Spring Forward

As Shangri-La Springs turns 101, it reclaims its reputation as a wellness destination.

BY May 1, 2022
Courtesy Shangri-La Springs/Bill Oberman
(Courtesy Shangri-La Springs/Bill Oberman)

During a Tuesday brunch, the patio at Shangri-La Springs’ newly reopened Harvest & Wisdom restaurant buzzes with diners. General manager Lee Bellamy leads a touring visitor past the six-room spa and towering Mysore fig tree toward tranquil Oak Creek, which bisects the 8-acre Bonita Springs property. Reclining chairs tucked between the trees face a fountain, which sprays into the air while a turtle makes ripples in the dark water at its base. “We want people to come and experience this,” Bellamy says. “We have an Old Florida feel here. You can’t find anything else quite like it.”

In 1921, real estate developer Harvie Heitman built the 25-room hotel next to a natural mineral spring as a retreat for soon-to-be homeowners. Over the next 70-plus years, the property was sold eight times, including twice in the 1960s to doctors, who established it as a wellness center. After foreclosing in the ’90s under another owner, Shangri-La closed for more than ten years before the current owners, Lama Hana Trust, reopened the property.

Last year, the pandemic overshadowed Shangri-La’s 100th-anniversary celebrations. The spa and restaurant have been closed (other than a few short stints) since April 2020. Now, as it turns 101, Shangri-La reclaims its place as a wellness destination and community hub. The spa has reopened with spring-side massages, Indigenous-inspired treatments, organic seaweed body buffs and reiki sessions. Harvest & Wisdom—a progressive health-centric, veggie-driven restaurant that opened in 2019 —is back to drawing from its on-site organic gardens for brunch, served Tuesday through Saturday. Shangri-La has also revamped its programming with garden tours, yoga and meditation classes.  And, in season, monthly Art & Soul nights host live music and a market with organic produce from the gardens.

In March, Shangri-La took another leap, debuting six renovated hotel rooms and two on-property suites—marking the first time guests can stay onsite since the 1990s. Most rooms open with French doors to private, bamboo-fenced patios to soak in the lush landscape. So, book yourself a night and toast to another century for this restorative retreat.