Editor’s Note: Not only is Erica Gragg an ACE-certified Vinyasa flow yoga teacher, she is a wellness and travel expert, otherwise known as ‘The Escape Artist’ on social media. Erica co-created the acclaimed travel, fitness and lifestyle programs Escape to Shape and Destination Detox. We are huge fans of Erica’s programs, which encompass wellness journeys through Botswana all the way to the Sacred Valley in Peru. Her upcoming Destination Detox is a bit more local, in the mountains of New York’s Hudson Valley. But we get it, not everyone can make it to Erica’s retreats in Marrakech. So we asked Erica to give us a rundown, a destination detox spa cheat sheet if you will, on all the popular wellness spas from Canyon Ranch to The Ashram. If you ever thought about hitting up one of these spas, here’s your ultimate guide.
Summer is quickly approaching and, with that, perhaps the idea of registering for a weight loss spa or retreat has crossed your mind. Rest assured, you are not alone in your desire to shed the signs of winter by toning up and slimming down. Aside from January, when people everywhere are anxious to start the New Year off on the right ‘healthy’ foot, springtime sees the most activity in the world of detoxing and weight loss.
With the endless choices of locations and destinations out there, it can be overwhelming to determine which option is best for you. Here are 4 key things to consider before taking the plunge—then we’ll dive into the 101 on each of the most popular detox destinations in the U.S.
Consider This Before You Book
1. Know your goals— whether you’re focused on shedding weight or revamping your lifestyle plays a major role in choosing a retreat or spa.
2. Consider what works for you—do you need a strict schedule, or a more relaxed pace? Find out what a typical day looks like, so you don’t risk discomfort or disappointment.
3. Trust the team—do your research, and follow your gut when it comes to finding a team of experts, guides, and specialists running the program.
4. Be mindful of your budget—be realistic with your budget and expectations when considering spas, retreats and locations.
My Top-Choice U.S. Detox Spa Destinations
Strictness Level: 4/5
Good For: people who are already active. Chef-prepared vegetarian meals are included every day, but the drive of this program is fitness: participants will spend a full 9-10 hours each day exercising, including daily 8-12 mile hikes. This retreat is also a true getaway, with luxury accommodations including private rooms and bathrooms for each guest. The “no-option” fitness routine is intense, but they do include time for a daily nap to recuperate and private massages.
Cost: One of the most expensive in the U.S. One week (6 nights, 7 days) will cost you $6,800.
Strictness Level: 5/5
Good For: people looking for a serious challenge. This program’s schedule is very strict, with mandatory activities including two yoga classes and a 16-mile hike per day, as well as a roughly 1,000-calorie-a-day vegetarian diet. With a major focus on weight loss, this resort is strict on every level from activities to food to accommodations (no phones or internet allowed). For a one-week program, weight loss averages 5-10 pounds. Don’t expect luxury, but do expect some celebrity sightings. It’s a favorite for people like Gwyneth Paltrow and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Cost: A one-week program will set you back $5,000.
Strictness Level: 2/5
Good For: a more holistic, meditative experience. In addition to daily hikes and yoga classes, this retreat features activities designed around a concept of balancing energy. Each day includes a scheduled afternoon rest, time set aside for meditation, guided breathing practices, infrared sauna sessions, and chakra healings. With a focus on meditation and personal healing, you will find scheduled activities to be flexible and get lots of me time in your private room.
Cost: One week at The Pearl costs $4,950.
Strictness Level: 3/5
Good For: different options for pricing and program length. While still including daily hikes and fitness classes, this program offers a few more affordable packages. This is a true resort, and you can sign up for other packages in addition to your stay. It’s less strict than some others because of this and you can get out of it what you want. All packages offer flexible daily schedules and meal plans, and provide cooking demonstrations and take-home supplements for participants.
Cost: With a nice range of programs, this resort is very affordable. Programs start at $265 (depending on the date) for a 2-day stay.
Strictness Level: 1/5
Good For: Variety. Each day offers a wide variety of optional activities, from desert hikes to dance parties, as well as workshops like “The Science of Weight Loss” and “Cultivating Inner Peace,” and the schedule is updated weekly. Meetings with Program Advisors and Nurse Educators to design your program are free, and alone time—whether in your room or in the Spiritual Wellness Center—is encouraged. You can do as many or as few activities as you like and go at your own pace.
Cost: At the Tucson, AZ location, a 3-night stay in a single room will cost $4,290—rates vary based on location and accommodations.
Strictness Level: 1/5
Good For: The self-directed spa-lover. A stay at Miraval includes a luxury room, three meals a day (including non-alcoholic beverages), plus access to fitness, meditation, yoga, and wellness classes. Many other activities take place on-site, from pilates to cooking to equine recreation, as well as a full spa. Most activities are add-ons for an extra fee, although packages do include some credit towards these activities. It’s as tough or as basic as you want, since you design your stay yourself—just note that all activities must be reserved in advance.
Cost: Rates start at $499/night for a basic package (based on dates), without add-ons. For an unlimited package, rates start at $1,499/night.
Strictness Level: 5/5
Good For: intense detoxification. Great if your day-to-day lifestyle is less physically active, this retreat features a liquid-only cleanse and regular colonics for detoxifying the body. The schedule is loose; individuals can exercise by walking or with machines, or join optional fitness classes. While physical activities are not so strict or taxing here, the liquid only cleanse and colonics are: this is a place to come for the specific goal of intense food detoxing.
Cost: Programs start at a $1,058 for a 3-day package in a single room (process vary by accommodations and seasons).
Strictness Level: 3/5
Good For: a wide variety of fitness activities. This retreat takes a comprehensive approach to wellness, weight loss, and detoxing, and has several different fitness and wellness activities scheduled each day, including: hiking, pilates, circuit training, meditation, nutrition, and cooking classes. Average weight loss is 4-8 pounds, and the team provides take-home tips and meal plans to incorporate into your daily life. One thing to note is that these retreats are only offered on specific dates, so plan ahead. While there will be lots of physical activity offered throughout the day, they encourage you to listen to your body and skip an activity when needed. Also—being tucked away in the Hudson Valley, you might be able to sneak off to some neighboring farm-to-table restaurants or charming antique stores without anyone noticing.
Cost: Programs start at $3,500 for 6 nights.
Charlotte’s Book readers can join Erica’s upcoming retreat on June 25th for a six-night stay in charming and historic Hudson. More details and reservation information are available here. At sign-up, mention Charlotte’s Book and receive a $200 discount! (Based on availability. Space is limited to 14 guests per week.)