10 Spas Around The World
10 Spas Around The World
Taking to the waters is as old as civilisation itself. No-one really knows where the word ‘spa’ comes from but the acronym for ‘Sanus Per Aquam’ – (Latin for health through water), is a likely origin. And just like people of ancient times, in our fast paced modern world we’re starting to realise the important health benefits of slowing down and nurturing our mind, body and spirit.
Whether you’re looking to change your lifestyle or simply want to luxuriate in total bliss, you’ll find spas and wellbeing resorts and hotels all over the world.
Here’s ten of the best experiences to get you dreaming and planning.
Destination: Surrounded by forests and the Ganges valley nestled into the foothills of the Himalayas in Northern India, the magnificent setting of Ananda will leave you breathless. But don’t worry - using the traditions of Yoga and the balance of nature, you will also learn the power of breath and how to control it.
Experience: As the birthplace of Yoga, for centuries people have visited the Himalayas to find peace and rejuvenation. The Yoga at Ananda is in its purest form - based on Hatha and customised for each guest. Depending on your wellbeing goals, you can select from a range of daily activities from Yoga and meditation to trekking and cooking demonstrations. The key here is using the principles of Ayurveda - holistic health balancing mind, body and soul in a jaw dropping location.
X Factor: Don’t miss heading to nearby Rishikesh, for Ganga Aarati held at sunset each evening. Here the river Ganga is worshipped as the eternal source of life through the lighting of lamps, singing and chanting. The three hour excursion from Ananda will transcend you into another realm - an experience that will stay with you long after your holiday.
Kamalaya Koh Samui
Destination: Set in Koh Samui, Thailand around a jungle entangled cave once used as a retreat for Buddhist monks. The resort is stylishly designed, intimate and radiates a sense of community spirit.
Experience: From detox, stress relief, and weight reduction programs to Chinese and Western medicine consultations and treatments, Kamalaya leads the way in holistic wellbeing in Thailand. Don’t miss the group meditation at the end of each day and the specialised retreat program run by co-founder, Karina Stewart is a popular choice with regulars. This is the perfect place to achieve your own health goals in a supportive and creative environment.
X Factor: The Embracing Change program is designed to help your emotional being through looking at your work / life / play balance. With a focus on those tricky things that people find difficult to talk about it’s a journey of self discovery that will enhance your life well after you tear yourself away from this revered piece of wellbeing paradise.
Como Shambhala Estate
Destination: A short drive from Ubud in Bali, the hidden-in-the-jungle-with-a-river-running-through location is Balinese style at its best. Each thatched ‘cottagey’ suite is homely, spacious and beautifully decorated with Indonesian antiques.
Experience: Adventure meets pilates at Como where the emphasis is on holistic health using the three n’s – nature, nurture and nourish. Individual programs are based on goals and needs and can include experiences like mountain biking, hiking, whitewater rafting and outdoor circuit training combined with yoga, meditation and pilates.
X Factor: For a total renewal try the water blessing at The Source, an ancient spring of holy water. Within the gardens of Como, you’ll dress in traditional Balinese clothing and be led through a cleansing ceremony of chanting and offerings by a local priest that culminates in the priest splashing you three times with the holy water to clean your mind and soul.
Destination: Tucked between a dramatic mountain range and a white sandy beach on Oman’s northern Musandam Peninsula in the Sultanate of Oman, Zighy Bay is remote, wild and spectacular. Each villa is built of stone and wood with high ceilings and has a sand garden and private pool.
Experience: Individually tailored treatments across a range of experiences that combine innovative and ancient philosophies that include massage, acupressure, body polishing, Yoga and fitness classes. The three or five day ‘Sense of Oman’ program features the blending of indigenous plants, herbs and fruits for use in traditional Arabic treatments. The spa program fits perfectly around daily excursions like snorkelling, hiking, mountain biking and you can even try paragliding.
X Factor: The Six Senses name is synonymous with the highest quality in the spa and wellbeing world. Each location of their growing number of resorts around the world is carefully selected to reflect and support the local communities and have minimal impact on the natural environment. Zighy Bay Oman is a perfect example of everything that you want to see in a spa resort.
Destination: Located in Baden Baden the grand dame of Germany’s spa towns where its famed thermal baths have lured travellers since the Roman times. Villa Stephaine is part of the Oektker Collection and as the former home of a German duchess you’re literally stepping into a palace.
Experience: With only 15 rooms and suites and a large scale range of equipment, programs and expert health professionals, privacy and personalised attention is at the core of the resort. From the 500 square metre sauna, hydraulic gym equipment, martial arts, two Michelin star restaurant to massage specialist Othman Challouf’s ‘magic’ touch on hammam whether you’re looking for detox, weight loss, beauty tips, nutritional or emotional guidance Villa Stephanie is the ultimate bespoke experience.
