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2018 Wellness Travel Awards

by Organic Spa Magazine

Each year, we look for extraordinary spas that raise the bar on environmental stewardship and sustainable practices, while maintaining a high standard of luxury.

It is our great pleasure to celebrate them for their efforts on behalf of energy efficiency; nature conservation; use of local, natural and organic ingredients on their spa and culinary menus; along with integrative health and wellness programs that lead the way for the industry.

—The Editors

Las Alcobas Napa Valley

United States

Set in the beautiful Napa Valley wine country, where rooms feature a tranquil view of a neighboring vineyard, Las Alcobas, with its gorgeous new freestanding spa, is the perfect place to relax, restore and rejuvenate on a journey to wellness. Sister to the original Las Alcobas in Mexico City, the Napa Valley property—restored with natural and local materials—is set in a 1907 Georgian-style farmhouse. The Atrio Spa features first-class bespoke, artisanal treatments and signature rituals, many based on ancient healing techniques (tui’na, shirodhara, Balinese, and, of course, a wine country experience), which incorporate organic ingredients, fresh herbs and spices, and custom aromatherapy blends for an utterly relaxing therapeutic experience. The seasonally inspired menu by Chef Chris Cosentino features everything we love about Napa, and more. lasalcobasnapavalley.com

Sunrise Springs

United States

A sister to the renowned Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa, and owned by the same family, Sunrise Springs, outside Santa Fe, is a warm, nurturing and healing place featuring an endless array of unexpected delights.

Results-driven spa treatments are inspired by local Native American traditions. Guests can take a private outdoor mineral soak under the stars, or experience a sweat lodge ceremony with a gifted Lakota healer. An organic garden, along with animal therapies—Silkie chickens and puppies—provide calming and de-stressing experiences.

Private sessions with the Harvard-trained medical director help guests tackle gut and brain health, sleep, weight, stress, nutrition, cancer survivorship and more. And for emotional healing, there is an introspective emotional and spiritual guided journey through the Integrative Medicine Wheel under a big and beautiful New Mexico sky. sunrisesprings.com

Ananda Spa


In the foothills of the Himalayas, Ananda is the ultimate holistic wellness experience, where guests find themselves awakening to a true merging of mind, body and soul.

The renowned Ananda Spa features 30 treatment rooms and over 100 treatments. Though Kerala is known as the epicenter of Ayurveda, the entire region here is considered its birthplace. An Ayurvedic doctor determines your dosha, advises you on nutrition and lifestyle changes and keeps track of you after you leave. The Ananda cuisine, based on Ayurvedic principles, is low in fat and loaded with flavor, and many culinary fruits and vegetables are grown organically on the mountains, where guests can take morning hikes or travel down the mountain to Rishikesh, a world-renowned spiritual center and yoga mecca, where some say yoga was born. anandaspa.com

Kamalaya Koh Samui


This holistic spa resort and wellness sanctuary on the idyllic island of Koh Samui is nestled into a lush hillside overlooking the tranquil blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand. Kamalaya is a tropical haven tailor-made for relaxation, reflection and rejuvenation.

Kamalaya’s renowned wellness programs attract guests from around the world seeking guidance with detoxification, stress and burnout, weight control and fitness, emotional balance, and sleep enhancement. The owners developed the programs, combining the best of Eastern and Western healing therapies to yield powerful results. In addition to the top-notch programs, guests can also choose from a wide array of à la carte therapies and treatments, from craniosacral therapy and naturopathy to emotional and spiritual healing, with Ayurveda, traditional Thai and Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments. kamalaya.com



The only five-star resort in Nicaragua, on the country’s Emerald Coast, with jaw-dropping views of the Pacific from all sides, Mukul features nature immersion, hiking, snorkeling, surfing (world-class) and exemplary wellness programs. The DNA of the property is distinctly Nicaraguan, from art and decor to villas and suites, made from locally sourced materials. The extensive culinary choices—“Cocina Mukul”—fuse local ingredients with Mediterranean and Latin flair. The spa is unique: six private elevated pavilions equipped with a water circuit, and featuring a hammam for body scrubs, Watsu, Ayurvedic treatments and Thai massage. mukul.aubergeresorts.com

