October 14, 2015 / Luxury Lifestyle

Passport to Pampering: The World's Best Spas

Forget spa "days" – with this deluxe edit of international hotels and wellbeing resorts, the whole experience is designed for maximum indulgence


When a simple aromatherapy massage or firming facial stimulates the need for a full-on indulgent retreat, it's a sign to take some serious time off. From sophisticated urban oases to total tropical privacy, we present our pick of some of the world's finest spa destinations. And… relax. 

Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, Switzerland
Some vacations are all about shutting yourself away in privacy and recharging. For such times, consider the Penthouse Suite at Switzerland’s Grand Hotel Quellenhof. Spread over some 4,730 square feet, the suite occupies the highest point of the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz complex and enjoys unrivaled panoramic views. 

Banner image: The relaxing thermal spa garden pool at Grand Hotel Quellenhof in Switzerland’s Grand Resort Bad Ragaz complex. Above: The Balkon Lounge in the Grand Hotel Quellenhof enjoys picture-perfect views over the alpine wilderness. Photograph courtesy of Grand Resort Bad RagazYou may, however, prefer to savor the sights from your private “wellbeing oasis” complete with freestanding whirlpool bath – just waiting to be filled with the 36.5°C warm, healing Ragazer thermal water – glass sauna, steam bath, and outdoor Jacuzzi. A butler is also on hand to attend to your every desire.
Steven Short

MAIA Luxury Resort & Spa, Seychelles
Tucked away on a private peninsula on the Seychelles’ Mahé Island, MAIA Luxury Resort & Spa is a destination in itself. Designed by renowned architect Bill Bensley, each of MAIA’s 30 completely private villas is looked after by a dedicated butler to anticipate your every need.

Set sympathetically among 30 acres of lush, award-winning gardens, the peaceful villas embrace the best of indoor/outdoor design and feature their own infinity-edge pool as well as an outdoor double bath – the ultimate indulgent location from which to enjoy the view down to the turquoise waters that lap MAIA's pristine private beach.

While each of MAIA Luxury Resort & Spa’s private villas has its own private infinity-edge pool, all guests can enjoy the beach-side pool next to the restaurant. Photographs courtesy of MAIA Luxury Resort & Spa    MAIA's Balinese-style spa features open-air pavilions where guests can enjoy world-class treatments, including massages, facials and body wraps.Guests are invited to join daily group sessions of Qi Gong and Hatha yoga in the natural surroundings of the spa, all to the soothing background sounds of birdsong and flowing water. Enjoy spectacular 180-degree vistas of the Indian Ocean from MAIA's Ocean Panoramic Villas, located on the hill crest of its private peninsula, while indulging in a signature aromatherapy bath on your completely private terrace. MAIA's intimate Wine Boutique houses the largest wine collection in the Seychelles – a sublime spot for private dinners and expert-led tastings. Relax in serene privacy after a day spent trekking through Mahé Island’s rainforest in search of the indigenous Jellyfish Tree or a helicopter trip to nearby island La Digue to see a family of giant tortoises. MAIA's “Collection of Emotions” activities also includes day cruises aboard a luxury yacht and a trip to the local market accompanied by a MAIA chef.

The whole resort was created with total privacy in mind, meaning the moment you arrive to a warm and personal MAIA welcome, you are whisked away by golf buggy – no other vehicles are allowed beyond the resort's gates – to your villa, where your butler greets you with a fresh juice and light snack to tide you over. 

Dining is a relaxed gourmet affair – whether in your villa or the charming Tec-Tec restaurant – with an international menu that focuses on local and seasonal ingredients, including the freshest fish (red snapper features heavily) and seafood prepared with traditional Creole spices and seasonings. For oenophiles, the resort's wine selection is simply outstanding – perhaps the best in that part of the world – with a collection chosen by sommelier Laurent Duval, who expertly guides guests through an exquisite wine-tasting experience in MAIA's on-site Wine Boutique by candlelight and chill-out music. 

