The top 10 US wellness retreats for gay travellers

More than just a buzzword for burnt-out millennials, ‘wellness’ is the travel industry’s newest niche. While there’s always a time for indulging on all-inclusive margaritas until you pass out on your sun lounger, wellness is more about finding that connection with yourself and your body through nature, immersive mindfulness and some good, old fashioned pampering. Thankfully the US is already on board with this wellness trend, offering a combination of new and long-standing retreat resorts focused on re-energising mind, body and spirit in utmost luxury. See our top 10 wellness retreats from across the US below.

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Malibu | Photo: Allison Huang

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Over in the Hamptons darling, Shou Sugi Ban House brings some much-needed respite from all that summertime schmoozing, some ways off from the main town on a tranquil backroad

1. The Ranch Malibu, California

Drive high into the Santa Monica Mountains to eventually find The Ranch Malibu, an exclusive R&R retreat founded in 2010 and since becoming one of the go-to wellness destinations for celebrities, high-flying business leaders and elites. With room for just 19 guests at a time, this working ranch allows for intimate yoga, meditation and organic dining experiences, though cell phone service and WiFi are limited. The unplugged nature of The Ranch is also kind of the point, and while some may say the miniature snacks, caffeine ban and early morning hikes are more than a little cultish, others swear by the farm’s world-famous mindfulness approach that aims to get you thinking about what you put into your body.

Photo: The Ranch Malibu

Photo: The Ranch Malibu

2. Ten Thousand Waves, Santa Fe, New Mexico

A Japanese-inspired wellness resort just outside of Santa Fe, Ten Thousand Waves melds the atmosphere of Hokkaido’s famed mountain hot springs with the dry heat of New Mexico’s terracotta foothills. Don a kimono on arrival and prepare for all things zen, from the pool soaks to the Izakaya meals, alongside any number of massage treatments. Wander the lantern-lit grounds, over koi ponds and around boulders, trying your hand at woodworking and metal art to nurture personal improvement as well as ultimate relaxation.

3. Shou Sugi Ban House, Hamptons

Over in the Hamptons darling, Shou Sugi Ban House brings some much-needed respite from all that summertime schmoozing, some ways off from the main town on a tranquil backroad. Enter the 3-acre estate through large swing gates, greeted by buddha and the light-wood spa that fronts the main house. Shou Sugi’s back-to-nature philosophy combines with its cedar studios, each of which offers onsen-style tubs, minimal aesthetics and a lighting system which aims to support circadian rhythms. Outside, take advantage of the heated saltwater pool, solarium deck and tennis court, moving the 3 kilometres towards the coast for dune views over the ocean or simply staying put for ocean-inspired hydrotherapy from the spa’s impressive list of treatments.

Shou Sugi Ban House | Photo: Fredrika Stjarnessbh

Shou Sugi Ban House | Photo: Fredrika Stjarnessbh

4. The Lodge at Woodloch, Hawley, Pennsylvania

Just 140 kilometres from New York City, The Lodge at Woodloch is sure to come up on every New Yorker’s radar for ‘wellness retreats near me’, thanks to its prime position on 500 acres of Pennsylvanian forest beside a tranquil private lake. Come for the weekend to get away from the big city, basking in dappled sunlight from your private veranda and enjoying lakeside meals at the farm-to-table Tree restaurant. Get out by day to fly fish or bike through the woods, returning to the lodge to wind down within any of the 27 treatment rooms where forest-bathing instructors and skilled masseuses can completely eradicate your urban fatigue.

5. The Pearl Laguna, Laguna Beach, California

Open for more than a decade, The Pearl Laguna is finally starting to be seen thanks to the wellness wave and people’s increasing acceptance of the property’s strict bootcamp-like set up. Less of a wellness spa hotel and move of an intense retreat, The Pearl Laguna provides week-long programs and longer stays that aim to deliver health results. During your stay, you’ll be put through your paces on 15-kilometre-plus hikes and a strict vegetarian diet, rewarded with daily massages and ocean walks along Laguna Beach, to come out of the program a brighter, more wholesome you.

Photo: The Pearl Laguna

Photo: Elina Fairytale

6. Cal-a-Vie Health Spa, California

Home to a number of the best spa resorts in the US, California is hard to ignore as a wellness destination. Cal-a-Vie Health Spa in particular is one to watch, located 70 kilometres outside of downtown San Diego and set within the rolling hills of Vista which feel more like rural France than West Coast America. Both rustic and chic, the Cal-a-Vie chateau doesn’t come cheap and is well known to wealthy locals such as Oprah, but you certainly get what you pay for by way of vineyard and lavender field panoramas from any of the 32 antique-filled villas and suites. Opt for a three, four- or seven-night stay (the shortest of which comes with six spa sessions), creating a routine of hiking and fitness in the morning, followed by spa treatments and organic meals for the rest of the time, served by doting staff who outnumber guests 5:1.

7. Lake Austin Spa Resort, Austin, Texas

Lakeside on 19 acres of sunny Texas Hill Country, Lake Austin Spa Resort boasts both impeccable views and endless outdoor activities inclusive of water sports and wilderness hiking, though robing up and watching the action from a hammock is also acceptable. Sign up to any of the resort’s fitness classes, wellness lectures or yoga sessions, splitting your extra time between the spa, salon and gourmet restaurant. With a majority female guestlist, Lake Austin Spa Resort is a place to lose yourself in wildflowers and spa days, saving the partying for Austin either before or after your retreat.

Photo: Lake Austin Spa Resort

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Fed by mineral springs for thousands of years, the land at Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort has been bringing wellness to the natives of New Mexico for time immemorial

8. Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort, New Mexico

Fed by mineral springs for thousands of years, the land at Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort has been bringing wellness to the natives of New Mexico for time immemorial. Today Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort lies atop the historic springs on grounds spanning 70 acres, to offer luxury lodgings and world-class spa treatments just 20 minutes’ drive south of Santa Fe. As well as soaking up the sun beside the peaceful pool and mud areas, take your pick from countless hiking and biking trails in the region, returning to base for yoga class and Southwestern cuisine. Sister resort, Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs meanwhile promises to provide more of the same dreamy R&R, also on sacred land.

9. Miraval Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

Said to have popularised the spa break as early as the mid-1990s, Miraval Arizona is a tried-and-tested oasis retreat set within the Sonoran Desert. Again we have Oprah to thank for Miraval’s rise to fame, a resort offering guests a laid-back approach to nutrition and pampering. The all-inclusive spa, fitness and lifestyle program allows guests to join any of 120 weekly classes, from Pilates to photography, and make use of the on-site gym, spa and pools at any time. Go gourmet for all your meals, lounging out on the sprawling terraces in view of wide-open desert and the Santa Catalina Mountains. Bliss.

Photo: Jakob Owens

Photo: EMilio Mils

10. Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, Arizona

A southwestern stunner led on northern slopes overlooking Paradise Valley just 10 minutes from Scottsdale old town is Sanctuary Camelback Mountain. Perfected in contemporary Sonoran styles, the sanctuary’s casitas and stucco builds come brightly painted to reflect the easy-going atmosphere, a fact especially true at the on-site Jade bar during happy hour (or any of the several other bars for that matter). Asian-American fusion is a theme that runs across both its restaurant and in-house spa, while the fitness centre pleases all with its Pilates, meditation and yoga packages.

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Photo: Lake Austin Spa Resort

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