For our annual Wellness Travel Awards, we honor exceptional spas that not only hew to a high level of luxury, but also employ sustainable practices and elevate standards of environmental stewardship.
We work hard to scout out extra special properties that we can celebrate for implementing initiatives that not only bring extraordinary wellness to their guests, but also do their part to protect the environment with nature conservation; energy efficiency; local, natural, foraged and organic ingredients; and holistic health and wellness programs that lead by their example. Kudos!
-- The Editors
Tucked away in the rustic town of Arosa, not far from the Italian border, the Tschuggen Grand Hotel offers a ski lift right outside the door, exclusively for guests. The beautiful Alpine hotel was originally a sanatorium, where guests went to cure lung problems, in the clean, fresh air. The expansive and beautiful 5,000-square- meter spa, designed by famed Swiss architect Mario Botta, features state-of-the-art wellness, including a range of hydrotherapy pools, rock grotto, sun terrace and Kneipp trail. A new yoga room is set up to host four-day yoga retreats, with a range of internationally renowned yoga instructors. Menus feature “clean eating options” (there are five restaurants) and there is a Medical Wellness Program, overseen by an MD who has an office in the spa. Morning programs include Nordic walking and snowshoeing, and guests can take a guided Full Moon Walk up the mountain, when the air is so clear you can see a breathtaking brush of stars. The Tschuggen Group is inspired by green energy, and invests heavily in eco-initiatives.
Turks & Caicos
Some places are so healing that they create a transportive experience, one that enables guests to attain an almost profound level of well-being. Set on a nature preserve, jet skis and motor boats are not allowed at the peaceful Amanyara. But there is plenty to do: a Pilates studio, outdoor yoga sala, tennis, Nature Discovery Center, yoga on the beach, wellness programs led by a range of experts, a movie theater, snorkeling, diving, divine food and drink and a gorgeous, Asian-inspired spa, where you can literally float away, with the Caribbean Stars Lullaby, a warm-water floatation treatment. Relax with a nourishing jade, Himalayan salt and green clay scrub and a wrap ritual with luscious Frangipani and Cupuaçu butter. Or, sit outside the secluded villa, staring at the sparkling infinity pool as it trickles into a larger pool that feels more like a lake.
The first Montage to open outside the U.S., Montage Los Cabos is one of the newest hotels in the area. A few things set it apart right away. Many beaches in Cabo border water that is too rough for swimming, with currents and riptides so fierce they will pull you out to sea. But here, the cozy cove rings one of the few beaches that is swimmable—and where you can snorkel. The food is delicious at both restaurants on property. And, of course, there is the magnificent 40,000-square-foot spa, which is really more of a holistic retreat. Aerial yoga, meditation and breathwork classes are coming, along with a stargazing program and full-moon ceremony. A central question that drives the team: “How can we share local culture and tradition?” Very well, we would say.
Carneros feels a bit like Pleasantville, with Mayberry R.F.D. mixed in. It is calm and peaceful, and each room is a separate cottage, with a porch, rocking chairs and a full backyard. You may see women walking dogs or families with children, but it’s also a great romantic retreat, with al fresco showers, private fire pits and soaking tubs. It’s easy to breathe in the quiet, as well as the scent of local herbs like lavender, sage and rosemary, or flowers, tended by a full-time gardener.After a multimillion dollar spa renovation last year, Carneros, in the heart of the Napa Valley wine country, finally has a gorgeous, laid-back spa. Beauty from the inside out is part of the spa menu, with a range of elixirs, probiotic drinks, tonics for sleep and deliciously simple fresh-pressed juices, along with high-tech and high-touch facials and massage, a gorgeous yoga studio, two pools, fitness studio, arbor walks and wellness options galore.
Following a major renovation, Rodavento Spa has emerged as a standout place to disconnect from the world, and reconnect with nature. Set in the colonial town of Valle de Bravo—a popular weekend getaway spot from Mexico City—the 36-room Hotel Rodavento was built to celebrate the outdoors (it’s even got its own lake and zip lining course), and so was its new spa, which is tucked in forest, overlooking a bubbling creek. After leaving your electronics at the front desk, make your own natural products at the Scrub Bar, enjoy the hot and cold areas of the hydrotherapy circuit, then relax into locally influenced treatments (as well as some CBD services) in one of the seven fireplace-equipped cabins or the new private spa yurt.
