When it comes to fitness, exercise is only half the equation. Recovery from said activity is just as critical—and it’s finally getting a spotlight in the wellness world. “Historically, recovery was an afterthought,” says wellness advisor Kerry Bray, who runs her own yoga and meditation retreats. Slowly but surely, the conversation’s changing, and the past five years have seen a boom in recovery treatments offered at spas. “Today, people are diving deeper into their health and wellness, and including recovery as a critical part of their routines.”
Recovery and cardio have always gone hand in hand: Exercise causes tears in muscles, and during rest and recovery, the muscles build back and become stronger. Forgoing this phase can lead to over-training—a mistake that sparks injuries and fatigue. Rest and recovery don’t call for becoming a couch potato, though, and there’s more to it than simple stretching and massage. (That said, listen to your body: If you crave couch time, take it.) Experts say the R&R period can include mild exercise with a different movement pattern than your go-to cardio, such as light weight lifting or yoga for runners and swimming or barre for frequent cyclers.
Increasingly, hotels have made it easy to stick with workout and rest plans on the road. Resort spas and gyms around the world now offer an array of recovery experiences: compression boots, guided stretching, percussion massage devices and trigger-point massages. Mental care, such as visualization and meditation, is also on offer and equally important. Here are four hotels leading the way in recovery offerings, from guided stretching to sports massage.
Fairmont Century Plaza
The Fairmont Century Plaza built recovery into the experience when it unveiled its new spa in 2021. One of the most innovative options helps guests unwind in NASA-inspired antigravity chairs while compression boots aid circulation, an infrared mat alleviates chronic pain, and an LED face visor facilitates blood flow while generating collagen and improving metabolism. In addition to its spa experiences, the getaway also runs a stretch and recovery zone in its fitness center with handheld percussion massage devices, ensuring that travelers can get their steps in, then recover, just like they would back at home.
Enthusiasts rave about the inflammation-reducing properties of cold plunges, but they’re hardly a fad. Cold dips have been part of Swedish culture for millennia. At Arctic Bath, a resort in Swedish Lapland, travelers can unwind in a pine forest while enjoying this tradition firsthand. The spa experience includes Jacuzzis and a cold pool. In addition to the traditional hot/cold experience, Arctic Bath offers deep-tissue massage and yoga to counterbalance the adventures on-site, which range from expedition skiing to snowshoeing.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
In 2023, fitness-centric brand Siro will debut in Dubai offering extensive programming. Experiences check off nearly every wellness box: nutrition, fitness, sleep, mindfulness and recovery. For the latter, Siro runs its innovative Recovery Lab with cutting-edge technologies such as cryotherapy, infrared and oxygen therapy, physiotherapy, acupuncture and assisted stretching. Mindfulness coaches aid guests with everything from breath work to visualization, ensuring that travelers not only get the rejuvenation they’ve come for, but also return home with new fitness and recovery tricks.
La Quinta Resort & Club
Stretching is a core component of any fitness recovery program, and for that, La Quinta Resort & Club has an answer: fascial stretch therapy. The 60-minute sessions incorporate undulating movements and guided breath work to ease the connective tissue around muscles, bones, nerves and organs, resulting in relaxation and healing. The property also runs a stretch and roll fitness class to teach recovery best practices, with in-room rentals so guests can rent percussion tools to use at their leisure.