Spa Report: Work Hard, Play Hard

Six getaways take a new approach to getting in shape—both in mind and in body—by helping you push yourself first, then pamper yourself later.

A week of 5:30 a.m. wake-ups, 12-mile morning hikes, communal living, and total detox from caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and other banned substances may be beneficial, but this type of program isn't for everyone. Fortunately, there are many ways to have a fitness getaway without giving up creature comforts and at least some of your vices. A growing number of spas and specialists offer options for travelers wanting to push their physical limits and jump-start lifestyle changes while enjoying a beautiful destination. So if you're looking for weight loss, body toning, athletic competency, or a transforming experience, here are six that offer plenty of choices, and coffee too.

Your Own Private Hawaii

For those who prefer a personalized approach, Pure Kauai will put you in an exclusive beachfront home and bring the boot camp to you?including personal trainer, massage therapist, yoga and Pilates instructors, life coach, nutritionist, and private chef. "We create a customized program based on a client's goals, personal style, and length of stay," says Phil Jones, president of Pure Kauai, "that includes workouts, island adventures, healthy Zone-style or vegetarian cuisine, and accommodations in select hotels, private villas, or exclusive beachfront homes on Kauai's north shore." If you are focused on weight loss, Jones gets you started on a long-term plan, eating five meals a day, dropping 500 calories from your normal daily intake, and increasing your activity level. The day starts with yoga, weight training, Pilates, or martial arts before breakfast, followed by a four- or five-hour adventure such as hiking, outrigger canoeing, surfing, horseback riding, golfing, cycling, swimming, or snorkeling. Late afternoon leaves time for massages, facials, life-coaching sessions, nutritional counseling, or even tarot card readings. "Teaching people to maintain a fitness program over the long term is our goal," Jones says, "but sometimes they aren't as interested in losing weight as having a healthy vacation. We arrange private horseback rides on Princeville Ranch, hikes through Waimea Canyon with return trip by helicopter, and golf with a pro at the Prince course. In the summer, guests can kayak the entire Na Pali Coast, a 20-mile all-day adventure." $ Rates, $3,000-$10,000, depending on accommodations, cuisine, and activities requested; 866-457-7873;

Climb Every Mountain

During Hike & Spa Weeks, Park Hyatt Beaver Creek and the Beaver Creek Hiking Center together challenge guests to aim high?scaling one of Colorado's famous "fourteeners" (mountains at least 14,000 feet high). The six-night program outfits guests with hiking gear and conditions them for the big climb with Rocky Mountain training hikes, après-hike yoga, and treatments at Park Hyatt's Allegria Spa. "Starting slowly on day one, we climb 1,000 to 1,500 feet in elevation over three or four hours so guests can acclimatize to the altitude," says Nate Goldberg, Beaver Creek resort hiking director. Then the group works up to hikes from five to seven hours long. In late afternoon, hikers return to Park Hyatt for a swim in the outdoor pool and spa treatments. "Our Reflexology-and-Hot-Stone Massage is a great remedy for aching feet, and the Hiker's Massage assists stretching, flushes toxins, and relieves sore muscles," says Gaye Steinke, general manager of Allegria Spa. By day four, depending upon the weather and your stamina, you climb either 13,237-foot Notch Mountain or one of the fourteeners, such as 14,446-foot Mount Elbert, Colorado's highest mountain and the second highest peak in the lower 48. "Summit or not," Goldberg says, "the week is a confidence-builder for people who love to hike, burn calories, and earn their desserts." And staying in a mountain-lodge-style room at the elegant Park Hyatt in the heart of Beaver Creek Village is another Rocky Mountain high. Hike & Spa Weeks are June 20-26 and September 12-18. Rate, $1,525; 970-827-6658;

Build a Better Beach Body

Amansala's Bikini Boot Camp puts guests on the path to looking good in a swimsuit, but women aren't the only enlistees doing basic training just outside of Tulum, Mexico, on the Yucatan coast. Limited to 12 recruits, this six-night program boosts mind and body wellness, with a mix of fitness, meditation, and yoga classes, outdoor adventures, low-fat cuisine, and pampering. No relation to Amanresorts, the eco-chic Amansala is the fantasy retreat of Melissa Perlman and Erica Gragg. "We're a Robinson Crusoe escape with New York style," says Perlman, noting the remote location, powdery white-sand beach, and turquoise waters, plus the eight rustic-but-stylish cabanas with mosquito-net canopies over the beds, 400-thread-count linens, plush towels, and Aveda bath products. Clearly, Amansala's Bikini Boot Camp isn't about deprivation. It's a place to dive into a fitness program and dine barefoot on grilled fresh lobster served alfresco. A day begins with fresh fruit and herbal tea, followed by meditation, yoga in an open-air studio, and a lunch of grilled-shrimp salad or catch of the day and fresh vegetables. Afternoons include jungle hiking with a Mayan guide, mountain biking to Tulum's oceanfront ruins, trekking to a secret swimming hole that must be descended by rope, snorkeling in cenotes, body sculpting on the beach, Pilates workouts, or power walks on the sand. And if you're not tuckered out, there's free time left for kayaking, hanging in a hammock, beachfront massages and reflexology, and Mayan treatments with mustard-colored clay, honey, and essential oils basted and baked onto the body and washed off with an ocean swim. Cabanas have upstairs rooms with king-sized beds, loft ceilings, and private terraces; downstairs rooms are ideal for two friends, with double closets and two queen-sized beds that hang on ropes from the ceiling. $ Rate, $1,575; 529-84-804-0865;

