Modern life involves traveling often and for all sorts of reasons. This year alone, you might have a big family get-together in another state, an annual ski trip with college buddies, and a cousin's wedding halfway across the country. Here at Oyster, we embrace just about any excuse to hit the road, but what really fires up our jets is the prospect of a spa getaway. There's no vacation like a spa vacation, right? (Pretty sure those are the lyrics.) In the name of mental wellbeing, we've culled 17 everything-about-it-is-appealing spa retreats around the world -- plus runners up -- where it's all about self-indulgence, spiritual and physical renewal, and getting that happy feeling.
BodyHoliday is a wellness retreat with a luxury vibe and a secluded location along Cariblue Beach. Free daily classes and activities include yoga, archery golf, tennis, and scuba-diving local reefs, but the biggest indulgences go down at the enormous temple-like wellness center. The hilltop palace is a shrine to wellbeing, and while some treatments cost extra, many are part of BodyHoliday’s all-inclusive plan.
Runner-up: Don’t expect the typical spring break Jamaica party scene at The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel. Guests come to this stylish hotel to avoid crowds, enjoy epic sunsets, eat farm-to-table food, and hang out at the mostly outdoor spa overlooking the Caribbean.
This exquisite beachfront boutique resort is home to the first Thalasso Center (seawater therapy) in North America, with a saltwater pool and activities like yoga and ancestral wellness treatments, such as the traditional Temazcal steam bath. (Less adventurous types can stick to the massages and facials.)
Runner-up: Grand Velas Riviera Maya in Playa del Carmen may be a massive mega-resort, but its swoon-inducing, 89,000-square-foot spa and wellness center stands out for its 40 treatment rooms — all with natural light — meditation area, and vast hydrotherapy circuit. The service is as excellent as the facilities, with a dedicated spa concierge, welcome drinks, and tea service after each treatment.
Set on 19 acres of lakeside property, this world-class destination spa is dedicated to rest, renewal, and healthy weight loss. Herbs from the property’s own organic gardens are used in some of the spa treatments at LakeHouse, Lake Austin Spa Resort’s highly regarded spa with Zen-like indoor treatment rooms, outdoor cabanas, hot tubs, saunas, and a private rock garden. The resort’s three pools feel luxurious, with sunbeds and poolside cabanas where guests can lounge between laps and aquarobics, or just enjoy the warm Texas sun.
Runner-up: About a half hour from downtown Austin, Travaasa Austin is an upscale spa resort amid the forested hills of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. Travaasa’s wealth of activities include horseback riding, hiking, archery, cooking, yoga, and Pilates.
Nature is always close at hand at Ten Thousand Waves, a Japanese-style onsen spa with indoor/outdoor soaking tubs spa outside of Santa Fe. But this isn’t your typical quiet and solemn spa hotel — it’s more fun. Children are welcome and pets are even allowed in some guest rooms. The property serves as both a day spa and destination spa, with grounds dotted with soaking tubs (both private and communal available) and cold plunges. Clothing is optional in the tubs, but no one gets strange looks for wearing bathing suits, and kimonos are provided. Professional therapists are on hand to perform many types of massages and treatments.
Runners-up: For a seriously immersive getaway focusing on wellness, nutrition, and fitness, try Miraval Resort or Canyon Ranch near Tucson’s Santa Catalina Mountains. Both properties are destination health spas and all-inclusive resorts designed to jumpstart a healthy lifestyle.
Surrounded by Colorado’s spectacular San Juan Mountains, the luxurious Chipeta Solar Springs Resort & Spa is ideal for a relaxation retreat in the wilderness. All guests have free access to Chipeta’s saltwater swimming pools and solar hot springs (great for soaks on cold days), as well as yoga classes, steam room, and cedar-plank dry sauna.
Runners-up: About a three-hour drive north of Chipeta is Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge, a classic hotel attached to the area’s ancient therapeutic hot springs. And in the far southwestern corner of Utah lies Red Mountain Resort, an outdoor-adventure and wellness retreat surrounded by stunning red rock cliffs.