Six Senses Duoro Valley


While this sustainable resort in the heart of Portugal’s wine country offers everything needed for an indulgent gourmet getaway, it’s also become a top pick for guests looking to focus on well-being. Housed in an expansive facility featuring indoor and outdoor pools and 10 treatment rooms with lush valley views, the Spa offers dedicated, doctor-designed programs, such as Sleep with Six Senses and Integrated Wellness, which use a mix of technology, expert analysis, customized treatments and detailed take-home instructions to target issues such as sleep, health, weight loss, detoxing and stress relief. Fitness and yoga sessions, season-focused gourmet meals and activities like Alchemy Bar workshops—in which you’ll get to craft your own fresh bath and body products—help support your relaxing journey. sixsenses.com

Unique Garden


Set about 33 miles from the sprawling city of Sao Paulo, this eco-haven started as a retreat for blind children and their families—and now offers healing and respite for all. From a base in one of 29 contemporary chalets, guests can explore the lush grounds (home to rescue shelters for dogs, horses and black market-exploited wildlife), help replant trees and relax around the pool or in the Zen garden. Gourmet meals are crafted with ingredients culled from the resort’s organic gardens and greenhouses, which guests can tour and help pick. The modern, 11-room spa features a recently revamped menu that offers everything from Abhyanga to Watsu treatments, multiday retreats, unique fitness offerings and skincare using the ethically made house product line. uniquegarden.com.br

Rancho La Puerta


Since 1940, this iconic destination spa has been defining—and redefining—the wellness experience, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Located just over the California-Mexico border from San Diego, on 4,000 acres of gardens, meadows and mountains, the retreat seamlessly integrates fitness, spa and culinary programming for a total holistic experience. Sessions start at three nights, and include accommodations, fitness classes, meals and many activities; add-on extras like cooking classes and spa treatments. New for this year: a dynamic running program, expanded detox retreats, a redesigned obstacle course and a custom organic product line for the bath, body and skin. rancholapuerta.com

Rosewood Mayakoba


Mexico’s Riviera Maya region is a treasure trove of indigenous ingredients, flavors and healing traditions, and this resort—recently awarded the Rainforest Alliance Certification for its eco-practices—is an excellent spot to experience them all. Set in the heart of a 1,600-acre enclave, among lagoons and a pristine beachfront, the 130-suite, six-villa resort is home to the Sense spa, which is tucked away on its own private islet, around a natural cenote. A world of serenity awaits, from a garden walking ritual designed to awaken the senses, treatments based on local ingredients and the “lost remedies” of the Mayans, and multiday self-care rituals to plunge pools, steam grottos and an outdoor meditation platform. rosewoodmayakoba.com

Burgenstock Resort


Following a nine-year, $500 million renovation, this historic hotel set high on a ridge above Lake Lucerne was relaunched in late-2017 as one of Europe’s most extensive wellness hubs. The 48 forested acres are now home to the world-class Alpine Spa, a three-level, 107,000-square-foot haven with lake views from its 13 treatment rooms, plush relaxation lounges and showpiece indoor/outdoor pool, which wraps around the side of the building. Treatments, fitness classes and multiday retreats can be enjoyed here, while more intensive therapies are offered at the Waldspa, an extensive medi-wellness facility overseen by a staff of doctors and clinical pros. Access to hiking trails, nearby ski areas and other Alpine fun make the place a dream for active guests, too. buergenstock.ch

 Special Awards

Best Transformative Spa

The Art of Living Shankara Spa, United States
This bucolic 381-acre property in the rolling hills outside Charlotte, North Carolina, is one of the most authentic Ayurvedic programs outside India. Run by the nonprofit, The Art of Living, which features more than 10,000 centers worldwide, in 155 countries, this is the centerpiece, where guests will find holistic healing and inner peace, while they work to balance mind, body and spirit.

The Shankara Spa Ayurvedic detox (panchakarma) is life-changing, and the signature Happiness Program—featuring breathing exercises, yoga, meditation and more—will set you on the path toward positive transformation. The newly renovated Spa offers traditional Ayurvedic treatments; consultations with an Ayurvedic doctor, and a meditation and yoga movement studio with incredible teachers. The vegetarian cuisine is simple and delicious, sourced from the organic garden on property. artoflivingretreatcenter.org

Menla Mountain Retreat, United States
On a fertile stretch of land a few hours north of New York City, Robert (Bob) A.F. Thurman, professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University, and his old friend, the Dalai Lama, decided to create a Tibetan-style mountain retreat, which they called Menla, and Dewa, a Tibetan-style healing spa, designed by Clodagh. Dewa Spa features authentic Tibetan healing treatments with profoundly therapeutic benefits, under the supervision of a Tibetan doctor—if you choose.

