Virginia is a wellspring of things to see and do, and itineraries for groups often include the commonwealth’s heritage trails and historic sites, culinary experiences, small-town surprises, and creative arts. But Virginia is also a wellspring for wellness, according to Joni Johnson, CTP, director of domestic sales and marketing for the Virginia Tourism Corporation.
“Wellness travel is increasing globally, especially since we emerged from the pandemic, and Virginia offers many opportunities for groups to add wellness activities to their itineraries or to enjoy a wellness-focused tour,” she says. “Groups tend to spend a couple of days to up to a week at Virginia resorts and retreat centers.”
Wellness tourism incorporates a mindful mixture of fitness, nutrition, relaxation, and cosmetic treatments, and tour operators can give their groups plenty of activities in gorgeous settings at the commonwealth’s resorts.
“Staying at a Virginia resort offers a comfortable and luxurious basecamp for travelers to customize their wellness experience, choosing from a wide range of spa, outdoor, and relaxing options,” Johnson says. Here are five resorts to consider:
The Tides Inn, situated on a private peninsula and surrounded by the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia’s Northern Neck region, offers 66 guest rooms, four luxury suites, and meeting space on a property with gardens, a beach, and a walkable shoreline. Guests also enjoy exclusive access to the marina, a full-service spa, fitness equipment, Golden Eagle Golf Course, and a sailing school. For a taste of the coast, you can learn the art of making a Lancaster Lemonade or how to shuck oysters like a pro.
Located in Hot Springs, The Omni Homestead Resort has been visited by 23 U.S. presidents, including Thomas Jefferson’s 1818 dip into the destination’s signature mineral waters. Along with 483 guest rooms and suites, the 2,300-acre property houses two golf courses, seven restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools, a luxury spa and salon, and a fitness center. Set to open in late 2022, the Warm Springs Pools (formerly the Jefferson Pools) are a careful restoration of the oldest spa structures in the United States.
Primland Resort is a 12,000-acre estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains with trails for mountain bikes, horses, all-terrain vehicles—and human feet—along with golf, lawn games, and a fully equipped observatory. Accommodations include lodge rooms and suites, cottages that can accommodate up to 12 people, treehouses perched above the Dan River Gorge, and 11 mountain homes that house from two to 22 guests. Wellness experiences include a spa, indoor pool and hot tub, a gym, meditation sessions, and yoga.
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Two resorts located less than an hour from Washington Dulles International Airport are Lansdowne Resort and Salamander Resort and Spa. Lansdowne, just outside of Leesburg and overlooking the Potomac River, offers golf, spa treatments, and a weekend wellness escape: a two-night stay with two massage sessions, group fitness instruction, in-room foot soaks, and unhindered exploration of the 450-plus-acre grounds. Salamander Resort, outside of Middleburg, rests at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains amid Virginia’s horse and wine country. The nature-inspired spa offers an array of treatments and massages. Outdoor options include a full equestrian center, pool, archery, ax throwing, and nearby golf, zip lines, river floats, and wineries.
Though they might have much in common with resorts, Virginia’s retreat centers also can provide services for specific goals. “Groups visiting a retreat center tend to come for a particular program, such as mindfulness, spiritual awareness, de-stressing, or healthy cuisine and fitness,” Johnson says.
Virginia Beach has been a hub of holistic health since 1928, when Edgar Cayce established a hospital where patients received psychic readings and tapped into their innate healing abilities. Today, Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. Health Center & Spa capitalizes on many of Cayce’s concepts.
“Groups can visit the world headquarters of Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E and learn why he was known as the ‘Father of Holistic Medicine,’” says Jim Coggin of NTA-member Virginia Beach CVB. “Groups can also take a workshop to learn the hidden meaning of dreams.”
“Unlocking the Mystery of Your Dreams” is part of a three-day retreat, the “Body, Mind & Spirit Experience,” which also includes a bike ride along the oceanfront, a morning at the beach, and a half-day spa package.
Virginia has other centers that groups can visit to heal, relax, and gain insight. They include the Sevenoaks Retreat Center, founded in 1972 near Madison as a nature sanctuary to support deep spiritual work; the Anahata Education Center, near Floyd, which also is nature sanctuary and offers unique group retreats; and Eupepsia Wellness Resort, located near Bland as a destination for group and corporate retreats, meetings, and team building. These retreat centers all offer an array of spa treatments, wellness exercises, and self-healing techniques.
A 2022 global study by Delaware North predicts that wellness tourism will, in the next 20 years, grow at twice the rate of tourism overall. It’s certainly thriving in Virginia, and Johnson says more than 10 percent of overnight travelers stay at resort hotels, and a significant number visit spas.
Johnson expects to see an increase in awareness and interest in Virginia’s wellness activities, and if you’d like to be part of that trend, you can contact her by email or call 804.545.5544.
Top photo: Eupepsia Wellness Center
Photo by Mahmoud Hassan