Summer Getaways: 5 Luxe Spas to Check Out Now
Holistic magic happens at exclusive spa resorts. The Hollywood elite regularly check in to reboot, tap into their spiritual side and receive the royal treatment in pampering.
Several wellness institutions around the world are renowned for their high-profile guests, like Ananda in Rishikesh, India (recent A-listers include Uma Thurman and Oprah Winfrey); Chiva Som in Hua Hin, Thailand (stomping ground for supermodels like Kate Moss) and Como Shambhala in Bali (Donna Karen is on the advisory board). But you don’t have to fling yourself far for holistic alignment. These high-end spa sanctuaries just hours from Los Angeles are worthy of an ultra-luxe spa getaway.
Kevin Kelly, former president and CBO of famed spa resort chain Canyon Ranch, joined Two Bunch Palms Spa Resort in Palm Springs as CEO, injecting the rustic, 52-room property with a sustainable wellness program. Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, the tony desert hideaway is known for its natural, mineral thermal springs in a picturesque grotto that has been brimming with celebrity and industry guests since film producers Steve Markoff and Donald Kushner took ownership in 2012. “We have a strong Hollywood following because Two Bunch Palms is an unpretentious healing spa resort in an oasis in the desert with natural hot springs waters,” says Kushner. “This desert oasis traces its lineage back 600 years.” Anne Hathaway and T.J. Miller (HBO’s Silicon Valley) were recent guests. The spa focuses on holistic treatments like new Asian therapeutic bodywork and energy modalities, but the claim to fame is the mud bath. Guest soak weightless in tubs full of mineral-rich, hot clay and peat moss. As of June 21 — the summer solstice — Two Bunch will be the first carbon-neutral resort in North America thanks to a new solar farm. Grotto Suites from $259.
See more 10 Ways to Splurge This Summer
“The moment I arrive at Cal-a-Vie, the stress of life begins to melt away almost immediately,” says Sarah Goldstein, SVP corporate communications & media relations at E! Entertainment. “I emerge refreshed and renewed, ready to take on the real world again.” A two-hour drive from Los Angeles, Cal-A-Vie Health Spa in Vista is nestled in a sprawling, 200-acre, Tuscan-inspired private estate with the backdrop of rolling hills. Fortune 500 CEOs and high-ranked celebrities like Natalie Portman check in for three-, four- or seven-day retreats, spoiled with privacy and back-bending service (there are only 32 villas here; the staff-to-guest ratio is 5-1). Upon check-in, a workout regime is mapped out based on your goals (weight loss, muscle gain, spa, golf), and a daily itinerary arrives at your door every morning with appointed classes and daily spa treatments. The on-site 12-acre vineyard produces Chateaux Cal-a-Vie Grand Rouge (a blend of Cab, Cab Franc and Merlot) but the harvest was recently sourced to extract grape seed, skin and pulp to formulate the spa’s new vinotherapie skincare products, including a clay mask and body cream. Cal-a-Vie began hosting a Teen and Mom week with a celebrity teen every year with Ryan Newman (See Dad Run, Nickelodeon) as the next host. The spa’s second Food & Wine Week, merging nutrition and fitness with focus on the new culinary gardener and beekeeper, is August 30-September 2. Three-night, all-inclusive package from $3,995.
The candle-lit only chapel at Cal-a-Vie spa
Since 1958, Golden Door Spa in Escondido served as the spa retreat for Golden-era film stars like Natalie Wood and Elizabeth Taylor. It’s essentially next door to Cal-a-Vie, wooing high-profile celebs like Oprah Winfrey and Nicole Kidman with its latest reincarnation. Joanne Conway, wife of billionaire philanthropist Bill Conway, bought the resort for $25 million in 2012 when it began to crumble (figuratively and literally) from wear and tear under the corporate structure, and a $15 million renovation last summer unveiled major upgrades to restore it to its original grandeur. Essentially a brand-new spa resort, Golden Door has become a lifestyle brand with its recent launch of organic spa products, apparel and foods. "Golden Door reminds us all that we are worthy, that we all experience love, laughter, pain, and that we are all connected. I am so deeply, profoundly grateful for its existence,” says Friends co-creator and producer Marta Kauffman. Guests check in for three-, four- or seven-day retreats that include personal training, customized skincare treatments, daily massages — the works. Mostly female guests get Zen’ed out in the Japanese-inspired gardens and courtyards, though there are two coed weeks and seven men’s weeks each year. Three-night, all-inclusive package from $4,000.
The Bamboo Forest at the Golden Door
A customizable health retreat in partnership with Park Hyatt Carlsbad, Veravia is famed for de-stressing and restoring strung-out, high-profile executives in a Forbes Five Star, AAA-Diamond property (an hour and half drive from Los Angeles, or a 40-minute helicopter ride to their landing pad). Unlike other spa retreats, Veravia is staffed with an army of psychologists, physiologists, naturopathic doctors and other specialized professionals to assess both fitness and behavioral health. While the program is allotted for a maximum of 10 people, a client can choose to have the luxury of the retreat all to himself without any other guests. Four-day retreat from $4,000.
Group Yoga at Veravia
The adults-only Miraval Resort in Tucson (one and half-hour flight from Los Angeles) soothes high-profile guests with the backdrop of the Santa Catalina Mountains and a man-made stream running throughout the 400-acre property. It’s established a cult following with A-listers: everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Ellen Degeneres has checked in. Brunson Green, producer of The Help, says: “If you don't have self control, the food is so good, you can come back heavier than you came. The atmosphere is truly relaxing.” Atypical for a spa resort, Miraval fosters a social environment and even serves alcohol. There are more than 200 things to do here, including unique actives like desert waves yoga on an IndoBoard, Intuitive Aging lectures and programs like Awakening The Divine Self with renowned master healers Pamela Lancaster and Dr. Tim Frank. Signature Experience, including unlimited spa, activities and private sessions start at $1,500 per night.
Desert Waves Yoga at Miraval