Wanderlust is what’s getting us through these dark and cold winter lockdown days. We might not be booking our holidays yet, but we are planning the trips we will take when we are able to. And without the limits of reality, we can go anywhere in the world.
So here are the Spa Spy picks of the best international spas we’ve visited, and the spas at the top of our to-do list. Join us for the opposite of doom-scrolling – luxury spa-scrolling – and virtually visit some of the most beautiful destination spas in the world.
Having spent so long at home, I want a quick escape to open space, clean air and crisp white snow: Switzerland is a simple 90-minute flight from London. The Chedi Andermatt is an unusual pairing of Swiss and Asian hospitality, its exterior pure Swiss chalet, interior stylish Japanese Zen. There’s the 35-metre indoor pool with Alpine views, beautifully warm outdoor pools, saunas, steam rooms, huge poolside loungers and a list of treatments from Balinese massage to Tata Harper facials. In the winter you can hit the slopes, check out the ice rink or just gaze at the Swiss peaks feeling smug in the warmth of the spa. Did I mention the Michelin-starred restaurant The Japanese?
I’ve always had a thing for deserts – the Max Ernst/Dorothea Tanning vibe – but apart from Palm Springs in the 80s, have never been. The Tierra’s Umo Spa is high-end boutique-eco, sleek yet textural, open to the stunning Atacama desert and Licancabur Volcano. There’s a luscious outdoor infinity pool, hot tub and yoga platform to make shapes beneath the desert sky. The word ‘adventure’ would normally have me running for the hills, but we’re talking horse riding followed by an alfresco bubble (Saddle and Soak) or hiking in the Moon Valley and local-inspired energy healing treatments.
Costa Rica for me please! After weeks of home-schooling, I dream of one of the adult-only (sorry kids) jungle-wrapped villas at Nayara Springs in the Arena Volcano National Park, each with their own private hot spring-fed plunge pool. Once I've had a dip, you'll find me horizontal in the hammock soaking up the sights and sounds of the rainforest, from raucous Howler monkeys, to the tiny gem stone-coloured humming birds and giant iridescent blue Morpho butterflies – one of the largest in the world. Open air spa treatments use locally-grown organic coffee, chocolate and volcanic mud. After I'd wander the Perezoso trail for the chance to hang out with the resident-sloths in the surrounding Guarumo trees – heaven!
My dream destination and an overdue return to Oman, the land of my blissful childhood. Set in a cove between the dramatic Hajar Mountains that plunge into the sea, the style is rustic Arabian chic with villas surrounded by fig and pomegranate trees. Arrive via 4-wheel-drive or paraglide in, James Bond style. Villas have their own pool and butler. After a busy day diving, hiking, microlighting, kayaking or fishing, dine on the beach under the stars or have a private BBQ prepared in your villa. Quieter days can be spent in the spa with its personalised wellness programme and locally inspired treatments – the Arabian facial would be top of my list.
I love Japan, mountains and of course spas, so I would go to Hokkaido in Japan. The brand-new Higashiyama Niseko Village is a Ritz Carlton reserve set in an alpine resort. My memory of Japanese bathing pools (onsen) is sitting naked in the super-hot mineral waters with a cold wet towel on my head. Here at Spa Chasi La Sothys at Higashiyama I can bathe in Hokkaido’s famous spring water (declared “sweet dew” by the Showa emperor) while looking out over snowy mountains. Then I would book myself in for Nature’s Wisdom using black silica healing stones, found only in this region, for a totally Japanese wellness experience.