This article originally appeared in the Spring 2018 edition of AAA Traveler Worldwise.
Canyon Point, Utah
Part of the uber-luxe Aman brand, this all-suite resort sweeps across 600 acres of protected valley, where heart-stopping views of mountain ridges and unending plateaus await at every turn. Guests can mix and match from a menu of amenities—ride through the desert on horseback, say, or soar above it in a hot-air balloon—or they can opt for an all-inclusive package, with selections such as the Kokoro Retreat, which includes meals, meditations, massages and more.
Whisper “spa,” and chances are good that someone will instantly whisper back two words: Canyon Ranch. For those who prefer the quiet charms of the green rolling hills of New England, this outpost—centered in an 1897 mansion in the Berkshires—is unsurpassed for its gracious style and easy access to a cultural scene alive with top-notch theater, museums and music. Fresh off a renovation that spiffed up the dining room and the guest rooms, this all-inclusive resort features an action-packed (or if you prefer, unpacked) agenda that might include hiking the Appalachian Trail and watercolor painting one week and essential knife skills and West African drumming the next.
A recent update at this legendary spa includes a significant expansion of its grounds—including some 20 miles of new hiking trails—and refurbished interiors for its 40 guest rooms. From the koi-filled pond and cypress trees of its gardens to the yukata robes that hang in its closets, the resort nods to the traditional inns of Japan. But new product lines, enhanced programming such as a weeklong hands-on Cooking School during the summer, and an ever-adventurous menu of treatments ensure that this classic stays fresh and very much true to its own spirit. Best of all, 100% of the resort’s net profits are donated to charities dedicated to preventing child abuse and alleviating world poverty.
Grace Mayflower Inn & Spa
Nestled on 58 acres of secluded woods, blooming with gardens and abutting a nature preserve, this intimate 30-room property recently launched its Serenity Retreat package, which includes roundtrip helicopter transfers to and from New York City, spa services, and a candlelight dinner for you and your special someone. Its Bespoke by Grace program offers tailored experiences such as Step Back in Time, in which your party will be chauffeured in a 1936 Buick to a picnic spot in the Litchfield Hills. As your leisurely morning rolls into afternoon, you’ll savor a gourmet meal that’s been specially prepared to your tastes and treat yourself to the greatest gift of all: time.
Lake Austin Spa Resort
Water and Texas don’t usually go together, but they form a beautiful friendship at this all-inclusive 40-room retreat, which bills itself as the only destination spa on a moving body of water. How fitting, then, that its newest program, Ripple Effects: The Wellness of Water, makes full use of that situation with more than 30 wide-ranging experiences. Living the life aquatic takes center stage here, whether it’s by sunrise paddle yoga or floating water meditation, or by sundown wine cruises or inspirational presentations to get your mental and physical juices, well, flowing. Several new spa treatments also focus on the rejuvenating power of getting wet, including the Quench Body Wrap and Aqua Stretch, a series of myofascial release stretches performed in warm water.
The Lodge at Woodloch
Last year, this world-class resort added 100 acres to its verdant Pocono Mountain setting and created The Sanctuary, a separate property dedicated to nurturing—and educating guests about—the area’s distinct ecosystem. Simultaneously, it embarked on a multimillion-dollar renovation to its public spaces and expanded its programming. New offerings include a year-round forest bathing program (based on a belief that reveling in nature boosts the immune system and reduces stress), a more extensive sleep program (more pillow choices and sleep-enhancing treatments), and a brain health program to stimulate mindfulness (try fly fishing).
Spread across 400 acres in the Sonoran desert, this top-rated resort has undergone major renovations of late, including updated guest rooms and a new fitness center. In addition, a separate complex called The Retreat includes 22 of the spa’s most spacious and private suites, each one equipped with an indoor- outdoor shower, a hot tub and a fire pit. Also new are several spa treatments that move beyond pampering and into the truly extraordinary. They include a limited-edition (only 20 per year are offered to preserve the sustainability of the hives) honey facial that crafts a custom mask using honey sourced from on-property hives and an immersive sensory-deprivation experience that uses the weightlessness of water to free the mind and body.