Located at the northern end of Napa Valley, this relaxed resort occupies 16 hilly acres filled with olive and palm trees, roses and lavender plants, and pools, ponds, and thermal geysers. The hotel’s spa offers restorative treatments, including mud baths with volcanic ash and mineral water, and massages in private pavilions along a wooden walkway. There’s a shaded outdoor veranda with a covered lounge and fireplace and two pools on-site: the main pool is a gorgeous Olympic-size mineral pool (one of the largest in California) using highly mineralized water from the location’s own geysers.
The Spa at Norwich Inn is a historic spa retreat on 42 acres of manicured gardens, ponds, and reflecting pools (there’s even an apiary with beehives). The property’s main draw is its huge spa, with 37 treatment rooms, steam room, sauna, hot tub, and hair salon. Many activities from the spa’s wellness and fitness programs (like Pilates, yoga, and tarot card readings) incur a charge, but morning walks and guided meditations are free.
Runner-up: Operating since 1865, Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa is a historic getaway with a luxury spa with mountain views, as well as pools, a greenhouse, a working farm, and specialized activities like axe throwing and mountaineering.
The lodging for the famous Blue Lagoon, this upscale geothermal healing facility (built on an old lava flow) is surrounded by a dramatic landscape that’s rich in geothermal mineral water. The serene hotel has its own smaller private lagoon, so guests here don’t have to vie with Blue Lagoon-goers for water leeway. (Limited access to the public lagoon is also included in the rates.)
Runner-up: We’re pretty obsessed with the geothermal-powered ION Luxury Adventure Hotel — largely for its sleek spa with a lava-rock sauna and gorgeous outdoor hot tub that’s fed by local hot springs.
A main draw to this historic hotel — and to Bath itself — is the ancient thermal waters, which guests can access in a columned atrium at the heart of the hotel’s spa. The regal spa also has two other thermal pools, plus two saunas, a steam room, an ice room, and lounge areas. Note that guests only have free access to the spa during limited morning and evening hours, though daytime access comes with an extra fee, the purchase of a spa treatment, or the booking of certain upper-level suites.
Runner-up: “Sublime” and “heaven” are two ways our reporter described the upscale spa at Royal Crescent Hotel, which was refurbished in 2017. Built into separate carriage houses, the gorgeous spa features stone floors and high arched windows.
Located in the countryside surrounded by nature preserves, this historic and adult-only destination spa was built around healing thermal springs that have been in use since the Roman Empire. Its spa offers body wraps, facials, and a variety of massages that includes prenatal treatments, as well as time in the sauna and steam room. The hotel offers special three- and seven-day packages dedicated to relaxation, detoxing, wellness, yoga, even gourmet food and wine.
Magical views of Lake Garda await at every turn at this luxury hillside hotel, including its Mediterranean-themed spa, where lounge chairs are positioned for taking in the beautiful scenery. Features include a sauna, a Turkish bath, and multiple treatment rooms designed to feel like a colorful network of caves. There are also three saltwater pools on the property, including an outdoor infinity pool and an indoor pool with a skylight.
Runner-up: A 45-minute drive north along the coast of Lake Garda will bring you to Astoria Park Hotel SPA Resort, an upscale spa hotel set on lovely grounds with picturesque mountains looming in the distance.
Nestled in northeastern Italy’s Dolomites mountain range, Alpenresort Belvedere Wellness & Beauty is a classic ski resort overlooking picturesque Lake Molveno (one of the largest lakes Trentino — great for swimming, sailing, canoeing, windsurfing, and fishing). The luxury spa and health club features a Turkish bath, sauna, soaking tubs, and a variety of treatments including massages, facials, and body scrubs.
Runner-up: A short drive north from Alpenresort lies Alp & Wellness Sport Hotel Panorama, another upscale ski resort with a spa that makes for a truly relaxing spot after a day on the slopes. Alp & Wellness’s European-style spa includes indoor pools with mountain views, a gorgeous Turkish bath, sauna, and treatment rooms.
