Sure, a great vacation can leave you feeling like a new person by the time you return home. But these spas really can transform you. From physician-supervised weight-loss regimes to stress-management programs, the following spa programs will change you for the better.

There’s a growing trend in health- and fitness-related travel, and more and more vacation destinations combine exciting locales with the pursuit of physical improvement.

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Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa, one of the nation’s premier health and wellness resorts, is a fitting example — literally. Going beyond your average spa resort, this Miami-based center is recognized for its weight loss and health programs, where guests have benefited from long-term weight loss, lowering of blood pressure, and dramatic improvements in heart disease risk factors. Qualifying persons can even have their trip covered by Medicare or flexible spending accounts.

Unique offerings at the 650-acre wellness resort include Family Immersion Programs, Healthy Living Workshops, MedCheck Programs, and state-of-the-art experiences like aqua-thermal bathing, Finnish saunas, thermal-heated loungers, and private indoor and outdoor saltwater pools. pritikin.com


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Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa has long been a leading name in destination spas. Their spectacular Miami Beach boutique hotel, set on a warm, sunny beach, combines the flexibility of a la carte hotel services with many of the limitless healthy choices of acclaimed Canyon Ranch health resorts — all just 30 minutes from the Miami International Airport. From morning walks on the beach and the thrill of the two-story indoor rock-climbing wall to integrative health experts that advise and inspire, this is the place to reawaken your spirit and refresh your soul.

Intriguing programs for 2012 include topics like learning the difference between food intolerance and food allergies; Chinese medicine tongue diagnosis, which can detect imbalances in your body before you ever have a symptom; and understanding and eliminating neck and back pain.

If you find you don’t want to leave the luxuriously healthy lifestyle there, check out their real estate options and own a slice of this beachfront paradise. canyon ranch.com/miamibeach


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The BodyHoliday is an island lover’s dream destination spa. This St. Lucia wellness resort sits directly on a private bay and is surrounded by 42 acres of lush tropical gardens. Recently reopening its doors following a $20 million renovation that touched nearly every aspect of the property, the resort offers an incredible menu of classes and activities including group exercise, mind and body selections, soft adventure tours, and watersports.

The BodyHoliday’s remodeled fitness center has more than doubled in size, featuring expansive windows that overlook the lush Caribbean hillside. Also unveiled are sleek updates to the resort’s public spaces, wellness center, and dining venues, as well as a new infinity-edge swimming pool — making it easy to immerse yourself in a well-being paradise. thebodyholiday.com

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OK, we’ve gone a little wild for Dr. Andrew Weil (see “Healthy Sandals” on page 12). But his Andrew Weil Integrative Wellness Program at Miraval Resort in the Tucson area is a must for spa-goers looking to make significant lifestyle changes. Says Dr. Weil, “Imagine a world in which medicine was oriented toward healing rather than disease, where doctors believed in the natural healing capacity of human beings and emphasized prevention above treatment.” To that end, this program incorporates the principles of integrative medicine, lifestyle diagnostic tools, and in-depth consultation to map out a personalized lifestyle and wellness path for each guest. Led by Dr. Jim Nicolai, the program can leave you with more energy, motivation, and even longevity, as well as the opportunity to reconnect with the team once you’ve reluctantly left this amazing destination spa and are back at home. miravalresorts.com

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Sure, you can go away for a plastic surgery “vacation” and spend a week recovering from a treatment in the confines of your guestroom. Or you check into the Beauty Room at The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Miami for a CACI Intensive Lift using the spa’s state-of-the-art, anti-aging CACI Ultimate Machine. The treatment uses micro currents to help increase collagen production and erase fine lines. With minimal downtime, you can spend the rest of your vacation — bandage free — in a private luxury cabana at the resort’s 20,000-square-foot private “Oasis Beach Club,” enjoying a massage, sushi from the nearby open-air sushi bar, and your own butler at the ready.
mandarinoriental.com/miami

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De-stressing is the specialty at Westglow Resort & SPA’s Stress Relief Retreat, a four-day program designed to refresh you and leave you better prepared for the demands of life. A tension-relieving massage will work the kinks out of your muscles, while stress-management sessions with a licensed professional counselor will work the kinks out of your mind. It doesn’t hurt that you’ll be staying at the elegant Westglow Resort, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and offering luxurious accommodations in either the restored mansion or the more rustic Cedar Lodge. While the program encourages the use of the resort’s fitness facilities and classes, there could be perhaps no greater way to de-stress than to take in the beauty of your surroundings on a guided mountain hike. westglowresortandspa.com