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Spa Sleuth: Learning to Live Better

Combining a vacation with lifestyle learning is a top trend at spas worldwide. In addition, if you are seeking new information that your doctors have not been able to provide, a health retreat might just be the ticket.

Minutes from Palm Beach resorts, vegetarianism is alive and well on the tropical campus of Hippocrates Health Institute. Going green sounds easy. But after a week, I craved seafood and steak. Perhaps the full three-week Hippocrates Health Encounter is necessary to complete the full transformation from carnivore to vegan.

Wheatgrass juice, sprouts, and salads detox more than your body. Lifestyle change motivates newcomers at the institute to adopt new diets that provide both energy and antioxidants from raw food. Some classmates that I met were facing serious disease or recuperating from chemotherapy. Finding this supportive environment and the camaraderie of a like-minded group helps overcome fear of change.

Changing attitudes about exercise and diet is basic to the curriculum developed by Hippocrates Institute directors Brian and Anna Marie Clement. Passionate about the benefits of eating raw foods, they document detrimental effects of consuming meat, fish, and dairy products. The daily buffet of uncooked, fresh greens is surprisingly filling. And a gentle colonic cleansing comes with the program, so you'll leave feeling lighter.

Balancing the daily schedule of lectures are exercise classes, nature walks, and optional spa treatments. Tai Chi, Chi Gong, NIA, and yoga are also scheduled. The facilities are modest and rarely crowded as attendance is not mandatory once you complete a health check and 'Internal Awareness' discussion. Looking at live blood cells drawn from me, Anna Maria, a naturopathic doctor, suggested supplements to boost my immune system. Her comments were verified by the staff medical director in a follow-up consultation. At the therapy center, I experienced the H-Wave machine that beams electronic impulses to aching muscles and bones, a powerful tool for pain management. A variety of massages, wraps, and facials can be booked a la carte; the best was a two-hour Thai massage by Bohi, a Brazilian-born therapist who works on the floor of a canvas yurt.

Brian Clement, the charismatic force driving the Hippocrates Institute's development for twenty years, plans to expand the forty-acre campus with a village of private residences where alumni can enjoy access to services and meals as well as the spa pools. Accommodations now range from sparsely furnished cottages with modern baths to four-bed dorm rooms for budget-minded singles.

The mix of thirty people enrolled for the three-week course ranged from youthful couples and mothers with babies to seniors and individuals in wheelchairs. Clement delivers challenging facts about America's healthcare system and how to take control of your health. Impeccably dressed in a business suit, he lectures in a palm-covered hut that is the essence of natural living. "It has become common to wait until illness strikes to think about change", he says. "Give yourself the gift of vitality by making improvements now."

For more information on the three-week Hippocrates Health Encounter and one-week or day spa packages, call (800) 842-2125 or visit

Living the Spa Lifestyle

Want to live the spa lifestyle full-time? Buying a residence at a spa resort can be an investment in health as well as active retirement. Jamaica's new spa village at Goldeneye will feature the first authentic French thalassotherapy center in the Americas. Developed by Thalgo Spa Management, the Caribbean seawater spa was designed for Chris Blackwell's Island Outpost group. Goldeneye, the legendary home of James Bond, offers private beach villas and spa cottages and is scheduled to open at the end of 007. (Island Outpost)

Colorado and Mexico will harbor the next ayurvedic centers developed by Dr. Deepak Chopra. He announced plans to build a 17,000-square-foot Rocky Mountain Chopra Center & Spa near Denver, a $40 million residential and retail development. On the Pacific coast of Baja California, Chopra's spa at the posh Punta Mita resort is part of Porta Fortuna. Both are scheduled to open next year. (Chopra)

Golden Door Cottages will add luster to Florida's Boca Raton Resort & Club, which features a lavish Spa Palazzo. (Boca Resort)

Canyon Ranch Living opens on Miami Beach at the end of this year, with three towers of condominiums surrounding the Canyon Ranch SpaClub. (Canyon Ranch)

Canada's western provinces now boast medical spas staffed by lifestyle counselors from Dr. Wendy Smeltzer's Institut de Sante in Calgary, Alberta; branches open this summer at Spirit Ridge Resort in the Okanagan Valley wine country of British Columbia, and at Bear Mountain golf resort on Vancouver Island. (Dr. Wendy Smeltzer).

By Bernard Burt

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