The Alchymist Grand Hotel & Spa is located in a 16th-century Baroque house in Prague’s scenic Mala Strana quarter. Features are numerous here — not always the case in Old World Prague — and include a full-service spa in a subterranean grotto with a sauna, steam room, and plunge pool with underwater jets. The spa’s menu focuses on Balinese-style treatments, and each guest is entitled to one free massage, facial, manicure, or pedicure.
Runner-up: Though it opened in 2013, Retro Riverside Luxury Wellness Resort delivers a classic Bohemian turn-of-the-last-century spa vacation experience. The hotel has a peaceful waterfront setting in Karlovy Vary, a historic spa town, and an upscale, iridescent-tile-covered spa with multiple saunas (herbal bath, Roman-style laconium, infrared), sensation showers, a whirlpool, and a wood-heated outdoor soaking tub.
Located on the edges of the Macedonian mainland, the luxurious Pomegranate Wellness Spa Hotel is truly a wellness destination. Encompassing nearly 20,000 square feet, the stylish hotel’s raved-about Afrodita Roa Spa features an indoor seawater pool, hammam, salt bath, Kneipp therapy, saunas, and aromatherapy showers. There are also a ton of fitness activities, from yoga in the gardens to water polo and beach volleyball. All in all, the spa is elegant, excellent, and a little expensive, but many guests say it’s the best they’ve ever visited.
Like most luxury resorts on the Greek island of Mykonos, Petasos Beach Hotel & Spa was built in the traditional Cycladic architecture with cube-shaped buildings, brightly painted doors and shutters, and whitewashed walls. In addition to two beaches (Petasos is set on a private peninsula), the minimalist hotel has a 5,000-square-foot-plus spa with indoor pools, a steam room, sauna, traditional thalassotherapy treatments, and space for yoga.
Runners-up: Built on the southern tip of Rhodes island, Atrium Prestige Thalasso Spa Resort is looks like a mirage against the undeveloped surrounding landscape. The luxurious hotel has a private beach and amazing spa facilities, including a saltwater pool with massage jets, a hammam, and a beauty salon. And the spa at Myconian Ambassador Hotel & Thalasso Spa Center (in Mykonos, like Petasos) offers free daily thalassotherapy treatments.
Banjaran’s tropical forest terrain is dotted with pools, ponds, waterfalls, streams, and, of course, the eponymous geothermal hot springs. In addition to these hot spring dipping pools, the luxurious eco-chic retreat’s many other wellness features include a thermal steam cave, ice bath, meditation cave, crystal chamber for energy restoration and Reiki sessions, and fish pool for leg and feet exfoliation, plus free daily yoga classes. The gorgeous outdoor pool, which is built over a hot spring bed and uses geothermal energy for heating, is set against a stunning backdrop of lush greenery and looming limestone cliffs wreathed in greenery.
Runner-up: A 12th-century French castle may seem like an odd inspiration source for a Malaysian health resort in the rainforest, but that is the concept at The Chateau Spa & Organic Wellness Resort. The medieval-European-themed hotel’s spa features a salt therapy room, steam and sauna sections, a mud chamber, and a hydrotherapy pool.
As Chiang Mai’s top luxury property, Dhara Dhevi’s features are proportionately spectacular. Its crown jewel, though, is the jaw-dropping Dheva Spa — one of the top spas in Thailand. Dheva resembles a Burmese temple complex and takes up over 33,000 square feet. The 25 treatment rooms have heated marble scrub tables (like those in a Turkish hammam) and steam showers; some have Vichy showers. Signature treatments include northern Thai Lanna massage and warm oil Indian Ayurvedic routines.
Runner-up: Panviman Chiang Mai Spa Resort, about an hour northwest of Chiang Mai, delivers first-class pampering. It has an award-winning spa set amid ponds and gardens (the spa’s theme is “treatments in the treetops”), as well as a cascading two-tiered pool, a yoga studio, and a meditation cave.
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