Rock Your World

In the red rock country of St. George, Utah, near Zion and Bryce national parks, Red Mountain Spa helps guests design their own boot camps from a choice of more than 50 different fitness classes each week and outdoor adventures such as hiking, snow shoeing, rock climbing, horseback riding, cycling, and kayaking. "Many guests set up their workout schedules through the concierge before they arrive," says Red Mountain general manager Deborah Evans. "Our guests are extremely active and push themselves hard." Start off with a 6:30 a.m. guided hike on one of 30 different trails, ranging from two to four miles for beginners to an eight- to 12-mile advanced hike that involves some scrambling and trail running. An afternoon might include a combination of hip hop, Chi Ball, Pilates, and aquatic classes, New York City Ballet Workout, and rock climbing instruction. Beginners do two to three climbs in an afternoon, ranging from 30 to 55 feet, while advanced climbers make 100-foot climbs with a private guide. "With our Choose Your Own Adventure option, guests can do any outdoor sport one-on-one with a certified guide on an hourly basis, or create customized day trips," says Nancy Ottmann, Red Mountain's director of health and fitness. A spa with 14 treatment rooms stays open until 10 p.m., allowing guests to maximize activity level during the day and still have time left for soothing remedies such as the Slickrock Survival Massage, Red Rock Therapy (which uses juniper oil), Fango Leg Wrap, or the Sports Massage. In-room spa treatments are available for guests in Red Mountain's two-bedroom villa suites, which have three fireplaces, bathrooms with whirlpool tubs, needle-head showers, and river-rock floors to stimulate reflex points in the feet. Rates, $260- $460; 800-407-3002;

Awaken the Inner Warrior

Just north of Tucson, Miraval Life in Balance Resort & Spa challenges men through the ultimate boot-camp-meets-luxury-spa, "Conquering Your Inner Everest," created by retired Army Airborne Ranger infantry officer Joe MacDonald, manager of the resort's Challenge Department. "Men in our program know what they're signing up for and must be in good physical condition," says MacDonald. Designed to help men face their inner fears, the five-day, four-night program includes survival training, climbing instruction on Miraval's 32-foot rock wall, and a workout with former Mr. Universe, Nordine Zouareg. Yoga, meditation, classes such as "What Keeps Getting in the Way," and a sweat-lodge purification mentally prepare the men for a 36-hour mission?the ascent of 7,700-foot Baboquivari Peak. The climb culminates with a 350-foot rise that requires ropes to reach the summit. "As a military officer, taking care of my men was the prime objective, and my mission here is no different," MacDonald says. Taking the edge off the maneuvers is knowledge that you're coming back to a 135-acre resort with casita-style rooms that face the Catalina Mountains or a cactus garden, three swimming pools, tennis courts, stables, gourmet cuisine, fitness center, and spa. En route back to Miraval, they serve protein- and carb-boosting chicken wraps and Gatorade in the van. Later, there's a victory dinner with increased portions to replace nutrients lost during the climb, followed by the sharing of mountain-survival stories. Day five concludes with the Quantum Leap, when each man climbs a 25-foot pole and stands on a disc at the top. Connected to a rope held by the other men, he leaps from the pole and is slowly belayed to the ground. "Of course, you can't fully conquer your inner Everest in five days," admits MacDonald, "but we begin the process of awakening the spirit for transformation." Rates, $3,600 for the April 5-9 program and $3,000 for August 23-27; 800-232-3969;

Blaze New Trails

Accessible only by boat, plane, or helicopter, Vancouver Island's isolated Clayoquot Wilderness Resorts take boot camp to the back woods with an eco adventure-spa combo that includes four nights at Clayoquot's Floating Resort at Quait Bay, a floating lodge 100 feet offshore, and three nights at Wilderness Outpost at Bedwell River, a stylish tented camp beyond the bay and nine miles up a fjord. "Our guests expect challenges, and this ancient biosphere of old-growth forest and virgin seacoast has endless possibilities for them," says John Caton, general manager of both Clayoquot resorts. "In fact, there are so many trails for hiking and horseback riding, and river and sea kayaking routes, that guests can take on more strenuous feats day by day and build endurance without repeating a single adventure." They can take a boat trip from Quait Bay to Flores Island and hike the eight-mile Wild Side Trail or hike from the Outpost into Strathcona Provincial Park, ascending 4,000 feet through river valleys, cedar forests, and fern gardens to the glaciers and ice caves, a 15-mile trek that takes eight hours round-trip. Many guests do repeat climbs of Lone Cone, on Meares Island, challenging their last time to reach the inactive volcano's 3,000-foot summit, as well as multisport circuits that combine, for example, hiking, horseback riding, and kayaking or mountain biking and canoeing. During their stay at Quait Bay, guests receive two daily spa treatments at the Healing Grounds, a shoreline spa nestled among cedars and giant ferns. The 16 floating lodge rooms have magnificent coastal views and private decks, while the Outpost's 16 beautifully furnished tents have river or rainforest views and are linked to dining, massage, and shower tents by a cedar boardwalk. Low-fat cuisine relies on local seafood, organic produce and herbs, and broth-based reduction sauces, with vegetarian and even Atkins options; dinner is a five-course meal paired with British Columbia wines. Rate, $6,500, including round-trip airfare from Tofino to the resort; 888-333-5405;

Gail Harrington regularly writes about spas. This is her first article for Departures.

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