These vacations will get you fit
Lying by the pool knocking back Mai Tais and booking manicures is so last century. In survey after survey, travelers say they want experiences. Of course, that can mean almost anything: cultural or culinary, gritty or philanthropic. But physically active vacations hold a special allure — for some.
A fellow writer told me that the only time she doesn’t exercise is when she travels. I’m the opposite. I want a great pool, a swimmable beach, a well-equipped gym — like the one at One&Only Ocean Club in the Bahamas where I worked out beside a ripped Daniel Craig during the “Casino Royale” shoot.
But in addition to my weights and swimming routine, I usually want to try something both active and different to help me distinguish this vacation from all the others. Here’s a range of travel ideas for the physically inclined, from hedonistic to hardcore.
Mii Amo Spa, Sedona, Ariz.
The beloved Enchantment Resort is draw in and of itself. Removed from Sedona’s adorable town center and set in ultra-picturesque Boynton Canyon, the place is a pilgrimage for any luxury traveler. But the resort’s justifiably acclaimed 24,000-square-foot spa ups the ante, offering gorgeous facilities that take their design cues from the colors and shapes of the desert.
Sixteen spa guest suites offer the easiest access to boot camp, mountain biking, yoga and my favorite signature experiences: hiking the red-rock trails that flank the property and submitting to guided meditation in the spa’s unearthly Crystal Grotto. Treatments range from reiki and lymphatic drainage to workshops in Compassionate Communication and (woo-woo) Past Life Regression.
Three-day “journeys” start at $2,250, all-inclusive, but guests of the Enchantment can book treatments a la carte. Staff must agree to not divulge the names of celebs who stay there, but actors Nicholas Cage and Diane Lane have been spotted in town.
Esalen, Big Sur, Calif.
This storied retreat functions as a counterculture touchstone as well as a place to feel good. Dating from 1962 — an era when icons like Timothy Leary, Ken Kesey, Jane Fonda and Cary Grant made their way up Highway 1 to get here — this 120-acre coastal nirvana hosts those who want to exercise the spirit and the body.
The allure is in 500 workshops a year focusing on meditation, Gestalt therapy, massage and psychology, plus the institute’s renowned organic food. You can go simply to drop out for a while and soak in Esalen’s famed clothing-optional hot baths or check in to work on a specific issue. Friends have told me that a weekend workshop saved their marriage.
The “tuition” for all-inclusive weekend workshops starts at $1,750 for a luxurious private suite (as opposed to $555 for a bunk bed in a shared room).
Tough Mudder, various locations
If you’ve wondered what those annoying ubiquitous T-shirts are about, here goes: Tough Mudder offers one-day events consisting of brutal obstacle courses (designed by British Special Forces) that require, among other tests, scaling 12-foot walls, crawling through mud tunnels, getting shot with 10,000 volts of electricity and tossing kegs at cardboard cutouts of Justin Bieber. (But hey, it ends with a beer.)
My musician friend Vincent is East Village by way of Williamsburg — not the kind of guy I would expect to eat mud. But he told me that for one day he got to be a warrior instead of a hipster, and he loved it.