Healthy trekkers can now find spas and wellness facilities at even modest hotels from Bangor to Baton Rouge, but Southern California has always been ahead of the curve — Two Bunch Palms first opened as the Desert Spa in 1940, and the famed Golden Door was unveiled in 1958 — and advances keep on coming. New retreats continue to open, while favorites update, expand and innovate. Below, seven havens worth checking into.
Cal-a-Vie Health Spa
The 500-acre expanse outside San Diego is designed to feel like Provence, down to the French Country furnishings, grape vines and lavender.
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It has also long been favored by such Hollywood stars as Julia Roberts and Shailene Woodley. Oprah Winfrey famously lured away one of the spa’s chefs years ago, and one can see why, as the menu, featuring caviar and chanterelle puree, is not one of deprivation. There is wine served twice a week, though most of the cabernet and merlot grown in Cal-a-Vie’s private vineyard is used to source vinotherapy treatments. The spa is not only filled with antiques, sold in a shop on the premises, but buildings from France have been brought over that date back hundreds of years, including a chapel from the 17th century. Ten miles of private hiking trails were recently added, and this is one of the few destination spas that has an 18-hole golf course on the grounds. It also boasts an impressive 5-to-1 staff to guest ratio. Due in February are three new six-bedroom villas; from $5,300 for a three-night package, cal-a-vie.com
Carrara Treatment Wellness & Spa
Dreaded rehabs with stern shrinks and spare surroundings have little in common with this luxe new sanctuary from recovery guru Richard Taite, who founded Cliffside Malibu. Opened Jan. 1, Carrara Treatment Wellness & Spa has one location in Malibu and two in the Hollywood Hills, with settings and splendor to rival an Aman resort.
Facials with gold-infused products to stimulate collagen, stretch sessions, lymphatic healing and deep tissue massage are on the program along with intense therapy, hypnotherapy and fitness classes, and each facility only takes six guests at a time. You don’t have to have an addiction — stress and burnout will work as calling cards — but you do need to have funds; from $121,000, 30-day minimum stay, carraratreatment.com
There are membership clubs based on networking, dining and sports, but this one, opening in Venice Beach this spring, is focused on wellness and self-care. A $1,000 initiation and $350 monthly gets you fitness classes ranging from HIIT to hot yoga, and trainers who are pro surfers, Olympic weightlifters, physical therapists and endurance athletes. In addition to sauna, steam and cold plunge, there will be IV therapy and spa services including myofascial release and lymphatic drainage. It is a club after all, so like-minded participants will have a rooftop deck and cafe where they can, no doubt, compare notes on their new AI fitness trackers; hume.la
Miraval Life in Balance Spa Aviara
Famed spa brand Miraval has always been a little edgy — visitors to the Arizona flagship are encouraged to confront their fears in a supportive environment by engaging in activities like walking on a cable wire 25 feet in the air, or climbing a telephone pole and leaping off the top while belayed by other guests. Though this satellite within the newly renovated Park Hyatt Aviara Resort on the coast in Carlsbad has a much greater emphasis on pampering and relaxation, there are offerings that reflect the adventurous spirit, and certainly classes that you aren’t likely to find at your average hotel, like bungee fitness, aerial yoga and floating meditation, done while hanging from the ceiling. Spa sessions are also unique: Vasudhara, a water therapy combined with Thai massage, has guests blindfolded before they submerge; rooms from $545 a night, parkhyattaviara.com
Murrieta Hot Springs Resort
This revitalizing desert getaway takes the cake for longevity — its therapeutic mud and mineral waters have been drawing visitors since 1902. Since then, Marilyn Monroe, Jack Benny and Shelly Winters are among the notables who have flocked to Murrieta Hot Springs Resort‘s geothermal pools, meant to enhance everything from the appearance of skin to mood and sleep. It shuttered as a spa in 1995, but will reopen its doors Feb. 1, after an extensive renovation. Apart from 50 new pools, which include adults only, family friendly, hot and cold plunge, there is a terra thermal mud loft, where guests can apply the mineral-rich sludge and then bake in the sun. Therapies include a honey and avocado mask for dehydrated skin, and a “digestive soother” complete with abdominal, face and scalp massage, a hot torso wrap, and reflexology. The pools and new state-of-the-art spa facility aren’t the only place for wellness; rooms meant to enhance sleep feature smart mattresses, ambient soundscape machines and even a pillow menu; from $399 per night, murrieta-hotsprings.com
One of the most famed and beloved hotels in L.A., West Hollywood’s Sunset Marquis has finally opened a spa after 60 years, but that doesn’t mean wellness was never on the program. Keith Richards helped design the hotel’s original gym, and music still dominates the vibe of the property, located on nearly 5 acres of lush gardens. The new facility offers such therapies as the Stairway to Heaven Massage with essential oils, a weighted blanket and rose quartz; the Smooth as Tennessee Whiskey Body Treatment; and the Rockstar High CBD Treatment. The fitness area has also been upgraded with new state-of-the-art equipment, and there are two pools for those who prefer laps. If you are inspired by all the musical influence, there is also a recording studio on the grounds; from $400 a night, sunsetmarquis.com
We Care Spa
You can give your jaw a rest along with your mind and body at this escape in Desert Hot Springs, where Andie MacDowell, Donna Karan, Cameron Diaz and producer Irena Medavoy have gone on liquid detox diets of lemon water, psyllium husk brew, pureed soups, fresh pressed juices, shakes and teas. What began in founder Susana Belen’s house with three suites has recently grown to 28 villas with deep soaking tubs, rain showers and high-tech air purification. The average three- to seven-day stay at We Care Spa includes meditation sound healing, nutrition classes, yoga, colonics and spa treatments like a full-body castor oil wrap on a heated amethyst mat that includes scalp, neck, shoulder and foot massage. It’s meant to be anti-inflammatory and great for the digestive system — though on fewer than 500 calories a day, there isn’t much to digest. Medavoy, in a first-person report for THR on visiting We Care in 2020, wrote that “I know I will be coming back” and “the staff is exceptional”; from $2,019 for a weekend, wecarespa.com
A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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