THERE’S NEVER A BAD TIME to think about your own personal wellness, but, for many people, the start of a new year is the best time. And one thing is for sure: It’s a lot easier to keep wellness resolutions when you combine something boring (fitness) with something fun (travel). From the luxurious spas of Baden-Baden, Germany, to beer-themed rejuvenation in Denver, Colorado, these are the wellness destinations to keep on your 2022 travel list.
We hope you love the places we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay.
1. Baden-Baden, Germany
Returning to international travel in 2022 may come with some nagging anxieties and travel cobwebs for many people. Not to worry. Baden-Baden is the perfect destination to put both mind and body at ease.
Located on the doorstep of the Black Forest in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, Baden-Baden has a long history as a wellness retreat for wealthy travelers. The region’s restorative spas were popular in the 19th century, as was the natural tranquility of the forest. Today, you can still find the height of European luxury at the spas of Baden-Baden.
There’s the Friedrichsbad Spa, which was built in the Renaissance style in 1977 with a grand domed hall, artistic frescoes, and Romanesque baths. The spa has 17 stations, including pools of different temperatures, showers, a soap and brush massage, steam, whirlpool, and a relaxation room. For the ultimate luxury wellness experience in Baden-Baden, head to the Villa Stephanie spa inside the Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa. This five-floor complex has a sauna, indoor pool, plunge pool, treatment rooms, gym, and a patio with views of a private park. The spa’s specialty is preventative medicine, and the business utilizes nutrition coaches and doctors to create customized treatment, fitness, and nutrition regimens for guests. The Brenners hotel has hosted guests as notable as Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama, so you know you’re in good hands.
In addition to the city’s spas, there’s also the 19th-century Trinkhalle (drinking hall) lined with Corinthian columns and fountains that are said to contain curative waters. Such fountains can also be found elsewhere in the city. In the 19th century, people believed the waters relieved symptoms of cardiovascular diseases, metabolic conditions, and rheumatism, and that belief persists to today. For an even more natural remedy, just head to the Black Forest for some “forest bathing” — the practice of immersing yourself in nature to clear your mind. The forest is just a 10-minute walk from the center of town, and there are dozens of hiking trails waiting to be explored.
2. Algarve, Portugal
It’s no surprise that the Algarve coastline in southern Portugal is an ideal beach relaxation destination for anyone familiar with the region. Still, you might not have considered how many wellness offerings there actually are.
In the beach community of Vila Lara, for example, you’ll find the Vilalara Longevity Thalassa & Medical Spa, with over 27 acres of botanical gardens and beaches. The spa retreat offers a multitude of wellness options, including a high-impact spa and detox, weight loss, anti-aging, and fitness programs. There are also two terrace restaurants next to a clifftop pool with views of the Atlantic.
Spas are the only place to find peace. Surfers understand that there are few things on this planet more centering than paddling out to sea and riding a wave. A hugely popular surf destination, it’s no surprise that the Algarve is home to one of Europe’s best surf-themed wellness retreats. Soul & Surf is a cozy farmhouse in the coastal hills that offers access to surf, yoga, meditation sessions, communal meals, and relaxing musical performances in the garden.
3. Ojai, California
Photo: Terry Granger/Shutterstock
Ojai, California, is in the hills two hours northwest of Los Angeles. It doesn’t quite have more spas than people, but for a town of around 7,000, there are certainly more wellness options than you might think.
Spa Ojai at the Ojai Valley Inn, for example, is a five-diamond resort with a spa that offers customized massage therapy regimens, an extensive menu of skincare treatments, and the signature Kuyam treatment — a communal “resting together” experience with other guests, where you lay in cleansing desert clays infused with essential oils. There’s also an artist cottage where guests can practice creative wellness, and a spa cafe for indulging in healthy snacks.
Apart from the abundant spas in Ojai, the town also has a 16-mile walking and biking trail to the ocean — a great (and free) way to commune with nature and leave your worries behind. Ojai was originally settled by the Chumash Native Americans, and many consider the town itself to be imbued with a special healing aura.
