12 Wellness Retreats for 2021
A couple weeks into the New Year, it seems as though the wretchedness of 2020 just won’t end. But hope is in sight. As the coronavirus vaccine roll-out gains more traction, infection rates decline, and ICU capacity returns to higher levels, we’ll begin to recover fragments of our former lives, including the ability to travel.
Perhaps more than any other year, we’re all in need of a vacation to soothe frayed nerves and recharge our souls. So while we’re waiting for the stay-at-home orders to lift, we’ve compiled a list of tranquil California inns to visit later this year for a wellness retreat. From yoga and meditation, to spa treatments, to healthy cooking and nutrition classes, these idyllic inns offer ways to relax, rejuvenate, and re-connect with our highest selves in a cocoon of quiet luxury.
Overlooking the Pacific on the Mendocino Coast, the Brewery Gulch Inn was among the first lodging properties in California to offer traditional Japanese forest bathing (Shinrin-yoku) to its guests. A robust body of scientific literature touts the health benefits of spending time under the canopy of a living forest, and the practice has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing. In partnership with local wellness experts, the inn has also added Shinshin, an expanded, fully integrated mind and body experience that incorporates forest bathing with a customized herbal tea, personalized health strategy session, and gentle, restorative yoga. In addition, guests can opt for a masked Swedish, hot stone, deep tissue, or pre-natal massage in a private, heated tent in the massage meadow.
This peaceful Mission-styled enclave a block from Sonoma’s quaint town square has always been the perfect place to unwind. Unique architectural design elements, fireplaces, Jacuzzi tubs, and several secluded outdoor spaces make it the ultimate ultra-private haven. Adding to the experience is the Calm Spa, where cozy private massage rooms look out onto a bamboo-enclosed Zen courtyard, complete with a bubbling fountain and Japanese maples. Among the spa’s more unique treatment options is a subtle but powerful Reiki energy session, or Reflexology with hot towels and a topical body butter. Or guests might instead opt for a Cocoa Butter Bliss Body Wrap with gentle exfoliation, a cocoon-like towel wrap, and a blissful scalp and foot massage.
Once the home and office of Palo Alto’s first osteopath, the inn’s two beautifully restored historic homes combine turn-of-the-century elegance with modern comforts and a strong wellness ethos. Pampering guest rooms feature luxurious linens and bath robes, homemade organic essential oil soaps, and Aveda bath products. For guests who wish to craft their own spa cuisine, private or shared kitchen facilities are available. The inn’s very own Yoga Loft offers yoga and meditation classes five days a week taught by professionally certified yoga instructions and experienced meditators. The spacious loft features hardwood floors, skylights, and exposed wood-beamed ceilings. On select weekends, the Love Institute hosts couples massage classes in the space. When not in use, the Yoga Loft is also available to guests for their own private practice and meditation.
At this Moroccan-inspired oasis in Desert Hot Springs, sheer fabrics billow in the desert breeze while Moroccan music drifts through an interior courtyard. Inside, therapeutic pools of warm, natural spring-fed mineral water are surrounded by glowing lanterns, lounge chairs, Moroccan poufs, and daybeds piled with pillows. The pool and hot tub are open 24 hours a day, and an outdoor fireplace and fire pit add to the nighttime enchantment. The spa’s most popular treatment is the Marrakesh Melting Massage, a combination of Swedish and deep tissue styles. Other enticing options include The Whirling Dervish Treatment, Pashas’ Pleasure Massage, and the highly specialized Moroccan Rain technique that includes aromatherapy. A quiet spa garden features a genuine Bedouin tent, supplying the perfect space for yoga or meditation.
Tucked into the Sonoma Valley hamlet of Glen Ellen, this Zen hideaway enjoys a verdant and secluded setting along the Calabazas Creek. It’s the perfect backdrop for a customizable private meditation class, personalized yoga session on the inn’s meditation deck or moon deck, or an expert-led shinrin-yoku (forest bathing walk) in Sonoma’s nearby forests. While massage services are temporarily unavailable, the tranquil wine country retreat features meditation areas, calming fountains, a yoga enclave, private Zen gardens and a serene pool area with pillow-lined, cocoon-like lounge chairs for two. For the complete Zen experience, guests seek out the Ryokan Zen Suites, with massive stone soaking tubs facing either the creek or the gardens.
