12 Spa Retreats in Paradise for Any Budget

Posted by Laura Kidder on April 15, 2014 at 2:00:00 PM EDT | Post a Comment

It's not hard to find bliss in sunshine and warm breezes, particularly when you've made a fast retreat from winter's frosty edge. But there are places in this world where stays take you beyond bliss. Here are a dozen properties—some splurges and some saves—in beautiful, balmy settings where you'll be stretched and massaged, cocooned and cared for guilt free. In these places, you see, nurturing health and well-being, quieting the spirit, and pampering yourself are entirely the point.

Spa Resorts in the Bahamas

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Splurge: One&Only Ocean Club
Where: Paradise Island
Best for: Couples looking for an exclusive getaway
Noteworthy treatment: One&Only Massage with two therapists employing five different stroke techniques
What's nearby: Nassau

It's all about luxury, the ocean, and the garden at the colonial plantation-style One&Only Ocean Club. Spa treatments draw from the Bahamas and Asia; some finish with Japanese or Balinese tea ceremonies. Yoga features prominently among the free fitness offerings, which also include Pilates, stretch, and kinesis classes, strength-training equipment, and aerobic machines.

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Save: Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat
Where: Paradise Island
Best for: Singles or couples who are serious yoga devotees
Noteworthy treatments: Ayurvedic body treatments, Thai yoga massage
What's nearby: Nassau

Meals are vegetarian; coffee, tobacco, and alcohol aren't allowed; and daily meditation/chanting sessions (the first at 6 a.m.) and yoga classes are mandatory. At the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, your time is your own from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Relax on the beach, attend a workshop, or book a massage. Dorm rooms and private singles or doubles are basic. There are also places to pitch or rent a tent. Everything's á la carte (though room rates include meals), but even in high season, it would be hard to spend $1,000 for a week's stay.

Spa Resorts in the Caribbean

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Splurge (sort of): Body Holiday by LeSport
Where: St. Lucia
Best for: Active couples or singles (there's no supplement fee, and it's easy to make friends here).
Noteworthy treatment: Indian head massage (leaves you blissed-out for days)
What's nearby: Castries, Rodney Bay, Pigeon Island National Landmark 

This destination spa rolls down verdant hills to a beach with swimmable waters. You get enough value for the money at Body Holiday by LeSport that it straddles the line between "save" and "splurge." Daily rates include three meals and afternoon tea, all beverages, fitness classes—including plenty of yoga and Pilates—a daily 50-minute spa treatment, evening entertainment, a bevy of land-and-sea sports activities, and gratuities. The spa manager is a holistic doctor from India and many treatments reflect that. Personalize your whole spa experience online before leaving home.

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Save: Jackie's on the Reef
Where: Jamaica
Best for: Keep-it-simple couples and friends traveling in pairs (rates are per person and rooms are double occupancy).
Noteworthy treatment: Jackie's Signature Treatment combines foot reflexology with a head-to-toe herbal body scrub
What's nearby: Negril Beach and Lighthouse, Royal Palm Reserve

Caribbean zen is the theme at Jackie's on the Reef, where everything is streamlined from the treatment menu to the guest rooms to paying the bill (no credit cards on-site). Activities are essentially yoga and meditation, with Tai Chi and storytelling sometimes part of the mix. Daily rates include breakfast, dinner, a yoga class, and access to snorkeling. Although spa treatments cost extra, several are less than $100. Even factoring this and other expenses in, a peak-season, four-night stay remains under a grand. Jackie’s features several events and workshops throughout the year, so be sure to check the website before booking.

Spa Resorts in Costa Rica

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Splurge: Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort
Where: ,La Fortuna
Best for: Anyone (kids are welcome and those under 5 stay free).
Noteworthy treatment: Volcanic mud wrap
What's nearby: La Fortuna waterfalls; Arenal volcano, lake, and national park

Imagine a post-yoga soak in mineral-rich hot springs amid tropical greenery below a volcano. You've just about imagined at least one morning or afternoon here. An intimate northern Costa Rican retreat and a member of the Leading Hotels of the World and the Leading Spas of the World, Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort is at the foot of the Arenal Volcano. Treatments draw from the most obvious elements: water and earth. There's even traditional temazcal, a pre-Hispanic steam ritual. Everything here is á la carte, but great package deals are offered regularly. Look for online discounts, too.

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Save: Pura Vida Wellness Retreat & Spa
Where: Alajuela
Best for: Singles (most of the clientele despite having to pay more) and couples/pairs of friends. Families take note, though: children are welcome.
Noteworthy treatments: The coffee buff exfoliation; any of the Ayurvedic offerings
What's nearby: Doka Coffee Estate, Irazú, Brava, and Poás volcanoes

At the mountain aerie Pura Vida Wellness Retreat & Spa, accommodations in the foliage range from suites to "tentalows" (luxury tents with carpeting and beds). You can have a different yoga experience every day in one of five yoga halls. Five- and seven-night Mind-Body-Spirit programs include meals (mostly vegetarian), accommodations, lots of yoga, massage, guided hikes, rain forest adventures, and plenty of fresh Costa Rican coffee. If you'd like a similar experience but on the beach, check out the Maya Tulum sister property in Mexico.

