There’s no disputing the science; the deleterious effects of stress on the body and mind have been definitively proven under laboratory conditions. In addition to a general feeling of malaise, stress symptoms can include headaches, stomach problems, elevated blood pressure, insomnia and heart trouble. Is it any wonder, then, that many cultures around the world insist on integrating relaxing spa treatments into employee vacation time? Spa vacations relax and renew the body and mind, restoring a sense of calm and fortifying the body for the return to the stresses of everyday life. Spending time unwinding in a soothing environment can pay untold dividends to mental and physical well-being. However, not all spas are created equal. The exquisite spas listed below are among many distinctive venues chosen for their access to unique mineral waters and exotic massage techniques, their historical significance as centers of healing or their soothing ambiance.
Spa Halekulani, Oahu, Hawaii
Utilizing volcanic ash, native plants and ancient Polynesian techniques, this spa seeks to indulge visitors with a true Hawaiian healing experience. Nonu massage techniques, Polynesian foot-pounding, herbal steam baths and pohaku hot stone massage help to ease the tension away. The adjacent hotel boasts every luxury and its prime location right on Waikiki Beach adds the soothing rhythmic ocean waves to the peaceful ambiance.
Thermae Bath Spa, Bath, EnglandThe Romans recognized the importance of this heated, healing mineral spring and built a lavish system of public baths dedicated to the goddess Minerva. Today the city is recognized as a World Heritage Site encompassing thousands of years of British history. The Thermae Bath Spa is the only venue in the city of Bath that routes water directly from the hot springs for an authentic bathing experience. No less than 42 mineral compounds in the water promote healing of skin conditions as well as relaxation. Services include hot rock massage, aromatherapy steam rooms and four pools for soaking in the warm mineral water.
Banyan Tree, Phuket, Thailand
Indulge in Thai massage techniques surrounded by traditional Thai architecture at this lavish resort. In recent years, Phuket has become a center for spa tourists, offering ancient therapies and medicines as well as yoga and meditation. Seeking to bring mind and body into harmony, the spa even maintains its own academies dedicated to training its massage therapists in order for guests to experience consistent treatments of the highest quality.
Brenners Park-Hotel and Spa, Baden-Baden, GermanyNestled in the heart of the Black Forest, this town was renowned for its healing springs from the time of the Romans. It became a fashionable center for Victorian-era royalty who came seeking both a “cure” and an opportunity to mingle with the wealthy and famous. More than 140 years later, the Brenners Park Hotel still caters to guests just as it did during its Victorian heyday. The beautifully appointed rooms in this stunning hotel only serve as a backdrop for the healing waters of its modern spa, which offers facials, body treatments, medicinal massage and fitness in addition to its mineral pool and sauna.
Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa, Iceland
This land of fire and ice boasts one of the most captivating natural hot springs in the world (see top photo). Famous for its healing properties, guests can indulge in the most simple to the most elaborate spa packages. Most guests simply soak in the warm, mineral laden waters, but classic Scandinavian saunas, silica salt massages, algae wraps and beauty treatments utilizing the minerals found in the hot springs are also available.
Sedona Rouge Hotel and Spa, Sedona, ArizonaThe stark beauty of red sandstone cliffs meld with the cloudless blue sky and warm desert air to create an environment perfect for healing relaxation. Sedona has gained the mystique as a center for alternative therapies and as a result, Sedona Rouge spa technicians are well-versed in many exotic massage techniques. All spa products are locally sourced and utilize indigenous plant extracts. When finished with spa treatments, guests can explore the red rock formations with enjoyable hikes or mountain biking excursions.
Qamea Resort and Spa, Fiji
The incredible allure of Fiji works its own kind of healing magic, but this exquisite island also offers medicinal traditions of its own, such as the Fijian Bobo massage using the oils of exotic island nuts, mud therapy and even detoxifying algae wraps. At Qamea Resort and Spa, every detail of a relaxing vacation is meticulously planned to ensure peace of mind. Using time-honored Fijian techniques and native plants, guests are treated to the ultimate in pampering vacations.
Jack writes about the food that he eats (the food you should be eating), the places he’s been (the places you should go) and the things he’s made (listen closely, he’ll tell you how to make them too).