5 Resorts Mixing Fitness and Relaxation

Balancing Acts

At resorts around the world, healthy living and relaxation find an easy peace.

Where the spinning happens: Terranea's fitness center terrace.
Caribbean cardio: A paddleboard workout at Le Guanahani.

By Amy Cassell
Originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of Virtuoso Life.

(On Page Two: Four other resorts offering both wellness and relaxation.)
Fitness fact: Time passes more quickly when you’re gazing out at the ocean, watching dolphins leap in sync and break the water’s glassy surface, than while staring down at the monitor on a stationary bike. It’s OK that the sun is just now rising and I’m already up and at spin class. I decide that maybe if I pedal harder, I’ll get lucky and see a blue whale.

The class, one of a wealth of fitness options at Southern California’s Terranea Resort, is the opposite of where I end up 30 minutes later, at the property’s Catalina Kitchen for its Sunday brunch buffet. I walk up to a staff member who’s standing next to a waffle maker, smiling and brandishing a can of whipped cream. Pile it on please, I think, as I hand him my plate – I just biked a 10K.

The 582-room Mediterranean-style resort on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, 45 minutes from Los Angeles, succeeds in mixing healthy options with indulgent ones, a way of thinking that’s catching on at resorts worldwide. Many travelers are looking for a vacation that involves physical fitness without all the strict calorie counting.

“I’ve been booking a ton of wellness getaways: My clients want to reboot their bodies, learn new exercises, and try healthy foods, but I’m sure the wine is still flowing at night too,” says Garden Grove, California-based Virtuoso travel advisor Jay Johnson. “It’s not all about working out; it’s also about relaxing. At Terranea, you can unwind in the spa or kick back and enjoy the beautiful coastal view, as well as be super-active, with bike riding, hiking, and golf all on property or nearby.”

A stay at Terranea feels like a Choose Your Own Wellness Adventure: Lounge on the sand in a private cove or jog, squat, and lunge your way there during a Nature’s Gym class; book a nutrition consultation or a crystal-quartz scrub at the spa; take a full-moon yoga class or have a nightcap at the lobby bar. It’s a fitness retreat at your own pace. One day at Cielo Point, the resort’s oceanfront pool bar, I grab a spot next to a woman who recommends her favorite frozen cocktail. The next day, we spot each other at the fitness center.

Many properties are also taking the wellness in-room, offering accommodations catering to fitness-minded guests. At Terranea, 20 one- or two-bedroom adults-only bungalows have full kitchens and outdoor patios or balconies with gas fire pits that are lit by staff each evening. They’re secluded, down the hill and away from the buzz of the resort’s main building, near the hiking trails that wind along the coastline.

This bungalow is Terranea’s way of keeping me on the right track, my surroundings a subtle reminder that I’m here to work out, not just nap by the pool. There’s no room for excuses: A pile of exercise equipment (yoga mats, free weights, resistance training bands) sits neatly in the corner of the living room, and the washer and dryer by the bathroom mean I’ll always have enough clean workout clothes. Plus, only a 30-second walk stands between me and the fitness center.

Waffle bar aside, it’s easy to eat well here too. Chef Bernard Ibarra leases farmland nearby to grow many of the vegetables for the resort’s eight restaurants. He sources herbs from a garden outside Mar’sel (Terranea’s fine-dining option) and collects water from the property’s shore to make salt in an on-site conservatory. “Our culinary program celebrates the resort’s natural surroundings: the expansive blue ocean, cliffside bluffs, and low-lying mountains,” he says.

Three fitness classes, two hikes, and one giant pretzel with cheddar cheese dip later, I can attest that a weekend at Terranea is as well balanced as you want it to be.

To work with a Virtuoso travel advisor and plan a great wellness getaway, connect below. 

ON TREND: Four more resorts that pair wellness and relaxation.
Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit | Mexico
Guests will find exercise equipment (yoga mats, dumbbells, a recumbent stationary bike), aromatherapy kits, and a crudités-and-juice minibar waiting for them in the 12 new wellness suites at this 267-room beachfront resort. The adults-only suites also include a personal spa concierge, who provides insight into the resort’s wellness options and performs in-room spa treatments. It’s easy to get carried away at an all-inclusive resort’s buffet line, but Velas’ five restaurants also serve extra-healthy options, such as the red snapper and sautéed zucchini at gourmet Mexican eatery Frida.
Ca’Sagredo Hotel | Venice, Italy
The 42-room hotel on Venice’s Grand Canal takes an active approach to sightseeing: Roberto, the hotel’s in-house personal trainer, leads jogging and power-walking tours of the city. During the hour-long tours (which cover about three and a half miles), guests run over the Rialto Bridge to Saint Mark’s Square, through the city’s public gardens, and back to the hotel. For round two, Roberto leads personal training sessions on Ca’Sagredo’s rooftop terrace.
Le Guanahani | Saint Bart’s
Former model Estelle Lefébure leads a new wellness initiative at this secluded 67- room hotel; through her Orahe method she preaches the mantra “Eat, move, be.” Her three- and five-day retreats throughout the year include stand-up paddleboarding and yoga sessions, healthy meals, and custom Clarins spa treatments. Practice the “be” portion of the retreat while lounging on one of the recently renovated hotel’s two white-sand beaches fronting Marigot Bay and Grand Cul-de-Sac.
Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum | Turkey
This 109-room hotel on the Turkish Riviera recently teamed up with the Mayo Clinic to launch a new outpost of the clinic’s comprehensive Healthy Living Program. During weekend or five-day sessions, coaches assess guests’ overall health, stress levels, posture, and flexibility, and craft treatment regimens that include fitness classes, meditation sessions, and spa treatments, plus wellness plans to take home. À la carte Healthy Living courses cover topics such as restful sleep and stress management.

To work with a Virtuoso travel advisor and plan a great wellness getaway, connect below.