We’re like a 21st-century band of gypsies,” says Erica Gragg—gypsies who love to work out and eat well all around the world. Escape to Shape, a traveling spa that Gragg runs with three partners, arranges weeklong fitness retreats in places like Mexico, Uruguay, Italy, Morocco and Colombia. Participants (no more than 17 at a time) stay in a luxe villa or boutique hotel, take yoga and Pilates classes and learn how to prepare healthy local dishes.
In Cartagena, for instance, chef Doris Esther Ayola Orozco gives hands-on lessons in Colombian cooking. As the recipes here reveal, her food is simple and terrific. Her version of ajiaco, the traditional Colombian soup, is loaded with shredded chicken, avocado, corn on the cob and potatoes; she also makes a crunchy, tangy salad with spinach and papaya.
This year, Escape to Shape added a give-back element to some of its itineraries by partnering with local charities: In Cartagena, guests can paint houses and schools in nearby shantytowns.
“Our trips are the opposite of a boot camp or a detox spa,” says Gragg. “They’re about multifaceted self-improvement.” $3,000 all-inclusive, without airfare; escapetoshape.com.