How to use points to book 9 unforgettable wellness retreats
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If one of your resolutions for 2020 is to focus on wellness, you’re not alone. According to a a New Year’s resolution survey conducted by Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, more than 51% of Americans want to make health and wellness a top focus in the new year.
Sure, you can start working on your health and fitness goals at home. But there also are many wellness retreats, resorts and spas designed specifically to help you turn your wellness goals into reality.
There are ascetic ashrams in India and remote yoga retreats in Costa Rica, for example, though these wellness escapes rarely run cheap. Fortunately, there are many hotels and resorts around the world with a wellness focus where you can use your hard-earned points to offset the cost. Plan a healthy escape to one of these resorts and jumpstart your resolution — without doing too much damage to your bank account.
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MIRAVAL RESORT & SPA in Arizona
Enjoy a rejuvenating Sonoran desert getaway at Miraval, located at the foot of the Santa Catalina mountains in Tucson, Arizona. A day at the 400-acre Hyatt-owned resort includes a variety of activities; make sure to reserve your favorites ahead of time. You’ll find all the typical trappings of a wellness retreat such as yoga, hiking and fitness classes, but also more unconventional diversions like drumming, crystal healing, photography strolls, gluten-free baking and equine activities. You can even swing from a cable 35 feet above the desert floor if you dare. The resort’s Life in Balance Spa offers treatments including Ayurveda and Vasudhara, the latter of which is similar to a Thai massage but done while immersed in water.
Miraval’s cash rates can surpass $1,000 per night in high season, though an award night starts at 45,000 Hyatt points (plus an additional 20,000 points per night for double occupancy). Miraval award stays can’t be booked online, so you’ll need to call to redeem your points. Rates include meals, ground transportation from the airport and almost all activities. When booking with points, you also get a $175 per person, per night resort credit — but this can disappear very quickly at the spa, so choose your treatments wisely.
SIX SENSES KOCATAŞ MANSIONS in Turkey
Relax at this brand new hotel which occupies two historic Ottoman-era mansions in Istanbul, Turkey. The entire hotel is dedicated to wellness (as are many Six Senses properties), and the spa has five treatment rooms, a private suite, hammams (Turkish baths), a holistic anti-aging center, a fitness center and an indoor pool. Treatment highlights include Kneipp foot bath therapy and body scrubs using freshly grated coconut with crushed coconut shell and turmeric. The 45 spacious guest rooms and suites overlooking the sea are also prime spots for relaxation — as are the ensuite soaking tubs and marble-clad bathrooms.
Plan to spend 50,000 points for an award night (or $280 per night) at the Six Senses Kocataş Mansions. Thanks to IHG’s recent partnership with Six Senses, other Six Senses properties will soon be available for points reservations later this year. Because this property just opened, the spa won’t be fully open until the spring of 2020, so plan your visit accordingly for maximum wellness opportunities.
JW MARRIOTT & SPA CANCUN in Mexico
While party city Cancun may not be the first destination that comes to mind when dreaming of a relaxing retreat, the JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa claims to have one of the largest hotel spas in Mexico, and may be just what you need to achieve your wellness goals. The 35,000-square-foot spa spans three levels and features 17 treatment rooms as well as a variety of pools and baths. There’s also a fitness center complete with an aerobics room, plus a salon, heated indoor pool, Jacuzzi and tennis courts. The spa offers both facial and body treatments, many of which are based on ancient Mayan rituals.
The JW Marriott Cancun is a Category 6 property in the Marriott Bonvoy program and award nights cost between 40,000 and 60,000 points, depending on the season. Cash rates start around $250 per night. Spa treatments are all at an added cost, and the purchase of a spa treatment ensures entrance into the spa area one hour prior to and after your treatment, so you can enjoy the hot and cold plunge pools, baths, sauna and other amenities. Alternatively, you can pay $60 to enter the restricted spa area. One level of the spa, which is home to the indoor pool and fitness center, is open to all hotel guests.
HILTON SHILLIM ESTATE RETREAT & SPA in India
A three-hour drive from Mumbai, the Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa is located within the Sahyadri mountain range, a setting that inspires peace and tranquility. In addition to complimentary wellness activities like yoga, meditation, cooking classes and conservation walks, the Dharana Wellness Center will create a personalized program just for you. Programs range from detoxing to weight management and stress relief, and may include treatments such as hydrotherapy, cupping, Ayurveda, Ku Nye Tibetan ritual spa therapies, Panchakarma detoxification techniques, meditation practices, Sattvic diet and weight management and fitness courses in TRX training, Zumba, Pilates, trekking and aqua aerobics.
Room rates start at $150 per night or 49,000 Hilton points. Plan to pay extra for spa services and access to wellness programs.
KIMPTON SEAFIRE RESORT & SPA in Grand Cayman
All Kimpton hotels already have a wellness focus, with in-room yoga mats and complimentary bike use. But the Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa in Grand Cayman goes a step further, with a large fitness center and complimentary fitness classes like yoga and even paddleboard yoga. The hotel has many quiet spaces for reflection where you can focus on mindfulness and meditation. The 8,500-square-foot spa has seven treatment rooms and offers ocean-inspired treatments like a “Vitamin Sea” facial using marine elements, an ocean calm massage and an ocean cool body wrap.
