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The Difference Between Wellness Retreats, Spas, and Weight Loss Resorts

Considering which retreat to visit for your next vacation can be overwhelming. Each retreat has its own unique philosophy around which your meals, activities, and accommodations will be structured. There’s a lot riding on your decision. Retreats are designed for various types of clientele. Each has a different goal and purpose, and each has its own set of pros and cons.

In this article, we’ll discuss the difference between wellness retreats, spas, and weight loss resorts, so you’ll feel comfortable and confident in making the right decision.

Wellness Retreat

A wellness retreat is usually structured around providing you with a relaxing holiday. Comfort and stress-relief are top priorities, so most wellness retreats are conducted at beautiful locations with upscale accommodations.

PROS: Wellness retreats often emphasize relaxation, introspection and personal care. They provide you with the opportunity to unplug, unwind and rest.

CONS: These retreats are usually not focused on delivering any tangible results or lasting lifestyle changes.


A trip to the spa might be the ultimate in luxury and relaxation. Regarding physical health, spas usually offer massage, sauna access, aromatherapy, and meditation. Personal beauty and pampering also figure in prominently, with aesthetic services like facials, manicures, and depilatory waxing. Most day spas fit into this category.

PROS: Providing yourself with a beauty boost can improve your mood and soothe your spirit. It’s a great short-term getaway and can be a fun bonding experience for friends.

CONS: With a narrow focus on aesthetics, spas provide no emphasis on health, exercise, or diet. As a result, you might look great, but you’ll be left with no lasting wellness changes.

Weight Loss Resort

On the other end of the spectrum, weight loss resorts focus entirely on delivering results. The primary goal of a weight loss resort is for you to experience tangible weight loss during your stay. In the quest to deliver results fast, programs at a weight loss resort are centered primarily around monitoring the scale.

PROS: During your stay at a weight loss resort, you’ll likely see a change in the form of immediate weight loss.

CONS: A brutal, boot camp style approach to weight loss might deliver results, but the curriculum neglects to focus on the role that your mental and emotional well-being play in your overall wellness, and might not chart a course for sustained weight loss.

The Best of All Worlds: Integrated Retreats

We recommend that you visit a retreat that combines the best aspects of the above and leaves behind the rest. At VeraVia, we emphasize an integrated approach that focuses on goal-setting and realistic expectations, with an eye toward long-lasting results.

Integrated retreats go beyond quick fixes and basic information to offer tools that help you shift your perspective. At an integrated wellness retreat, you’ll learn about the importance of the intertwining importance of diet, exercise, and mental and emotional wellbeing to achieve true personal transformation. Comfortable accommodations, inspiring activities, and delicious food–along with medical, fitness and nutrition expertise–will guide you toward tangible outcomes in a healthy and sustainable manner.

Before deciding on the retreat that is right for you, take the time to closely research the retreat philosophy. Some retreats have a singularly specific focus – these tend to be smaller and narrow in their scope. Evaluate whether or not the retreat will be able to live up to your expectations and desires. Consider registering for a retreat with an all-inclusive, holistic approach that can set you on the path toward lasting change in a manner that is comfortable, inspiring and achievable.

Questions about our wellness retreat? Contact us to get your questions answered.

Learn how to nourish your body.

True wellness requires taking a holistic look at your overall health and paying attention to the vital role that nutrition plays. This guide is packed with expert tips on:

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Arlene Sandoval

Assistant Guest Experience Coordinator

Arlene Sandoval is a San Diego native with over fifteen years of professional
experience working alongside C-level executives in major corporations in the San Diego
area. Arlene was mentored and trained by top-level executives at two major Fortune
500 companies. She was offered an executive-level position when she was twenty-five,
making her the youngest person offered the International Executive Communications
Position. By twenty-eight, Arlene felt pulled toward the non-profit sector and became
Chief Operation Officer of an International non-profit with a focus on social justice
reform and media; helping to build communities of hope in war-torn countries. Arlene
helped restructure, create, and manage a multi-million dollar budget. She created new
policies and procedures to help the corporation comply with California 501(c)3 non-profit
laws and regulations. During this time she gained invaluable knowledge in the private
and public sectors.