Getting healthy and staying healthy. It isn’t always easy. But these luxurious escapes offer a great place to start. The properties on GAYOT’s list of Best Health Retreats in the World go beyond the customary “resort with a spa” route. They offer programs designed to help you cultivate a healthy lifestyle that will last. With a focus on overall wellness and longevity, they give you tools you can use once you’re back home. Better yet, they showcase style, service and a wealth of creature comforts.
The setting is pristine. The modern architecture is striking. And the wellness programs are unparalleled. Welcome to Aro Hā in New Zealand’s Southern Alps. This dedicated health and wellness destination combines a commitment to green living with activities such as yoga, sub-alpine hiking and programs focused on being, relating, eating, toxicity and healing. All-inclusive retreats vary from five to seven days and provide the opportunity to revive the body and soul. This designer health resort is less than an hour’s drive from Queenstown, but guests will find everything they need on-site, from a whole foods-based vegetarian menu to pampering spa treatments. Views of Lake Wakatipu add to the sense of serenity.
9Backstage Hotel Vernissage
Wellness here goes back to the beginning — of the Old Testament, that is — with treatments inspired by the Biblical story of Genesis. Sitting in the shadow of the Matterhorn, this destination spa is encircled by the snowy peaks of the Swiss Alps. Artist/architect/hotelier Heinz Julen (a Zermatt native known for solo art exhibitions across Europe and unique architectural collaborations in Switzerland) has crafted a narrative spa experience with seven treatment rooms, called therapy cubes, themed after each of the days of Creation. The cubes marry visceral and visual components, utilizing lights, images, temperatures and sensations meant to cleanse and relax the body and soul. One method features video projections of images from the Hubble Space Telescope to promote the practice of “cosmic silence,” supporting the ability to focus and resist distraction. Multiple spaces emphasize the use of heat to inspire the feeling of well-being and are linked to the natural healing properties associated with sauna-induced detoxification. This can be used to treat joint pain, asthma, high blood pressure and anxiety.
8COMO Shambhala Estate, Bali
The COMO Shambhala group is known for delivering nirvana (Shambhala is Sanskrit for “peace”). At their lush Balinese jungle retreat, located by a sacred spring near Ubud, health seekers will find an all-immersive healing experience amid serene scenery. Guests can choose from six holistic wellness programs: Cleanse, Ayurvedic, Be Active, Stress Management, Rejuvenation and Oriental Medicine. The latter is a diagnosis-based, personalized approach featuring nutritional therapy, Qigong, acupuncture, meditation and herbal medicine. Guests can also indulge in a Javanese Royal Lulur Bath or Taksu Massage at the spa, lounge in the water garden or by the pools, hike, climb and even participate in a biathlon. We love that this place attracts all types of travelers, from solo trekkers to couples, families and groups, with airy accommodations featuring lots of wood and clean, beautiful design accents. Indonesian cuisine is served at Kudus House, and the in-house nutritionist can cater to specific dietary restrictions.
7California Health & Longevity Institute
Located in Westlake Village, northwest of Los Angeles, this world-class wellness facility is a leader in what’s known as science-based lifestyle rejuvenation. After a certified lifestyle consultant helps you create a personalized health strategy for accomplishing your goals, you’ll be advised by a team of experts — physicians, licensed dietitians, exercise physiologists, fitness trainers, stress management experts, therapists and healthy-living chefs. The Institute includes a complete medical clinic with a full range of diagnostic testing and medical assessments. Adding a level of high-end luxury is the adjacent Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, California, which has partnered with the Institute to offer combined services at its 40,000-square-foot spa.
6Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
The Spa at the splendid Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea enhances your vacation experience with “Wellness Your Way.” This program aims to help you attain optimal health through singular spa rituals, stimulating exercise classes and a nutritious gourmet menu. Activities and treatments include SUP Yoga (which blends the best of yoga and stand-up paddleboarding), Hawaiian massages including lomi lomi (the island’s signature back rub), and rejuvenating facials, such as the HydraFacial treatment. If you want to tone and sculpt, then i-Lipo, the spa’s most requested service, is for you. This FDA-approved treatment targets cellulite and helps firm the skin without putting you under the knife. The resort is one of the world’s finest escapes, and no matter how you decide to tailor your wellness experience, the result will be the same: absolute relaxation.
5Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary & Holistic Spa Resort
Situated on the island of Koh Samui, this wellness retreat and holistic spa enjoys a truly unique location, based around a cave temple once used by Buddhist monks for meditation. Kamalaya means “lotus realm,” and you will find plenty of time to practice your lotus pose here. You can also unwind by exploring your surroundings — an idyllic lagoon, white sand beaches, cascading streams and tropical gardens. Customized treatments combine both Eastern and Western healing and include holistic medicine, spa therapies and programs for detoxification and fitness. The best part of your stay: no matter what you choose to do, each activity promises to leave you feeling refreshed and revived.
4Maya Tulum Spa Resort
Sitting pretty on the Riviera Maya, among white sand beaches, pristine waters and tropical jungles, Maya Tulum boasts a transformative atmosphere in which guests can relax and focus on cultivating healthy lifestyles. Rightly touted for its world-class yoga events, the resort also offers classes in life management, personal growth, weight loss, dance, meditation and more — all designed to foster good habits and nurture your well-being. If you’re seeking relaxation, we recommend the revitalizing spa. An 80-minute “neurosedative” rubdown should unwind even the most over-stressed souls. But if that doesn’t do the trick, Maya Tulum showcases Mexico’s rich cultural heritage with hot-stone therapies and Mayan clay massages.
3The Retreat, A Diana Stobo Property
The Retreat is a creation by Diana Stobo. As a healthy lifestyle expert, she understands perfectly the needs of those who are overstressed and overeating. After a mere 30-minute drive from San José International Airport and almost a mile downhill on a very private road, you will feel that you have reached heaven or at least that you are sitting on top of the world — we will leave it to your imagination. You will not visit Costa Rica while you are here, but you will visit the yoga room, either for yoga classes, meditation or cooking classes, as well as the spa for various treatments, the hills of the property for a brave walk, as they are very steep, and your room to relax some more. We ventured out one day, and the only thing we wanted to do is to turn the car around and go back to the hotel. The Internet can be sketchy, so your connection to the outside world will be limited. Remember you are here to RELAX and more importantly to rejuvenate.
2Les Sources de Caudalie
This charming hotel, located on the Château Smith Haut Lafitte estate, is devoted to the good life. Wine and wellness are the focus here, with wine tasting tours, wine and food pairings and the acclaimed Les Sources de Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa. Forty guest rooms, 21 suites and six cottages showcase modern French country style; guests may also stay at the nearby Château Le Thil, a historic manor home dating back to 1737.
So much is lovely about this retreat. The French Paradox Bar serves vintages from the chateau, including its extraordinary whites; La Grand’Vigne — the hotel’s gastronomic restaurant — serves a Degustation (tasting) menu and overlooks a sloping vineyard and a swan-filled pond, while La Table du Lavoir’s low-calorie luncheon proves that healthful food can be both delicate and delicious. Amazing food, a pastoral setting, age-defying beauty treatments and hours of pampering — we wonder, why even bother going somewhere else?
1Vivanta by Taj – Madikeri Coorg
This retreat sits atop the hills of a subtropical rainforest in the southern state of Karnataka, India, a five-hour drive from the major city of Bangalore. With treatments inspired by the rich, local culture, Jiva Grande Spa at Vivanta by Taj in Madikeri, Coorg, is the ultimate in all-natural rejuvenation. Ancient Indian Ayurveda Panchakarma Therapy cleanses the body of toxins, while reviving the spirit and relaxing the mind for long-term health and wellness. The spa’s three floors boast breathtaking treetop views and private treatment suites, each with a steam room and shower. Jiva’s signature offering, a wood-fired Gudda bath (hot water poured over the body in a picturesque outdoor pavilion), is a traditional healing practice in Coorg households. We suggest taking the full 14-day journey, which includes consultation with an Ayurvedic physician as well as yoga, chanting and meditation.