The Best Spa Vacations
If your idea of a spa is signing up for a week of vigorous hikes and all the raw veggies you can eat, take a look at the 11 new and notable ones we feature here. You can spend a few ultra-luxurious weekdays at a New England inn or head to the coast of Mexico, sail the waters of the Caribbean or go dogsledding in Montana, be massaged with avocado in California or have a lemongrass facial in Pennsylvania. The food may be healthy, but how about chili-rubbed duck or grits souffle? Times have changed, and so have spas.
Emerson Resort & Spa
Mount Tremper, New York
Best for: Couples.
The news: A complete overhaul of the already well-reviewed Emerson Inn.
The scene: Twenty wooded acres overlooking Esopus Creek, in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains.
The spa: Inspired by the Silk Road (slate, dark woods, bamboo), it has 10 treatment rooms and a fitness center with yoga, Pilates, and tai chi classes.
Treatments: A catalog of ayurvedic offerings, from abhyanga (a four-handed massage) and shirodhara (a stream of oil poured onto your third eye — more pleasant than it sounds) to dosha balancing and facials.
Lodging: For ultimate luxury, book a room at the Asian-inspired inn, decorated in vibrant jewel tones. Twenty-six suites include private decks and fireplaces; five are duplex lofts.
Cuisine: Chef Ross Fraser prepares American dishes (New York strip steak), Asian fusion (Thai-style pork), and spa cuisine (seared house-smoked, dry-rubbed ahi tuna) at the Phoenix restaurant.
Activities: In winter, you can ski Belleayre Mountain; in summer, tube Esopus Creek. Hippie time-warp Woodstock is nearby, as is the elegant, artsy town of Rhinebeck. Also go ballooning, horseback riding, skydiving, and kayaking.
Try: An 80-minute rejuvenating couples’ massage in a private VIP room or an outdoor cabana ($280).
Tab: Rooms at the inn start at $450; at the lodge, $199. Rates include breakfast buffet and access to spa facilities; 877-688-2828.
Northeastern Spas, continued
Mayflower Inn and Spa
Best for: Singles and couples.
The news: Connecticut’s swankest inn has invented a fresh concept: the sometimes spa. The inn operates normally on weekends (spa services available a la carte); weekdays, it’s a destination spa, with a package price for fitness programs, treatments, and meals.
The scene: Fifty-eight acres, once the site of a New England prep school.
The spa: Sunday through Friday, spagoers can exercise indoors (Pilates, yoga, Nia, cardio, kickboxing, and more) or outdoors (hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking, tennis, and golf).
Treatments: Massages, facials, soaks, scrubs, and wraps. Regulars swear by "sound therapy" (it may sound wacky, but it’s really fun) and the Deep Blue Lavender Embrace.
Lodging: Thirty rooms in four buildings, all plush and gorgeous, with canopied feather beds and deep tubs.
Cuisine: Check out the menu of American fare (marinated steak) or the "conscious cuisine" (wild mushrooms with asparagus).
Activities: Explore Litchfield County’s classic New England countryside.
Try: Make reservations with three other couples and have the Speedwell or Standish building all to yourselves.
Tab: Rooms and suites from $450 to $1,400; destination spa rates, including classes, treatments and spa meals, start at $4,800 for three nights; 860-868-9466.