Forget sipping cocktails on the beach. How about spending your vacation at a weight loss retreat, sweating off your excess pounds? If that sounds dreadful, you might want to reconsider: these days, weight-loss spas and resorts aren’t the torturous “fat farms” of yesteryear, touting celery-only diets and grueling workouts. Many weight loss centers rival five-star hotels in amenities, and their holistic approaches to weight loss target guests’ emotional well-being as much as their physical health.
Weight loss is also made easier with social support. Research shows that a major key to sticking with any weight-loss goal is soliciting outside help, either through a coach, a friend or even fellow dieters. “People enjoy the mutual support they receive from working in a group setting here,” says Dr. Ronald Sha, interim executive director at the Duke University Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, N.C.
The Duke center and most other weight loss spas offer weekend and extended stays for groups and individuals — but it’ll cost you. Visits can range anywhere from $550 a night to upwards of $8,000 for longer reservations.
Are the programs worth the price tag? It depends. “To really create sustained weight loss and behavioral change, it’s going to take a long time,” says Dr. Timothy Church, director of preventive medicine at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, who is unaffiliated with any weight-loss programs. “People who are looking for an immediate solution are going to be let down. But if you’re going in to kickstart your health and learn skills to continue when you leave, then this can really resonate.”
So, as long as you’re not looking for a quick fix, a weekend weight-loss getaway could help put you on the right track. Can’t foot the bill? Some of the leading spas in the U.S. shared their secrets with us free of charge.