Don't Miss It: The 17 Most Amazing Fitness Vacations of 2014
When it’s time to escape the daily grind, why not opt for a fit, healthy adventure to really go that extra mile? From fitness-focused hotels and spa retreats to multi-level sports complexes of the sea, here are 17 activity-packed adventures to make this your fittest, healthiest, and happiest vacation yet.
1. Fairmont Hotels
Best Fitness-Friendly Hotel Locations: 60 worldwide
Wish you could stay fit during a hotel stay? The new “Fairmont Fit” program gives hotel guests access to complimentary Reebok workout footwear and apparel, delivered directly to their door for use in-room, at the gym, or in the great outdoors. Still lacking enough motivation? Request a fully-loaded MP3 player to get you moving, or a yoga mat and stretching band to shake off the jet lag or hours on the road. Rates from $159/night. For details and availability visit www.fairmont.com.
2. Westin Hotels
Best In-Room Workout Locations: 190 worldwide
Who needs Pay Per View when Westin Workouts are just one click away. In a new partnership with New Balance, the hotel group is lending guests everything they’ll need to get in a solid workout on the road, including New Balance running sneakers, shorts, shirts, socks, and sports bras (all available for a flat fee of $5 per person). After suiting up, choose from a range of exercise routines for a quick in-room workout (some rooms are even equipped with an exercise bike or treadmill, adjustable free weights, and a stability ball). Or, for those with a little more time to explore, head to one of the hotels’ state-of-the-art fitness studios, or grab a Westin running map for a 3- or 5-mile local route. For rates and availability visit www.starwoodhotels.com/westin.
3. The Venetian
Best Guilt-Free Hotel in Sin City Location: Las Vegas, NV
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas (minus the #NSFW Instagrams and the inevitable buffet-n’-booze weight gain). For a slightly less guilt-ridden getaway, look far and above the din of the Las Vegas Strip to the Venetian’s 134,000-square-foot Canyon Ranch spa and fitness center. A $40 one-day pass will cover use of the fitness center, fitness classes (from BOSU core conditioning to kickboxing), along with access to the 40-foot rock wall. And when it’s time to unwind, guests can try the Aquavena — a European-inspired suite of thermal spa cabins, tubs, and showers — or splurge on the full menu of spa services. Rates from $149/night. For details and availability visit www.venetian.com.
4. The Standard Spa
Best Beach Hotel (for the Mind and Body) Location: Miami, FL
Find peace of mind in style. At the breathtaking oasis on Biscayne Bay, guests can enjoy a wide range of yoga and meditation classes, along with hydrotherapy pools, sauna, steam room, and infinity pool. The on-site Center for Integrated Living also offers special workshops and retreats (hypnosis, acupuncture, or fire walking, anyone?), along with one-on-one nutrition and wellness counseling. Among our favorite Standard retreats this year: Tara Stiles Miami Sunshine Yoga Retreat (check tarastiles.com for updates on upcoming retreats.) Hotel rates from $190/night. Health, Yoga, & Fitness Day Passes from $75. For details and availability visit standardhotels.com.
Spa and Fitness Retreats (U.S.)
5. The Biggest Loser Resorts
Best Weight-Loss Retreat Locations: Niagra, NY; Ivins, UT; Malibu, CA
For those who want to experience Biggest Loser-results without the televised weight-ins, head to one of three locations for a complete head-to-toe transformation. Under the careful supervision of certified trainers and nutritionists, the one-week program combines group-oriented workouts with a healthy, calorie-controlled diet. The best part: learning how to listen to your body, and build healthy sustainable habits one day at a time. A full menu of spa services is just the icing on the (imaginary) cake. One-week retreats from $2,295/person for double occupancy; $2,695 for single occupancy. For details and availability visit www.biggestloserresort.com.
6. SwellWomen Surf Retreat
Best Ladies-Only Surf School Vacation Location: Maui, Hawaii
Perfect waves, pristine accommodations, a private chef — add in daily surf and yoga instruction, Hawaiian excursions, and massages, and we’re packing our bags. The seven-day surf retreat welcomes women of all ages and experience levels to learn at their own pace from certified pros (male and female). And no worries about gearing up in advance: Guests are provided with a variety of surfboards including soft tops and custom-shaped performance surfboards to enjoy on Maui’s gentle waves. All-inclusive seven-day retreats from $2,995/person for double occupancy. For more rates and availability visit www.swellwomen.com. (Also look out for 'Aloha Discounts' for early and group reservations.)
7. New Life Hiking Spa
Best Hiking Retreat Location: Killington, VT
Fresh air and scenic trails aren’t all this New England escape has to offer. Guests at New Life Hiking Spa can let their cares melt away with daily yoga sessions, fitness classes, and hikes of any level through the Green Mountains of Vermont. And when it’s time to dine, the seasonal menu specializing in high-energy, low-calorie meals will keep everyone’s health and fitness goals on track. All-inclusive rates from $219/night. For details and availability visit www.newlifehikingspa.com.
8. Vita Vie Retreat
Best Beach Boot Camp Location: Delray Beach, FL
When lying around on the beach just isn’t for you, Vita Vie Retreat’s high-intensity boot camp really kicks things up a notch. Set in a small group environment, the Bella Boot Camp packs in five hours of exercise each day, including kickboxing, cardio circuits, and bodyweight workouts on the sand. Loving the all-inclusive thing? Get pumped for three healthy meals per day, fitness assessments (on arrival and departure days), along with a complimentary 50-minute spa treatment — the perfect reward for putting in work on holiday. All-inclusive retreats from $1,090/person for a three-night stay. For details and availability visit www.bvretreat.com.
