Trips to a day spa are affordable, pampering mini-breaks — especially with deals and specials available on Groupon.com or LivingSocial.com. But wouldn't it be wonderful to have an affordable, pampering, full-on spa break? Several American spas let you do just that. Here are five of them.
1. New Life Hiking Spa, Inn of the Six Mountains, Vermont
Set in Killington, amid central Vermont's rolling Green Mountains, the New Life Hiking Spa is consistently rated one of America's best affordable spas. It relies on the "mountains, clean air and lush greenery" to calm and relax you. Start your days here with a hike through a nearby forest, past local farms and maybe up to the state's highest peaks. You and other guests will choose from three levels of trail length and difficulty and then head out in small groups. Spa chefs source their ingredients from local farms and offer evening cooking classes. Nightly rates (starting at about $220 a night per person in a double) include a massage or facial for every three nights booked. Note that the spa is closed October to mid-May.
2. The Oaks in Ojai, California
The fertile Ojai Valley lies 12 miles inland from the beaches of Ventura, just 90 minutes north of Los Angeles, and is famed for its sweet Pixie tangerines and mystical pink sunsets. The Oaks at Ojai Spa and Resort is in a historical hotel along the main road through town, a vibrant arts and agricultural community that hosts wine and music festivals in summer. Nightly rates start at about $240 (per person in a double with a two-night minimum) and include spa cuisine and access to fitness classes, pools, saunas and hot tubs. Hour-long massages in the affordable spa start at $80. Off-site activities include hikes through Los Padres National Forest; visits to local citrus, olive and lavender farms; Sunday mornings at the farmers market; and browsing in artists' studios and shops.
3. Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa, New Mexico
The warm waters of the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs, an hour northwest of Santa Fe, contain four naturally occurring minerals — iron, soda, lithia and arsenic — each thought to ease digestive, skin or immune-system disorders. A mud pool, for a full-body skin detox, is also open year-round. Access to the springs is through the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa, where day use of the hot-spring pools, steam room, sauna and mud bath is only $18 Monday to Thursday, $28 Friday to Sunday. To save even more money, take a dip after sunset, when prices drop to $14 and $24. Hotel rates include daily access to the springs and start at around $140 per standard double room. Activities include hiking, mountain biking and yoga (in a yurt, no less).
4. Hot Springs State Park, Thermopolis, Wyoming
In 1896, the Shoshone people sold the land that is now Wyoming's Hot Springs State Park to the federal government. One of Chief Washakie's conditions was that the soothing waters be forever free of charge, making this a rare no-cost opportunity to enjoy a natural spa treatment. The public park has indoor and outdoor bathing pools, though soak time is limited to 20 minutes a person every two hours. While waiting for your next session, you can walk over the Bighorn River on a suspension bridge and stroll among the hot-spring terraces. For an affordable spa and resort-like experience, check into the Thermopolis Days Inn. It's not your typical no-frills roadside motel: This Days Inn is within the park and has pools and saunas fed by local hot springs. Weekend packages start at about $220 for two nights for two people. The Fountain of Youth RV Park has three of its own thermal pools — and rates of about $35 for two people per RV.
5. Heartland Spa, Gilman, Illinois
The Heartland Spa offers all-inclusive and affordable spa getaways in Gilman, about 90 miles south of Chicago. Set on 32 acres of former dairy farmland and accommodating only 32 guests, the Heartland is a low-key countryside retreat. This is the classic destination spa experience, with three spa cuisine meals a day and a packed roster of exercise classes, motivational speakers and workshops throughout the year. To really get into the Heartland spirit, a stay here gets you comfy workout clothes — sweats, shirts and shorts — to wear while on retreat. The full spa menu offers massage and energy work, as well as nutrition and diet counseling. A two-night weekend stay starts at $670 per person in a double, including spa credits.
For more ideas, visit Spafinder.com, which lists destination and day spas around the world.