3 Spa Getaways to Help Shake the Winter Blues

Not everyone loves winter weather, but these three winter spa getaways will have even the biggest bah humbugs feeling pampered, relaxed and rejuvenated. Each spa offers seasonal treatments to help target common winter side effects such as dehydrated skin, holiday stress and aching joints, and many infuse the scents of the season too.

So whether you want to escape to the mountains for a relaxing snow-filled retreat, the coast for a wintry beach getaway, or our biggest city, Charlotte, for some urban fun to pair with your self-care, we’ve got you covered.

Enjoy the natural spoils of the Outer Banks with half the crowds

Winter makes for a wonderful time to visit the Outer Banks with friends, for a romantic rendezvous or as a solo adventure, as the emptier beaches will feel like your own private sanctuary and temperatures hover in the comfortable 50s. Beach bonfires are permitted on many of the islands, and although some shops and restaurants close for the offseason, plenty of delicious options remain open. Try Duck Donuts in Kill Devil Hills – a local phenomenon born in Duck that has taken over much of the East Coast. Of course, high-quality seafood reigns supreme in North Carolina’s barrier islands at places such as The Blue Point, with a commitment to sourcing all its seafood locally. Or the charming Roadside Bar & Grill, known for its oyster roasts, quality cocktails and fun vibe inside a cottage-esque building.

The chance to view the majestic wild horses of Corolla will certainly soothe your mind and soul in profound ways, and that will pair perfectly with the winter spa treatments at Sanderling Resort, specifically created to help you de-stress after the busy holiday season. Try the Ocean Renewal, a bamboo body scrub followed by an aromatherapy soak that also includes a face and scalp massage. Or kick off those shoes for a seasonal salt soak.

photo: Sanderling Resort

For your lodging, choose between Sanderling’s hotel rooms or vacation home rentals to fully immerse yourself in all this luxurious resort has to offer: a concierge beach experience, Adventure Planners and three on-site dining options – including what’s considered the Outer Banks’ best breakfast at the Lifesaving Station Restaurant (try the surfer’s omelet made with goat cheese and lime creme, or pecan waffles with maple butter). Or try your hand at winter camping for the ultimate de-stresser at Cape Hatteras/Outer Banks KOA Resort – cabins optional – or Kitty Hawk RV Park and pick up fresh, locally caught goodies at one of Duck’s many local seafood markets.

Pair an award-winning spa experience with Charlotte's nightlife

Sometimes what you need to feel rejuvenated is a day of pampering at a fabulous spa coupled with a fun night out on the town, so indulge in the winter spa treatments available at The Spa at Ballantyne Charlotte. Embrace the scents of the season with the EnchantMint mani, pedi, massage or full body exfoliation – unless you feel like splurging on one of the signature treatments such as the Carolina Lavender massage or body wrap.

The Spa at Ballantyne

After your revitalizing treatment, get expert assistance with a shampoo and blowout at the spa. Once you’ve beautified, it’s time to hit the town, and a progressive dinner through the Queen City will surely make your heart (and taste buds) sing. Start with bar bites – crab cakes, a meat and cheese board, or truffle fries – at The Ballantyne’s Gallery Bar alongside the daily selected whiskey flights chosen from an impressive collection of more than 200 whiskeys. Then belly up at Foxcroft Wine Co., a relaxed wine bar where menu items range from mixed nuts to juicy burgers to short ribs. Wrap up your tasting tour of Charlotte’s Ballantyne neighborhood at Hazelnuts Creperie for dessert crepes, or go to Zinicola for espresso and authentic Italian desserts like chocolate panna cotta or vanilla-filled cannolis.

During your jaunt through Charlotte, clear some time to brewery or bar hop through Uptown, South End or NoDa, or peruse the calendar at AvidXchange Music Factory, a huge entertainment complex with a variety of acts performing simultaneously each week. Need to stop and smell the roses a bit more to complement your spa day? Visit Rosie's Coffee and Wine Garden, take a walking tour in the historic Fourth Ward or admire Charlotte’s legendary urban tree canopy as you stroll through Freedom Park.

Additionally, other Charlotte options for spa getaways include the Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte and the Grand Bohemian Hotel Charlotte.

Find upscale elegance and pampering in Highlands

For the ultimate mountain getaway that will certainly soothe whatever ails you, head to the Highlands and Cashiers area, nestled within the Appalachian Mountains and Nantahala National Forest. You’ve probably heard by now how powerful forest bathing can be – with doctors even prescribing time in nature to frazzled patients – so hit one of the area's hiking trails like Whiteside Mountain, Sunset Rock and Satulah Mountain, or hope for frozen waterfalls when you seek out Dry Falls, Bridal Veil and Glen Falls trails.

Lake Glenville offers another way to submerge yourself in the natural beauty of Western North Carolina. Paddle, fish or walk along the shore when you’ll have much of the water to yourself. Between your outdoor fun, be sure to enjoy a meal at Wild Thyme Gourmet to nibble on warm brie served with maple syrup, luscious lump crab fillo purses, or shrimp and tasso linguine. Plenty of warm, savory sandwiches are available for lunch, too, along with a huge wine list. Enjoy hitting the slopes to escape your day to day? Sapphire Valley Ski Area sits just under a half-hour northeast of Highlands.

But you’re really visiting Highlands for the luxurious stay at Old Edwards Inn and Spa. This magical 4-star destination, named a world’s best resort hotel by Travel + Leisure, features several "Stay & Spa" packages. The Romantic Mountain Escape includes all of Old Edwards' offerings in a two-night package: a three-course dinner for two at any Old Edwards food outlet, two $100 spa credits, sparkling wine and strawberries, plus all the exceptional amenities the spa is known for. Then the Winter Slip Away and Save includes two nights in deluxe accommodations, a three-course dinner for two at any Old Edwards food outlets and two 50-minute spa treatments.

The Lodge at Old Edwards Inn and Spa

If you'd rather make The Spa at Old Edwards just an afternoon stop, you can find accommodations at other unique hotel options like the dog-themed Park on Main or Old Edwards' motel-chic sister location, 200 Main Hotel.

Updated January 11, 2024
About the Author
Shawndra Russell

Shawndra Russell

Shawndra Russell, a travel writer and novelist based in Asheville, loves North Carolina for its craft beer and abundance of outdoor adventures. She's written for Forbes Travel Guide, BeerAdvocate and Travel + Leisure.

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