For over 30 years, Thermes de Brides-les-Bains in the French Alps has attracted travelers seeking one type of spa treatment: a slim-down session. More than 18,000 people per year head to the no. 1 weight-loss spa in the world to soak up French slimming secrets through six-day retreats, which revolve around the region’s thermal spring water. The concept: combine pure Alpine air and fresh mountain water with therapeutic rituals, physical activity and a nutrition plan designed to “redefine health and life quality,” promising spa-goers the French version of the fountain of youth in terms of slimming down. Dieticians lead cuisine légère, or light cuisine, cooking courses, while physiotherapists perform anti-cellulite massages.
Slimming spas like this are now popping up at some of the most sought-after resorts on the globe, offering retreats that last anywhere from two nights to two weeks. One reason why health-focused programs are on the rise in the luxury realm: society is placing a higher value on health and well-being. This is especially true for those who are trying to find that work-life balance.
“Well-being cannot be bought and requires personal commitment. Weight-loss retreats can provide practical and useful keys to change one’s habits in a better and sustainable way,” explains The Chedi Andermatt’s spa manager, Renée Blanchardt. “Retreats are adapting to take into account the specific requirements and needs of demanding guests who want a global enabling environment where they find competent physiotherapists and dieticians, great cuisine, and outstanding facilities.”
Image: Courtesy of The Chedi
Partnering with Brides-les-Bains, The Chedi Andermatt has weaved in all of the aspects for a tailor-made program set to debut in the Swiss Alps this Autumn. Except for the Brides-les-Bains thermal water—which is replaced with pure Gotthard water—the program will offer the same benefits you’d find in France, including body treatments to improve blood circulation, a dietary approach to find nutritional balance, physical activity to get guests moving, and “professional and encouraging human coaching,” Blanchardt says.
Throughout the one- or two-week “Slimming Lifestyle Retreat,” guests have the chance to transform their bodies by revamping their lifestyles, starting with dietician-led group workshops and nutrition consultations, before moving on to sweat-induced fitness sessions and massages designed specifically with slimming results in mind. At the end of the retreat, guests leave with the tools they need to integrate these healthy habits into their hectic lives for a more balanced lifestyle—as well as a revamped diet thanks to the nutritional cooking workshops.
Another luxe lodging in Switzerland, Zurich’s Baur au Lac, has designed a wellness retreat that transforms the scenic Lake Zurich into a personal training playground. Throughout the three-day “Zurich Fit Package,” guests meet with a trainer along the lake, as well as in the fitness center, for a detox-specific workout session. Days get started on a healthy note with green apple detox smoothies and an “athlete’s breakfast” of energy-boosting dishes like spelt pumpernickel served with smoked turkey breast and cherry tomatoes. Lunch is equally as gourmet with vegan-savvy Chef Olivier Rais crafting a power-focused menu of grilled turbot, spicy baby roasted carrots and wild rice that’s sure to get you revved and ready for your workouts.
Image: Courtesy of âme Spa & Wellness Collective
Miami is a city known for innovative wellness rituals, but when the new âme Spa & Wellness Collective at Turnberry Isle Miami starting planning its slim-down series, the spa looked beyond the usual health superstars to lead the retreat. During the three-day wellness getaway dubbed Camp ÂME, which debuts in July, raw food guru Matthew Kenney—a two-time James Beard Award nominee for Rising Star Chef—will work alongside master yoga teacher Nikki Costello for a retreat designed around healthy plant-based eating and personalized fitness classes. Throughout the long weekend, you can mix and mingle with the chef known for his globally inspired, plant-based dishes like kimchi dumplings while attending cooking classes, wine socials and picnic lunches.
“Kenney is a pioneer in plant-based cuisine. What you see coming from his kitchens is as much an art form as it is a new way of eating,” Pahel says. “He is championing the concept of creative eating and creative cooking—and all with health as the central theme.”
Kenney’s cuisine is just one component of the health-inspired stay. Guests can also take part in 15 different types of fitness classes from barre and HIIT to restorative yoga sessions led by the master herself, Costello, named one of the “100 Most Influential Yoga Teachers in America in 2016” by wellness site Sonima. Two massages are part of the program, and you can opt for anything from a heated amethyst quartz massage—said to cleanse and detox the lungs and give the immune system a boost—to the energy-balancing Tibetan singing bowl treatment, which uses vibrations to relax the mind and body, offering an escape from the distractions of daily life.
The goal of these slimming retreats: Recharge the body from the inside out, so weight loss becomes one of the end results thanks to the time and dedication put in through both nutrition and fitness—plus a few haute spa treatments. “We all want to feel better. We all want to live longer. These retreats are essential to slowing down in the fast-paced world we live in,” Pahel says.
Lane Nieset is Paste’s Jet-Set Bohemian columnist and a freelance writer covering all things travel from her home base in Nice, France.