Plan to spend 70,000 IHG points for an award night at the Kimpton Seafire. Cash rates range from $500 to $1,000 per night, depending on the season. Plan to spend extra for spa treatments, which you can book online prior to your stay.
An escape to the Maldives is already going to be relaxing, but the overwater Iridium Spa at the St. Regis Vommuli Resort takes things to the next level. The nearly 20,000-square-foot space overlooks the Indian Ocean and is simply stunning, with stylish Zen-inspired decor. The spa has six treatment suites (some complete with private steam rooms and private terraces with soaking bathtubs), along with saunas and cold drench showers. The Iridium experience culminates in the Blue Hole Pool — a hydrotherapy pool that uses whirlpool jets to swirl heated seawater.
Before heading in for one of the many treatments, sip tea in the calming Iridium Room while admiring the marine life through the room’s glass floors. Treatment highlights include the Lava Shell Massage that uses clam shells filled with activated “lava gel” to melt away those tense muscle knots. Or try the Caviar Journey, which uses caviar spa products and includes a snack of caviar paired with Champagne to enjoy after your treatment.
A stay at this St. Regis also includes complimentary bikes and snorkel equipment. The spacious fitness center hosts free fitness classes, such as bootcamp and TPG favorite: zero-gravity yoga. There are also tennis courts on the property.
It can be difficult to find award availability, but the Category 8 resort is available from 85,000 points per night — or between $800 and $2,000 per night, depending on season. Budget some cash for spa treatments, though, which aren’t cheap (as well as food, seaplane transfers and other add-ons). You can also book a private swim in the Blue Hole Pool for $60 for two hours.
VENTANA BIG SUR, AN ALILA RESORT in California
Ventana’s rustic interpretation of luxury immediately inspires tranquility, and the spa is nothing short of spectacular. Big Sur is known as a sacred, special place, and the spa’s energy work and body therapy treatments build upon the beauty and peace of the natural setting. The new outdoor spa cabanas allow guests to enjoy treatments, including aromatherapy baths in large copper soaking tubs, while enjoying the scents and sights of the nearby ocean and surrounding redwood forest. Beyond the more traditional treatments, guests can receive holistic jade stone therapies or have private astrology readings.
Thanks to the recent integration of Alila Hotels into the Hyatt program, you can stay at Ventana Big Sur for just 30,000 points per night, which is a great value since room rates are often close to $1,000 per night when paid in cash. And trust us, you’re going to want to spring for a Vista Hot Tub Suite.
Amangiri in Utah
The Aman Resorts brand has always been associated with wellness, and the Amangiri Utah is a true escape from your daily routine, thanks to its far-flung location in the desert of Southern Utah. Many treatments and rituals at the 25,000-square-foot spa focus on the four elements: earth, water, fire and wind. Treatments are inspired by the Navajo concept of hózhó, which means being in tune with the self while connecting with the universe. The hotel also offers water therapies in its floating pavilion. The spa areas like the sauna, steam room, step-pool and plunge pool are free for all guests to use. Daily yoga classes at the Amangiri are held on the rocks overlooking the expansive desert landscape, and guests can participate in activities such as horseback riding and hiking.
While Aman hotels aren’t part of a loyalty program, you can book your stay through Amex Fine Hotels & Rewards if you have either The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express. Use Membership Rewards points to cover the cost (though you’ll get a much better value by transferring them to hotel or airline loyalty programs) or, instead, earn 5x points on a prepaid cash reservation. Either way you’ll get exclusive perks like daily breakfast for two; a room upgrade upon arrival, when available; a $100 property credit, among others.
Just be prepaid for room rates to reach upwards of $2,000 per night.
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LE MIRADOR RESORT & SPA in Switzerland
Switzerland is the land of spas, so it’s hard to choose just one. But Le Mirador has a spa, health center and even a dental care center to address health, wellness and spa needs from head to toe. It boasts a large fitness center with gym classes, a swimming pool overlooking Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps, plus a dedicated Givenchy Spa with 11 treatment rooms, a sauna, foot baths, whirlpools, multijet showers and a steam room, so guests can indulge in the ultimate healing and relaxation. Special programs include weight management, detox, relaxation and revitalization under the care of specialized wellness professionals. There’s even a kids spa (ages 8 to 13) with treatments like a pedicure or tween facial.
Since Le Mirador isn’t part of a loyalty program, you can’t use traditional hotel points to stay here. But there’s a workaround. You can make your reservation through Hotels.com and take advantage of its loyalty program. Although rates start around $300 per night, if you’ve paid for 10 nights through Hotels.com, you can get one night free. (The value of your free night is equivalent to the average cost of your 10 paid nights.) And if you pay with a card like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, you can consider using your fixed-value miles to “erase” the travel purchase from your statement.
Feature image courtesy of Amangiri.
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