Yup, after my recent visit, I can see why Hilton Head Health was voted “America’s #1 Weight Loss, Health, and Wellness Resort of 2019” by USA Today. H3 (as it is affectionately referred to by its guests) also scored “Best for Weight Loss” 7 Years in a Row by SpaFinder Wellness.
Even though I was there only for a much-too-short reboot (their four-day, all-inclusive Healthy Getaway Program. They also offer a 7+ day JumpStart Program or the let’ s-get-serious, life-changing 28+ day LoseWell Program) I left feeling soooooo much healthier, relaxed, equipped with some newfound exercise and dietary strategies to put into play.
Food, Glorious Food!
I’m sure there are many different reasons why H3 has racked up numerous awards over their 40 years in business, but for me it was their freakin’ fabulous food! First off, no buffets here, which is usually the case in most spa resorts.
Instead, upon entering True, the bright welcoming dining room, you are cheerily greeted by the wait staff who hand you an enticing à la carte menu as well as an alternative plant-based one.
The menu offered many enticing ethnic choices ranging from a veggie-laden pad thai, jerk chicken sammie, spring rolls, and a yummy seared Ahi tuna sushi bowl.
True’s tag line reads: “True Food is local, flavorful and wholesome. True to nature. True to you.” Which is all so true, but since they are too humble too brag I would add: their food was also TRULY scrumptious, beautifully plated, and totally satisfying.
Since I normally chow down like a truck driver, I was amazed that I never suffered any hunger pains even though I was following the low end of Hilton Head Health’s suggested program calorie range: 1200-1600 calories a day. This included three meals a day plus a morning and afternoon snack, aka Fit Bites. Fit Bites are adorable, little individually wrapped cups of fresh fruit and veggies and dips were all about in the 25-50 calorie range. The berries with a mini side of yogurt were a welcome treat.
Inside Tip: Thankfully, they offer wine at dinner, available by the glass or bottle, which I highly recommend since they will store for you. You are allowed two, 100-calorie sized glasses of wine each night, no matter how much you beg, or even try to bribe them-which as a California girl who likes her ½ bottle of wine each night I actually attempted, to no avail. The good news is that after the first night, I just appreciatively sipped my wine a little slower. At this rate, the bottle lasted me three nights, which became one of my relatively painless resolutions to take home with me.
They also get bonus points for their automatic coffee maker which, at the push of a button, delivers rich, frothy cappuccinos for only 30 calories.
Fitness can be Fun
With over 50 exercise classes to choose from, there is something for every fitness level, emphasizing flexibility, strength and cardio fitness. Many, from Aqua Boxing to Yoga on the Beach, are held outdoors, taking full advantage of the stunning island setting.
The caring, upbeat instructors manage to make even dreaded sit-ups fun, although this is definitely the place to try something new. Although I’m no stranger to treadmills, after taking their Dynamic Treading class, I learned techniques for a much more effective workout. Cardio boxing was a blast and released all my pent-up frustrations.
Although, as a non-bendy person who has flunked more yoga classes than you can count, in the Gentle Yoga class, I actually managed to do a credible “Down Puppy”!
I followed this with a Hip Mobility Stretch class (taught by Ty-a perennial favorite) that magically released tension in my lower back I’ve had for years. I swear I stood an inch taller after this one.
Other fun-sounding classes that I didn’t have a chance to try are:
Salsa dancing, Self-Defense and Martial Arts Skills taught by Paul, a 2nd Degree Black Belt, Country Line Dancing, and Yoga Nidra, which I’ve never heard of before but since it translates to “Yoga Sleep,” it’s right up my alley.
Inside Tip: From Pilates to any ab class you’re always told to “engage your core” which always sounded a bit abstract to me. Ty suggested the best way to do this is to cough and then hold your abs in that position.
They also feature a variety of helpful wellness lectures, to provide you with the necessary tools to maintain the new diet and exercise habits you learned during your stay. Popular topics include “Healing Body Image” to “Staying on Track.”
A treat for all your senses, you soon learn that The award-winning Indigo Spa is a (most welcome) integral part of H3 holistic experience. While many others struggle with self-nurturing, I rule when it comes to pampering, and Indigo has this down to a science.
Go early for your treatment so you can unwind a bit in their seductive, serene, relaxation room overlooking a beautiful oak-shaded lagoon, home to grey herons, white egrets, and the occasional gator. Stay after for a shower at the spa to take advantage of the vast array of products available in the women’s locker room. I loved being able to try big dollops of luxury shampoos, bath salts, body oils, and facial balms from top cosmetic lines such as Red Flower, Eminence, Jane Iredale and Living Proof, rather then those measly little sample packets they hand out at retail store counters.
Inside Tip: Word is that the best esthetician for facials is Mercedes while Karen’s life-changing Thai massages are nothing short of miraculous. Whenever my energy was flagging I promised myself that if I finished three Butts & Guts classes (super effective, tummy tightening, killer glute and core exercises) I would treat myself to a massage–which proved to be twice as rewarding as indulging in a hot-fudge sundae!
Hilton Head Health is conveniently located inside Shipyard Plantation, a scenic 800 acre gated community filled with miles of attractive pedestrian paths lined with moss-draped oak trees and tropical palms.
H3 does not have a central hotel; rather guest accommodations are provided by 2 or 3-bedroom cottages sprinkled around the property. Some are quite a long walk from the “main campus” so you might want to call and ask about this when you are making reservations. Since many of the condos are privately owned, they are all uniquely furnished.
I have to say that mine was rather charmless, although it was clean, roomy and very quiet, with an adequately furnished kitchen, in case I wanted to try out any of my newly acquired healthy cooking skills.
HILTON HEAD HEALTH
Weight Loss Spa And Health Resort
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina 29928
For more information and to find out about special offers check their website.
Janice could be the love child of Indiana Jones and Julia Child. She was a specialty food consultant in NYC with a client list that included Tavern on the Green and Dean & Deluca. A culinary trendsetter, Janice has visited almost 100 countries searching out gastronomic adventures. She might be found sharing a smoked monkey dinner with Shuar Indians in the Amazon jungle or “running with the dogs” while truffle hunting in Marche, Italy.To keep things in balance, Janice also writes about her Girlfriend Getaways, including everything from luxurious city penthouses and Michelin starred meals to bespoke travel in remote destinations.You can follow her travels at www.janicenieder.com