Do you need a wellness sabbatical? It’s a line that popped up on a continually jumbled Instagram feed that instantly took a permanent place in my already crowded mind. Personally, the answer is not just yes, but hell yes- in the worst way possible. After an unbelievable year dealing with restrictions, financial pinching, and the pandemic stress experienced by everyone else in the world, we all could use a bit of a boost. Just as things seemed to be getting a bit better in terms of the global state of things, my winter got much more upsetting with my father’s sudden and unimaginable death. I’m still not precisely breathing right after reeling from a deep sense of loss. But like so many of you, moving forward in a positive way as much as possible is at the top of my list of goals for the year(s) ahead, and finding a place to start fresh sounds pretty fantastic about now.  


I’m not talking about the typical getaway or escape where you return with less energy than when you left home, but a destination promising a stronger sense of health, well-being, and personal accomplishment within just a few days. The good news is that things are opening up, and there are so many viable choices for finding a reboot source. I’ve been lucky in experiencing some amazing resorts and spas over the years and we all know the magic factor of escapes like Canyon Ranch, Miraval Resorts, Blackberry Mountain, and Lake Austin Resort. From word of mouth alone these stellar spots often have Nashvillians booked for stays throughout the year. But for a truly new attitude and research-worthy refresh, I am looking to some of the other options available that might not typically be on the ‘vacay radar.’ These are just a few of those at the top of my current list that check all the boxes I am aiming for in 2021 and beyond. 


The Original Cleanse

Just an hour north of Phoenix, AZ in the Sonoran Desert, a healing retreat that was once a sanctuary for Carnegies, Vanderbilts, Astors, Rockefellers, and even President Kennedy, has reopened after lying dormant for over 45 years. Castle Hot Springs has reemerged as an adults-only resort set around the turn of the century soaking pools (mineral waters at 120 degrees said to help cure chronic pain and illness), but with modern methods of pumping the healing waters into private, stand-alone bungalows – standard accommodations here. Five years of intense renovation and study have added new life into this dramatic, historic property that sports incredible scenery, onsite health gurus, and acres of organically grown produce used to fuel well-rested guests. It is a bit of a stretch, as Castle Hot Springs is literally set in the middle of nowhere. That’s the catch—to get there, you have to tackle seven miles of unpaved road…or find a friend with a helicopter. 


On Island Time

For a complete surrender custom to personal goals, the programs offered by Amanyara in Turks and Caicos are unparalleled. Staying in one of the many luxury villas or pavilions, guests here can expect every facet to be sheer perfection. However, if your goal is fitness or weight loss, they can bring tough love via experts on board to motivate your journey. For a more spiritual approach, you might choose a detoxing regime or a curated method to relieve stress by embracing mindfulness through ancient practices. You can opt for a single day, multiple immersions, or book the entire family at one of the multi-bedroom choices for visitors to book. In fact, this highly recommended resort has special programs just for families and groups if solo journeys are not your thing. I personally feel that the combination of soothing spa treatments, beach excursions, and attention from the highly trained healing-minded staff could possibly be the ultimate dream vacation, no desserts or drinks needed! 


Lighter and Brighter

The obsession with abstaining from food is not a new trend but a practice that’s been recorded for thousands of years in various societies. The ‘new-age world seems to be suddenly obsessed with all things fasting, but usually the type of approach that lasts a few hours or, at most, a few days. For those who not only want to shed troublesome fat, inflammation, or damaged cells – going through a guided course of abstaining from solids is something to explore. First of all, it’s tough to do this alone and avoid temptation, no matter how strong your willpower. At places like We Care Spa in Desert Springs, CA, the liquid-diet-following guests fill their hours with yoga classes and education rather than meals and menus. Rumors and reports from A-list guests suggest a sense of levity and clarity that allows deep focus and relief from many ailments. Mouth closed, eyes open, but if it works in so many ways, these are trips worth taking this year.