Wellness travel is projected to be a $1 trillion industry by 2030, according to market research company Grand View Research. From spas to natural excursions, the breadth of choices has expanded with traveler interest, and resorts like the long-standing Hilton Head Health, or H3, which opened in 1976, are building on all-inclusive programs for guests to create their own total wellbeing journey with the goal of long-term fitness and health in mind. After four days of previewing the resort’s new ReNew program, it was clear that, in H3’s case, that journey is just as centered on spa treatments as it is on getting active.
H3 is located in a serene setting among the moss-draped oaks and palmettos of Hilton Head Island. It has long been a center for guests looking to get into shape and learn the nutrition and fitness routines that will help them stay healthy. Over more than half a century, it’s remained at the forefront of the industry since before “wellness” was a travel buzzword.
On the property, there are upscale amenities and flexible programming that includes everything from lectures on nutrition to fitness classes like aqua yoga. The bar of choice is the salad bar, and the resort’s minimalist focus ensures that guests have the necessary structure and support to make healthy lifestyle changes that last.
The recently launched ReNew program is centered around self-care with wellness classes like guided meditations, a 50-minute spa treatment, Life Reimagined discussions and consultations, off-site excursions, and a $350 resort credit. The all-inclusive program also includes seven nights accommodation with three meals per day and roundtrip airport transfers starting at $5,280. Shorter three or four night stays (depending on your arrival date) start at $829 per night.
Here, can do as much or as little as you’d like, with the staff ready to help you get the most out of the experience. There’s a daily schedule and activity sign-up sheets for group classes and activities like tai chi and sea kayaking in the front lobby. A video service has more than 100 classes, while private classes and personal training are available as well.
During my stay, I toured places of interest on the island via my first electric bike ride, spotted dolphins during morning thermal walks (a comfortable walk after a meal) on the beach, and received a rejuvenating Fit & Firm facial at Indigo Spa. I also participated in a deeply relaxing sound bath class where the practitioner struck gongs and other instruments to guide the group from a high level of conscious thinking to an end state that she described as one step above sleep.
The resort’s classes, meals, and excursions provide numerous opportunities for social exchanges between guests, and a majority of H3’s guests are repeat clients who come every year or for several continuous weeks to take one of the resort’s longstanding programs. It speaks to not only what you can get out of a first visit, but the added benefits people see year after year.
The rooms at Hilton Head Health
While the resort has a few villas and private cottages, most guests stay at the 30-room Sweetgrass Inn. The inn’s name is inspired by the Indigenous plant used by the local Gullah people to weave baskets — one of the oldest West African art forms in the Americas.
Rooms at Sweetgrass Inn offer a high standard of comfort, and the décor of dark wood furniture and neutral accent colors is very calming. Each room contains wood floors, flat-screen televisions, desks, large closets, mini-refrigerators, and king-sized beds. Bathrooms are equipped with single-sink vanities with granite countertops, dual showerheads, and Hilton Head Health-branded toiletries. Many of the rooms have washer and dryers, and for those that don’t, there are complimentary communal washer and dryers on each floor.
Dining at Hilton Head Health
H3 has one onsite restaurant, True Dining, which is a Mediterranean-inspired kitchen serving three chef-prepared meals per day. The restaurant has an a la carte menu of calorie-controlled, low-sodium items. At first the portions seemed small, but my menu selections, which included smoked salmon avocado toast and honey-glazed garlic chicken, were wholesome, tasty, and surprisingly filling. The salad bar was a guest favorite and contained a do-it-yourself station with two types of salad greens and a variety of toppings ranging from feta cheese to beets. If guests get hungry between the set mealtimes, FitBites are available at the restaurant throughout the day. These grab-and-go healthy snacks include items like fresh fruit, celery sticks, and hard-boiled eggs.
Just because the focus is on health doesn’t mean that the meals don’t feel like an indulgence.
During my stay, I also attended an Italian-inspired Chef’s Table in the resort’s Healthy Kitchen. The courses were all befitting of an alfresco dinner in Southern Italy. The first and second courses of the meal included pasta e fagioli, a traditional Italian soup, and eggplant rollatini, thinly-sliced and rolled eggplant stuffed with ricotta cheese and basil. The main course was beef braciole — though the resort was happy to substitute with grilled chicken breast topped with a delicious pesto sauce since I don’t eat red meat. The lemon pudding cake for dessert was so light yet decadent and consisted of half cake and half custard. Each course was paired with a glass of white or red wine.
How to get to Hilton Head Health
Hilton Head is located within driving distance of several major Southern cities, including Atlanta, Charlotte, and Richmond. The major airport for the region is Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, which offers regular airline service from Allegiant, American, Delta, JetBlue, and United. An airport transfer to and from H3 takes approximately one hour.