All travellers would be happy to know that their hotel offers the standard line-up of sauna, hamam and massage parlours, but some hotels sport such spa centers that are worth a detour - strike that, worth a whole journey.
[ vals, switzerland ]
It seems traditional and resorty on the outside. Such buildings are to be found everywhere, from Graubünden to Martinique, but they are always served under a different name. Inside, this hotel is a fortress of architectural cubism and an extremely adventurous combination of traditional materials with ultra-modern shapes. The spa center, which is here called “Termae”, like the Roman baths, looks a little like a submerged Babylonian palace. Its mesmerising effect is due to its interior, but even more to the list of options and procedures offered. Rejuvenating and anti-stress facial serums, underwater massage in a thermal pool, reflex therapy, a bath with an extraction of mountain herbs, thalassotherapy, plus a separate menu of Ayurvedic procedures. Plus, of course, Swiss specialists.
Conrad Koh Samui
[ talingngam, samui, thailand ]
Judging logically, it does not make a lot of sense to set up an ambitious spa centre in such a place. Ten hectares of tropical parkland with villas in moderately colonial style scattered here and there — it speaks for itself, doesn’t it? The terrace views on the Gulf of Siam can occupy a guest for hours. But it is impractical decisions that often turn out to be the most auspicious. The awards of the Conrad Spa Koh Samui hotel testify to that fact. Apart from a sea view terrace with a 270-degree panorama, there are ten procedure cabinets, pools and steam rooms, while the therapy itself is a curious but effective symbiosis of traditional massage and wrapping procedures with exclusive and complicated breakthroughs in the domain of anti-ageing cosmetics.
[ hangnaameedhoo, maldives ]
In a Hollywood musical play, this is what a perfect tropical village might have looked like: deceptively modest houses, thatched roofs, wooden terraces with views on the limitless ocean that meets the sky somewhere on the horizon and a wide swathe of very fine white sand along the water edge. It seems as if the idyll lives by itself, but a trained eye immediately sees that this illusion of simplicity requires an effort of a huge team of professionals. Constance U Spa is another proof. In the interior that is just as deceptively humble as the whole village, you will be offered a Bali massage, a Yoga session, a wrapping to restore and revive your skin after sunbathing, and, as a special offer — a gift consisting of some physical activity, from diving to a catamaran cruise.
[ merano, italy ]
By Italian standards, Merano is a large city in the province of Bolzano; by Russian standards, it is a small settlement with 35,000 residents. You cannot, of course, discard the unbelievable landscapes of South Tyrol, the unbelievably pure mountain air and the ancient Kursaal, but the Palace Merano hotel aspires to be the principal star of this resort, and with good reason. Its “sanatorium” specialisation means a combination of medicine and refined luxury. The hotel boasts an excellent lab, equipment for cardiological research and a Biontology centre where the guests are restored to health using the methods of Dr. Henri Chenot, who sought to cleanse the body of toxins and create a delicate balance between body, consciousness and the subconscious.
Belmond Hotel Rio Sagrado
[ urubamba, peru ]
Seasoned travellers love to tell how guinea pigs are served as food in Peru, how the Indian civilisation disappeared without a trace, and there is sure an alien connection there somewhere… However, the true story of Belmond Rio Sagrado with its spa centre Mayu Wilka is much more useful. The hotel is located in the valley of the sacred Urubamba river, an hour and a half’s drive from Machu Picchu. Its whole interior prepares you to meet the exotic Indian sights — or reminds you of them. The role of spa is a bit more important than the usual restorative procedures after high-altitude excursions. The Reiki massage alternates here with quinoa scrubs, reflexology with altitude sickness massage and organic coca wraps. The latter is certified, or at least not prohibited, by the Peruvian Surgeon General.
Ananda In The Himalayas
[ narendranagar, india ]
This Himalayan region does not have curative sources or medicinal mud; the Charcot shower and diet No. 5 do not enjoy wide popularity here, either. But if the procedures and philosophy of traditional Indian Yoga and Ayurveda make you tremble with anticipation, the hotel with the largest Ayurvedic centre is something you simply cannot miss. The resort that surrounds the hotel occupies over 20 square kilometres on the Himalayan slopes, and offers excellent opportunities to enjoy the perfection of the world around. After this aesthetic prelude, head for health procedures proper. They are run by specialists in meditation, detox, Yoga, diet programmes, energy balance and misbalance and other mysterious things — which many people report to be helpful.
Hilton Seychelles Northolme
[ mahe, seychelles ]
In the Seychelles, walking along the shore is initially a bit scary — one feels that the air might oscillate and part, revealing something else entirely, stepping out from the boring reality into a living picture-perfect paradise. But the sensation of mirage soon passes, and the wooden villas distributed with thought-out arbitrariness (some in the carefully cleaned up tropical forest, some by the very ocean shore) become a part of a habitual and well-known landscape. This is also true of the spa centre; its relatively small area is more than compensated for by ocean views, because it overhangs the ocean like a sea bird’s nest on a rock. You can count waves while undergoing one of the traditional Asian massages — Thai, Bali, or Reiki; or perform the African cleansing ritual of mongongo over your (very much alive) body.
La Réserve Ramatuelle
[ ramatuelle, france ]
Artful and well-engineered simplicity is marked by an absence of superfluous and out-of-place details, balance of colours and lines, and symbolism, of course. Smooth light-coloured wood and lavender at the entrance are obvious nods of the hotel in the direction of its neighbour, the village of Ramatuelle in Saint-Tropez. In these parts, many villages, where half of population now consists of visiting stars and tycoons, have become an integral part of the hotel and club environment. And yet, even the most sophisticated village does not have a spa to rival the one at La Reserve — which is simple, spacious, and fully focused on anti-ageing programmes that employ cosmetics by the Swiss Genolier labs. Another specialty are fitness and get-in-shape programmes combined with physical exercise and active trekking.
JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa
[ venice, italy ]
A separate private island, Isola delle Rose, across Venice’s main one, only fifteen minutes by boat from the San Marco berth — this alone immediately speaks of such unbelievable, unheard-of luxury for these parts that it is not necessary to emphasise it with doge-era interiors, complete with winged lions and Murano glass. All that is present, of course, but in very moderate quantities. The interior is delicately minimalist; it avoids direct references to its Venetian nature. At GOCO Spa (the largest spa centre in Venice), too, things are not subordinate to flashy effects, but rather to relieving the guest from stress. After all, a whole day of studying cultural treasures on the other shore of the lagoon and shooing away the cheeky Venetian pigeons is a stressful experience.