Ultimate Guide to Weight Loss Retreats

Last updated September 23, 2023

Weight loss retreats. The name is intimidating. Perhaps even a little polarizing.

A popular complaint about the “typical” vacation is often that we come back feeling, well, worse. In the name of relaxation, we might lay around on the beach all week. Eat our way through the buffets. Or enjoy a few too many all-inclusive cocktails.

Layer on the stress of any itinerary changes and air travel. We come home feeling like we need another vacation so that we can recover from the last vacation. Sound familiar?

Here’s an idea. What if you could travel and drop some weight? You absolutely can. It’s time you took a vacation focused on you and your health.

Is a Weight Loss Retreat for You

Weight loss retreats help guests by cultivating better habits, movement, relaxation and conscious eating. These retreats are typically in stunning, relaxing locales.

Do you need help deciding if a vacation centered around weight loss is right for you? Are you scared that it will be an epic disappointment? Think no more. We went to the experts. Here are their answers to some FAQs.

The first expert is Diana Stobo, founder and owner of The Retreat Costa Rica. The second is Sue Glasscock, co-founder of The Ranch Malibu. Third is Jessica Brantley, senior vice president at Hilton Head Health.

Here’s what they had to say on choosing the right weight loss retreat, what to expect and how to prepare.

Top Considerations: Choosing a Weight Loss Retreat

Sue Glasscock, The Ranch Malibu:

People are much more conscious of their overall mental and physical health and that is certainly being reflected in demand for a program like ours, with many guests opting for multi-week stays. When choosing a program that’s right for you, a few things to consider would be:​

What do you hope to achieve by the end of your stay? ​If you are looking to maximize your results or jumpstart a path to better health with visible results, a no-options program like ours is an ideal destination. 

We choreograph every aspect of your stay. Daily activities including 4 hours of hiking, afternoon fitness and yoga classes, are tailored to your fitness level. Our plant-based diet promotes detoxification and revitalization.

What is your ideal daily schedule? Do you want to be active all day long, opt-in and out of classes or balance your fitness program with pampering treatments?

How much attention do you want? How much interaction would you like with fellow guests? ​With a group size of 19 guests each week, we can offer personal attention and support throughout your stay. Additionally, our intimate environment lends itself to as much or as little group interaction as one desires.

Simply being around a small group of people devoted to improving their health for the week offers a unique opportunity for bonding and support. Many guests make lifelong friends through our program. 

Jessica Brantley, Hilton Head Health:

Comfort level: Weight loss is a personal journey. To be successful, you need to find a place where you feel comfortable in your own skin. You’ll be challenged both physically and mentally. A “safe place” that allows you to confidently take on those challenges will leave you with the strength and self-assurance to continue your program post-retreat.

Realistic: Look for a program that provides a variety of physical activities. Bootcamp can be great for some, but for others could leave you feeling hopeless and defeated or even injured.

All fitness isn’t created equal and the goal is to increase your physical activity in a safe and fun way. Even elite athletes mix hardcore workouts with low-impact conditioning to aid in recovery and support their long-term goals. 

Sustainable: While detox diets have their benefits, finding a middle ground with a meal plan is key. A meal plan that’s healthy and sustainable is more important to long-term success with weight management.

Look for a retreat that helps you move to a healthy style of eating. Rather than a strict regimen that may be too challenging to keep up at home. 

Diana Stobo, The Retreat Costa Rica:

Diana Stabo

Any journey is emotional, but this is especially true with weight loss. The first few days can be hard, but stick with it and it will get easier.

In terms of length, longer stays are always better; if you can manage 10 days or more, it drives the changes home.

Is There a Best Diet or Approach to Food?

Sue Glasscock, The Ranch Malibu:

We are a plant-based program, with many of our ingredients coming directly from our 3-acre on-site CCOF, certified organic garden.

Our daily menu features the finest fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, legumes and seeds. Excluding alcohol, caffeine, dairy, soy, processed sugars, diet sweeteners and gluten to aid in the cleansing and revitalization process.

