In these days of doing more with less, even our vacations have to work a little harder. The solution lies with the new breed of destination spa that combines aesthetically inspiring architecture and design, transcendental surroundings, life-altering adventures, and, of course, relaxation regimens. Gone is the prissy, one-dimensional concept of hyper-luxury pampering. "What men want are results," says Lynne McNees, the president of the International Spa Association. "They want to improve muscles, get better at doing something—not just get smoother skin." And while American spas have traditionally lagged behind those of Europe and Asia in creating guy-appropriate settings and treatments, they're catching up. Which is good news, since, according to McNees' research, men are finally realizing that spas are more about stress reduction than about calf-placenta facials. "It's taken longer for American guys to figure out that spas are about lifestyle management and the need to slow the heck down," she says. "The spa gives them permission to pause."
The Amanresorts group's latest U.S. hideaway sits secreted away in Canyon Point, near the Arizona border, next to an Indian reservation. Designed to blend into the surrounding sandstone, the mesa-shaped buildings hold 34 rooms and a 25,000-square-foot spa where therapists administer Himalayan-salt scrubs, flotation therapy, and Thai massage against a backdrop of millennia-old rock formations. It's in that wilderness, says assistant GM Andrew Alkenbrack, where most men have their "game-changing experiences," enjoying via ferrata rock climbing, ATV slot-canyon explorations, and chopper flights over the Grand Canyon. "We have as much luxury as you can handle," Alkenbrack says, "but the landscape is as rugged as you'll find."
Suites from $1,000; amangiri.com
Tip: Ask the staff to hook you up with a fully tricked-out luxury houseboat for a day on Lake Powell, 15 minutes away.
CANYON RANCH, FLORIDA
Fear not the mother-daughter weekenders. Unlike the classic Arizona and Massachusetts properties (where 75 percent of guests are women), this David Rockwell-designed resort is a power spa for Miami scenesters, from South American playboys to Art Basel gallery hounds. Dive deep into wellness—the four-night men's optimal-health package comes with adrenal stress testing, nutrition analysis, and spiritual sessions with a shaman—or duck in for a road-warrior muscle melt and an Ayurvedic steam treatment between artisanal gimlets at the busy beachfront grill. (This is the only Canyon Ranch resort that serves alcohol and is open to the public.)
Suites from $525; canyonranch.com
Tip: The hot-cold Aquavana thermal suite—one of two in the U.S.—simulates an around-the-world spa experience, from a Finnish sauna to an igloo to a reflexology basin to a monsoon rain shower.
A century-old palace sits at the center of this resort, nestled among 100 acres in the lush foothills of the Himalayas. Receive seaweed body wraps, study yoga, sip banana lassis while overlooking the holy town
of Rishikesh (frequented by the Beatles), and go white-water rafting on the Ganges.
Doubles from $515; anandaspa.com
THE RANCH AT LIVE OAK, CALIFORNIA
Your regimen is set at this seven-day boot camp-cum-spa on 120 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu: You're up at 5:30 for yoga, a 10-mile hike, an afternoon of strength training, and more yoga—all on 1,500 meat-, alcohol-, and caffeine-free calories a day. But for toxin-stuffed type A's who need a full reprogramming, "giving up control is why they come," says a rep. Luckily it's not all austerity: The Ranch's tough-luxe approach includes rustic-plush guest cottages, a saltwater pool, a daily massage, and first-rate organic meals served inside a restored hacienda.
$5,600 per person; theranchmalibu.com
Tip: You'll thank yourself for taking advantage of the intense 30-day prep program that helps reset your body and mind before you arrive.
HOTEL MARQUÉS DE RISCAL, SPAIN
This second Spanish masterpiece from Frank Gehry is an undulant pile of multi-hued titanium and steel ribbons. Almost as big a draw is the spa, which offers antiaging wine- and grape-based treatments. The wine is good to drink, too, which you'll confirm while exploring the Rioja region.
Packages from $575; hotel-marquesderiscal.com
BATHHOUSE AT THE HOTEL AT MANDALAY BAY, NEVADA
Maybe it's all the dry-stack slate tiles and 90-degree angles, but this 14,000-square-foot space pulls in as many men as women (an anomaly in spadom). They drop in for the guys-only eucalyptus steam room and hot and cold plunge pools, as well as for treatments using men-specific Epicuren products, like the popular blue-corn-and-avocado manicure-pedicure. Adding to the low-key, nouveau-Vegas vibe is the fact that the Hotel at Mandalay Bay is a glitz- and gaming-free offshoot of the main hotel.
Doubles from $120; mandalaybay.com
Tip: Set up a session with a personal trainer at the gym next door, a palace of Precor machines, mats, and free weights lit like a sophisticated cocktail party.
Be grateful for the excess of 2006—because this extravagant Antonio Citterio-designed resort on a cliff top high above the Indian Ocean would likely never happen now. It was built, and furnished, with hand-cut volcanic stones; antiques scavenged from around the island decorate the 59 thatched-roof villas; and at the spa—a temple of reflecting pools, pavilions, and a rebuilt traditional Joglo house trucked in piece by piece from central Java—treatments include a $975 three-hour, head-to-toe exfoliation-and-massage bonanza for two. Also on the menu are ESPA antiaging body and face treatments, along with a battery of Balinese rubdowns employing hot stones and multiple hands.
Doubles from $260; bulgarihotels.com
Tip: Possibly the best amenity is the reef-ringed private beach, a stretch of sand unreachable except via the hotel's inclined elevator.
SAFFIRE FREYCINET, AUSTRALIA
At this undulating, ecologically pristine glass-and-timber hideout with 20 rooms on Tasmania's Freycinet Peninsula, just breathing the air may be therapy enough. But the staff further enhances the trip to the Southern Hemisphere with a massage or foot-and-scalp treatment when you arrive. Once you've settled in, let your muscles melt under hot granite stones from the nearby Hazards range, a bamboo scrub, or whatever off-menu ablutions the men's specialists prescribe. Beyond the massage table, there are oyster-slurping excursions into nearby wetlands and canoe trips through pelican molting grounds.
Suites from $1,450; saffire-freycinet.com.au
Tip: Book passage to Schouten Island on the resort's private boat to see Australian fur seals and teeming coral reefs and have a locavore beach lunch sent over by chef Hugh Whitehouse, a big deal Down Under.