The Lists

The Best Wellness and Meditation Retreats in the World

the best wellness and mediation retreats in the world

Sometimes life gets to be just a bit too much, and it’s time to pause the hustle, get off the grid and regroup with some expert assistance. When that time comes, what’s the best wellness getaway at a luxury mindfulness spa with meditation that money can buy? Our correspondent Julie Chang Murphy has a curated list of the best luxury wellness and meditation retreats in the world.

the best wellness and meditation getaway that money can buy

As a new year or new season approaches, there’s a natural propensity towards reflection to bring some order and perspective to all of the experiences of the prior months. There’s also a hopeful spirit in the air that dares us to consider what we’d like to accomplish in the chapter ahead.

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Sounds nice doesn’t it?  Except life doesn’t stop for us to sit cross-legged with perfect posture and look serenely off a cliff while the sun paints the sky with luminous colors. There are urgent emails to be answered, holiday family photos that need to be taken, and laundry….there’s always laundry.

When it comes to carving out space for introspection and meditation, the rich and famous know that no one is going to do it for them. Or give them permission to step off the carousel. Of course you can mediate at home, or go forest-bathing in a nearby park. But sometimes that’s just not enough.

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That’s why the most successful people we know escape to wellness retreats at least once a year to reset their minds, bodies and spirits.

It’s the ultimate power-off button for executives and creatives constantly running on 58% battery.

For those who can afford it, these are the most luxurious wellness retreats, where hours and days are devoted to spirituality, meditation and self-care.

One tip from the insiders who’ve visited one or more of these retreats: delegate everything while you’re away so you’re not returning to a mountainous pile of to-dos. ‘Cause that’s sure to kill any post-meditation retreat feel-good vibe faster than you can say “laundry.”

the best luxury wellness and meditation retreats in the world

1. Cal-a-Vie, San Diego, California

A favorite of Natalie Portman and Oprah Winfrey, this San Diego health spa is renowned for its special focus on mind-body-spirit wellness. Stays at the retreat include 20 class offerings like Calm Mind & Body Tai Chi, Aqua Yoga, Muscle Melt, and Tension Release Exercise.

Furthermore, spiritual experts assist guests with daily guided visualization and expanding mind meditation. All in an intimate, exclusive 500-acre haven resembling a serene French village.

best wellness and meditation retreats in the world

The best wellness and meditation retreats in the world: Cal-a-Vie. Courtesy Photo.

Nutritious farm-to-table cuisine is served three times a day and a 5:1 staff to guest ratio takes care of your every need when you’re not meditating, playing tennis on red clay courts or being treated to a seaweed wraps and aromatic massages. 

2. Ananda Spa in the Indian Himalayas

 This spa, tucked away in the foothills of the Himalayas in the Maharaja of Tehri Garhwal’s former palace, is consistently ranked at the top of any list of luxurious wellness destinations.

It has hosted tycoons Bill Gates and Melinda Gates, royalty like the Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Hollywood stars, Kate Winslet and Nicole Kidman. More than just a passive spa experience, the two pillars of a stay revolve around yoga and Vedanta– an ancient Indian philosophy of peace which can be found by keeping the mind and intellect in check.

The best wellness and meditation retreats in the world: Ananda Spa. Courtesy Photo.

Pack lightly because all guests are issued white pajamas for the duration of their stay. And the detox can be digital as well, so no phones. Meals are prescribed according to your dosha type, as diagnosed by an Ayurvedic doctor-in-residence.

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3. Golden Door Spa, San Diego, California

Named #1 Spa in the World by 2019 Conde Nast Traveler, this 60-year old spa about an hour outside Los Angeles has been hosting Hollywood royalty from the Elizabeth Taylor and Natalie Wood days to Julia Roberts and niece, Emma Roberts.

We’ve visited the Golden Door twice, and we have found that there’s a special magic to this place. Serenely styled rooms are set amidst Japanese gardens and 600 acres of mature hiking trails. Much of the produce served at the communal meals is grown onsite in the resort’s gardens. And there’s a large, secluded labyrinth that guests are invited to walk near the conclusion of their visit. 

the best meditation and wellness retreats in the world

The best wellness and meditation retreats and spa with mediation in the world: The Golden Door. Courtesy Photo.

To calm the spirits and nurture the mind, Golden Door offers an extensive menu of meditative activities: archery, chakra meditation, clay sculpture, haiku composition, breathwork, watercolors and Tai’ Chi. For those looking for some pampering in addition to enlightenment, each guest receives a daily in-room massage, five skincare or body treatments and a manicure/pedicure.

4. Privé Swiss, Connecticut

For high-functioning, successful people who are particularly adept at being future-oriented but feel “as if there is no deep connection to anything profound or personally meaningful,Privé Swiss serves as a facility that is in-between a spa and a traditional rehab center. 

This is the famed Connecticut retreat where Kit Harrington landed after the Game of Thrones finale. Along with traditional psychotherapists and psychiatrists, there are life coaches, alternative healthcare providers, and fitness trainers, each of whom has a minimum of 20 years’ experience and each of whom is at the top of his or her field.

The best wellness and mediation retreats in the world: Prive Swiss.

