The Pioneer Spas
They"re tucked into remote desert canyons, carved into cliffs over oceans, or set against backdrops of majestic, snowy peaks. Wherever they are, all of these beloved establishments have something in common: They paved the way for the spa industry when spa was still a new, innovative path to better health and inner peace. We salute these 25 trailblazing businesses for shaping spa as we know it today. And we thank them for helping us become what we are.
Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa
Baden Baden, Germany
We love how this grand, historic hotel in the German spa resort of Baden-Baden not only boasts some of Europe"s best medical spa and nutritional offerings, but is also the home of a restaurant with two Michelin stars. While it beautifully adapts to its clientele"s needs, its supreme elegance and hospitality will never go out of fashion.
Another spa with which we"re proud to celebrate 25 years, San Diego"s 500-acre Cal-a-Vie has pampered and educated its visitors in its French-inspired, luxurious environment since 1986. With its carefully honed fitness, diet, and spa programme, the spa resort keeps visitors immersed in wellness from morning to night, striking a perfect balance between body awareness and ethereal bliss.
Multiple US Locations
We celebrate Canyon Ranch for being true to the mission on which it was founded more than 30 years ago and for taking its message of healthy living and the personal power beyond its physical locations. It is truly one of the first wellness retreats to develop itself as a brand, taking the idea of spa into a whole new realm.
Multiple UK Locations
Accessibility. As spas shift from being perceived as a luxurious indulgence to a component to good health, they must offer affordable options. We hail Champneys, an established U.K. brand, founded in 1925 by trailblazing naturopath Sir Stanley Lief, which has found a way to offer dynamic, inspired treatments and programmes for a growing population attuned to spa.
Clinque La Prairie
It"s in the name, of course. Medical spa is a term we hear a lot these days, but Montreaux Switzerland"s most famous clinic was truly one of the first, founded on a pioneering cellular therapy. Still offering its medical services, we think its beautiful location is also the perfect spot to luxuriate and unwind.
Spa at Doral
We"re so impressed by the Doral"s evolution from being one of the first destination spas in America, devoted to pampering its clientele in its European-inspired Miami location, to a spa that offers luxurious treatments and an educational journey on how to live healthier and longer. Beautifully done.
Spa Eastman Health & Wellness Retreat
The internationally beloved Spa Eastman asserts, "We are not a hotel with a spa. We offer a global and authentic health spa retreat." It"s an important distinction that makes Quebec"s Eastman one of our favourite spots in the Great White North to unwind and revive as we savour their healthy, delicious food, wonderful treatments and fitness/wellness programmes.
Big Sur, California
With its hot thermal baths, perched on a Big Sur cliff over the crashing waves of the Pacific, Esalen is as much a state of mind as an actual place. It"s always been one of the most experimental institutions in the U.S., and we thank them for being the place we know is always there when we need to creatively explore the mind, body, spirit connection.
Spa Evian Source at the Hotel Royal
A haven in one of the famous spa town"s finest hotels, the Spa Evian Source was founded in the early "80s, when its visitors became interested in spa options beyond taking the waters. Still, we really admire how the Source has drawn its inspiration from the healing power of its nearby springs and has perfectly maintained its sense of majestic place.
The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa
The area"s Native Americans knew it well hundreds of years ago: Bathing in the thermal waters located on the site of Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn is powerful and healing. With the waters as the Mission Inn"s guiding inspiration, we salute this luxury hotel and spa"s ability to fashion beautifully conceived, rejuvenating treatments.
With its impeccable service and inspired programme, we know why the legendary Golden Door, tucked away in a coastal pocket of northern San Diego, continuously ranks among the top spas in North America. It"s a Spafinder favourite, winning our own Readers" Choice Awards, and it"s also beloved by Cond Nast Traveler"s subscribers, topping their Readers" poll as well.
Green Mountain at Fox Run
While it doesn"t define itself as a spa, Green Mountain"s 40 years as a treasured destination for women seeking healthy solutions to weight loss make it an essential pioneer for our list. Their caring programme of mindful meditation, nutrition, and fitness has helped thousands of women break the cycle of yo-yo dieting in a healthy, life-affirming way.