A short drive from the historic center of Luang Prabang, this new Rosewood resort—opened in late-2018—is an idyllic mountain-backed hideaway where the rooms and suites overlook a river dotted with mini-waterfalls. From their perch along the hillsides, the stylish spa tents offer equally stunning views, as well as nourishing treatments that draw from Laotian healing traditions and herbal remedies. Many of the signature services have been designed by an expert Hmong tribal healer, and can be customized to your needs using ingredients foraged from the surrounding forests or the resort’s own spa garden.
The city of Chandigarh may have a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation for its Le Corbusier-designed architecture, but this resort just out of town more than holds its own when it comes to visual beauty. Surrounded by 8,000 acres of the Siswan Forest Range and backed by views of the Himalayan mountains, The Oberoi Sukhvilas is the perfect spot for a wellness jump-start. Choose from short weekend programs to month-long detoxes, traditional Ayurvedic therapies to mindfulness and well-being activities held both in the spa and out in nature. Flavorful seasonal cuisine complements it all.
Inspired but the writings of noted Vietnamese Zen master and scholar Thich Nhat Hanh, this beachside resort’s Heart of the Earth Spa has been designed to showcase how we are connected to the Earth—and how we can honor the connections between humanity and the planet. It’s also just a spectacular haven, complete with a koi- and lotus-filled central pond surrounded by super-sized “floating” treatment pavilions equipped with day beds and soaking tubs. Every service incorporates the playing of crystal singing bowls (tuned to the harmonic frequency of nature), while favorites like the two-and-a-half-hour Nam Hai Earth Song also feature Vietnamese healing techniques, farm-grown ingredients, spa-made aromatherapy oil blends, and a massage with gem-tipped tuning forks.
A dramatic mountain backdrop and serene desert landscape set the stage for a soul-recharging experience at this legendary Arizona resort. These natural wonders—and the primary elements of water, air, earth, wood and fire—inspired the design and menu of the Well & Being Spa, where every guest is encouraged to “find their energy.” Seek your energy in the hydrotherapy areas (which include a waterfall grotto), in treatments like Himalayan salt stone massages and singing bowl sound therapy, or in workout classes like FloatFit and aerial yoga. If fitness is your focus, the two-hour WellFit assessment includes a personalized plan to take your regime to the next level.
Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve
Following a post-Hurricane Maria renovation, this beachfront resort has been totally restored to its former glory—and that goes for its dreamy spa, too. Ringed by pineapple orchards and featuring indoor and outdoor lounging spaces, treehouse-style treatment cabins, and outdoor soaking pools, the Spa Botanico celebrates the island’s fresh, seasonal ingredients in all its therapies, many of which use products mixed in-house. It’s easy to breathe deep surrounded by the scent of anti-inflammatory cinnamon, healing bay leaves, detoxifying tobacco and nutmeg, relaxing sour orange, uplifting lemongrass, and more.
2019 Special Awards
Best Mineral Bathing
The Gainsborough, a Leading Hotel of the World, is the only hotel in the UK with a natural thermal spa. The spectacular Thermal Pool, where guests take the waters under a glass roof that brings in lots of natural light, is flanked by an invigorating Bath House Circuit, with two small thermal pools, infrared and traditional sauna, and lavender ice alcove. And, the spa menu features unique and spectacular Aquatic Body Therapies that take place in the pool: Aquasana, a blend of yoga, tai chi and karate moves and; Freedom, a sophisticated mind-body mashup of guided stretches.
The 99 light and airy rooms (and three spa suites, distinct for the thermal waters that are pumped directly into their bathtubs) feature beautiful views of the city and surrounding hills. But the focus here is on the natural mineral-rich thermal waters, with over 42 minerals and trace elements, which have bubbled up from local underground springs for millennia.