This intimate oasis near the beach in Encinitas is the first lodging property in the world to be recognized as a WELL™ Certified hotel building. Every detail of the property–from the biodynamic vegetable, herb, and flower gardens to the lighting to the air- and water-filtration systems–was intentionally designed with wellness in mind. Each of the inn’s suites feature their own HVAC systems, aromatherapy diffusers, and private decks designed for yoga, meditation, and relaxation. A stunning array of therapeutic spa treatments, workshops, and tours are also available. Unique among them are pre-arrival clearings of guest rooms with sage, copal, or palo santo; organic juice or meal cleanses; and bath rituals featuring medicinal herbal teas with fresh-picked flowers and Himalayan sea salt.
The gorgeous new spa at this Sonoma Valley Mediterranean-style getaway was open a mere six months before pandemic protocols forced it to pause operations. Rather than let the luxurious new spaces sit idle, they have been reimagined as private day-use retreats. The poolside cabanas feature semi-private lounging areas with comfortable seating for up to four guests. The new poolside retreat is a private lounge opening directly to the pool and patio with a fireplace and seating for two. The inn’s spacious upstairs Spa Terrace Cabana has also been reimagined, providing a lovely view of the surrounding vineyards and featuring a secluded, couples-only indoor spa tub. All three spaces include sparkling wine, cheese and charcuterie plates, a refrigerator stocked with bottled water and soft drinks, and personalized poolside service.
A truly transformative experience awaits guests at this famed wellness haven on the Mendocino coast. The inn’s Mendocino Center for Living Well offers a wide range of programs that include meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, Chinese medicine, massage, Ayurvedic treatments, art therapy, nutrition, plant-based cooking, and gardening. An inspiring, light-filled yoga-studio feels like a tree house hideaway, while on-site organic gardens inspire the gourmet, plant-based cuisine at nationally acclaimed Ravens Restaurant. Guests might choose to learn recipes and techniques for transitioning to a whole-food, plant-based vegan diet. Or they might take the Calories and Carbon gardening course where they’ll learn to grow in the smallest amount of space possible while maximizing carbon sequestration.
Reminiscent of a Spanish hacienda, this all-inclusive spa resort near Sacramento offers an indulgent level of luxury and relaxation. The Cupola Spa & Salon features four treatment rooms with an extensive spa menu for massage, hair, nails, and facials. The spa’s beauty treatments include microdermabrasion, lifts, and peels using the highest-quality skincare products from PCA Skincare and Lira Clinical. The spa also recently added hydrafacials, which is a state-of-the art treatment that deeply cleanses, exfoliates, extracts, and hydrates the skin. Spa clients can order off the menu at the on-site Gate Restaurant and enjoy a mimosa or other cocktails during their treatments. While all of the spa’s services are currently on pause due to the pandemic, the spa’s boutique remains open.
Just 40 miles east of Oakland, The Purple Orchid Wine County Resort & Spa is a relaxing retreat nestled amid the Livermore Valley’s bucolic ranches and vineyards. The inn’s 10 contemporary suites, each with fireplaces, overlook an enchanting pool area and the inn’s own 24-acre olive orchard. The heated pool has an impressive rock waterfall, a beach entrance, and stone-enclosed hot tubs at either end. Poolside cabanas, chaise lounges, and hidden garden seating areas provide a multitude of spaces to unwind with views of the olive trees and rolling hills beyond. The orchard supplies the olive oil for many of the inn’s signature spa treatments. While spa services are currently limited, the inn’s private day spa typically offers a full range of facials, massage, and body treatments.
Inspired both inside and out by the principles of feng shui and a desire to stimulate the senses, this Asian-inspired boutique hotel is a magical oasis of tranquility just a few blocks from the heart of downtown Carmel. Inspired by the years the original owner spent living in Japan, the inn incorporates a fusion of Asian and tropical elements, including fresh orchids and kimono robes. While all spa services are currently suspended, the property features a lush, tropical courtyard with a cascading stream, a pergola-enclosed meditation garden, and a large stone Buddha presiding over a triple-tiered fountain. After all, there’s perhaps no better spa treatment than a towering temple of bamboo, lush tropical plants, or a view of the Pacific Ocean.
The tranquil spa room at the Elk Cove Inn & Spa is a healing sanctuary imbued with the romance of a bygone era. Catering to just a single person or a couple at time, this private cocoon features Victorian antiques, ornate wallpaper, and a warm, cozy fireplace. Guests can melt under the hands of an experienced massage therapist or experience jin shin jyutsu, the ancient art of harmonizing life energy in the body. A sauna and aromatherapy steam shower can be added to any treatment. In addition to the spa treatments, the inn offers private yoga sessions for individuals, couples, and small groups. The yoga sessions can be held either on the beach or in the spa room.