Let’s face it. Times have been extreme. So what better way to learn new skills and embrace new experiences than to focus on a well-tuned mind and body? I sure as hell could use it too! Among other benefits, meeting a new challenge head-on, whether physical, mental or both, fuels creativity, helps slow cognitive decline, and builds confidence. Balance that new adventure with a spa retreat and you’ve got the makings of an extreme wellness getaway. Here are a few great travel ideas that combine skills, thrills, and (spa) chills for those looking for something new and ambitious in 2021.
Triathlon Training in the Sonoran Desert. Train with an Olympian instructor by day, unwind at one of the nation’s premier resort spas by night. Who’s in? Plus, I’m an AZ local and can attest to the fact that it’s an incredible place to get active and get relaxin. At Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa, pushing one’s physical limits comes with world-class rewards. Sanctuary’s three-night Triathlon Training package includes three days of training with the resort’s team of experts. On the first day, Olympic gold medalist Misty Hyman shares the best swimming strategies for endurance and speed in Sanctuary’s 25-yard outdoor lap pool. Day two is a guided desert bike ride, and day three a tandem run with a fitness instructor. A power breakfast each morning fuels the day’s workout, while each evening brings a 60-minute spa treatment to restore muscles and joints impacted during training.
Shark Diving at Singer Island. With the world’s third largest barrier reef practically at its doorstep, Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa is the perfect base for a thrilling shark-diving adventure. Cage and free shark dives, offered through numerous local dive operators, let adrenaline junkies of all skill levels share the water with predators ranging from Florida’s abundant sandbar and lemon sharks to massive tiger sharks. After, guests can de-stress at the all-suite resort’s SiSpa, named one of the top 10 resort spas in the country by Condé Nast Traveler readers. A Capture the Moment Package, complete with a GoPro Waterproof Action Camera (Model Hero4) also let’s you document all the action, and includes daily beach chair and umbrella rental for stays of two or more nights. Luxe Recess also has this to say, “From the moment plush turtles greet you in your family suite to when you meet the magnificent creatures at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center down the road, a vacation at the Marriott Singer Island is all about slowing down to a turtle’s pace while connecting with the authentic richness of the Palm Beaches: its seashore.”The Whiteface Lodge – Lake Placid, NY
Bikes, Biathlons and Bobsledding in the Adirondacks. Seek peak wellness high in the Adirondack Mountains at Lake Placid’s Whiteface Lodge, an all-suite resort just a short drive from the Olympic Village in this two-time Winter Games host city. Among the Olympian-worthy local activities is a brand-new Bike & Biathlon experience, which debuted June 29 and combines an hour-long mountain bike lesson with professional instruction on the Olympic Biathlon Range, building skills and confidence for participants of all ages (biathlon rifles for those 13 and up; paintball for those 12 and under). In the winter, the action shifts to the Olympic bobsled run, where thrill-seekers can hurtle down the track with a professional driver and brakeman in the Lake Placid Bobsled Experience. Just don’t forget to relax and recharge at the award-winning Spa at Whiteface Lodge with an Alpine Retreat treatment. It includes a hot hydrotherapy soak and slow massage, both with Naturopathica Ginger Oil to melt away a day of adventure, followed by a warm oil scalp massage. I live for warm oil scalp massages. JUST SO YOU KNOW.
Fly a Helicopter over the Hudson. High-flying adventurers can test their mettle at the controls of a Robinson R44 Raven II with Wings Air Helicopters’ 30- or 60-minute Discovery Flight at Westchester County Airport, just a short drive or train ride from New York City. Now, I’m afraid of heights so, as one like me is prone to doing, I tend to challenge my fears head on. I’m not saying it works, but it can certainly be thrilling to climb a mountain or fly in a copter! The lesson begins with a ground briefing before taking to the sky with a professional flight instructor who, once airborne, will hand over the controls. Students can also bring up to two friends to ride along for an additional fee. Roundtrip hotel transfers between Manhattan and Westchester can also be arranged. Two top choices for a post-flight spa getaway are The Ritz-Carlton New York, Westchester (White Plains), home to Synergy Spa, Westchester County’s largest destination spa, and Tarrytown’s landmark 19th century castle (!!) turned luxury Castle Hotel & Spa, with its sweet riverside digs, French cuisine, and Sankara Spa.