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How does the sound of deep plunge pools boasting handmade mosaics, saunas the size of a NYC apartment, lush outdoor gardens with hanging chair pods, and private cabanas serving lunch sound? For most people, especially in today's day in age, it probably sounds like a far-fetched dream. However, these mystical experiences aren't in fairy tales—they're regular facets in some of the world's most luxurious spas.
From crystal chandelier showers in Doha to private gardens with reflecting ponds in West Palm to a large whirlpool with customized jets at sea, these spas are a journey in themselves. Using the best products in the world and designed by some of the top luxury designers and architects, these spas are worth traveling to on their own.
ESPA at Mondrian Doha
With opulence that may seem out of place anywhere else, the ESPA Spa is exactly what you’d expect from a five-star property in the oil-rich country of Qatar. Located right in Doha, nestled next to sprawling shopping malls and gilded mosques, the ESPA Spa is fit for an Arabian prince or princess. Boasting over 22,000 square feet, the design speaks to the Middle East’s reputation for glitz and glamour. Resembled after a Turkish hammam, both the men and women’s rooms offer a nod to Qatar's heritage. Upon entrance into the womens’ spa, you’re met with glittering pink mosaic artwork on the floor and wall, dazzling chandeliers that double as rain showers and cozy bamboo swings. The men’s is more classic, painted in dark blue and black with lounge chairs and a golden fountain. Touting a much bolder design, the iconic checkerboard pool with its stained-glass roof and balcony views of the city is as Instagrammable as it is relaxing, and speaks to the striking design elements the designer, acclaimed Dutch mastermind Marcel Wanders, is known for.
Spa at the Eau Resort Palm Beach
One of just 48 spas in the world with the prestigious Five-Star rating from Forbes Travel Guide, the 42,000-square-foot Eau Spa at the Eau Resort in West Palm Beach, Florida brings the peace, serenity, and natural beauty of this part of Florida into the design and menu of their spa. The entrance, which is through a small shopping boutique, opens up to a complete and utter oasis. You’re first met with a Wishing Well, where you’ll light a candle and place it in the water along with your wish. Part of their Pause, Play and Perfect Mantra, the well and adjacent courtyard garden were designed with relaxation in mind. The courtyard boasts swinging chairs over a bubbling water garden, a central dipping pool, lush landscaping, draped cabanas and Turkish and Moroccan accents, showcasing a passion for bold colors, pottery and meaningful accents. The play comes in with the treatment rooms—which start with your choice of scrub or scent. The perfect comes after, once you’ve received the beauty or massage treatments infused with fresh vanilla, ginger and even gold therapy. The entire Eau experience touches all senses.
Viking Ocean Cruises Spa
In this day in age, it’s not uncommon to find some of the best designed and most beautiful spas on cruise ships. When Viking launched their ocean cruises in 2015, they had one goal in mind; to bring their passion for Scandinavian aesthetic and natural elements to the ship's design. And the spa, which is featured on all of their ocean liners, represents everything you’d come to expect from a Norwegian designed bathhouse. Rated the best luxury cruise line by US News and World Report in 2020, the spa was conceptualized and designed by LivNordic, a Nordic hospitality brand based out of Sweden. The rooms are minimalist and inspired by nature, but it’s the pool and sauna area that truly speaks volumes. With a hydrotherapy pool, Jacuzzi, a built-in wall fireplace that runs the length of the hallway, and wooden saunas, the recreational area of the spa is by far a guest favorite. Other Scandinavian touches are the heated tile chairs, the ice-grotto, the cold drop bucket, and the cool plunge pool. To experience this beautiful spa the way the Nordic locals do, strip down to nothing, sweat in the sauna (carefully splashing the stones to add more steam), jump into the cold plunge pool or ice grotto, and repeat.
Tshuggen Grand, Switzerland
At first glance, the Tshuggen Grand in Arosa, Switzerland looks like a site of an alien UFO landing. The ultramodern, starkly designed hotel and spa was designed by world-famous Swiss architect Mario Bott and built into the side of the rugged snowy alps. The sail-shaped buildings, which encompass nearly 5,000 feet of space along the mountain, look completely different depending on the light. In morning, the sunrise reflects against the all-glass exterior, offering an almost warm glow. At sunset and dusk, the light gives the towers an almost iridescent glow. The spa suites, which sit in their own ‘sail,’ boast floor-to-ceiling windows offering views of the picturesque Alps, and are designed with relaxation in mind. With a large stone bath built from dark Duke stone from the Alps, a private sauna and steam and champagne, you can enjoy the scenery or a treatment in complete luxury. The indoor pool weaves through the uniquely designed building and features both a warm and cold plunge. The outdoor pool is the real star, with 180-degree views of the mountainside and a rushing waterfall shower.
Spa at Viceroy Snowmass, Colorado
Designed by Belgiun designer Jean Michel-Gathy, who designed NYC’s impeccable Aman hotel, the spa at the Viceroy in ski-haven Snowmass, Colorado is a beautiful blend of Asian and Nordic elements. The first thing you’ll notice upon entering the 7,000-square-foot-spa at the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property is the custom-brass gates which lead you to the relaxation lounge, featuring a hanging antler chandelier dangling from a weaved copper ceiling that looks more like a sculpture than something structural. With the soothing sound of the plunge infinity pool and its relaxing waterfall showerhead, the feeling of serenity is nearly instant. Boasting six treatment rooms, a hydrotherapy Vichy shower and a couples suite, the intimacy and privacy of the experience is felt throughout.
Rancho La Puerta, Mexico
Located in the dusty desert of Tecate, Mexico, a town that sits right on the US/Mexican border, Rancho La Puerta is nothing short of an oasis. Built by visionary Deborah Szekely in 1940, whose dream to own a ranch in the middle-of-nowhere has since turned into one of the most coveted and beautifully designed spas in the world. Truly reflective of the land, the spirit and the soul of the area, the design is as eclectic as the owner. Each room houses her private art collection, brightly painted walls, throw pillows and furniture that’s part Mexico part Morocco. The most astounding element of this spa and homestead is the landscaping. Weaving trails of brightly colored flowers crawl along the windows and ivy covers nearly every bit of brick. The pool offers stunning views of the mountains, the hikes—albeit strenuous—are ever rewarded with a private massage using garden-grown ingredients in small, luxurious sheds around the expansive property.
Royal Mansour, Marrakech
Words and photos can’t even do the spa at the Royal Mansour (an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property) in Marrakech justice—every surface is covered in hand-laid tiles and extravagant details. You nearly expert Clark Gable and Audrey Hepburn to emerge as you walk into the all-white, ethereal spa. Designed by renowned architects OBM International, the design reflects the Arabic roots and deeply traditional values of Morocco. The walls and pillars of the entrance and relaxation area are ornately stenciled and carved—draped with soft and silky gold curtains that allow for additional privacy—matching the white marble of the floors, ceilings and tables impeccably. Like most Middle Eastern spas, the Royal Mansour has a traditional hammam experience, offering steam treatments, beauty rituals, ceremonial massages, plunge pools, and more. Away from the bird-cage-like atrium, the relaxation area also touts the white-marble, but with individual beds that are surrounded by wooden lattice work and pale curtains for privacy. In addition, you’ll find silk duvets and soft pillows in shades of light green, cream and ivory to help relax you even more.