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10 Destination-worthy Hotel Spas

  • Fonteverde Tuscan Resort & Spa

    Fonteverde Tuscan Resort & Spa

  • Capella Pedregal

    Capella Pedregal

  • Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort

    Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort

  • Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa

    Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa

  • Mukul Resort & Spa

    Mukul Resort & Spa

  • Mandarin Oriental Bangkok

    Mandarin Oriental Bangkok

  • Banyan Tree Mayakoba

    Banyan Tree Mayakoba

  • Uma by Como, Ubud

    Uma by Como, Ubud

  • The Dolder Grand

    The Dolder Grand

  • Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

    Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

November, 2013

Given how much of the spa-going experience is taken eyes closed and lying down, it’s remarkable what a difference the surroundings can make. There’s just something about a sea breeze blowing through the room or some oxygen-rich jungle air — or even a serene, unexpectedly quiet space in the middle of a big city — that makes the pampering feel all the better. These ten hotels combine world-class spas with destination-worthy settings.


Fonteverde Tuscan Resort & Spa
San Casciano dei Bagni, Tuscany — Housed in what was once one of the Medici family’s many lavish vacation villas, Fonteverde combines a spectacular Tuscan setting with the pleasures of a high-end, full-scale spa resort. A series of therapeutic pools make use of the region’s purportedly restorative thermal spring water, while a medical staff helps out with whatever the waters don’t take care of, offering diagnostic checkups, nutrition programs and aesthetic medicine services.
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Capella Pedregal
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico — Admittedly “detox” isn’t the first word that comes to mind when we think of Cabo, but then again Capella Pedregal is a whole other side of Cabo, with an unspoiled beachside setting and a spa whose signature services revolve around the lunar cycle. For a distinctively local spa experience, meet with the hotel’s curandera, who specializes in Baja folk healing using plants from the hotel’s garden.
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La Fortuna, Costa Rica — Set at the base of Costa Rica’s famous Arenal volcano, amidst a network of positively Edenic-looking jungle hot springs, this wellness retreat is home to a spa that could truly exist nowhere else. It centers around the temezcal, a traditional sweat bath guided by a resident shaman, and is surrounded by the rainforest and a string of thermal river pools — though if all you want is an excellent massage, they’re more than up to the task.
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Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa
Torres del Paine, Chile — Tierra Patagonia’s formula is simple and unassailable — the utmost luxury in a setting amidst one of the earth’s wildest, most ruggedly beautiful landscapes — and nowhere is the appeal of this juxtaposition clearer than in the hotel’s gorgeous Uma spa. The indoor pool feels like a glassed-in extension of the landscape just outside, and massages designed to rejuvenate hikers’ sore muscles are perfect for recharging after a day outdoors.
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Playa Gigante, Nicaragua — At this eco-resort on a vast and stunning expanse of Nicaraguan coast, each of the six private spa casitas feels like a separate spa all its own, complete with its own steam room, tropical shower, changing area, pool and relaxation space. Water-based treatments such as underwater pressure-point massage are the standouts, using Thytomer products made with pure seawater, seaweed and other marine elements.
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Mandarin Oriental Bangkok
Bangkok — Plenty of spas claim to take guests on some sort of a “journey;” at the Mandarin Oriental, they really mean it. To get to the spa, guests board a boat for a short cruise across the Chao Phraya River to a traditional teakwood river house. Once there, it’s time for tea, then a foot cleansing ritual, then a private consultation with a therapist — and that’s all before you’ve even gotten started in the steam room, on the heated scrub table, or in the Moroccan rhassoul.
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Banyan Tree Mayakoba
Playa del Carmen, Mexico — With its trio of renowned spa academies and an increasing number of upscale spa resorts scattered across Asia, Banyan Tree has long been synonymous with a certain brand of leave-it-all-behind pampering. And now they’ve brought all their expertise in the various fields of stress-busting to the Americas, with a resort whose ambitious spa, set amidst a network of placid lagoons on the Riviera Maya, rivals anything they’ve done in the Far East.
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Uma by COMO, Ubud
Ubud, Bali — The Uma hotel’s COMO Shambhala Retreat is the rare spa that’s truly as focused on wellness as it is on pampering. Complimentary yoga classes and guided morning walks set the tone; an extensive menu of vegetarian dishes, raw foods and juices is overseen by the hotel’s dietitians; and a staff of alternative health specialists, from naturopaths to traditional Chinese medicine experts to Ayurvedic doctors, helps create an experience that’s tailored to each guest.
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Dolder Grand
Zürich — Given that it’s housed in a turreted, century-old château, the spa at the Dolder Grand is surprisingly futuristic-looking, its warm, diffuse light casting a soft lunar glow over its baths, treatment rooms and butler-serviced spa suites. The setting, high on a hill, feels far from the stress of the city. And with everything from old-fashioned mud baths all the way up to real-deal plastic surgery on offer, they’ve truly got something for just about everybody.
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Six Senses Ninh Van Bay
Nha Trang, Vietnam — Set at the end of a lush, mountainous peninsula jutting out toward the South China Sea, the Six Senses resort already feels like a world apart from the nearby mainland city of Nha Trang — and all the more so in the tranquil spa. A glowing sanctuary of serene thatch-roofed pavilions, it’s got everything from Vietnamese tea scrubs to customized detox programs to Indian head therapies, not to mention the services of a charmingly superfluous hair salon.
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More stories:

Rethink™ Hotels: Second Place
“Carry On, New York” by Brian Evan Thompson
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Inviting Guest-House Hotels
Outside In
Hotels Without Walls

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