Fall may be considered the best season to start planning for a wellness and wellbeing escape, but is there ever really a bad time to hit the reset button on mind, body, and soul? Wellness is a perennially popular pursuit, all the more so when it can be combined with a little bit of travel. After all, “travel is a proven mood-booster” says our editor-at-large, Vivian Vassos. “ In fact, just the act of planning can add that spring in our step that starts in the happiness centre of our minds.” Whether you want to reset, recalibrate, detox, or simply relax—we’ve curated a guide to 9 exceptional luxury destination spas and resorts suitable for the health-focused journey you seek. From medical-spa retreats, grounded in science to sleep enhancement programs to calm a busy mind and create optimal conditions for quality sleep, to indulging in daily rubdowns, a plethora of options await at these wanderlust-worthy health and wellness oasis.
WHERE: Thailand Kamalaya, Koh Samui
WHY: The jungle setting of Kamalaya, perched high up a steep hillside within the island’s rainforest, encourages a quieter meditation, but also a sort of natural networking with other guests that only a remote locale can inspire. If yoga and Eastern leaning wellness is your thing, this is the place. Its founders are a husband and wife team, mixing his yogi training with her Chinese medicine practice. But this doesn’t mean the spa’s gone soft. Intensive fitness classes in the top-notch gym, including posture-inducing pilates, hikes around the nine-acre property and mentoring sessions all provide balance to an otherwise otherworldly experience.
WHAT TO TRY: The Sleep Enhancement program provides the tools to calm a busy mind and create optimal conditions for quality sleep. Naturopaths, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners and Life Enhancement Mentors support you in identifying emotional and mental barriers to sleep, offering techniques and treatments to calm the nervous system and promote healthy sleep patterns kamalaya.com
WHERE: Mexico Rancho La Puerta, Tecate
WHY: The approach to health and wellness is quite serious here – this isn’t your average day spa. Known for a holistic approach, the renowned spa is more retreat than treatment. The experts recommend a week here in the mountains of Baja California, where fitness and wellbeing programs are guided, and therapies and treatments – along with much of the mainly vegetarian culinary experience – are made in the kitchens from medicinal herbs and vegetables grown in the property’s organic gardens.
WHAT TO TRY: The 7 day Cleansing Retreat – a great way to reset balance, and let the cells of the body return to a more optimal state. For Canadians only, if you visit for 7-nights from November 25 to December 2 you can enjoy a $1,500 savings per person on any available room. rancholapuerta.com
WHERE: Bali Four Seasons at Sayan, Ubud
WHY: Inland from the beaches – and the beach bums – is a paradise that belies all the touristy notions. Still-untouched swaths of rainforest jungles, rushing rivers and a rich traditional in mindfulness and wellness all give Ubud a vibe unlike any other. Four Seasons at Sayan Sacred River Spa has elevated it even more, for mind, body and spirit. The spa’s soundtrack is a calming combination of the gentle breeze breaching the open window and the babbling of the Ayung River that runs through the property. So relaxing is this music of nature, when we visited we fell into a light slumber.
WHAT TO TRY: The Complete Body Alignment devised by renowned British osteopath Neil Hands This holistic 90-minute treatment stimulates the lymph, eases bone and muscle tension, enhances proprioception (body awareness) and promotes deep relaxation. fourseasons.com/sayan/spa/
WHERE: Germany Lanserhof, Tegernsee
WHY: If you’re looking for a combination of medical spa and old-school retreat, this is it. The medi-clinic follows the FX Mayr method, a medi-spa approach to digestive wellness first developed in Austria more than 40 years ago. And going with the gut here is what it’s all about. Detoxing to help cleanse your insides, learning better nutrition habits and, yes, the odd facial thrown in, naturally, all contribute to resetting your digestive health. Balancing bad bacteria with good isn’t the only game here: harmony for the mind, exercise for the body and (spa) food for the soul – with Traditional Chinese Medicine, Naturopathy and Western medical methods – gives Lanserhof an all-inclusive feel for your health.
WHAT TO TRY: Choose something for your outsides, too: The Lans Derma Regeneration facial, meant to help boost the skin’s immune function. lanserhof.com
WHERE: Switzerland Clinique La Prairie, Lake Geneva, Montreux
WHY: Since 1932, this spot has been on the cutting edge of medical-spa retreats, grounded in science, yet elevated with Swiss hospitality. Health and wellness, longevity boosting and, of course, aesthetic treatments feature in a program that has been created by more than 50 wellness experts. You can quit smoking, lose weight and detox your liver while striving for better mobility (a key function as we age) and have a physical check-up; medical staff include radiologists, cardiologists, dermatologists and more. And it’s in the Swiss Alps with a view of Lake Geneva. Naturally, nutritionists have built a menu that helps guests take the healthy principles home with them.