Zemi Beach House Hotel & Spa, Anguilla
Set on six oceanfront acres in Anguilla, Zemi Beach House features fine white-sand beaches, romantic restaurants and fine dining, stunning infinity pools, exotic hand-crafted cocktails and, at the Zemi Thai House Spa, a range of holistic wellness therapies inspired by the ancient traditions of the Taino people. This sanctuary features a yoga deck, private spa suites, the only hammam on the island, a fresh juice bar and a wellness program that incorporates elements of nature that are joined together to heal mind, body and spirit.
The Alpina Gstaad, Switzerland
The Swiss Alps town of Gstaad may be best known as a jet-set favorite for skiing, art and luxury retreats, but it also boasts another distinction: It’s home to the only Six Senses spa in Switzerland. A standout for its intimate atmosphere, world-class cultural programming, and Michelin-starred dining, the Alpina Gstaad hotel also features a spa that helps guests reboot both body and mind—so alongside dozens of massages, facials and body treatments, you’ll find options like chakra balancing, sound healing, cupping and colonic therapies. Personalized wellness screenings help measure everything from metabolism and stress levels to biomarkers, dedicated packages target things like sleep health and consults with a Tibetan healer result in customized programs incorporating cuisine, workouts and spa services.
The Retreat Hotel & Spa, Blue Lagoon, Iceland
For years, the healing geothermal waters of Iceland’s Blue Lagoon have been a popular stop on the tourist trail—though, with no real hotel to stay in on-site (save for a more clinical facility), it was more a day trip stop than destination. With the 2018 opening of The Retreat, visitors now have stunning, contemporary suites in which to relax between soaking in the mineral-rich waters, enjoying signature facials and massages, and savoring fresh, flavorful cuisine. The otherworldly volcanic landscape and peaceful, remote setting—plus the schedule-free set-up—make this an ideal spot for some solo spa-ing.
This little piece of India in upstate New York features 131 sleek, enormous rooms overlooking Bailey Lake, surrounded by 1,310 acres of greenery. The facilities, in stark futuristic white, are elaborate, offering everything from an indoor pool and cold-pressed juice bar (adjacent to a living green wall of ferns, moss and native plants), to a reflexology walkway and multiple meditation and yoga studios.
Guests select one of six Pathways to Wellness, which address stress, fatigue, weight management, toxicity and pain, and span three to 10 days. Upon arrival, visitors take individual assessments of their goals and tendencies. Doshas (one of three types of Ayurvedic energies that are believed to influence the body) are determined, which then inspire customized plans for experiences and nutrition. Naturally, the spa is a mainstay, with 36 treatment rooms, six mud rooms, six acupuncture rooms and more, offering state-of-the-art Ayurvedic therapies, guided toward specific detoxifying treatments.
Monkey Island Estate: The Floating Spa, UK
The long-awaited Monkey Island Estate, set on an island in the middle of the Thames about 30 minutes north of London, surpasses all expectations. The historic estate features English gardens (including a “growhouse” for the spa), a chicken coop, an apiary, a summer barbecue pavilion, a smokehouse where guests can learn to smoke salmon, yoga and boating, equestrian experiences and the three-room floating spa, which is tethered to the banks of the Island. The Estate was originally inhabited by monks in the Middle Ages, whose apothecary elixirs were known far and wide. The gorgeous three-room spa is connected back to its heritage by a signature treatment, the Monk’s Elixir, which begins with a tasting of three elixirs inspired by the monk’s herbal tonics, and includes a range of healing massage that would have made them proud.
Best Girlfriend Getaway
In a country setting in the Catskill Mountains, the Emerson offers one-stop wellness, with a range of yoga (including restorative), barre, Pilates and aqua fitness, as well as a spa menu inspired by the earth’s elements and the balance of nature. This serene and beautiful spot, just two hours north of New York City, is a perfect place to enjoy a great girlfriend getaway. Work out in the Fitness Center or take it outside, with hikes, biking, bird-watching, guided nature walks, and fun activities like volleyball, horseshoes, frisbee, as well as a glimpse through The World’s Largest kaleidoscope! Or, spend your time at the spa, enjoying the steam and sauna, or a Tarot Card Reading and Chakra Balancing.