At the gorgeous yoga studio, classes such as Nejang Longevity Yoga, Healing Yoga and Mindful Meditation, are offered. Guests can sign up for a range of upcoming retreat workshops held in the cozy barn, or, simply stroll along the beautiful grounds, hike on nearby Panther Mountain, and relax in a comfortable room, decorated with Tibetan art, photography and textiles. menla.us

Spa Eastman, Canada
This destination spa has been in the “life changing” game for over 40 years. Spread out over 326 acres in Canada’s scenic Eastern Townships, Spa Eastman offers all-inclusive programming that aims to transform inside and out, from its specially designed Tonic Cuisine to expert treatments using naturopathy, osteopathy and fasciatherapy. You’ll also relax along the way, thanks to Nordic baths, hydrotherapy circuits and a full menu of spa services that renew skin and rejuvenate muscles from the scalp to the toes. And because nothing helps transform like a good rest, there’s even a Neurospa Power Nap Station that uses technology, vibration and music to fight stress, relieve chronic pain, normalize blood pressure, and more. spa-eastman.com

Best Girlfriend Getaway

La Cantera Resort & Spa, a Destination Hotel, United States
La Cantera Resort & Spa, outside San Antonio, Texas, features the extraordinary Loma de Vida (Hill of Life) Spa & Wellness, a 25,000-square-foot sanctuary with breathtaking big-sky views of forested bluffs surrounding the property. Spa villas offer peace and privacy for couples or girlfriend getaways, while the main resort is perfect for business retreats or extended family retreats.Loma de Vida Spa features holistic and restorative treatments, along with a water circuit—steam, salt sauna, heated indoor pool, outdoor infinity pool. Terraces and 15 treatment rooms, including two private Sky Lofts, offer outdoor showers and absolute privacy. A cold-pressed juice bar, Fitness & Movement Studio and fine dining round out the extraordinary experience. destinationhotels.com/loma-de-vida

The Lodge at Woodloch, United States
Tucked into a lakeside forest in the foothills of the Poconos, The Lodge helped popularize the idea of "non-deprivation" destination spas—rooms are cushy, meals are gourmet and dessert is served (with a nod to healthful eating). Guests can follow their own paths, then meet up for meals, fitness classes, seminars, hikes or bike or kayak rides. Wine tastings, meals and demos in the Farm-to-Table Garden, and a full calendar of seasonal activities offer more opportunity for group fun. thelodgeatwoodloch.com

Red Mountain Resort, United States
With Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks nearby, and Snow Canyon, a state park, literally down the road, Red Mountain Resort is renowned for its fitness focus. With stellar hiking, biking and yoga—as well as wild-horse sightings and star-gazing—there is expert support as well as spa and wellness programs to help you get on track, in this ruggedly beautiful landscape in Utah. redmountainresort.com

Best Couples Getaway

Four Seasons Maui, United States
Following a recent renovation, this beachfront resort now features the largest guest rooms and bathrooms on Maui, three of the island’s top restaurants and an award-winning spa—all of which helped make it an easy pick for a couple’s getaway. Choose from a dedicated menu of duo activities—from special tasting menus and private fitness classes to treatments performed in private poolside cabanas—or visit during “Couples Season,” a newly launched series of fall activities and experiences, including navigator-led stargazing, sushi 101 classes, sommelier sessions, SUP yoga, and “Rosé and Lei” flower-making fun. fourseasons.com

Hidden Pond, United States
At Hidden Pond, the Tree Spa—a tree house, really—is suspended eight feet above the ground and tucked into a birch and balsam thicket. The three treatment rooms are connected by a wooden walkway artfully suspended through the trees. Tucked into 60 acres of birch forest in Kennebunkport, Maine, Hidden Pond features an organic farm, a resident artist and herbal spa treatments, with herbs handpicked from the Hidden Pond farm. Paddleboarding, beach biking, yoga or nestling in your cozy cottage are just a few activities that you will enjoy doing together. hiddenpondmaine.com