X Factor: With the push of a button you can be disconnected from the world and slumber into a complete digital detox. Each suite is ingeniously designed with copper plates in the walls that are then painted with a special coating that prevents electronic signals from cluttering your personal sanctuary with ‘e-smog’.
Huvafen Fushi Resort
Destination: It’s hard to go wrong on a holiday in the Maldives. But Huvafen Fushi get’s it all so right. Not only does it have the magical desert island thing happening (and only 30 mins by speedboat from Male), the spa is actually both over and under the water.
Experience: Two of the eight treatment rooms in LIME Spa are ‘in’ the ocean with glass walls framing a giant aquarium. The design of the rooms uses fabrics inspired by kelp and cushions that look like sponges to cocoon you in the underwater world. Treatments include massage, Reiki, iridology, salt scrubs and don’t miss the ‘secret’ Crystal Ritual and Turquoise Explosion signature experience. A total rejuvenation of mind, body and spirit.
X Factor: Apart from experiencing the world’s first underwater spa, you can also float in a ‘room at sea’ on board a traditional Maldivian dhoni complete with modern indulgences.
Rancho La Puerta
Destination: Spread over 3,000 acres of private grounds in the foothills of Mount Kuchumaa in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico each of the 86 casitas is unique. Spacious, understated with wooden flooring, fireplaces and decorated with traditional Mexican art and best of all, no TV.
Experience: Founded in 1940 and still going strong, Rancho La Puerta not only was one of the first in the modern spa movement, it remains a guiding light in innovation and creativity. The breadth of activities is mind boggling. There are separate gyms, studios and pavilions for every occasion – to work on your abs, weight training, boxing, Yoga, intense fitness, pilates, meditation, kettlebells, cycling, musical performances etc. The beautiful Kuchumaa Gym specialises in dance with cardio drumming, African dance or Zumba classes. And then there’s the outdoor activities, cooking classes, art classes and wellbeing talks by leading professionals.
X Factor: Many people come here regularly and plan their ‘Rancho fix’ around friends they’ve made on previous visits. The place feels like one big family where age is irrelevant and guests and practitioners genuinely care about each other.
The Farm at San Benito
Destination: A one of a kind holistic wellness resort in the Philippines, The Farm is set in a tropical jungle built around a 250 year old mango tree that’s thought to have healing powers. Accommodation is in nine completely different styles of villas from the Sulu Terraces based on traditional Philippine rice barns to the crystalline glass walls of the Palmera Glass villas.
Experience: This is where East meets West in a fusion of traditions and modern technology. Programs are specifically tailored to meet individual health goals and cover weight loss, detox, stress, illness recovery, healthy ageing and heart health. Daily activities include Yoga, meditative walks, Tai Chi, flower arranging classes, cooking classes, silent meditation and pilates. Using practices like Reiki and Jin Shin Jyutsu, emotional wellbeing is also a focus.
X Factor: All the food is either grown in the organic garden or sourced locally and the restaurant called ‘Alive’ creates healthy, chemical free meals that are integrated into the programs.
The Springs Resort
Destination: With eighteen free-formed hot springs complete with waterfalls in a forest setting overlooking the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica this is a large family friendly luxurious resort. Rooms come in a variety of options, the most spectacular if you have a crowd is the newest villa aptly named The Falcon’s Nest. It has five bedrooms and a hot tub on the balcony to take in the volcano view.
Experience: Each mineral spring and pool has different properties, temperature range and health benefits. The comprehensive map and guide to the springs is essential reading before deciding what’s right for you. In addition to the springs, the fitness centre and luxurious indoor spa has a range of holistic treatments. The signature body wraps use local products like organic chocolate, coffee, seaweed or hot springs clay.
X Factor: Costa Rica is full of adventure and within the resort is the Club Rio Outdoor Centre. Here you ride a horse, go rock climbing, hike, fish, kayak and there’s even river tubing.
Aro Hā Wellness Retreat
Destination: At the centre of the adventure capital of the world, Aro Hā overlooks Lake Wakatipu 40 minutes from Queenstown in New Zealand. Designed on Zen principles where luxury comes from using the environment intelligently rather than opulently, every aspect of this retreat blurs the lines between outside and in.
Experience: Aro Hā translates into ‘in the presence of divine breath’ and forms the foundation of all experiences within this magnificent retreat. Everything here is designed for group interaction – to eat, move, play, explore, discover together. Incorporating activities physical activities like strength training, hiking and climbing with Yoga, pilates, massage, cooking classes and mindfulness. It’s all about connecting to the environment and relating to others.
X Factor: The clever way this resort brings together people with nature without having an impact on the environment. If you’re interested in living more sustainably, from permaculture to solar and aqua energy, the ‘behind the scenes practices’ of the resort are truly outstanding.