From fighting traffic on your way to the airport to squeezing your way through unruly hordes of people at the boarding gate, there are more stressors than ever while you’re in transit. So why not make your destination as relaxing as possible?
There are few vacations more relaxing than a spa retreat, but just because you’re being pampered doesn’t mean you can’t be active or learn about a new culture. Some of the world’s finest spas have incorporated local nature or traditional healing techniques into their offering so travelers can get a sense of the destination’s culture while they’re on the massage table.
From Native American sage burning in Utah to restorative blends of herbs in Japan, local healers are transforming spa retreats into unforgettable cultural affairs. Indulge yourself while imbuing your destination at these globally-renowned spas. You could come back so relaxed you might not even mind airport security on the return trip.
Como Shambhala Estate, Bali
Travelers seeking relaxation through eastern medicine can find harmony at Como Shambhala Estate. Guests can come to Como Shambhala Estate with a goal (weight loss, clarity of mind, or a body detox) or rather choose to indulge in the variety of spa treatments. With a prescriptive menu of juices, tonics, and meals, the resort focuses on total wellness from the inside-out.
Beniya Mukayu, Japan
The onsen (hot spring) is one of Japan’s most famous spa experiences. While many travelers may make an onsen trek, visiting several locations along the way, Beniya Mukayu is best experienced overnight. Those who book a night at the hotel can start and end their days in their own private onsen. The hotel sits on the site of a former temple where Buddhist monks learned body and mind healing techniques. The spirit of healing has stayed into spa services today, which include a personally-prescribed medicinal blend of herbs (for creams, serums or hot compresses), Japanese pressure point massage, and aromatherapy.
Borgo Egnazia, Italy
Scenery can make or break relaxation. Located steps away from the Adriatic Coast, Puglia’s Borgo Egnazia is a top contender for one of the most picturesque spas in the world, but the Italian spa does things a bit differently. Instead of subsisting off a diet of green juice and quinoa, guests at Borgo Egnazia can indulge in a traditional Pugliese dinner (plenty of pasta), with all ingredients coming directly from the spa's farm. In fact, the spa takes possibly the most Italian approach to relaxation ever, as evidenced by the motto, “Time is precious. Waste it wisely.”
Clinique La Prarie, Switzerland
If your relaxation is your medicine, Clinique La Prarie is your best prescription. With a sleek and modern interior, this Swiss retreat feels like the most luxurious doctor’s office you could possibly imagine—complete with picturesque mountain panoramas and an impressive medical pedigree. Book a stay in the 19th-century chateau or the historic La Residence for memorable accommodations. The history of the clinic dates back to 1931 when Professor Paul Niehans developed cellular therapy, drawing famous guests like Marlene Dietrich, Winston Churchill, and Pope Pius XII.
Lake Austin Spa Resort, Texas
It may be only about a half-hour outside of downtown Austin, but the Lake Austin Spa Resort feels like a world unto itself. The retreat has been a tranquil escape for Texans since the 1940s. And, because this is Texas, the menu selections are bountiful. There are more than 100 different treatments guests can select over the spa’s 25,000-square-foot space. But there’s plenty to do outside the treatment rooms. Guests can take advantage of the lakeside location and kayak or test core strength with paddleboard yoga. But it will likely take a lot of energy to get out of the California king plush beds in the morning.
Aro-Ha, New Zealand
This New Zealand spa aims to heal each visitor's mind, body, and soul. In its description, Aro-Ha says it was “designed for the rejuvenation of the human spirit” through “adventures in wellbeing.” The adventures may consist of intensive hikes, vinyasa yoga, or strength training. But there's also daily massage, spa therapy, and mindfulness sessions. Guests undergo a clean eating regime and learn how to take healthy practices back to their daily lives. Everything is done in a small group, so guests at the spa will embark on transformative journeys while possibly making new friends.
Amangiri appears as a mirage in the desert. Located in the heart of the Southwest (and with easy access to Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park), Amangiri is a fantastic spa destination where the unreal scenery alone is worth a visit. Guests can watch from their floor-to-ceiling room windows as the desert rock formations change color with the different light of day. The spa menu itself takes influence from the desert surroundings, offering treatments that take from ancient healing practices of local Native Americans. All treatments start with smudging (burning sage) to clear negative energy and allow full healing to take place.
Chable Resort, Mexico
Mexico is a treasure trove for travelers who find refreshment in nature. The 14-room spa at Chable Resort Yucatan is centered around a cenote (freshwater limestone sinkhole) and a restored 18th-century hacienda house. Spa offerings include massages and facials, but with a Mayan twist. Guests can enter a temazcal (sweat lodge) with a shaman for mind-and-body healing or complete a hydrotherapy circuit that includes a steam room in a gold-tiled cave.
Le Roch Hotel & Spa Paris
The Parisians do everything with style. There’s no reason their spas should be any different. While many hotel spas in the city of light offer elegant relaxation, Le Roch makes luxury seem modern. The spa is one of few in the 1er arrondissement to offer a swimming pool and hammam—a traditional Turkish bath. Spa-goers are treated to a sleek and almost secretive experience, located just a few minutes’ walk from Le Louvre.
Shanti Maurice, Mauritius
The south coast of Mauritius is a restorative environment in and of itself. Add a five-star spa and it’s practically impossible to emerge from the beach with any stress. Shanti Maurice is a 61-room resort spread across 36 acres of lush gardens. With 25 treatment rooms, the Nira Spa is one of the largest along the Indian Ocean. Offerings reflect the local heritage with Ayurvedic spa techniques that clear energy blockages, liquefy toxins in the body or strengthen immunity, depending on what ails you.