“When you get into the larger aircraft it becomes like a hotel, with dozens of staff supporting the plane based in a galley area down below. You have very comprehensive cooking facilities, and on larger aircraft we have looked at theatres, with spiral staircases and a Steinway grand piano. The limitations for what you can put inside a plane are pretty much the limits of physics, and even money cannot always overcome that. Even so, people are still always trying to push [the limits]. ”
These resorts offer high-end accommodations and a bonus: first-class menus of health and wellness offerings.
If taking care of yourself always falls at the end of your to-do list, maybe it's time to schedule a vacation at a wellness retreat. Like most high-end resorts, the best of these facilities boast beautiful scenery, luxurious accommodations and fine dining. What sets them apart is that they also offer programs and professionals aimed at improving your health.
Those professionals work together, sharing all of your medical data, so you can avoid redundant testing and the hassle of transferring records. Each retreat employs a different mix of experts, but you’ll usually find physicians, nutritionists, physical trainers and holistic health practitioners.
Some facilities cater to busy executives by quickly conducting extensive medical tests and following up with guests as their schedules permit. Others request that you stay for a specific time frame and participate in certain activities.
Whether you need just a routine physical or want to be evaluated because of specific concerns, there are a variety of destinations around the globe that can help you fit in some medical care and advice while enjoying a vacation, either solo or with the family.
Here are six great options.
Canyon Ranch Hotel and Spa in Miami Beach
An outpost of the famed Canyon Ranch health resorts and spas found across the U.S., the Miami Beach location (canyonranch.com/miamibeach) differs noticeably from its sister properties. The a la carte boutique hotel, which hugs the Atlantic Ocean, functions primarily as a luxurious all-suite vacation destination. Guests choose whether or not to utilize any of the 40-plus wellness activities scheduled each day, both indoors and beachside. You can also sign up for one of several health packages, which focus on goals such as weight loss, stress reduction, smoking cessation and pain management.
The resort offers state-of-the-art medical assessments, including bone-density screening, a cardiac stress test, sleep studies and Biophysical250, a comprehensive blood assessment. Physician appointments last an unhurried 50 minutes—long enough to discuss all questions and concerns. Exercise physiologists, a nutritionist, physical therapists and life-management therapists round out the staff.
The resort pairs many of the wellness packages with healing treatments at its spa, the largest in Florida. This may be one of the few places on Earth where you can discuss human genomics with your doctor before walking across the hall and checking in for a surf lesson.
Nearest airport: Opa-Locka Executive (OPF), 18 miles north of Miami. Longest runway, 8,002 feet.
Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa
Brenners is in Baden-Baden, in the foothills of Germany’s Black Forest on the Lichtentaler Allee, a historic park and arboretum. Baden-Baden, an area known for its prevalence of health-oriented spas, offers something for all tastes, including excursions to the Rebland wine region, cultural pursuits at the nearby theater and art gallery and long, rambling drives in classic cars.
The 141-year-old Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa (brenners.com) has an extensive medical team that can address an unusually wide variety of complaints. Ophthalmologists can perform glaucoma surgery and treat macular degeneration. Oral-care experts focus on aesthetic dentistry and implants. Dermatologists, gynecologists, pain-therapy specialists, physical therapists, osteopaths and nutritionists are available, as well.
Nearest airport: Private Aviation Center (GAT) at Baden-Baden Airport (FKB), six miles west. Longest runway, 9,787 feet.
Miraval Resort & Spa
Located near the Santa Catalina Mountains, the Miraval Resort & Spa (miravalresorts.com) occupies 400 acres in Tucson, Arizona. Steve Case, cofounder of AOL, enjoyed his stay here so much that he wound up becoming the majority owner.
The all-inclusive resort, which features 116 casitas, allows guests to choose what areas of wellness they want to focus on. Miraval heavily emphasizes mind-body wellness, with an extensive lineup of classes that address emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual health. In addition to a naturopathic physician, stress-illness specialist, nutritionist and wellness counselor, the staff includes several New Age practitioners.
