Friday, June 2, 2023 Jun 2, 2023
80° F Dallas, TX


All you need is a kick in the willpower. Herewith, seven inspirational retreats.

I’ve always loved the idea of flitting off to a spa. It’s the ultimate in self-indulgence, and I imagine hours of luxury-manicures, facials, milk baths, lying on the beach while someone feeds me grapes.

Well, fantasies are one thing; alas, real life is quite another. Today’s spas are more fitness-oriented, concerned with stress relief and a lifelong approach to good health. In other words, you may think you need a massage, but spa experts will tell you that what you really need is to lay off the sugar and get some exercise.

The new spa-types aren’t high-pressure fitness salesmen, though. If you want to go to a spa and sleep late, get your nails done, and take a nap, you’re free to do so at most places. But even that’s not the best news. You don’t have to drive or fly very far to start. What follows is a list of recommended retreats, from the best herbal wrap to the best weight loss program.

The Best Service is at the Four Seasons Hotel and Resort in Las Colinas, where everyone from the bellhop to the manicurist is determined to treat you like royalty. The spa offers everything from lip waxing to Shiatsu massage, the gym is fully equipped with indoor and outdoor facilities, the exercise classes are many and varied, and the golf course is top-notch. If you’re sick of looking at the same four walls, this resort feels as far away from Dallas as any local spot I’ve ever found. The surroundings are serene, Oriental, and peaceful. And the Four Seasons is also the spot for the Best Herbal Wrap. In case you’re not familiar with the terminology, an herbal wrap involves having your entire body (except your face) wrapped like a mummy in hot linen sheets that have been soaked in herbs, Then you’re zipped into a silver plastic covering that holds in the heat, the room is darkened, and you’re left there to sweat and relax for twenty minutes or so. It’s a great escape, and the Four Seasons’ version excels-the room is cool (at some places the experience can be suffocating), the music is wonderful, and the aroma of the herbs on the linen wraps is tantalizing.

Speaking of spa treatments, the Best Facial is at The Spa at The Crescent. The You Ka treatments last a minimum of an hour and fifteen minutes and include cleansing, extraction, massage, eye treatment, and a facial mask. The Crescent also has a fully equipped gym, personal trainers, a full lineup of beauty treatments, and gorgeous surroundings.

The Best Swimming Pool, hands down, is at The Verandah Club behind the Loews Anatole Hotel. It’s a twenty-five-meter, seven-lane indoor pool replete with underwater music (on request). If you think lap swimming is boring, try it with The Supremes, and you’ll feel the energy returning. The Verandah also has aerobic classes, weight and exercise rooms, jogging tracks, and tennis, racquetball, squash, and croquet courts. And that’s just the tough stuff: beauty follows brawn-building in the form of facials, massage, makeup, and hair and nail care.

For those of you who are serious about shaping up, The Aerobics Center In-Residence Program is the Best Healthy Getaway, and it’s no farther away than Preston Road. The four-, seven-, or thirteen-day wellness programs emphasize weight loss, nutrition education, an exercise “prescription,” stress management, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and other healthy alternatives to your current slovenly lifestyle. You’ll get a full-fledged preventive medicine examination at the Cooper Clinic for starters, and you’ll emerge thinner, stronger, and wiser about your body.

If you really need to leave town, though, the Best Weight Loss Program is at the Lake Austin Resort, where helping you lose weight is their raison d’etre. There are sixteen exercise classes a day, including Hill Country walks and Country & Western aerobics, and you have your choice of a tasty 900-calorie menu or, if you insist, 1,200 calories per day. And you can come home beautiful on the outside, too, as the salon offers every beauty treatment imaginable.

If you want inspiration and money is no object, you could always try the grande dame of American spas, La Costa in Carlsbad, California, which earns the distinction of offering the Best Menu of Services. For twenty-four years, celebs and nobodies have been trekking to La Costa to enjoy the beautiful California scenery and the top-notch service; the spa now offers affordable weekend packages as well as an excellent week-long program for shaping up, relieving stress, and learning new eating habits. Supervised by a resident physician, the Life Fitness program is limited to ten to fifteen people who spend their week together exercising, eating in the Spa Dining Room, and even taking field trips to a grocery store to learn how to shop healthier. And La Costa offers massages, facials, herbal wraps, loofah treatments, golf, and tennis. La Costa also boasts the Best Beauty Salon. Beauty director Tony Ray has been at La Costa for nineteen years, and the staff is excellent. Especially recommended: the makeup consultations and hair by Tony himself.

If personalized attention is what you’re after, The Greenhouse spa in Arlington is the place to go for the Best Pampering. The week-long stays are limited to thirty-nine women who are watched after by 125 staff members. Greenhouse-goers are treated to what the spa calls “gentle discipline,” meaning no pressure and a wide range of activities, whether you want to lose a few pounds or just unwind. There’s a beauty salon, of course, and exercise classes include water workouts, walks, and aerobics.

What you do when you get home is thetricky part, though, which is why The Aerobics Center makes follow-up calls to seehow you’re holding up in the real world. Ifyou’re munching Doritos when they call,you’ll know it’s time to return.


The Aerobics Center In-Residence Program, 12230 Preston Road. Dallas, TX 75230, 386-0306. Four-day sessions from $1,595; thirteen-day sessions from $3,995.

Four Seasons Hotel and Resort, 4150 MacAr-thur Blvd., Irving. TX 75038. 717-0700. Package rates from $239 per night to $1,642 for six nights, double occupancy. Packages include selected spa treatments. All services available a la carte.

The Greenhouse. P.O. Box 1144, Arlington. TX 76004. {817) 640-4000. $2,975-$3,050 per week: includes spa treatments.

La Costa Hotel & Spa, Costa del Mar Road. Carlsbad. CA 92009. 1-800-854-5000. Spa Samplers from $125 per night, based on double occupancy. The Life Fitness Program (seven nights) is $2,380 per person, double occupancy. All prices include selected spa treatments.

Lake Austin Resort. 1705 Quinlan Park Road. Austin. TX 78732. (512) 266-2444 or 1-800-847-5637. Summer rates (through November 19) from $101.50 $141.50 per night and from $613-$871 for a seven-day stay. Spa treatments extra.

The Spa at The Crescent. 400 Crescent Court, Suite 100, Dallas, TX 75201. 871-3232. Health and Beauty Weekend Package. $1,675 for three nights, including spa treatments. All spa and beauty services available a la carte.

The Verandah Club, 2201 Stemmons Freeway, Dallas. TX 75207, 761-7500. Weekend rates from $75-$85 per night; treatments extra.