We all occasionally need a break from our routine – even if it’s the “routine” of travel. We need time, space, and sometimes even assistance to rest and heal; to pamper ourselves; to nurture our bodies and souls in order to reconnect with the physiological and psychological energy that inspires, powers, and propels us forward. But most of us presume that this kind of self-care is expensive, and therefore unnecessarily indulgent. We disagree. Everyone deserves a vacation (even from your vacation) – and regenerative respite doesn’t have to drain your savings. The following are some of our favorite places to renew your vigor, vitality, and existential equilibrium – without a First Class budget.
This magical forest wonderland, run by an intentional community since the ‘60s, is the perfect setting for the rustic, secluded wellness experience your inner hippie dreams of. The 154 acres of wildlife sanctuary in Detroit, Oregon, features a historic lodge with wrap-around sun decks; three hot meadow pools overlooking the river; four tiled spiral tubs of increasing temperature aligned in the cardinal directions (and adjoined by a cold plunge tub); an all-hours sanctuary for yoga, meditation, and quiet personal time; a labyrinth; and hiking trails. Breitenbush is an incredible place to attend one of the many workshops, retreats, and events (including free monthly sweat lodges) that are scheduled throughout the year, but it’s also a peaceful, rejuvenating spot to spend a weekend or even 12 hours getting your body and soul back in alignment. For under $30, you can spend an entire day enjoying the pools, lodge, and classes. Or if you’d like to stay the night, pay a strikingly low nightly fee for lodging ($52/night for your own tent to $117 for a charming cabin with private bathroom), three organic vegetarian meals, 24-hour access to the springs and pools, and all the daily well-being programs you can fit into your stay. (If you want to up the spa-factor of your experience, you can also schedule massages and other body- and energy-work for prices slightly lower than what you’d find in the city.)
Liquidrom is a water spa sanctuary in the heart of metropolitan Berlin. The surprisingly spacious building houses a number of distinct backdrops for a variety of self-care experiences, all subordinate to the centerpiece saltwater thermal bath with underwater speakers and moon-themed light effects. Other features include a steam bath, two Finnish saunas, a Himalayan salt sauna with glowing reddish walls, an outdoor hot tub, and a row of plush deck chairs neighboring a bar serving healthy snacks, indulgent desserts, and even beer. Spend two hours for 20 Euros, or spend the whole day for 30. And if you want to up the spa-factor, you can also sign up in advance for body treatments, which range from 35 Euros for a 25-minute back massage to 100 Euros for Balinese herbal therapy.
This Swiss tourist destination is a strange and beautiful combination of amusement park and wellness spa. On the one hand, this 30+-year-old resort spotlights 10 water slides of varying lengths and intensities; a drifting river whose speed changes throughout the day; and a by-day wave pool that features lightning-and-rain effects after dark. On the other hand, it features an iodine brine pool (reputedly good for soothing bodily ailments), several saunas, an adults-only wellness area (including a quiet room with a panoramic view of the lake), and a fitness center (with under-water spinning classes). Plus, Aplamare boasts attractions like a grill-your-own barbecue restaurant and an outside pool with massage jets, effervescent couches, underwater music, and waterfall grotto – even in winter. For fewer than 45 Swiss franks per person, you can enjoy four hours of peace and/or pleasure, all easily accessible from Zürich.
Yes, you could spend lots of money on body wraps and massage packages at this gorgeous San Francisco spa. But the beauty of Kabuki is that you don’t have to drop a lot cash to feel like you’ve indulged yourself. For $25 or less, you can spend all day enjoying the communal bath (including hot pool, cold plunge, dry sauna, and steam room), individual bathing areas in both Japanese (seated) and western (standing) style, and complimentary accoutrements including sea salts, chilled cucumber face cloths, and hot tea. Bonus? It’s women-only on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday; men-only on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday; and co-ed on Tuesday (which is the only day bathing suits are required).
Compared to the average bargain traveler’s resources, this Ojai Valley wellness resort is certainly on the high end of the spectrum. But for those looking for serious indulgence on a serious budget, this rustically elegant country-inn-themed spa and fitness center is one of the best values in the country. For around $170 per night, guests enjoy hotel-quality lodging, a choice of nearly 16 daily exercise classes and lectures, gourmet-quality meals (prepared with food allergies and low-calorie diets in mind), a state-of-the-art fitness center, and an assortment of bodywork, beauty, and hair-care treatments on hand (for an extra fee) – all situated within walking distance of Ojai’s charming downtown.