To achieve full zen status, a hotel needs stunning design and an inspired setting to go along with its saunas, steam rooms, and sound baths. Oh, and maybe one other thing.
All of these hotels have great spas. That’s a given. But that’s not why they’re on this zen-focused list. We’re not interested in the temporary zen that comes from a single trip to the massage table. To commemorate this brand new calendar year and the refreshing recharge we all crave, we’re zeroing in on hotels that provide the total zen package: top-class spa, soul-stirring surroundings, indubitably pleasurable design. From check-in to check-out, restaurant to bedroom, parking lot to yoga pavilion — at these hotels, the zen never ends.
Oh, and at each of them, Tablet Plus members receive a $100 spa credit. That’s a nice package.
Elounda Beach Hotel
Mercifully free from garish overdevelopment and noisy crowds, Elounda Beach, on the northeast coast of the island of Crete, is delightfully secluded and eminently tasteful. It’s no small resort, by any means, but the list of leisure facilities is almost encyclopedic. All manner of water sports are on offer, from scuba diving to yacht cruises, and there’s no end to land-loving activities, including tennis, miniature golf and a well-equipped fitness center. The first-class spa follows the same blueprint, with an endless array of health and beauty treatments that mix ancient tradition and the latest research in everything from intensive detox to body sculpture.
On Croatia’s Dalmatian coast where the Krka river estuary empties placidly into the Adriatic, you’ll find a narrow spit of land just south of the Renaissance stronghold of Šibenik. Right on the tip of that peninsula, luxuriating in the clement Mediterranean breeze, sits a four-story, teardrop-shaped contemporary edifice, flanked by a fleet of swanky yachts. Welcome to D-Resort Šibenik. The spa capitalizes on that feeling of luxurious tranquility, with rejuvenating rituals pulled from every part of the world and personalized treatments for every type who ventures here.
Set on hundreds of acres of waterfront land, between a glorious private beach and the edge of a truly untamed jungle, in its present carnation Nihi Sumba is fantastically luxurious — its villas are the very picture of contemporary luxury elegance. But this is a place that grew slowly from what was once a secluded surf shack, and there’s still something unpretentious about the atmosphere as a result. It’s worth reiterating, of course, that it’s a surf shack no more; private infinity pools and butler service pretty much rule that out, as does the spa with its open-air treatment pavilions set above the ocean.
Hotel Bardo, set on the lush, forested west side of Tulum, walks the line between deep immersion in this location’s inimitable atmosphere and the high-end comforts modern travelers have grown accustomed to. Nowhere is that more clear than in the hotel’s spa and “healing center,” which offers therapies drawn from both eastern and Maya traditions. Choose from yoga, sound therapy, and the like, or try the Temazcal sweat-lodge in care of a local shaman.
Turkey’s Bodrum Peninsula is anything but an undiscovered destination, but while there’s plenty of development adding to its already abundant hospitality scene, you’d be hard pressed to notice any of it from within the confines of Bodrum Loft. That’s doubly true while taking in one of the endless holistic experiences at the spa — or inside an open-air massage cabana — set within a lush garden looking over the deep blue views of the Demirbükü Bay.
Yes, that Sundance. To many minds, this is just another aspect of the multi-faceted house that Robert Redford built, and the fact that it’s a first-class ski getaway is almost secondary. Lofts and suites are understated, with a certain hand-crafted quality, and the freestanding cottages are immersed in the landscape, surrounded by picture-perfect Rocky Mountain pine forest. The same can be said for the spa, set above the main base in a series of cabins equipped with everything necessary for a bit of luxury treatment amidst the peaks.
Not exactly a household name, Forestville lies some ways off the most heavily beaten path of the Napa/Sonoma wine country, partway from Santa Rosa to the Russian River town of Guerneville. As such it’s something of an escape within an escape, a break not just from the city but from all the commotion on the winery-and-restaurant circuit. The Wellness Barn completes the hidden fantasy, where local remedies and a holistic approach to healing creates yet another layer of solitude.
Round Hill Hotel
Montego Bay, Jamaica
All understated elegance in casual dress, here’s a place where one imagines British aristocracy and famous Americans letting their hair down a bit, tended to by the upright and exceedingly formal service staff. As for entertainment, forget about some kind of heaving swingers’ nightclub: here it’s more like dining by the sea, after a day spent around the pool, at the private beach or in the Elemis spa. The latter makes its home in a restored 18th-century home looking over a massive lawn leading to the private beach, where the many treatment options rendezvous with an open-air yoga pavilion and pool.
Château de la Gaude
It’s not every day a new luxury boutique hotel opens in Provence, especially not one set on a winemaking estate surrounded by acres of organic vineyards and finely manicured gardens. The stunning farmhouse that anchors the property joins seventeen rooms and suites, spread across the various buildings of the charming, village-like estate. Tastings and tours enable guests to make the most of the estate’s winemaking operations, and the grounds offer plentiful opportunities for rambling and recreation. The spa refuses to waste the idyllic setting, with four treatment rooms, hammam, and sensory shower abutting a private garden for dedicated relaxation.
San Giustino Valdarno, Italy
Il Borro is the sprawling estate in San Giustino Valdarno that Ferruccio Ferragamo bought in 1993 and has since developed into the Tuscan luxury hotel to end them all. Il Borro comprises no less than an acclaimed, hundred-plus acre vineyard and winery, vast groves of olive trees amidst the cypress and oaks, plenty of rolling green hills, three villas, another three lavish farmhouses and — here’s the real coup de grâce — an entire restored medieval village. No shock that a place like this includes a spa with a ten-page menu and brochure, not excluding exfoliating olive oil treatments and wine therapy.
La Reserve Geneve
The location is unique; while most of the city’s hotels are concentrated along the river, La Réserve occupies ten acres of parkland at the side of the lake, five kilometers outside the city center, on the way to the airport. This may put a damper on sightseeing by foot, but only enhances the resort-like quality of the place. The spa is central to La Réserve’s appeal, and spans an entire floor, complete with indoor and outdoor pool, seventeen treatment rooms and a hair salon.
Canyon Point, Utah
Our preference for quirky little independent hotels goes right out the window when the chain we’re talking about is one of Aman’s caliber — which, if we’re honest, can only mean Aman itself. It’s hard to think of a less predictable setting than southern Utah for their latest outpost, Amangiri, but the otherworldly landscape is inspiring indeed, and serves as the ideal canvas for what is by any reasonable standard an architecturally distinguished property. The 25,000-square-foot spa looks out over this ineffable desert, where expert therapists practice treatments drawn from Navajo tradition and yoga unfolds after a short hike up a rock formation with 360º views of the Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument.
Muhu Island, Estonia
A charming, intimate luxury hotel and spa on an estate that’s five hundred years old. In fact, the whole island feels caught in a sort of time warp — while Tallinn in Estonia’s capital is increasingly filled with cut-rate revelers on vodka cruises, Muhu is scenic, quiet, pastoral, and largely untouched by the outside world. All of which makes Pädaste the ideal place to unwind. The accommodations are luxurious in an old-fashioned way — they do have all the modern conveniences, but in moderation, and are mostly remarkable for their sheer old-fashioned comfort. The spa, on the other hand, throws moderation right out the window — if, as the locals do, you use the “Siberian cold tub” in between sauna sessions, you’ll find your pulse anything but even.