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NiC Travel: Best Fitness Hotels

Keep your New Year’s resolutions going strong in these best fitness hotels to soothe your body.

Right after the chaos of the holidays, you swore never to eat gingerbread again, focus more on personal growth – and spend more quality time at home. Throw that last part out the window, because we’ve got some good news! There are loads of resorts that make fun and fitness an integral part of your trip, so your post-holiday diet and resolutions can stay perfectly intact.

Award-winning Miraval Resort. Tucson, AZ
Award-winning Miraval Resort. Tucson, AZ

For the biggest spa and wellness retreats in the US, head to the Southwest, where Miraval Resort & Spa (which celebrates 20 years this year!) and Canyon Ranch await to spoil you rotten – and offer a break from frigid temps. Miraval, in Tuscan, boasts indulgent spa journeys and engaging itineraries for men and women of all fitness levels – plus celeb fans including Oprah and the Kardashians. One of the most famous (and fun) therapies involves cleaning a horse’s hoof with a say-it-like-it-is cowboy. Er, just believe us and sign up. There are also all kinds of trust-your-partner activities, such as one that has you each climb a pole, balance on a tiny board together, and then jump. For travelers who like to keep both feet on the ground, there are loads of hikes and cooking classes, plus those famous spa treatments. Did we mention the resort has an impressive wine list, so you can splurge just a little?

For a more traditional spa getaway, nearby Canyon Ranch might be calling your name. Sign up every morning for new exercise classes and gentle aquatic classes in heated pools, plus cooking demos and art classes such as learning to blend your own sea salts for a the most perfect bath. If you can’t make it to Tuscon, Canyon Ranch also boasts a charming retreat in Lenox, Massachusetts.

Not surprisingly, the coasts of California offer all kinds of fitness-oriented weekends away. My favorite? St. Regis Monarch Beach, in Laguna Beach about an hour and a half south of LA. Their golf course along the Pacific is famously splendid, and they offer pushcarts so you can walk the course. There are also beach boot camp classes, yoga, and guided hiking excursions. Then treat yourself to a sport massage at the spa. You’ve earned it.

For something more tropical, flee this year’s record-breaking winter temps for Curacao, in the south Caribbean. The Scuba Lodge & Suites tackle both sightseeing and exercise with their snorkel experience. The popular dive-oriented hotel is now offering a new treat for non-divers: the Snorkel Bus. The all-ages, half-day adventure takes guests on a tour of the island for swimming, snorkeling, and boating along the world-class reef. Always dreamed of diving? After getting your feet wet snorkeling, go ahead and sign up for classes. A huge chunk of first-timers are post-retirement bucket list adventurers. Or head to the Lodge’s neighbor, Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, if biking is more your thing. Rentals are available for exploring the 27 acres of tropical gorgeousness, including maps and half- or full-day options.

Casa Palopa, Guatemala

One of the gentlest ways to get out on the water is via stand-up paddle-boarding, one of the fastest growing sport activities for travelers over 50. At Colony Club in Barbados, tours and turtle swims allow for a slow-moving trip down the beach, swimming, and sightings of the island’s once-endangered population of hawksbill and leatherback turtles. Groups paddle board out to the local Lone Star Restaurant (a well-known turtle hangout), before cooling off in the warm Caribbean waters.

The even more adventurous should head straight to Guatemala, which is emerging as a popular Central American hot spot. The folks at Casa Palopo, a small boutique hotel on the shores of Lake Atitlan, offer laidback horseback riding through nearby villages – and hikes up the San Pedro volcano for the more daredevils types. The 9,990-foot trek takes hikers through the lush green jungle, mountainside cornfields, and coffee trees. Then wind down with one of the hotel’s outdoor yoga classes.

Best spa hotels
Westin Playa Bonita, Panama City, Panama

A few countries south, Panama City’s Westin Playa Bonita offers room views of ships waiting to enter the world’s most famous canal, plus access to tons of historical sightseeing. And now the hotel has partnered with Gamboa Tours, so fitness-minded guests can use some muscle while they’re taking in the stunning shoreline. The day-long kayak trips take travelers up the Chagres river and into a rainforest that’s home to local wildlife and the small indigenous village of Embera.

These best fitness hotels will inspire and awe you—and your soul.

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