Jessica Brantley, Hilton Head Health:

Hilton Head Health follows a Mediterranean-style diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, nuts and seeds.We also support vegetarian and vegan eating styles. 

Diana Stobo, The Retreat Costa Rica:

At The Retreat, we have a base nutritional program. It is highly personalized to each guest based on their overall evaluation. Some want to lose weight, while others are wanting to rid themselves of digestive issues, parasites or candida.

We find out your desires and work toward that. For example, we would serve fruits and smoothies if you wanted to lose weight, but not to those dealing with candida.

We monitor how you are feeling throughout, and the chef is involved as well. We have an open kitchen—you can watch, ask questions; it’s a cozy environment. This is not about shaming or restriction, as rigidity can actually be a barrier to weight loss.

Our approach is “clean and light.” It’s worth noting that weight loss takes time. Many of our guests do not lose all the weight while here. The anti-inflammatory diet causes cells to shrink. Guests will find that their clothes feel loose, but their weight is the same. Their weight lowers after returning home.

How Important Is Mindset to Weight Loss?

Sue Glasscock, The Ranch Malibu:

Like anything, your mindset is incredibly important in how you experience things and in garnering results.

Once you’ve made a commitment to make a change, I would suggest writing it down. Whether that’s weight loss or something else, I would suggest putting that goal in ink. Be specific about what you want to achieve. Ask yourself why it is important to you. How you want to feel in accomplishing it?

Regardless of the goal, this list will serve as a wonderful reminder of your intention​. This way if you get off track, you can revisit your list to help steer you back on course.

The important thing is not to ruminate. Don’t dwell on that one cookie you ate or a workout you missed. Instead, rejoice! Remember all of the healthy things you’ve done on a consistent basis. These things are leading you towards your goals.

Part of this is watching your internal dialogue. Speak to yourself as you would a loved one or child with supportive and encouraging thoughts.

Jessica Brantley, Hilton Head Health:

Mindset is EVERYTHING when it comes to long-term success with weight loss and weight maintenance. It’s more than just being “on” or “off”—it’s acknowledging slips without beating yourself up.

It’s a choice to do something good for your body instead of self-sabotaging and reframing your thoughts to point to good food/habits/choices versus quick/mindless/cravings.

Diana Stobo, The Retreat Costa Rica:

The emotional part is so huge— mind and body are not separate. Here, we are on a crystal mountain. The energy is palpable, it’s a tangible experience. Combined with Costa Rican mentality, guests find their troubles literally fall by the wayside. You have to be willing to surrender. 

How Should Guests Expect to Prepare For Their Weight Loss Retreat?

Sue Glasscock, The Ranch Malibu:

Upon booking, we provide our guests with a 30-day pre-arrival program to follow. This includes a week-by-week plan of changes they should make to their diet. There are also fitness and mindfulness practices so they are ready for their Ranch week!

Those that follow our recommendations will often see results before their stay. They will also experience more profound results while in our program. 

Jessica Brantley, Hilton Head Health:

My number one suggestion is to clean out your refrigerator and pantry before coming to your retreat. A positive outlook and new inspiration for healthy eating will compel you to make wise choices. Your first trip back to the grocery store won’t seem so daunting. 

If you’ll be headed straight back to work, stick to a routine. Make sure you leave a pair of exercise clothes clean and ready for you when you return. Start off on the right foot by being prepared for your activity.

What About After the Weight Loss Retreat / at Home?

Sue Glasscock, The Ranch Malibu:

Our Integrative Health Consultant is available during the guest’s stay. They can help with any questions they may have, as well as following their visit. She can create at-home programs for those that are interested.

We also send all of our alumni regular newsletters. The newsletters feature recipes and workout advice to encourage healthy habits at home. 

Jessica Brantley, Hilton Head Health:

Hilton Head Health offers an On-Demand subscription service. The subscription gives guests access to many 30-minute workout routines, video recipes, and short tips from our experts. It is an easy way to keep you on your plan to success. 

What Makes Your Property Stand Out Among Weight Loss Retreats?

