Spas are two a penny these days but there are some that really stand out from the crowd – meet the global spas pushing the boat out, says Stylish Spy
Best for… results
Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, Switzerland
You’ve got to hand it to the Swiss... not only are they light years ahead in terms of eco-credentials, timekeeping and politics, they know a thing or two about science, too. Instantly visible results with no downtime is what's promised at the Laser Centre, the latest medical installation at Bad Ragaz where the glamorous recoup amid Alpine peaks and faultless Swiss functionality.
Even the water from the resort’s natural spring is said to be like liquid Botox on the skin, a promise that attracts celebrities in their droves. Lift that slice of cooling cucumber and you may well spot someone famous.
The resort is vast – think three hotels, 11 pools and seven restaurants – and guests can saunter from treatment room to lounger, pool to sauna and medical centre to lunch in fluffy white-robed comfort. All the food at Bad Ragaz is sourced from the local valleys too, meaning it’s as delicious as it is nutritious.
If you shed some pounds during your stay, show off your new figure in the ‘textile free’ sauna and steam room (naked to you and me). If you start to feel uncomfortable, you can always stare at the mountains (or yodel) – this is Switzerland, after all.
Best for… holistic treatments by the sea
Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia
A spiritual monk blessing by the sea isn’t de rigeur at most spas but then Song Saa Private Island is no ordinary resort. Guests arrive by speed boat, say goodbye to their shoes on arrival and stay in luxury lodges with their own infinity pools.
Start the day with yoga on the beach followed by a breakfast of homemade bread, tropical fruit and eggs. The cooling infinity pool then beckons, as does the pristine private beach where you can snorkel, scuba dive or kayak. Or simply ask a passing waiter for a cold beer and spend the afternoon swinging in a hammock and staring at the sea.
Song Saa’s spa is a welcoming space with a range of locally-inspired treatments expertly delivered to a soundtrack of Hindu chants. The Khymer Reflexology treatment comes highly recommended after a hike in the nearby jungle.
Come evening, tuck your feet into the sand and watch the sky turn from orange to pink to star-studded. If your bliss monitor isn’t at the top by now, you may well need that monk blessing by the sea after all. As with everything at Song Saa Private Island, just ask and you will receive. Amen.
Best for… celeb spotting
The Bodyholiday, The Caribbean
“Give us your body for a week and we’ll give you back your mind,” promises the website for The Body Holiday, a multi-award-winning, all-inclusive destination spa and hotel in St Lucia, with an almighty roll call of celebrity guests – and fans.
Here master yogis, seasoned American footballers, ballroom dancers from Strictly and buff Olympians will get you into shape during a holiday in paradise. Get up at the crack of dawn for yoga or stay put and order breakfast in bed. Head to a fitness class or lie by the pool all day. Order a low-cal salad or tuck into afternoon tea with cake. The choice is yours.
Accommodation takes the shape of 155 rooms set around a central square in a colonial-style, coral-hued building – some have sea views, others views of the gardens; each has in-room iPads, REN bathroom products and spacious balconies.
The wellness centre is perched high on a hill (a workout in itself) with views out to sea. Come here for massages, facials using marine-based products by Thalgo and new hair dos. There’s an infra-red sauna, Ayurvedic centre, on-site osteopath and personal trainer here, too. So, whether you do a little or a lot, your mind will love you for it.
Best for… retro Hollywood glamour
Golden Door, America
Back in its 1960s heyday, Elizabeth Taylor and Zsa Zsa Gabor would come to California’s Golden Door for privacy, comfort and bespoke care. Now, the legendary destination spa is basking in the sun once again with 80 rejuvenating classes, 30 miles of hiking trails, 60 acres of gardens, farm-to-table meals, daily massages and own brand of beauty products.
Just one look at its website and you’ll see testimonials from Chevy Chase and Susan Sarandon who praise the spa for giving them a journey of self discovery.
Facilities include a 2,000sq ft gym, including tennis courts and a hilltop retreat for private fitness sessions; a Bathhouse offering a range of pools and treatments; a restaurant serving organic, locally-sourced food; and three outdoor pools for lounging.
Accommodation is Japanese in style (and Zen in vibe) with simple, elegant furnishings and bamboo sliding doors opening out onto Japanese gardens. Unlike other destination spas, accommodation at Golden Door is single occupancy, making it perfect for solo travellers. Kiminos, sandals, water bottles and sunscreen are all provided. With everything taken care of, all guests need to do is turn up, open those famous golden doors and relax. Silence, as they say, is golden.
Best for… spa & safari
Xigera Safari Lodge & Spa, Botswana
Safaris and spas ought to be happy bedfellows, but often the safari experience sings while the spa is off key. Not at Xigera Safari, where the spa is a standalone structure framing the expansive Okavango Delta – spotting a Rhino during a massage will certainly be an experience to remember.
Inside, a palette of calming hues and natural wood textures surround guests in nature. Choose from a full menu of skincare by Tata Harper or treatments by B/Africa, designed exclusively for the spa using local ingredients. Counter a day in the dry heat with a purifying Clay Body Wrap or combat the pesky dry fizz (“It’s the humidity”) with a hair masque and oil scalp massage. Guests can also work out in the modern fitness centre, swim lengths in the outdoor pool – surrounded by wooden decking – or sit and ponder on a relaxation deck jutting out over the river.
Accommodation takes the shape of 12 individually-designed, raised suites with private terraces, free-standing baths, outdoor showers, and a collection of Pan-African art and artefacts.
After a day on safari, dine under the stars with fellow guests, choose a tipple from the wine cellar to sip in the bar or star-gaze beside an open fire-pit with a local astronomer. It’s a hard life…
29th March 2022
Minimalist lines; organic products; facial massage; tranquillity; interesting people-watching.
Discarded towels on loungers; steam rooms that aren't steamy; mobile phones.
Behind the scenes