It would be a shame to stay in the Sonoran desert and not experience the surrounding beauty, and Miraval makes that easy. Hiking, rock climbing, zip-lining and photography walks are just a few of the pursuits available, and a golf pro and tennis coach are on hand.
Nearest airport: Marana Regional Airport (AVQ), 25 miles southwest. Longest runway: 6,901 feet.
Rancho La Puerta
Founded in 1940, Rancho La Puerta (rancholapuerta.com) bills itself as the “original fitness resort and spa.” The family-owned and -operated Tecate, Mexico, spa is widely considered to be one of the world’s best.
The 3,000-acre property, just three miles from the U.S. border, focuses on sustainability, environmental preservation and enjoying the wonders of nature. One-week stays are standard, though shorter visits are possible. Up to 140 guests arrive each Saturday.
The resort’s Executive Wellness Program offers a half-day comprehensive exam in San Diego immediately before your visit to Rancho La Puerta. You’ll undergo diagnostic procedures, including lab testing, ECG and cardiometabolic stress testing and a body-composition scan. Then, after being handed the results on a USB drive and lunching with a physician, you’ll be delivered to the resort by a private car service. At the end of your stay, you’ll receive a health plan from a nutritionist and an exercise physiologist.
The property is a haven for those who wish to relax and rejuvenate. Weight loss is not the intended purpose of a stay, though the emphasis on physical activity and the semi-vegetarian meals tend to make guests shed pounds. Each week, you can choose from 325 activities, all focusing on the mind-body-spirit connection.
Lest you be concerned about the lack of anything to do in the middle of the Mexican wilderness each evening, keep in mind that the educational-enrichment programs here have brought in notables such as former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and veteran journalist Bill Moyers, as well as politicians and Grammy-winning artists.
Nearest airport: Brown Field Municipal Airport (SDM), 28 miles west. Longest runway, 7,972 feet.
Red Mountain Resort
In southern Utah, you can schedule a wellness consultation in the morning and be in Zion or Bryce Canyon National Parks by lunch. The Red Mountain Resort (redmountainresort.com) in St. George is big on outdoor fitness. After all, it boasts an “adventure concierge.” Canyoneering, rappelling and archaeological hikes are just some of the pursuits available among the neighboring red-rock canyons and cliffs.
The resort’s whole-body-wellness concept addresses a myriad of concerns, from physical to psychological. Nutrition counselors discuss weight loss and the prevention of obesity leading to diabetes, while chiropractic visits, body scans and metabolic analyses can give you a clearer picture of your health needs.
Red Mountain schedules more than 50 fitness classes weekly, in addition to wellness visits. The 24 villa suites surround a private pool and accommodate up to six guests each. The pet-friendly resort offers both all-inclusive and a la carte options.
Nearest airport: St. George Municipal Airport (SGU), five miles southeast. Longest runway, 9,300 feet.
Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru
If the awe-worthy beauty of the over-water villas at the Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru (fourseasons.com/maldiveslg) doesn’t inspire rest and relaxation, nothing will.
Situated on the 75 islands of the Baa Atoll, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, the Landaa Giraavaru resort celebrates the natural wonders of this tropical paradise. You can spend your days lying in the sun by turquoise waters or snorkeling with whale sharks.
The resort works to promote health and wellbeing though the principles of Ayurveda, an ancient system of traditional medicine native to the Indian subcontinent. Two Ayurvedic physicians are part of the staff, as are Keralan and Sri Lankan therapists trained in Ayurvedic principles, which focus on diet, exercise and sleep.
All guests can receive a 30-minute Ayurveda consultation. For more in-depth analysis and treatment, you can opt for Ayurveda Immersion programs lasting one to three weeks. Single treatments are available during shorter stays. The resort’s chef will prepare cuisine for you in accordance with what the Ayurvedic physician suggests.
Nearest airport: Male International Airport (MLE), 75 miles south. Longest runway, 9,318 feet.
Kimberly Button is a Florida-based freelance travel journalist.