Your Guide to Wellness Resorts, Retreats and Hotels with Spas

Last updated March 26, 2022

Wellness travel has increased in popularity over the last few years and it has become one of the fastest-growing travel segments. More and more people are opting for healthier lifestyles and that includes more conscious and health-focused vacations

But what exactly is the difference between a wellness resort, retreat and hotel with spa? And which one can benefit you the most on your next wellness vacation? 

Let’s have a look!

What is a wellness resort?


Just as the name suggests, a wellness resort is a resort that focuses on health and well-being. At a wellness resort, you can expect to find everything you need under one “roof” and there is little reason to go out. 

On-site, you’ll be able to find at least one restaurant, if not more, a yoga studio/gym/fitness area, perhaps a mediation room, spa, lounge area, etc. Some wellness resorts, depending on where they are located, might also have a library, pool, sauna/steam room and other facilities that make them truly unique. 

A wellness resort normally offers all-inclusive packages that include food, use of the entire resort as well as some activities depending on the package chosen. This does vary greatly on the resort, however. 

At a wellness resort, you can expect to find everything you need under one “roof.”

When choosing a wellness resort, you’ll want to first consider the location and whether the services and facilities match your personal interests. If plant-based is your thing, then make sure the resort offers plant-based food packages or head to one of the few plant-based resorts such as Palmaïa, The House of AïA in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. 

If you feel like a few spa treatments then make sure to choose a resort that has a highly rated spa with some treatments included in your package. 

What is a wellness retreat?

While a wellness resort is all about the place, a wellness retreat is all about the various therapies and activities to enhance your well-being. Each type of retreat is unique and there are many to choose from depending on your tastes and preferences. 

Retreats are normally set in tranquil places surrounded by nature—sometimes retreats are even set at wellness centers and resorts, city spas and meditation centers in order to encourage relaxation and serenity. 

There are so many different types of wellness retreats on offer nowadays from meditation retreats to active running or surfing retreats. The options are endless. 

On a wellness retreat, you can expect a fairly fixed schedule that might include starting the day with yoga and meditation followed by meals, energy work, a mindfulness practice, free time and other activities. 

A wellness retreat is all about the various therapies and activities to enhance your well-being.

The biggest difference between wellness resorts and wellness retreats is in the scheduling. At a wellness resort you’d simply check-in and the rest is up to you. You choose your activities for the day and how you want to spend your time. 

Alternatively, wellness retreats are structured with a schedule you’ll be encouraged to follow. It’s a great option for those looking for more structure with their time. 

If you want to lounge by the pool, take a few hours to read a book with yoga, meditation and healthy meals thrown in for good measure, you’ll want to choose a wellness resort rather than a wellness retreat. 

What is a hotel with spa?

Lodge at Woodloch Jacuzzi pool

A hotel with spa is just what you would expect—a hotel that has an on-site spa facility to take advantage of. 

The spa typically works as a separate entity and treatments are charged separately. You have no obligation to opt for a treatment or two, but they are available if you crave something extra to fully relax. 

You will find a hotel with spa almost everywhere from beach destinations to big cities. There are also many hotels with spas to fit different budgets. 

If you are planning to check into a hotel with a spa to take advantage of their treatments then make sure to do your research as spa standards and treatments vary widely. 

Squash the overwhelm

There are many benefits to a wellness retreat, staying in a wellness resort or even making use of a great spa in a hotel—all providing an escape and disconnect from real life. 

They can give you the space to focus on something or learn something new. They can also just provide you with the time you need to relax and unwind in a healthy setting. 

Which option you choose will depend on what you need, what you want to focus on as well as your interests. 

If you’re looking for a new adventure you could sign up for a surfing and yoga retreat in Mexico. If you’re looking to get started with meditation you might find try a mindfulness and meditation retreat or if you want to take the time to improve your yoga practice you might choose a yoga retreat in Costa Rica. 

The benefits are many to a wellness retreat, wellness resort or great spa in a hotel. They all provide an escape and a disconnect from real life.

Additionally, if you’re more interested in working on your health there are many weight loss retreat programs and detox retreats out there, too. Or you might just want to relax by the pool and do your own thing in which case a wellness resort is your ideal pick. 

If you’re more interested in your destination and prefer to prioritize sightseeing and local activities then a hotel with a spa might be the best option. This way you can enjoy your destination as you please and have the option to go for a treatment.

So, which option would you go for on your next wellness vacation?

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