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Fitness and Health Vacations You’ll Want to Do in 2016

If you thought you’d see it all with pot-themed bed and breakfasts and spa snow rooms, take a look at what some hotels have planned for the year to come.

Sound Bathing

Hotels are taking meditation to a whole new level with “sound bathing,” a type of therapy where you zone out listening to chimes, gongs, chanting, and musical bowls. At Rancho La Puerta, in Tecate, Mexico, guests relax while floating in a bath of sound flowing from crystal bowls. The theory is that these noises and vibrations affect brain wave activity, causing the release of powerful neurohormones, or brain chemicals that suppress pain, heighten the immune system, and produce deep relaxation. Other hotels like the Standard Hotel in Miami and the spa at the Stowe Mountain Lodge in Vermont offer similar treatments.

LED Light Therapy

Long a mainstream therapy for European spas and hotels (it’s also a non-drug treatment for seasonal affective disorder) this feature is making its way over to North America. The Palms Turks & Caicos recently unveiled a Bath Room, which features a deep soaking tub with LED lighting that rhythmically dances along with soothing music. The wellness hotel chain Even Hotels offers colored LED mood lighting by your bedside or built-in to the head board to help set mood—you can turn to lights to blue, green and lavender hues to help calm you down, or switch to red to help wake you up and inspire activity.

Hotel Rooms That Double as Gyms

Even Hotels has recently opened three hotels in Maryland, Connecticut, and N.Y.C. that boast “in room training zones” that contain foam rollers, yoga mats, yoga blocks, core exercise balls, resistance bands, an in-room training guide illustrating different exercises, and fitness videos. The company plans to expand with six more hotels across the country, including Brooklyn, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Omaha, Miami, and Eugene, Oregon. Hotels like Kimpton’s Surfcomber in South Beach or Epic Hotel in Miami have yoga mats and blocks in each room and will even send fitness equipment like hula hoops and exercise balls to guests’ rooms upon request. If you’re really looking to take it up a notch, the White Lotus Suite at The Ritz Carlton, Buckhead in Atlanta boasts its own private spin bike.

Moon and Earth Therapies

Some hotels are jumping on the mooning bandwagon, offering treatments based around the phases of the moon in an effort to get guests to tap into the celestial body’s so-called healing energy. Moon Healing Therapy is offered at the Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort, where guests undergo holistic treatments using quartz and crystals under the full Los Cabos moon, as well as just garden variety massages. Hotels like the Auriga Spa at Capella Marigot Bay in St. Lucia offer spa treatments that are specifically tailored to specific phases of the moon (new, waxing, full, and waning). On the flip side, resorts like L’Auberge in Sedona are practicing “earthing,” the idea that you can walk barefoot in nature to reduce stress, improve sleep, and reduce harmful effects of electromagnetic devices like your iPad.

Helipad Yoga

This summer, the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles launched helipad yoga, where top celebrity yoga instructors like Rainbeau Mars lead “yoga in the sky” classes on the hotel’s panoramic rooftop helicopter pad. Devotees can do their downward facing dog moves while enjoying a bird’s eye view of everything from the legendary Hollywood sign to the city skyline. If you’re not visiting the West Coast, don’t despise: This trend is sweeping the country nationwide. Other hotels that offer this rooftop amenity include James Hotel in N.Y.C. and Hotel Lincoln in Chicago.

Forest Bathing

Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing has exploded across the country, including Mayflower Grace in Connecticut, Woodloch Lodge in the Pocono Mountains, and Blackberry Farm in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains. “You’re going to start seeing tourism boards marketing states as having forests with deep healing powers,” predicts Mia Kyricos, Chief Brand Officer of Spafinder Wellness, Inc. This Japanese concept—which revolves around quietly walking in nature with your mind focused on sounds, scents, colors, and feels—has plenty of research to back it up, including studies to show breathing in fresh forest air lowers blood pressure, stress hormone levels, and boosts immunity.

Power Sleep Treatments

Ever mindful of overstressed, pressed-for-time guests, hotels are offering new signature therapies touted to make up for lost sleep in a minimal amount of time. At the Miami Beach Edition Hotel, a treatment called the “Power Nap” uses micro-current technology to supposedly simulate four hours of sleep in 20 minutes. (The idea is it encourages your brain to go into “deep sleep mode.”) At the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess’ Well & Being Spa in Arizona, guests can take a snooze in the So Sound Acoustic Resonance Room, a lavender-scented room where specially-designed loungers create a cocoon of soothing sounds to encourage a 20- to 30-minute nap. And across the pond, at London’s Intercontinental London Park Lane Hotel, the spa offers a 20 minutes slumber treatment on a dry flotation therapy bed to give you a quick pick-me-up if you’re suffering from jet lag.

Gut Therapy

Fueled by the latest research on the microbiome (the wide array of bacteria that lives in our bellies) spas are offering ways to alter its make-up and as a result make our guts healthier and happier than ever. “There’s been a lot of research now linking gut bacteria to how we look and feel, and even our immune function,” explains Kyricos. Spas that are in on this trend include Canyon Ranch, the Kripali Center for Yoga and Health, and the F.X. Mayr Health Center in Austria.

Make-Your-Own Spa Experiences

Recognizing that most vacationers are pressed for time (even when they venture to a relaxing spa), more and more hotels are allowing you to design your own spa treatments yourself, rather than just picking from a menu. Next month, the spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples is rolling out its Time is the Essence body service where you actually meet with a therapist for a health consultation, figure out what your concerns are (fatigue, back pain, stress relief, bloating), and then select treatments (anything from a hot stone massage to an aromatherapy facial to chakra balancing) specifically tailored to each issue. The Spa at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas offers the Hourglass Treatment, where you select facial and body treatments custom designed to meet your specific needs, while the spa at the J.W. Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa offers the therapeutic Holistic Massage—you and the massage therapist decide what your specific needs are and come up with a plan that includes various massages from deep tissue to Swedish and more. The Petite Spa at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington D.C. allows you to customize your facial by picking your own herbs from the hotel’s gardens.

—Hallie Levine

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This article was originally published by Yahoo! Travel under the headline Fitness and Health Vacations You’ll Want to Do in 2016. It is reprinted here with permission.

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