Sue Glasscock, The Ranch Malibu:

Our results-oriented, no options approach in an incredibly intimate setting with just 19 guests each week. Guests participate in an active daily schedule. They enjoy a delicious and detoxifying plant-based cuisine knowing they will earn and depart with results.

This includes noticeable physical and mental changes like loss of pounds and inches and increased mental clarity. Many even make permanent and meaningful shifts in their health following a stay with us. They break long-ingrained habits like poor nutrition, lack of exercise and even smoking cessation. 

Jessica Brantley, Hilton Head Health:

The environment at Hilton Head Health is unmatched. The genuine care that’s poured out from the staff, along with the community of guests is beyond hospitable. Everyone supports one another. From the first meal through the last workout, the support makes the experience truly unique.

This support creates the confidence and inspiration needed to create lasting change. 

Diana Stobo, The Retreat Costa Rica:

The staff just listen. They don’t fix. They let people voice their troubles, and support the inner work they are doing. Sometimes we just want someone to listen, really listen, to us. Plus, being in nature is so healing. You get this feeling, THIS is what life can be like!

If you feel overwhelmed or hopeless, remember it is baby steps, especially as we age. We all have a set point, so it’s about finding your homeostasis and being patient and consistent. And have fun. Be happy. 

Surrender the frustration – and allow your body to fall into a place where it’s relaxed and comfortable. Love yourself, no matter what. 

Diana Stobo

Vacayou’s Top Picks for Weight Loss Retreats

1. BodyHoliday

Saint Lucia

A classic contender in the weight loss vacation category, BodyHoliday has been doing this for over 20 years, back when a spa in a hotel was uncommon and wellness centers were thought cult-like.

BodyHoliday blasted the notion of a “Fat Farm” out of the water and has gone on to win many industry awards. Here you can expect to be busy with a range of fitness activities and classes, personal training and rejuvenating spa treatments and set realistic goals that can come home with you.

2. Canyon Ranch Lenox

Lenox, Massachusetts

Begin your own path to your healthiest weight with a team of highly skilled professionals. From physician consultations to body composition screenings, you’re in good hands in this nurturing environment. Each guest has a personalized workout plans designed by an exercise physiologist.

At Canyon Ranch, you can transform your relationship with food. You will gain a better understanding of the mind-body-spirit connection to weight. You’ll dine on innovative, plant-based cuisine and take the know-how to recreate the recipes home with you.

Any of the wellness pathways in Lenox will guide you toward your intentions. The beautiful and idyllic Berkshires provide gentle strength. The gracious accommodations welcome you with the luxury and charm you’d expect from this renowned resort. 

3. Eupepsia Wellness Center

Virginia, United States

Begin your journey to reclaim your healthy weight! Achieve transformation in the Appalachian Mountains to leave not only lighter and revitalized but also empowered with a deeper understanding of your body’s response to weight gain and weight loss triggers. 

Eupepsia focuses on eliminating toxins and building tissue through gentle fitness activities and clean food programs. It combines advanced health screenings with traditional and progressive therapies. The plan is full of vegetarian farm-to-table food and Ayurveda science and philosophy. 

Using the latest research on bio-individuality and personalized weight management, this retreat is designed to help people understand their body. They learn how to achieve the right weight for their body type. Guests learn how they can sustain this weight in the long run.

4. Grail Springs Health & Wellness Centre

Ontario, Canada

This weight loss retreat is located on one-hundred acres of forested trails. It is an awe-inspiring sanctuary that believes weight gain, weight loss or any other health ailment occurs when lifestyle is out of balance.

Their holistic program serves as a guideline for living a permanent healthy lifestyle. The quiet time for inner reflection combined with delicious PH (acid/alkaline) balance meals encourage guests to self-reflect. Treatments designed to rid the body of toxins and bring balance to our lives are available as well.

5. Hilton Head Health Wellness Resort

South Carolina, United States

Jumpstart your weight loss with Hilton Head Health’s proven program. Create your ideal weight loss strategy with a focus on fitness, nutrition and goal-oriented transformation. 

Here you’ll have the opportunity to take on Beach Boot Camp. Get your sweat on by the ocean! Go Broad Creek Kayaking and enjoy the water. Cycle with Pinckney Island Bike Rides. Eat an individually tailored meal plan. Focus on lowering stress to increase your sense of life fulfillment.

