Lifestyle
World’s 10 Best Spas

  Ally Miola reflects on the art of pampering.








Laurus Slow Spa at Wellness Hotel Aurora
Croatia
Spas are always touting the latest cosmetic brand with which they’ve partnered, and while many of the products flaunt an all-organic and preservative-free status, the truth is that many of these concoctions still have something in the ingredient list that’s not entirely natural. Not so, at the Aurora Wellness Center. Located on the Croatian island of Lošinj, the spa capitalizes on the abundance of herbs native to the area (some 1,200 varieties, as a matter of fact) to craft its own blend of products mere moments before each treatment.

Spa-goers can learn how to recreate the all-natural experience at home after partaking in one of the workshops, which outline the various blends that can be made with the simplest of ingredients, such as sage, olive oil and Helichrysum italicum, a local plant used in many of the spa’s anti-aging therapies. Perhaps the latter item might be difficult to find at your local grocer, but the workshops are bound to leave an indelible imprint on your daily beauty routine—if not your complexion—all the same.

Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui
Thailand
Sometimes serenity just isn’t your bag: Instead of an “om,” you might feel more like letting out a “kee-yah!” If that’s the case, the Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui will show you the way, with its new Muay Thai training ring, which allows guests to dabble in traditional Thai kickboxing with a breathtaking view of the azure gulf and lush foliage below.

After trying your hand at the “art of eight limbs,” your four might be feeling ready at last to take things down a notch with an authentic Thai massage. Once the masseuse wrestles those tired muscles back into submission, you’re sure to wonder how you could ever beat such a winning day of cultural immersion.

Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa
Iceland
While Iceland is geographically the closest European country to the U.S., its landscape can feel the most alien to many of us, what with all of those volcanoes and glaciers; but that’s precisely what landed Blue Lagoon on our list. The facility harnesses the restorative power of geothermal seawater that’s traveled through layers of porous lava to surface chock-full of the good stuff: algae, minerals and silica.

In and of themselves, the water and nutrients have widely hailed healing powers—but, in case that’s not quite enough for you, the spa offers in-water treatments (silica wraps, lava exfoliations and the like).

Rounding out the amenities is a refreshing selection of onsite bars and eateries, as well as a deluxe lounge (which never accommodates more than 12 people, so reserve in advance). What’s more, frequent buses make the 20-minute run from the international airport to Blue Lagoon—what better way to spend your layover en route to mainland Europe?

Royal Malewane Bush Spa
South Africa
Most spa treatments are accompanied by a soothing soundtrack of pan flutes or nature sounds. But at Royal Malewane, there’s no need for a sound system. With outdoor treatments administered right in the African bush, the sounds of the wild lull spa-goers into a serene sense of calm. From the steady symphony of cicadas to thrilling thunder from a passing storm, the audio is unlikely to be the same twice: Book one of the property’s three- or five-day spa packages and enjoy putting that theory to the test!

Of course, there are also indoor treatment rooms for those who’ve had enough nature during their game drives in the surrounding Kruger National Park, but it’d be just beastly not to heed the call of the wild during your spa time.

Hotel Therme Vals
Switzerland
When it comes to Swiss spas, how can one possibly narrow down the superior offerings? Well, history is one way. Archaeological discoveries suggest that the thermal spring found in the eastern mountain village of Vals was used as far back as the Bronze Age. “Starchitect” Peter Zumthor modernized the aquatic experience by building a sensory-engaging, cutting-edge spa around the 90-degree thermal water source at the heart of this fertile valley.

On select evenings, special “night bathing” sessions are available to hotel guests. Far from a raucous night swim, the silent experience is meant to underscore the calming sounds of the gently moving water. Sweet dreams are practically guaranteed to follow.

Nidah Spa at El Dorado Hotel & Spa
New Mexico
While some people work to cultivate a bronze tan in the summer months, the smarter set aims for a golden hue, with the 24k gold facial at Nidah Spa. The mythical golden city of El Dorado serves as inspiration for this extravagant treatment, which involves the application of a 24k gold–infused collagen mask (properties in the precious metal allow the collagen to better penetrate the skin).

For the facial-adverse, the Spun Gold Massage delivers just as much in terms of bragging rights, with an 80-minute session of hot stone, chakra and Swedish massage treatments that culminate with 24k gold–infused oil. Isn’t it about time to let your inner golden god or goddess shine?

The Oberoi Spa at the Oberoi Udaivilas
India
The creative forces behind the Oberoi Udaivilas understand the importance of a memorable entrance, which is why guests of this palatial resort are transported via canopied boat across picturesque Lake Pichola.

Once checked in, guests of the elaborate spa can indulge in a spirited array of treatments, from signature indigenous rituals inspired by Ayurvedic principles to specialty baths, yoga sessions or chakra-balancing therapies that make use of sacred Tibetan singing bowls and the healing vibrations they produce. Any of these is sure to keep you buzzing at a higher frequency, from check-in to check-out.

The Spa at Hotel Heubad
Italy
It’s no secret that a roll in the hay can do wonders for your overall well-being. Not only do you get that unmistakable flushed complexion, but such activity can sometimes help sufferers of sleep disorders to drift off with ease afterwards. Oh, get your mind out of the gutter—we’re talking about the hay baths offered at Italy’s Hotel Heubad!

The hotel has had more than a century to perfect the procedure, which involves wrapping a client in warm, damp hay before an optional (and optimum) massage. To ensure maximum results (which also include relieving arthritis pain and solving digestive problems), the property is scrupulous about the sourcing of its hay, which is harvested from a pristine Alpine meadow. Good to know that there won’t be any irate Italian stallions roaming the premises in search of their dinner.

The Spa at Azura Quilalea Private Island
Mozambique
The cliff-top spa at Azura Quilalea features marula oil—often hailed as Africa’s “miracle oil”—in a number of its treatments, enjoying a fair-trade partnership with a company that employs East African women to wild-harvest the product.

Regardless of which treatment catches your fancy at this island paradise (“Too Much Fun in the Sun,” for those post-safari burns? “Tribal Traditions,” and its rhythmic strokes that mimic the beating of African drums?), each one begins with a scented footbath that eases you, feet first, into the experience. That ought to put a little pep in your step.

Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea
Jordan
Had your family summered along the Dead Sea, as opposed to, say, the Jersey Shore, you could look ten years younger today. The nutrient-rich mud along the banks of the Dead Sea is full of nourishing, anti-aging minerals from which countless people, including Cleopatra herself, have benefitted.

Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea encourages guests to take part in the time-honored tradition of slathering on the restorative mud, even going so far as to dredge up the mighty muck from the seabed and place it in barrels near the water, for easy access.

Can’t get over the “ick” factor of coating your body in slimy mud? You’re sure to have just as much fun bobbing around in the Dead Sea’s famously buoyant waters.

* * * * *
Tags:
Alison Wright , Laurus Slow Spa at Wellness Hotel Aurora , Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui , Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa , Royal Malewane Bush Spa , Hotel Therme Vals
Posted On: 01 July 2014    Print    Email
Author: Ally Miola
   
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