Caribbean Spas: Beyond the Massage

Escape to Shape, Colombia
By Abbie Kozolchyk

Escape to Shape, Colombia
"You can go and exercise anywhere, but you don't want to feel like you went away just to exercise," says Escape to Shape program cofounder Erica Gragg. "You want to feel immersed in your surroundings, too." So now that her itinerant, six-night wellness program is based in Cartagena for four months of the year, its core activities of cardiovascular exercise, yoga, body sculpting and massage are supplemented with power walks on centuries-old city walls, Colombian cooking demonstrations and classes in cumbia, the national dance.

The cuisine on the program is limited to 1,500 calories a day from organic produce, lean protein and whole grains, but there's plenty of local flavor, from patacones (fried bananas) to passion-fruit mousse and tamarind pudding. Guests dine poolside at 10-bedroom Casa Estrella, a gorgeous colonial-style residence that allows front-door access to Cartagena's famed old city.

Wandering is highly encouraged, and whether you go for an early morning run with the ramparts to your left and the Caribbean to your right, or a post-siesta stroll through the narrow, bougainvillea-filled streets, Gragg hopes you'll return revitalized — liberated by "that sultry, festive, layer-shedding feel that makes people beautifully comfortable in their bodies."

$3,000 per person year-round, including all meals and activities. 415-299-7038

Published: 13 Apr 2009 | Last Updated: 1 Apr 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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