H3’s all-inclusive JumpStart program will spoil you. The inspiring healthy menus will satiate your appetite. Award-winning spa services at The Indigo Spa relax your body and soul. Comfortable accommodations plus fitness classes ensure you get every penny’s worth. Gourmet cooking demonstrations and wellness lectures take place daily.

6. Rancho La Puerta

Baja California, Mexico

Rancho La Puerta is a world-renowned fitness and destination spa retreat. Located in the mountains of Baja California, the retreat offers guests a rejuvenating week in mind, body and spirit. 

Challenge your body each day in fitness classes. Trek majestic mountain trails while enjoying meals procured directly from their own organic farm. Join sessions on the latest in health, psychology, culture and cuisine. Learn how to bring peacefulness to your daily life through meditation. 

7. Skyterra Wellness Retreat

North Carolina, United States

Discover enriching, health-promoting activities in the peaceful Blue Ridge Mountains. Hike to waterfalls, practice yoga, learn the power of meditation and focus on fitness. Be the change that gets you back on track.

Whether you choose to spend most of your time on the trails, on the mat, or simply in reflection, your time at Skyterra can be whatever you want it to be. Your personal needs will always be met.

Their wellness retreats put you on the path to achieving your goals. Whether you’re enhancing your quality of life through fitness, nutrition, stress management, meditation or all the above. Unplug and regroup so your healthy new chapter can begin.

8. The Ranch Malibu

California, United States

At this award-winning fitness and weight loss retreat and ranch, optimal health and long-lasting results are considered the ultimate luxuries. Their intense fitness and wellness regimens pair with a highly structured, plant-based nutritional diet. The diet will put you on the road to balanced and healthy living.

Specialized programs focus on meeting fitness, nutrition, weight loss and detox goals. The Ranch is dedicated to creating a safe place for personal awareness and transformation.

Through a guided fitness regime, wellness support and properly calibrated nutrition, guests achieve their goals. The immersive all-inclusive allows guests to detoxify their bodies in a healthy, sustainable way. All the while getting back to basics in nature.

9. The Retreat Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Relaunched 5 years ago, this intimate resort and spa sits atop a quartz crystal mountain. Enjoy a sweeping view of the Pacific Ocean. Here guests can escape the chaos of everyday life. This wellness resort stills the mind and inspires the soul, leading to lasting change. 

Featuring farm-to-table cuisine, Ayurvedic consultations, a healing center and garden-to-spa treatments, their detox retreats are highly personalized. Mindfully designed to strengthen, nourish and renew, you leave empowered with the knowledge for long-lasting results.

The immersive wellness retreat was developed by detox expert and Retreat Owner, Diana Stobo. This weight loss retreat will teach how to be your best self through four guiding principles:

  1. An anti-inflammatory diet
  2. Gentle movement
  3. Mental and emotional support through human connection
  4. Cultural involvement and empowerment.

10. YO1 Health Resort

New York, United States

You will find YO1 Health Resort to be a place of renewal and exploration. Regardless of where you stand on your weight loss journey, YO1 supports you. Surrounded by the natural beauty of the Catskill Mountains, you will receive natural therapies and nutritional guidance. Both of which will help you safely reduce your weight gradually. 

Participate in one of their most popular weight loss retreats. On their introductory retreat, explore Ayurveda, Naturopathy, Yoga and Acupuncture. Learn how they can be incorporated into your weight loss journey for longevity and wellness beyond your stay.

With gentle guidance and mentorship from YO1’s world-class wellness counselors, you will follow a customized, holistic pathway. This pathway addresses the root causes of your health concerns for vitality and self-healing.

Ready to start your journey? Vacayou’s travel concierge team can help you discover, book and plan your next weight loss retreat. 

About Vacayou

At Vacayou [pronounced VACAY – YOU], we believe that travel has the power to change lives. The power to revive, rejuvenate and redirect your inner wellness warrior. And that’s why we’re here. Vacayou brings the world of wellness travel to you!

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