But if that’s not enough to put you in a state of blissful relaxation, the spa at MAIA represents a whole other level of Zen. With its open-air treatment rooms, this oasis of wellness lets guests indulge in a massage or signature Omorovicza facial to the sound of birdsong and waterfalls. Hatha yoga and Qi Gong sessions, after-sun banana-leaf wraps, mini treatments just for kids, manicures and pedicures, and aromatherapy baths in your villa round out the spa's extensive menu. 

It all embodies the resort’s “Wherever, Whenever, Whatever” philosophy, which encourages a stay as individual as you are.
Kitty Finstad

The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, Bath, UK
It’s been a good year for The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa in Bath, Somerset, which recently underwent a multi-million pound refurbishment and restoration. In July, the hotel launched the Taittinger Spa Garden – a tranquil oasis in which guests can relax pre- or post-treatment. The garden offers an exclusive, diet-customized spa menu created by head chef David Campbell and, of course, chilled Taittinger by the glass and bottle. And in September, the already award-winning spa was named England’s Best Hotel Spa in the inaugural World Spa Awards. Treatments on offer include the Bath Spa Skincare Facial Treatment, using products that are 100% natural, organic, pure, and ethical, and the tempting “Hero” treatment: a personalized ESPA facial, a back exfoliation and massage with hot stones, and a scalp massage. The hotel itself is equally inviting, with 45 rooms and suites set within a Grade I listed Georgian townhouse on the world-famous Royal Crescent in the historic heart of Bath.
Steven Short

The reception of the award-winning spa at Bath's Royal Crescent Hotel, which underwent a multimillion-pound refurbishment in 2015. The 12m heated relaxation pool in the Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa retains its historic charm with its distinctive Bath stonework. The relaxation pool and hot tub at Bath's Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa. A warm welcome awaits at The Royal Crescent Hotel. The city of Bath draws tourists from around the world for its exquisitely preserved Georgian architecture.    The tranquil Taittinger Spa Garden, where guests can enjoy some post-treatment refreshments. All photographs courtesy of The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa

The Scarlet Huntington, San Francisco
Pull up to the red-brick façade of Nob Hill’s Scarlet Huntington Hotel, and you’re keenly aware that this 1920s property has been lifted up, dusted off, and given a face-lift – one that carefully preserves the integrity of her authentic glamour and good bones, mixed with some updated styling.

 Named by the San Francisco Chronicle as "one of the most luxurious spaces in the city," the Nob Hill Spa at the Scarlet Huntington features a eucalyptus steam room as part of a menu of luxurious treatments. Guests can enjoy a swim with a view of San Francisco’s spectacular skyline. The Scarlet Huntington’s Nob Hill Spa is a three-level oasis that boasts a Zen relaxation room, saunas, and a eucalyptus steam room. Imperial yellow, gold, black, and fuchsia drive the design of the Scarlet Huntington hotel’s Premium rooms. A heritage-inspired Peranakan print is the focal point. The iconic red of the Scarlet Huntington’s brick façade extends into its luxurious Passion suite.

The hotel’s recent makeover means that all its upscale rooms and suites now dazzle with a rich, jewel-toned palette, a playful retro-chic mix of furniture pieces in modern, glamorous, unexpected fabrics, and unique Peranakan artwork. Each room is different from the next: expect croco wallpaper, black lacquer bathroom sinks, punk-style furniture studs, extravagant headboards, and opulent velvet drapes.

Vogue India liked it so much they did a fashion shoot there. You get the picture. 

Keep the old-school glam vibe alive with a classic cocktail (craft bourbon or whisky) and nibbles, such as chicken-liver mousse or steak tartare, in the hotel's Big Four Restaurant. The bar, with its sleek dark wood and Banker's lamp-inspired green-and-brass look, is best enjoyed in the evening, with the tinkle of the piano-man in the background.

