Fresh experiences, fun times, and a bit of indulgence – isn’t this what vacations are all about? Some people find solace in a rugged solo trek through the mountains, while others prefer to keep their feet in the air and a drink in their hand. Whatever your holiday style, everyone can appreciate a visit to a place that’s solely and firmly dedicated to wrapping you in comfort, rejuvenating your soul, and catering to all your senses. Spas range from humble to regal, so there’s something for every sort of traveler – check out these 10 luxurious, refined, inventive, and downright delectable spa experiences from across the globe the next time you’re in need of some R&R.
Rancho La Puerta, Tecate, Mexico
Consistently ranked among the world’s best spa getaways, this verdant ranch in the north of Mexico is much more than a Jacuzzi tub and a meditation room. Set over 3,000 acres of meadows, rocky hills and tended gardens, there’s as much do outside as there is to enjoy in the top-notch spa and fitness facilities. Unlike most retreats, there are regular lectures and concerts to attend, plus reflective activities like sound healing and a “silent dinner”. Hike the trails, explore the organic farm, enjoy the comfortable lounges, even take a cooking class – this is truly a holistic spa experience, and there’s simply no room for boredom.
Como Shambhala, Bali
The tropical surroundings will nurture your senses, and the professional expertise will address mental and spiritual concerns – the spa has a resident psychologist to help you explore your thoughts more deeply. The aim of Como Shambhala is to “combine modern science with ancient healing”, a creative and comprehensive approach to your health that has attracted a huge following. They have a collection of spas in different countries, but their flagship retreat is in Ubud, Bali, tucked into a lush green canopy and outfitted with luxuries like infinity pools, private oases, and sleek, teak-lined cabins.
Chedi Andermatt Hotel, Andermatt, Switzerland
In the picturesque Alpine town of Andermatt, you’ll find the luxury hotel that houses a world-renowned spa offering ritualistic treatments and ceremonies that make guests feel like royalty. This sort of service isn’t cheap, but if money is no object, you’ll have an experience to remember in the indulgent ambience. A temperature-controlled outdoor lap pool, indoor pool overlooking the Alps, and sprawling gym will keep you moving, while the Finnish saunas and 10 deluxe treatment suites will relax you more than you had ever thought possible. While you can visit the spa without being a guest of the hotel, the impeccable dining and stunning accommodation makes a stay in the Chedi well worthwhile.
SPA Vinothérapie Caudalie Marqués de Riscal, Spain
Rippling waves of titanium form the roof of this eye-catching spa in the middle of Spain’s Rioja wine region. What goes on inside is just as innovative as the façade: a variety of wine and grape-based wellness treatments (carried out by professional vinotherapists) await in the wood-lined rooms with sprawling windows. The Honey and Wine Wrap, the Barrel Bath, and the Crushed Cabernet Scrub are some of the grape treatments on the menu, and along with the requisite Turkish bath, full gym, and indoor pool, these make the singular Caudalie experience is a veritable feast for the senses.
The Blue Lagoon, Grindavik, Iceland
A wide expanse of milky blue water naturally heated by geothermal energy – Iceland’s astounding Blue Lagoon is a wondrous collaboration of nature and sleek engineering. The soothing waters are taken from natural springs, and funnelled into a huge pool surrounded by a jagged skyline of rock and moss-covered outcrops. It is a more public spa – in fact, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in this part of the country – but you always have the option of upgrading (for a surprisingly affordable rate). The Premium or Luxury package treats guests to in-water massages, an exclusive lounge, and dining at the lagoon-side restaurant, too.
The Lime Spa, Huvafen Fushi, Maldive Islands
The Maldives have more than their fair share of spas, but The Lime Spa really stands out among the crowd: the pavilions bridging the clear waters are beautifully serene, but their underwater treatment rooms are the first of their kind, and the only place where you can gaze over the ocean floor during your relaxation treatment. Coral reefs wrap around the room, and schools of tropical fish will invariably pay you a visit during your long lime and mineral massage; you can continue to enjoy your underwater auditorium in the relaxation lounge next to the treatment room.
Sha Wellness Center, Alicante, Spain
A premier anti-ageing and detoxifying clinic on Spain’s Mediterranean coast, Sha Wellness Center is well known for its carefully composed macrobiotic menu to promote healing and balance. The terraced white building perches on a hill overlooking the bright blue bay, and the attention to detail reaches into every corner of the grounds and each private suite. Comfort is top priority, but spaciousness is a close second – the open spaces, panoramic views, and array of sun-soaked patios celebrate the natural beauty and serenity of the Mediterranean coast.
Six Senses Destination Spa, Phuket, Thailand
A variety of influences and a simple elegance place the Six Senses Destination Spa among the top spas in the world. The grounds and buildings are laid out in the style of a village, with charming thatched-roof houses offering a range of fantastic amenities. The Six Senses group has a wealth of expertise in pampering guests, with award-winning spas across multiple continents, each one associated with unique and sustainable style. The spa in Yao Noi (near Phuket) is the crème de la crème of Asian spa experiences, with exceptional private beaches, towering cliffs and forests, punctuated with impressively natural and sustainable architecture.
Villa Stephanie, Baden-Baden, Germany
Known for its luxurious details and only top-shelf products, the famous Brenners Spa at Villa Stephanie is where the spa movement in Germany began. The spa is spread over five floors of a country mansion surrounded by the green pastures of a public park. Among the relaxing attractions are the 500 square meter sauna, hammam, private fitness center, and selection of tastefully designed treatment rooms. With only 15 rooms, the spa can offer a more private experience than some other complexes, and there are expert staff on hand to design a personalized treatment program for you.
Espa, Marmaris, Turkey
Arguably one of the most awe-inspiring locales on the list, Espa Spa is steeped in private beaches, turquoise waters, and the rugged beauty of an untouched coast. It sits on the isolated Datca peninsula on Turkey’s southern coast, and offers such regional specialties as seashell massage and beachside dining, with seafood pulled right from the adjacent waters. Seven resident therapists are on hand to personalize your treatment with the perfect scents, approaches and atmosphere for your particular needs. Whether you opt for the standard package or go all out and charter Pasa, the resort’s private yacht, Espa is a heavenly escape that is difficult to match.
If you favor pristine decoration and ultra-modern accommodation European spas may be your perfect scene: plenty of small towns have built a wider presence on their spa tradition, and you can sample the treatments that people were enjoying centuries ago. If luxurious scenery is what you’re after, keep your eyes on Asia – more top-shelf spa companies are opening up new locations in isolated islands and in tropical groves that must be seen to be believed.