WHAT TO TRY: The six-night Revitalization program, which focuses on cell regeneration and immune defenses enhancing them with a super-targeted medical approach to deeply regenerate the body’s 7 key systems and functions: brain, heart, circadian rhythm, skin,metabolism, immunity, and microbiota. www.cliniquelaprairie.com/en
WHERE: Omni La Costa Resort and Spa Carlsbad, California
WHY: The sprawling 43,000-square-foot spa features Spanish Mission-style architecture and an outdoor courtyard with a private pool, waterfall showers and spa café, which uses herbs straight from the spa’s very own herb garden, warmly known as Alicia’s Garden, named for the long term member of the culinary team who tends to the herbs. There’s also a therapeutic reflexology path, with smooth beach stones laid in a pattern that stimulates pressure points on the feet.
The spa recently entered into a new partnership with Ayurvedic skincare brand Shankara, which uses synergistic blends of anti-aging, antioxidant-rich ingredients and therapeutic essential oils in its products. Ayurveda is a traditional system of health and wellness developed in India – practiced for thousands of years – based on a holistic approach to physical and mental health.
WHAT TO TRY: Treat yourself and book the “Inspire” package which includes a 50-minute custom massage, OSEA® custom facial and lunch at Spa Café, the resort’s al fresco eatery reserved exclusively for spa guests. www.omnihotels.com/hotels/san-diego-la-costa
WHERE: The Mandara Spa, Atlantis Resort, Bahamas
WHY: The Mandara Spa is located at the Atlantis Resort – which by the way will be having their Royal 25th Anniversary Celebration, a weekend of festivities commemorating 25 years of the iconic resort and the famed Royal Towers, from November 10-12 – in the beautiful destination of Paradise Island, just off New Providence Island. This spa brings together ancient Balinese healing practices, traditional European therapies and natural indigenous elements, making it one of the most well-rounded spas in The Bahamas. Not only do they provide a variety of relaxing treatment options to choose from, but there are also warm and cold plunge pools, as well as steam and sauna rooms. Make sure to bring your significant other so you can enjoy the Couple’s Spa Suite together.
WHAT TO TRY: Gents, this one’s for you…. Make sure you book the BIOTEC Super-Charger. This is the facial to de-stress, de-age and de-fatigue the male complexion while activating ultimate skin dynamism. A triple hit of ultrasonic peeling, steam and galvanic current delivers a deep clean, simultaneously exfoliating and powering up Kalpariane’s anti-wrinkle properties and Samphire’s hydrating potency. An oxygen infusion is the final blast of energy for real, best face forward results. A multi-tasking, time efficient solution. www.mandaraspa.com/treatments/facials
WHERE: Hungary Magnolia Day Spa
WHY: If you were to ask someone where the ancient therapeutic concept of taking the waters still exists, some would say Hungary. And, although it is true that the country is still a destination for hydrotherapy, sometimes a bath house is a little in-your-face for more genteel Western tastes. Széchenyi Thermal Baths in Budapest is the country’s largest and worth a visit, but for a more personal experience, Magnolia offers almost a dozen bath-themed treatments, as well as more familiar peels, massages and facials using French skin-care line Sothys.
WHAT TO TRY: The Posture Improving 60′ therapy – with a unique blend of slightly spicy scents (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg), your body and mind will relax and refresh. Treatment begins by moving the foot and stimulating the acupressure points. After the blood-boosting rub of the foot, the peak of the back massages follows. magnoliadayspa.hu
WHERE: Australia Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, Gold Coast
WHY: The brains behind Gwinganna (including Australian actor and wellness enthusiast Hugh Jackman) take the word “retreat” as gospel. Ranging from two-night wellness weekends to as long as seven days (exclusively for the Gwinganna Detox), programs promise to reset your health span, with special events over the calendar year that include Women’s Discovery, Nourishing You and weekends devoted to “heart, brain, health.” In the Hinterland of Queensland’s Gold Coast, Gwinganna is ecotourism certified and, although fairly restrictive (no booze, smokes or junk food allowed), it promises a lifestyle reset for our everyday hustle and bustle.
WHAT TO TRY: Regain a healthy balance through Gwinganna’s five-day Triple “S” – sleep, sugar, stress. On this beautiful retreat, you will discover the connection between sleep, stress, sugar and their harmful effects on your mind and body, now with an additional seminar. ’Nuff said. gwinganna.com