Wellbeing has never been more ‘in’. Whether you spread yourself in spirulina every night, drink endless amounts of nettle tea or are a dedicated mediator, we all seem to be jumping on the beautifying mind-and-body bandwagon. As a result, spas are more popular than ever. Once a darkened, sweaty room offering offering a mani, massage and a hot tub if you were lucky, they’re now divided into categories which can be anything from Ayurvedic to healing, thermal, hammam and thalassotherapy. Destination spas are now very much a ‘thing’ and have hit new levels of luxury. We’ve rounded up the coolest spas in the world for you to ogle at, where the only thing on the menu is pure, unadulterated indulgence…
Hidden beneath the 19th-century Tuscan villa which was once home to the late poet Giuseppe Giusti, you’ll find one of the spa world’s best-kept secrets. Described by Giusti himself as “the eight wonder of the world”, this humid grotto houses a subterranean hot-spring lake and acts as a natural steam room. Try floating therapy, an underwater hydro-massage in the open-air pool, or go one step further with a fantastical spa-scuba-diving lesson. Today, the villa is a grand 64-room hotel while the grotto offers an extensive list of weird and wonderful treatments.
Perched on a hilltop overlooking St Lucia’s Pitons World Heritage site, Jade Mountain boasts the kind of views that will stick in your mind forever. Each of the 24 ‘sanctuaries’ boasts its own infinity pool which spills over the edge of the hill, and an all-encompassing view of the sparkling Caribbean Sea. With all this in mind, it may be hard to pry yourself away from your hideout – that is, until you see the spa. Kai en Ciel (Creole for ‘house in heaven’) offers treatments which combine ancient techniques with a modern twist, using products crafted from the resort’s organic farm. Try the Rainbow Body, a massage treatment which combines scent, sound and attuned touch to balance the energy surrounding the body’s seven chakras, resulting in physical, emotional and mental harmony. Sceptical? If the treatment doesn’t do it, that view surely will.
The Mandarin Oriental has stood on the banks of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya river for over 140 years and today remains one of the city’s finest institutions. The Oriental spa is located across the river – accessible only by a traditional Thai private boat – and lies in a sensitively restored century-old teak house, surrounded by tropical gardens. Staying true to Siamese traditions, each treatment is centred on ancient Ayurvedic practices and aims to balance the mind, body and spirit. Not sure what to go for? Simply book time with a therapist rather than a specific treatment and let them decide what you need – be it an energising acupressure session or sticky black-rice body scrub.
Nestled in the mountains north of Tokyo is the small town of Kusatsu, home to one of Japan’s most beautiful hot springs, known traditionally as an ‘onsen.’ Here, the thermal water flows naturally from the active volcano, Mt. Shirane, and is passed through Japanese cypress-wood channels to bring the temperature down to a (still toasty) 48 degrees – tolerable thanks to the high-mineral content. The key to the water’s healing powers lies in its high acidity – an aluminium yen coin would dissolve in the pools in less than a week. Although this might not have you rushing to dip your toes in, the waters are renowned for their antibacterial healing properties – rumour has it the only ailment they can’t cure is heartache.
The Maldives are undoubtedly some of the beautiful islands in the world thanks to pale sands, azure-blue waters and towering palm trees which sway gently in the tropical breeze. But forget all that. At Huvafen Fushi they’ve set their sights on the land beneath the sea, where you’ll find Lime, one of the world’s only underwater spas which will no doubt have the mermaids queuing up. All glass walled, you’ve almost got to see it to believe it – but if you can imagine watching techni-coloured fish swimming around the blossoming coral reefs while you recline for a face mask, you’re on the right track. The treatment menu is as avant-garde as the setting: banish jet lag with a bubbling marine-mud body wrap, detox with a spirulina scrub after a cocktail-fuelled evening or prep your skin for a day on the beach with a homemade lime and sea-salt exfoliation. Ariel ain’t got nothing on you, honey.
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