9. Sonki Fitness Vacation
Best Group Retreat Location: Maui, Hawaii
Ready to experience Maui up close and personal? On this eight-day semi-inclusive stay, activities include a mix of fun, outdoor workouts and fitness-focused excursions (waterfall hikes, kayaking, snorkeling, and paddle boarding are just a few of the offerings). At night, retreat to the four-star beachfront accommodations, or make new friends at a local luau or karaoke night. Not the worst way to spend a week away. Eight-day vacation packages from $2,250/person (excluding meals). For details and availability visit www.sonkifitness.com.
Spa and Fitness Retreats (International)
10. Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat
Best Value Yoga Retreat Location: Paradise Island, Bahamas
When that weekly yoga class just isn’t cutting it, consider shipping off to a little slice of yogi paradise. This surprisingly affordable retreat to Paradise Island offers two yoga classes per day, as well as plenty of free time to relax on the beach, book a massage, or discover delicious new (vegetarian-only) cuisine. And with meals included in the nightly rate, this is one retreat that won’t break the bank. All-inclusive rates from $98/night. For details and availability visit www.sivanandabahamas.org.
11. Jackie’s on the Reef
Best Eco-Friendly Escape Location: Negril, Jamaica
For adventure-seekers looking to go green, Jackie’s on the Reef combines eco-friendly accommodations and local Caribbean cuisine (on-site organic gardens are more than just a beautiful backdrop). Add in 180-degree views of the sea and this all-inclusive oasis is the ultimate island getaway. Feeling inspired to explore beyond the colorful hammocks and bamboo beds? Try yoga, meditation, or tai chi. And while spa treatments (including the new Ion Cleanse and reflexology massages) cost extra, prices at this Jamaican resort can’t be beat. Rates from $150/night (including breakfast, dinner, and yoga). For details and availability visit www.jackiesonthereef.com.
12. Pura Vida Wellness Retreat & Spa
Best Soul-Soothing Retreat Location: Alajuela, Costa Rica
Whether guests choose to stay in a luxury text or a chic deluxe suite, there’s something for everyone at this Costa Rica wellness retreat and spa. Opt for an all-inclusive 3, 5, or 7-day “Mind Body Spirit” retreat (including three meals per day, yoga classes, excursions, and more), or go a la carte with select spa treatments, hikes, and eco-tours. Looking for some R&R a little closer to home? The resort group offers the same warm welcome at their Blue Ridge Mountain and Maya Tulum locations. "Tentalows" (luxury tents with carpeting and beds) from $100/ person per night, standard rooms from $105. For details and availability visit www.rrresorts.com.
Best Vacation Worth Saving For Location: Watamu, Kenya
So maybe we’ll never be able to afford a trip to this little slice of fitness heaven, but you can bet it’s going on our “Someday...” Pinterest board. The Wildfitness retreat in Watamu, Kenya features boxing sessions in an open-air Dojo, running workshops on the property’s white sand beaches, and scenic sea swims. The kicker: deep tissue massages for everyone, and delicious meals to help fuel you through the day. All-inclusive seven-night retreats from $3,580. For details and availability visit www.wildfitness.com.
14. Royal Caribbean
Best Everything-at-Your-Fingertips Experience Wave pools, zip lines, rock climbing walls, and mini golf — yes, these are just a few of the adventures available at sea. The first and only cruise line to offer an onboard ice skating rink, Royal Caribbean has never shied away from a more-is-more approach (“Get Out There" is their motto, after all). Not sure which itinerary to book? Most ships feature one (sometimes two!) FlowRider wave pools for surfing and bodyboarding, rock climbing walls 40-feet above deck, indoor ice skating rinks, full-sized basketball courts, and state-of-the-art fitness facilities. For those itching for more: Look out for more activities at the various Caribbean ports, including snorkeling with stingrays or horseback riding on the beach. Six-night itineraries from $449. For details and availability visit www.royalcaribbean.com.
15. Thomson Cruises
Best Bet for Cyclists For lovers of land and sea, travelers on Thomson’s ultra-casual cruise line now have access to mountain and touring bikes right onboard. Cyclists of all levels can sign up for cycling tours at most ports of call. And there’s no worrying about getting lost in a foreign land: Four- to five-hour tours come complete with an expert guide, built in breaks for picture-taking and rest, and all the equipment you’d need, from quality bikes, helmets, backpacks, and water bottles. The only downside for those living stateside: the U.K.-based line is nearly impossible to book from the U.S. Seven-night itineraries from about $689. For details and availability visit www.thomson.co.uk.
16. Carnival Magic and Breeze Ships
Best Fit-Family Adventure This ain’t your average ropes course — because, oh right, it’s 150 feet above the sea. The 230-foot-long ropes course of bridges, swinging steps, and beams is just one portion of Carnival’s family-friendly “SportSquare” recreation area (aboard Magic and Breeze ships). Heights not your thing? Get moving on the multipurpose sports court, squeeze some cardio in on 200-meter open-air track, or pump iron on the cruise industry’s first-ever outdoor lifting deck. (Just cross your fingers it doesn’t rain!) Carnival Breeze six-day cruises from $379. For details and availability visit http://www.carnival.com.
Best On-the-Water Experience Feeling fancy, huh? Set sail on Windstar’s luxury four- and five-masted yachts (the Wind Surf is in fact the largest sailing ship in the world). Beyond the lush robes, fine dining, and high tea, each vessel is equipped with a water sports platform for maximum outdoor adventure. Among the (all-inclusive) possibilities: snorkeling, windsailing, paddleboarding, and water skiing. Count us in! Six-day itineraries from $1,299. For details and availability visit www.windstarcruises.com.
Where do you plan on getting — or staying — fit next holiday? Tell us your favorite destinations in the comments below, or tweet the author at @jshakeshaft.