Desert Hot Springs, home to Two Bunch Palms. A favorite of gangster Al Capone, the vibe these days is less mobster bloodbaths and more healing sound bath at this 70 room wellness spa. Class offerings vary by day and include chakra balancing, pilates, painting, past life regression, along with private meditation sessions. With all there is to do at Two Bunch, most guests prefer to soak in the hot springs, doing as little as possible. Mud baths, massages, and other spa treatments are also available.

Rooms come with king or double beds, as well as the Casablanca Suites and Capone Suites, starting at $230 per night.

New Life Hiking Spa

This unfussy spa in Vermont’s Green Mountains happens to be one of the nation’s most popular wellness retreats and, starting at $259 a night, it's also one of the most affordable. Guided hikes along the Appalachian Trail take place three times a day, each differing in intensity. Guests can also sign up for aerobics, pilates, and qigong, along with spa services like massages and scrubs. New Life is also known for its weight loss programs, including personal training and nutrition consulting. 

A 3 to 4 Night Mini Vacation package is priced at $279 per night for singles, or $259 for doubles. Other packages include the 11 Nights + Weight Loss Retreat for $259/$239 per night, or the 21 Night Extended Stay Wellness Retreat for $249/$229 per night.

The Ranch Malibu

Aggressive would be one way of describing the Ranch’s boot camp approach to wellness, though the first thing most people mention is the price. It’s expensive. The popular 4-day program known as the Ranch 4.0 will cost you almost $4,000, whereas the week rate is $7,800. Way out of budget for most folks. That is, unless you’re a celebrity, or super wealthy. A masochistic streak probably also comes in handy, at least enough to smile through the marathon 14-mile hikes and a diet that includes very little, considering the cost. But! Connie Britton swears by it, so there you go.   

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