Would you pay anything for a weekend of healthy relaxation? Or does the very idea of shelling out big bucks for a quinoa salad and a hot stone massage destroy your peace of mind? Forget about the relative merits of a seaweed wrap and a mud bath. These are the deep questions you must consider before you begin a search for your ideal spa hotel.
Whatever you are willing to spend for restorative treatments and a feeling of serenity, there is a nearby spa for you. Here are three standout destinations -- at three price levels -- for reviving mind, body and spirit.
Intimate and down-to-earth
COPPERHOOD RETREAT AND SPA 70-39 State Rte. 28, Shandaken, N.Y.; 845-688-2460, copperhood.com
Copperhood is a down-to-earth destination spa in the Catskills and only a two-hour drive from New York City. This intimate resort prides itself on dealing with guests one-on-one to come up with the perfect combination of diet and exercise they can continue on their own after checkout.
Rooms with DVD players and complimentary Wi-Fi face the resort's front lawn or the picturesque Esopus Creek and surrounding mountains. The hotel's two-bedroom suites with a shared living room are fun for gals-only getaways (when booking, ask about special group discounts if you are traveling with a bunch of friends).
Much of the fresh and light food you will eat comes right from Copperhood's own garden. In addition to the regular spa menu (with vegetarian and vegan options), there are supervised raw foods and juice-fasting programs. Indoor fitness classes include the usual suspects (yoga, Pilates) and activities you may have always wanted to try (African dancing, fencing). Guests are encouraged to enjoy the beautiful surroundings with plenty of year-round outdoor fitness offerings, including cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, daylong hikes, fly-fishing and biking. When it's time for some pampering, you can choose from a large menu of a la carte spa treatments, including nine types of massage and five kinds of body wraps.
A 50-minute Swedish massage will cost you $100. The resort's two-night "Respite" package is $875, including all meals and fitness classes; use of all facilities, including a nicely equipped wet room with hydrotherapy tub and Vichy shower; and daily guided walks and hikes. Owner Elizabeth Iwinski works hard to cultivate relationships with previous guests, offering ongoing advice and support and a 10 percent discount for return visits.
Value near the vines
MIRBEAU INN & SPA 851 W. Genesee St., Skaneateles, N.Y.; 877-647-2328, mirbeau.com
Four hours from the city in picturesque Skaneateles, the Mirbeau Inn & Spa consists of six buildings clustered around landscaped ponds and gardens patterned after Monet's gardens at Giverny. Designed to feel like a wine country estate, its cuisine and many of its treatments reflect its location in the heart of the Finger Lakes wine region.
You get a lot of luxury for the money at this beautiful resort. Rooms are cozy, with fireplaces and notably large bathrooms equipped with soaking tubs, tiled walk-in showers and plush robes. Wear your robe down to breakfast (allowed but not required) before heading to the 14,000-square-foot spa building, where you are urged to arrive at least an hour before any scheduled treatments to take advantage of the large Jacuzzi, heated foot pool, herbal-infused steam room, dry sauna and exercise studio with a range of classes, all at no extra charge. The spa menu includes "vinotherapie" treatments developed by French skin-care specialists at Caudalie, including the Vinoperfect Facial and the Crushed Cabernet Body Scrub.
Eat a light lunch at the Aqua Terrace, the spa's outdoor heated water lounge. For dinner, The Wine Bar offers a variety of small plates to match its impressive selection of both local and imported wines by the glass. Try a themed flight, such as "whites we can't pronounce," poured from a state-of-the-art WineStation dispenser. The more formal French Steakhouse serves seasonal French comfort food.
Mirbeau's 50-minute "Essentials" massage is $130. The Weekend Spa package, including two breakfasts, one dinner at the restaurant and one spa treatment, is $1,165 a person, double occupancy. If you can find time to visit during the week, prices decrease significantly.
Healthy living in posh style
MAYFLOWER INN AND SPA 118 Woodbury Rd., Route 47, Washington, Conn.; 860-868-9466, mayflowerinn.com
This 58-acre Relais & Chateau property consists of 30 lavishly appointed guest rooms in four buildings on a magnificent country estate. If you are looking for an austere cell in which to practice self-denial, look elsewhere. At the Mayflower, you will search for inner peace knowing that at the end of the day you'll be retiring to a sleeping chamber with an antique Oriental rug, four-poster feather-top bed and marble bath with Limoges fittings.
While many hotel spas offer day passes, the Mayflower's spa facilities are never open to the public. This means the Spa House, a 20,000-square-foot "relaxation resource," is reserved for hotel guests alone. Beyond common lounging areas with plump upholstered furniture, you will find an indoor pool, a mosaic domed whirlpool tub, exercise studios, treatment rooms, a salon and a shop that sells high-end knitwear from Brunello Cucinelli, as well as the Mayflower Inn's signature spa products. Outside are a yoga garden and a classical labyrinth constructed of granite and green grass paths, designed for meditative walks. A personal adviser will be assigned to help you choose from a variety of facials, massages, soaks and scrubs. There are plentiful group fitness and yoga classes, but also the opportunity to take private yoga, Pilates, archery, kayaking and fly-fishing lessons.
When it comes to food, you can be as virtuous or indulgent as you'd like. Whether you choose to start the day with warm barley cereal with almond milk or Mayflower eggs Benedict, know the ingredients are likely organic, artisanal and locally sourced. Dinner in the restaurant is a multicourse affair, paired with fine wines by the sommelier, if you'd like. The more casual Tap Room offers seasonal and local pub food.
The 60-minute Mayflower Massage is priced at $175. For the ultimate spa break, book the Above and Beyond Experience (available only on weekdays), which will get you unlimited spa treatments and classes, all meals, spa adviser services and workout clothes for your stay; three nights from $4,000.