4. Monticello, New York
Photo: Y01 Health Resort/Facebook
Spending a weekend in New York’s Catskill Mountains is relaxing and rejuvenating, even if you don’t do anything specifically wellness related. You don’t need a dedicated spa retreat when you’re surrounded by some of New York’s most stunning natural scenery, after all.
Check out the Thompson Town Park, which has several hiking and cross-country skiing trails, as well as a sledding hill for kids. The town is also home to a number of small lakes, where you can fish and canoe in the summer and go ice skating in the winter. Kiamesha Lake has two nature trails — Schiff Trail and Peenpack Trail — which are popular for observing the local flora. Campsites are also available, though you’ll have to properly prepare for a winter camping experience if you’d like to go in the colder months.
Few things are more cathartic for skiers than hitting the slopes. The Holiday Mountain Ski and Fun Park is a popular resort right in Monticello, offering downhill ski runs of all difficulties.
What’s better after a long day of skiing — or hiking a trail in the brisk weather — than a spa day? Located in the mountains of Monticello, the Y01 Health Resort sits on more than 1,300 acres of beautiful lan, and offers customized, holistic treatment regimens aimed at addressing the root causes of specific health concerns through head massagse, pol poolings, Swedish massages, and acupuncture.
5. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Photo: lynn friedman/Shutterstock
Jackson Hole has long been a favorite celebrity haunt, and not just because of its relative remoteness or multi-million dollar lodges. Located at the base of the Grand Tetons on the edge of Yellowstone National Park, Jackson Hole is one of the most naturally beautiful landscapes in the US. It’s known for wildlife viewing, peaceful mountain scenery, and world-class skiing. As with any top-tier ski destination, there’s a truly special and luxurious spa experience waiting for you after you hit the slopes.
Just 20 minutes from the ski area, Amangani is a stone lodge that fits right in with the epic mountain aesthetic surrounding it. Amangani’s spa and wellness center uses all-natural materials and ingredients sourced from local woods and rivers in its rejuvenating treatments. The Apres Ski Dream treatment is designed to soothe tired joints and muscles with a traditional sage smudge ritual, peppermint food scrub, and hydrating warm-wax dip. The Winter Solstice treatment incorporates a Himalayan salt body scrub, hot stone massage, body wrap, and crystal sound bowl therapy. The spa also offers holistic massages with styles ranging from shiatsu to Thai, a heated outdoor pool with mountain views, and a relaxation lounge, fitness center, and yoga studio.
6. Denver, Colorado
Photo: The Beer Spa by Snug
Colorado often ranks among the world’s healthiest states, and it’s no surprise why with an abundance of fresh mountain air and opportunities for outdoor activities. This wellness mindset quickly rubs off on visitors, but if you’re looking for a quintessentially Colorado experience, you’ve got to combine wellness with Colorado’s other great love: beer.
The Beer Spa by Snug in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood is exactly what it sounds like. Denver’s first craft beer spa has a front room where beer flows from 10 pour-it-yourself taps — six of which are from a rotatinglocal brewery — and there’s also a tap for cider and local wine. The “snug” in the spa’s name refers to the Irish meaning of snug: a place where you can drink beer, relax, read a book, and talk with friends. The spa’s front room acts as the communal snug.
No, you won’t actually be bathing in beer, but the soaking tubs use an infusion mix of barley and hops (sans alcohol), and the rain showers are furnished with beer-infused soap. A 2019 study found that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of hops can help the skin, so these amenities actually do have health benefits. And no matter where you go in the spa, you’ll be able to bring a custom beer spa tumbler with a covered top, meaning you’ll never be without your beverage of choice. What’s more relaxing than that?
For the rest of a trip, there are plenty of places to stay to further enjoy Denver’s beer, mountain vibes, and, yes, cannabis.