Spa Resorts in Florida

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Splurge: Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa
Where: Miami Beach
Best for: Anyone. Families with teens take note: though all ages are welcome at the hotel, there's spa access only for ages 14 and up, with wellness services geared to ages 14–17.
Noteworthy treatments: Ashiatsu (deep barefoot massage); Turkish Hammam bath ritual
What's nearby: South Beach Art Deco District, Lincoln Road Mall

The emphasis at the urban Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa is on anything health-wellness-fitness related. In addition to treatments and exercise classes, sessions with nutritionists, exercise physiologists, life-management specialists, and others are available to help you find a mind-body balance.

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Save: The Standard
Where: Miami Beach
Best for: Singles and couples
Noteworthy treatments: Lazy Yoga (someone else does the work); Soul Temple (hammam, scrub, massage, clay polish, and soak)
What's nearby: South Beach Art Deco District, Lincoln Road Mall

Yoga and meditation feature prominently at the ultra-modern The Standard. The on-site Center for Integrated Living also has workshops and retreats that range from the unusual (firewalking or trapeze lessons, anyone?) to the standard (wellness and nutrition counseling). If you're all about the spa, look into the Spa Sleepover, which, for every night booked, includes a 30-minute treatment, early bird yoga class, and unlimited access to various hydrotherapy pools, the cedar sauna, and the steam room.

Spa Resorts in Hawaii

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Splurge: Anara Spa at the Grand Hyatt
Where: Kauai
Best for:  Couples who like to spa together. Families win here, too. Although the spa is off-limits to those under 14, the resort has tons of stuff to keep the younger set occupied.
Noteworthy treatment: Lokahi Journey: ritual bath, lomilomi and hot stone massage, volcanic-pumice foot scrub, coconut scalp massage, volcanic-clay facial, and mani/pedi.
What's nearby: Koloa (town), National Tropical Botanical Garden, Spouting Horn (blowhole)

Here's where your mind, body, and soul might finally findlokahi (harmony) thanks to traditional Hawaiian treatments and therapies, proximity to nature, and yoga and wellness classes. Relax in a garden sanctuary, a private-treatment bungalow, or a soaking pool. As the Anara Spa is just one part of a larger resort, everything is à la carte, but good-value spa packages called "journeys" range from a relatively budget-friendly 75 minutes to a break-the-bank six hours (ahhh).

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Save: Anara Spa at the Grand Hyatt
Where: Oahu
Best for: Women (sorry, guys). It's more expensive if you come solo, so bring a friend or be open to making friends with an assigned roommate.
Noteworthy treatment: After a day of surfing and stretching, what could be better than deep tissue or trigger-point massage?
What's nearby: Hale'iwa (town), North Shore Surf and Cultural Museum, Bonzai Pipeline (surf spot)
 

This place is all about surfing, yoga, and spa—and in that order. Its namesake was a Hawaiian leader who relinquished power to follow her surfing bliss, so why can't you? Six-night packages include surf lessons (a week's worth goes a long way), three daily meals, a massage, and yoga classes. Plan to visit February through April, the only months that Kelea Surf Spa is open, when the surf is best for beginners and intermediates. To try this at other times of the year (and save a little money), look into Kelea's Costa Rican sister property.

Spa Resorts in Mexico

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Splurge: Rancho La Puerta
Where: Tecate
Best for: Singles, couples, and pairs of friends who are serious about a week of spa life. Be prepared to become a regular; many do.
Noteworthy treatment: As one of La Puerta's founders went on to establish the iconic Golden Door spa, why not try the Golden Door Facial?
What's nearby: San Diego

North America's first and most beloved destination spa is in the desert just over the U.S. border. Rancho La Puerta has been promoting healthy living since 1940—well before it was a popular concept. During a (weeklong) stay you can take crafts and cooking courses (among others), go on morning hikes, and practice yoga, Pilates, meditation, and tai chi. Rates include lacto-ovo vegetarian meals and all fitness classes; some courses and all spa visits cost extra. Packages here are really add-on "bundles" of spa treatments, but do look into them.

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Save: Maya Tulum
Where: Riviera Maya
Best for: Couples/pairs of friends, as rates are per person double occupancy
Noteworthy treatments: Any of the traditional Mayan massage or exfoliation therapies.
What's nearby: Tulum (ruins, beach, and town), Cancun

Book the seven-day Mind-Body-Spirit package at the Maya Tulum, a wellness retreat set between the jungle and the Caribbean Sea on the Yucatán Peninsula. It's an excellent value that includes three daily meals, two daily yoga sessions, two spa visits, and two half-day excursions. Visits to Mayan ruins, snorkeling in lagoons, and trips to rock-formation-filled caverns are among the adventures on offer. There are also three- and five-day packages, and, if you'd like a similar experience but in the mountains, check out the Pura Vida sister property in Costa Rica (see above).

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