A typical day involves a blend of intense emotional/psychological work with a psychotherapist and/or a life coach, and bodywork in the form of yoga, Pilates, or mindful meditation training. Each retreat is offered to only three clients at a time and includes all one-to-one services with ultra-private luxury accommodations.

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5. Retreatment by Taryn Toomey, various locations

By now you’ve most likely heard of Taryn Toomey’s emotional workout, The Class. For the uninitiated, it’s a hybrid cardio workout of HIIT, Pilates, meditation and spiritual release. Think squats, burpees, jumping jacks with lots of shouting and shaking.

Luxury mindfulness spa retreat: The Retreatment.

The Retreatment, attended by A-list celebs like Naomi Watts and Jennifer Aniston, are immersive, multi-day vacations at luxurious resorts around the world. Including Dominican Republic, Martha’s Vineyard, Malibu, Mexico, Ojai, Rhode Island, Vermont and Mustique.

Designed to “unpack your baggage,” guests attend morning meditation, followed by two cathartic hours of The Class. After a communal brunch, there are plentiful options for spa activities to restore the body. The day closes with yoga and farm-to-table family style dinner.

6. Stiftung Felsentor

The Felsentor, surrounded by forests and pastures directly above Lake Lucerne in Switzerland, is a retreat dedicated to peace, silence, and meditation.

The wellness program includes 3.5 hours of silence and meditation sessions in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. In between, the natural splendor of the Swiss Alps offer peaceful walks and hiking. The grounds also feature an animal shelter for previously suffering farm animals and an organic farm which help visitors experience an inter-connectedness to all beings.

stiftung felsentor

The center offers open meditation practice for novices who want to drop in for a class. So if you happen to be in Zurich, you might want to pencil it in – Lucerne is just a 90-minute drive away.

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7. Woom Center

 In the city that never sleeps, Woom Center in New York is a space for yoga, meditation and based primarily on the therapeutic properties of sound vibration. A custom-designed 3D sound system allows vibration to reach all bodies equally while instructors lead an innovative and unique class that also features immersive, audio-responsive visual installations.

The best luxury day spa with meditation: Woom Center, New York. Courtesy Photo.

This year, a retreat focusing on yoga, sound and breath, will take place in the surfer town of Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. Guests enjoy two-story beachfront Balinese style villas on the water. And participate in daily pranayama, sound and breath work practice along with vegan meals and snacks.

8. Canyon Ranch

Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona is one of our favorite destination spas. There are a wide range range of programs available, including a special “Mindfulness in the Modern World” curriculum.

The best luxury mindfulness destination spa with meditation

The best luxury mindfulness destination spa with meditation: Canyon Ranch Tucson, Arizona. Courtesy Photo.

Offered twice a year, and hosted by the spa’s self-contained Life Enhancement Center, this 6-day immersive group experience encourages guests to learn and practice techniques that turn the goal of mindfulness into a daily reality.

Even if you choose to visit when this program is not running, there are experts in life management, spirituality, fitness, medicine, nutrition and movement available throughout the year in Tuscon and also at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts.

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9. Simple Peace

The ancient Umbrian city of Assisi, Italy is not only the birthplace of Saint Francis, but also the home of Simple Peace.  Founders Ruth and Bruce Davis bring together precepts of both Western and Eastern spirituality at their renovated historic monastery.  Bruce, a scholar in the teachings of St. Francis, leads mostly silent meditations, while Ruth, a longtime student in Eastern meditation, enriches the silent sessions with guided Tai Chi and “sacred movement” rituals.

The best luxury mindfulness destination spa with meditation

The best luxury mindfulness destination spa with meditation: Simple Peace. Courtesy Photo.

Outside of these sessions are one-on-one retreat guidance meetings, hatha yoga classes and several hours for self-exploration in the form of preparing food, journaling, hiking and therapeutic massages.  As a bonus, all of the rooms feature fireplaces and terraces that look over the local olive groves.

10. Bali Silent Retreat  

If you are going to practice silent meditation, why not do it someplace with beautiful views and delicious food?Head to Indonesia for one of the best spas for a silent vacation. Surrounded by rice paddies, the Bali Silent Retreat is in a lush setting, featuring hot springs and daily visits to nearby Buddhist temples.

The best luxury mindfulness destination spa with meditation

The best luxury mindfulness destination spa with meditation: Bali Silent Retreat. Courtesy Photo.

Here you will find no set daily schedule. Instead, guests are encouraged to practice silence on their own terms.  Guests can try any of the retreat’s daily activities, including its New Earth Cooking class. There, guests learn to make healthy dishes with ingredients from the property’s medicine garden. There are also stargazing platforms for nighttime meditation and healing arts sessions.  While most visitors stay for a week or more, there are day passes should you want a quick respite.

the best wellness and meditation retreats in the world

That’s it! Our top picks for luxury meditation and mindfulness spa and retreat visits. Which one do you think you might visit soon? Here’s to more mindfulness in all of our lives.

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Crediting her training as a cultural anthropologist at Wellesley College, Julie has immersed herself in various industries in the last 15 years including fashion design, event planning, fitness and even investigating police misconduct. Julie lives in NYC where she loves trying every ramen and dumpling restaurant with her husband and three children. She finds joy in bold prints, biographies of fierce women. Also kickboxing

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