From the palatial to the natural, harem-like hammams to Zen-like sanctuaries, salude per aqua, aka SPA, has changed the way we holiday. Not that water’s healing power is a new concept. The ancient Greeks built contemplative havens at natural water springs 2,500 years ago while the sophisticated Roman empire struck back expanding thermal water baths throughout their lands. Over centuries, the trickle of visitors taking the waters at bubbling natural hot springs has become a torrent of travellers taking New Age holidays to find their ‘better selves,’ often in the hands of an experienced masseur or holistic healer.
Six Senses Spas generically offer a wide range of holistic wellness, rejuvenation and beauty treatments at their resorts but at their Con Dao Vietnam resort, the bar has been raised with an array of visiting wellness experts taking up residence. Already during 2016, German sports and massage therapist Konrad Langewand has been providing therapeutic back treatments and Sandra Laznik is winding up a month of intensive fitness training and active meditation. Still to come is Reiki Master Marty Fildes, Holistic Healer Nimisha Rattan and Isabella dos Santos whose specialties include deep tissue massage and deep sleep treatments. www.sixsenses.com www.asiaunbound.com
An early adopter of the spa movement, Thailand’s resorts deliver award-winning, luxurious spa experiences, often in lush, tropical surroundings, at a fraction of what it would cost at home. Rayavadee resort in Krabi takes spa-ing seriously, its aromatic massages a must-try employing locally grown herbs experienced amidst buildings reminiscent of a southern Thai village. Spa pioneer Banyan Tree Phuket combines the rustic luxe of stone and wood, lotus ponds and trickling water with sophisticated decor and sublime hands-on treatments that spread the scrub, massage the moisturiser and deliver face-saving facials. Small yet perfectly formed Pimalai Spa on Koh Lanta is one of Thailand’s best kept secrets. Seven treatment rooms flow naturally around private tropical courtyards where petal-strewn bath-tubs complete pampering perfection.
Knead to Know
At COMO Shambhala Estate, Bali, it takes 300 steps to reach Nirvana. Deep in the ravine as the river trickles past, a traditional Indonesian Taksu massage is applied with a degree of tough love as the masseuse kneads deep into a tangle of tight shoulders and a tension-filled neck. COMO takes its wellness experiences seriously and guests consult with psychologists, holistic health specialists and nutritionists before their health and activities program is customised. The ultimate detox destination, it’s ironic that many guests eschew the excellent restaurant in favour of ‘detox-dining’ in a residential-sized villa furnished with museum-quality artefacts. www.comoshambhala.com
Throughout India, the sonorous voice of the yoga master exhorts you to relax. It’s India’s siren call that’s been luring visitors for centuries. Travellers flock to its yoga sanctuaries and for Ayurvedic treatments, India’s ancient healing science estimated to be 3,000 years old. Sanskrit for the study of prolonged life, it addresses the total being. At SwaSwara in Karnataka, lightly scented, warmed herbal oils, personalised to your dosha, are worked into the skin with long, firm strokes sloughing off stress. The twice-daily yoga, Ayurvedic treatments, hiking and swimming are perfectly balanced with nutritious, organically grown vegetables from the resort’s garden while sun salutations on nearby Om Beach satisfies the soul as it slides over the horizon.
Are you ready for this?
Fun and fitness, culture and cooking, at Sharing Bali, guests get to live the spa life while ramping-up the energy levels. Famous for introducing bootcamps to Bali, Sharing Bali near Ubud now runs an extensive portfolio of programs designed to enhance fitness of both body and mind that takes you beyond the passive spa (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) to an inter-active experience. Living close to a small village, culture is glimpsed through local village life rather than being a packaged experience. Surrendering to a local massage, taking a Balinese dance lesson, climbing a nearby volcano at dawn or simply sitting in mindful solitude, the rhythm of life here is determined by you. As Western concepts of time simply evaporate, is this The New Bliss?
Six Spa Treatments to Try
Coffee, honey, wine, exotic fruits or special herbs may be grown in the area so try a scrub or massage oil that unlocks the aromas of the locale.
The humble coconut, known as the tree of life, is sympathetic to sensitive skins making coconut oil a great skin conditioner.
Face facts, who doesn’t love a deep cleansing hydrating facial that opens up the pores coupled with a soothing head massage.
Steam, body scrub and body wrap your way to a re-contoured body.
Get a pumelling in a Hydrobath. It’s not only relaxing but stimulates blood and lymphatic circulation.
Hot Stone Massage treatments have gone from fringe to classic on spa menus. Respected for their deeply relaxing benefits, heated basalt stones placed on acupressure points ease tension and stress and claim to promote harmony, balance and peace.
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