Ocean House, United States
This historic Relais & Chateaux hotel—on the bluffs of Watch Hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and a private white sand beach—has emerged as one of the top spots for romance on the East Coast. Though families have been coming here for generations, couples can enjoy QT year-round, with rooms outfitted with cozy bedding and soaking tubs; gourmet cuisine focused on seasonal ingredients; wine and cooking classes; and self-drives along the coast in a house Mercedes-Benz, topped off by quiet drink on one of the Victorian main house’s many verandahs; and a couple’s massage at The OH! Spa. oceanhouseri.com

Best Solo Getaway

Aspira Spa, United States
Native Americans called Wisconsin’s Elkhart Lake, Aspira’s setting, “the chosen spot,” and Aspira means “infused with spirit.” The Native Healing Traditions are one of the features—besides healing aromas in utterly quiet, firelit therapy rooms—that distinguish Aspira. The Cedars Massage, a perennial favorite on the spa menu, also incorporates native cedar, traditionally used for purification and protection.

The spa is designed with elements of feng shui, and incorporates wood, fire, earth, metal and water throughout. Aspira was created as a peaceful, tranquil place to take a healing journey, and focus on a holistic, organic approach, which, indeed, it is. aspiraspa.com

Mii Amo, United States
The heralded destination spa in Sedona, Arizona, is renowned for its transformative journeys, which have just gotten even better. Led by the property’s expert therapists, the focused wellness experiences, now expanded, include Intro to Reiki, Intro to Ayurveda, Meditative Art, Nutrition for Inflammation, Chakras 101 and more, to help guests connect with their best selves.

Tucked into an energy vortex, the focus here is on rest, rejuvenation and recalibration, along with delicious food, invigorating hikes and some of the best spa treatments anywhere. miiamo.com

Rancho La Puerta, Mexico
For nearly 80 years, this destination spa has guided generations of wellness seekers on transformative journeys—including a large number of solo travelers, who feel particularly comfortable with the spa’s setup. The three-, four-, and seven-night retreats are nearly all-inclusive, allowing guests access to a host of shared activities and meals, while the overall supportive, encouraging atmosphere leads to quick bonding between participants. Instead of being penalized with supplemental charges, single guests can book spacious Ranchera Solo rooms that feature private patios and are located close to communal amenities. rancholapuerta.com

Best Sustainable Spa

The Brando, French Polynesia
The Brando, on a secluded private island in French Polynesia, is a tropical paradise. And, according to Marlon Brando’s vision—for a culturally rich, sustainable, environmentally protective luxury destination, where naturalists conduct research and study coral reefs, bird species and more, while guests enjoy its beauty—the intention is to keep it that way.

The stunning Varua Te Ora Spa on property features traditional therapeutic Polynesian treatments, with local oils, fruits and flowers that grandmothers mix from their gardens. To breathe in the fresh clean air, experience nature on land or sea, and visit the conservationists working to preserve the surrounding natural beauty is supremely relaxing and healing. And if you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of Johnny Depp—a friend of Brando and supporter of the property—like we did. thebrando.com

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Canada
Alberta’s UNESCO World Heritage Site Banff National Park is home to an array of natural splendors, so it’s no surprise this historic hotel is dedicated to preserving its stunning surroundings. For over a decade, the “No Net Negative Environmental Impact” program has worked to ensure that hotel operations have minimal impact on the Park, while water and electricity conservation initiatives, the purchasing of green power sources, partnerships with wildlife preservation funds and more have helped earn the resort a 5 Green Key rating from the Hotel Association of Canada. The wellness programming, which includes a year-round calendar of targeted, expert-led retreats, celebrates the outdoors, too—while the spa offers treatments like Hiker’s Foot Therapy for those who’ve hit the trails particularly hard. fairmont.com

Unique Garden, Brazil
Along with offering stressed city dwellers a place to relax and regroup, this resort outside of Sao Paulo provides much-needed respite to the land, as well. The idyllic hideaway is set on nearly 100 private, Atlantic Rainforest acres, much of which remains undeveloped and protected. An in-house eco-team, headed by a biologist, oversees the resort’s sustainable operational practices (which have helped repair the surrounding land) and its animal rescue initiatives. Organic gardens and greenhouses fuel the gourmet kitchens, while natural products—including a new house line—power the serene indoor/outdoor spa. uniquegarden.com.br

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