Pool-side service is all part of the package at the Nob Hill Spa in San Francisco.The Nob Hill Spa, designed by spa guru Sylvia Sepielli, offers guests an indoor infinity relaxation pool with city skyline views, tranquil Zen room, eucalyptus steam room, sauna, whirlpool tub, and fitness center
Catherine Dunwoody

Dormy House, Cotswolds, UK
Nestled in the heart of Britain’s Cotswolds, near the pretty village of Broadway, Dormy House at first appears a typically English farmhouse. But looks can be deceiving. Inside, 17th-century wooden paneling and inglenook fireplaces – where fires glow all year round – are perfectly paired with zingily fresh Scandinavian design, inspired by the Danish heritage of the Sørensen family who own the estate.

The House Spa at Dormy House features a pool room that twinkles with candlelight. "A bit like home, but better" is how Dormy House Hotel describes its English farmhouse-meets-Scandinavian-chic design.  Dormy House Hotel's origins as a 17th-century Cotswold farmhouse are obvious from its country-quaint exterior. In the 1940s, the house was bought by Broadway Golf Club next door and renamed Dormy House.  The House Spa features a host of luxurious facilities, including a candlelit indoor infinity pool, “lavender infusion” sauna, “hot juniper” Finnish cabin, and cooling “drench showers." At Dormy House Spa's Veuve Cliquot Champagne Nail Parlour, guests can sip champagne while they’re groomed and glossed.

Individually designed bedrooms are chic and bright, with deliciously plump beds; light floods into The Garden Room, where a glass wall fully opens to the delightful English garden beyond. Here chef Jon Ingram serves masterfully prepared meals – created from locally sourced seasonal produce, of course – with unique flair.

But it’s the award-winning House Spa that steals the show. Upstairs in the lounge, floor-to-ceiling windows open out to a sun-trap terrace; downstairs, a 52-foot infinity-edge pool laps gently in an inviting room lit by a collection of twinkling candles and dramatic pendant lighting. The walls of the manicure room are lined with champagne, which guests are encouraged to sip through straws as they have their nails buffed and polished. And best of all are the truly luxurious treatments from Beata Aleksandrowicz-trained therapists. The Repose facial feels almost heaven-sent, and is considered by some guests to be "better than Botox."

From the dry heat of the hot juniper Finnish cabin and the gentle warmth of a Cotswold lavender sauna, to the cooling “drench showers” and the outdoor hydrotherapy pool, Dormy House offers an uplifting blend of wellbeing experiences. All of which makes it impossible not to heed this light-hearted message to spa-goers: "Switch off your phones and come to your senses." 
Eleanor Fazan

La Réserve Hotel and Spa, Paris
For those who take their spa-diaries very seriously, a visit to the world's style capital would be incomplete without a seriously indulgent – and effective – beauty treatment after all that boutique-browsing and gallery-going.

Steps from the Champs-Elysées, La Réserve Hotel and Spa's highly private address houses 40 rooms and suites in a classic Haussmannian-style mansion. Chic and discreet, with elegant interiors by celebrated designer Jacques Garcia, the hotel is renowned for its exceptional levels of personal service as well its excellent restaurant, Le Gabriel, led by Executive Chef Jérôme Banctel.

Housed inside a Haussmannian-style mansion, La Réserve Paris Hotel and Spa enjoys the chic and exclusive feel of a private club, as exemplified by its stunning library, pictured above. Photograph: G. Gardette A magnificent fireplace graces the reception of La Réserve. After a hard day of touring boutiques and galleries, it’s a warm welcome. La Réserve Spa’s gently candlelit indoor pool is the ultimate place to relax before or after a bespoke Nescens beauty treatment. Renowned for its exceptional levels of discreet and personal service, La Réserve Hotel and Spa enjoys a highly private address just moments from the Champs-Elysées.

La Réserve's deserved five-star status has been recently enhanced with the opening of its exclusive Nescens Spa – the first in France from the respected Swiss anti-aging brand. Known for its highly effective treatment programs, Nescens was created by Professor Jacques Proust, a pioneer in the science of biological aging and anti-aging medicine, meaning clients can be assured of effective results. 

With a team of medical and aesthetic professionals testing and approving every treatment, personalized diagnoses, bespoke massage techniques – and more –  behind every facial and body massage, the Nescens spa's anti-aging credentials are as peerless as the hotel's five-star hospitality. 
Kitty Finstad

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