Green Valley Spa
St. George, Utah
Recently voted among the "Top 10 Spas for Hiking, Weight Loss, and Favourite Spa Treatment" in our 2011 Readers" Choice Awards, Green Valley calls itself "the original hiking spa" and we love it for that and so much more, including its stress reduction and weight-loss programmes, award-winning sports programmes, mind-melting treatments, beautiful Red Rocks location and warm spirit.
Gurney"s Inn Resort, Spa & Conference Center
Montauk, New York
Just a jitney away from New York City, the spa at Gurney"s Inn has always been a Spafinder favourite for its true passion for the ocean and its creative use of the sea in its treatments. As the only Thalasso spa in the continental U.S., we salute them for their continuous innovation.
The Heartland Spa
On the site of a former dairy farm, Heartland"s simple, rustic environment lends itself to the stress-free, natural experience it has strived to provide for almost 30 years. It"s spa and wellness packages are wonderfully conceived and all-inclusive. It"s no surprise to us that 70 percent of this caring spa"s clientele are repeat customers.
Hilton Head Health
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
We love this destination"s bold, unpretentious admission: "More than a fat farm!" Indeed, this South Carolina seashore retreat has changed thousands of lives with their smartly conceived programme of calorie reduction and personal attention to mind/body fitness. We salute them for their inspiration and education.
La Costa Resort & Spa
In operation since 1964, Carlsbad California"s La Costa is considered one of the first full-service destination spas in the U.S. and has always been on the forefront of taking American spa beyond the notion of beauty treatments. With the Chopra center onsite focusing on all aspects of wellness, we know it will continue to offer its clients the best in mind/body/spirit growth and healing.
Mohonk Mountain House
New Paltz, New York
Owned and operated by the same family since 1869, the Mohonk Mountain House is the American resort in our celebration that has been open the longest. Since its inception, it"s been committed to recreation and renewal in its beautiful natural setting, and Mohonk"s spa, opened in 2005, has wonderfully brought that concept into the 21st century.
New Age Health Spa
Neversink, New York
We love how New Age is located in the buoyantly named Neversink, New York. A true wellness pioneer of American spa, the Catskill mountain retreat draws loyal visitors for its ability to adapt to its clients" needs for relaxation, restoration, and reflection. New Age also celebrates their 25th year this year. Congratulations!
New Life Hiking Spa
For the last 25 years, Jimmy LeSage has put his heart and soul into making his spa in Vermont"s Green Mountains a destination to hike and get fit, eat well, and relaxall for an extremely affordable price. We greatly admire him for doing this passionately while keeping his guest count low so he can offer personal attention.
The Oaks at Ojai
For years we"ve been completely charmed by this down-to-earth, Southern California gem, located in the healthy-minded valley town of Ojai. The Oaks has been welcoming guests for over three decades with its top-notch nutritional and fitness programmes and spa treatments. We also love how new habits are forged hereaffordably.
Center & Spa
The medical studies have proven it: the Pritikin health regimen works, lowering blood pressure, reducing weight, and decreasing the risk of heart disease. If that isn"t great enough, this luxury resort in Miami, Florida, is the place where you can get with the programme and unwind luxuriously.
Rancho La Puerta
In a world of passionate spa founders and directors, it would be a challenge to find more committed spa owners than the American Szekely family. For years we"ve been in awe of how they"ve been true to their original 1940 vision of creating a space for the spirit to flourish in the simplicity and life-giving force of nature.
The Red Door Spas
Multiple US Locations
"To be beautiful and natural is the birthright of every woman," said Elizabeth Arden, who in 1910 opened the very first day spa in New York City. Now serving clients across the country in 31 locations, we adore Red Door Spas for being true to its foremother"s mission.
Resort and Spa
Safety Harbor, Florida
Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto thought he"d found the Fountain of Youth at this site"s natural mineral springs in the 1500s. The water of is one of the many features that brings us back to this Tampa Bay spa resort, which boasts a sprawling 50,000 feet dedicated to spa and fitness.