Photo: Peter Jackson / Courtesy of Wickaninnish Inn
Alluring tango music? Check. A red wine body scrub? Check. During an 80-minute massage at the Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires, you know you’re relaxing in Argentina thanks to these evocative local touches.Outfitted with Argentine leather and handicrafts, the Four Seasons’ spa proves that the most memorable treatments don’t just help travellers unwind and unplug, they actually deepen your connection to a destination. So it’s no surprise that many of the World’s Best Spas offer treatments that highlight native ingredients or healing techniques.
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Earlier this year, T+L readers were asked to rank their favourite hotel spas on criteria including ambiance, treatments, service, and value. The results, a group of spas in 11 countries, are the ultimate pampering destinations—and they’re set in some of the best hotels worldwide. Many of the featured spas are in countries either with noted wellness traditions (Thailand, for example, has four winners on this year’s list) or with booming spa industries. The U.S.—where the number of spas nearly quadrupled between 1999 and 2009, according to the International Spa Association—claimed six spots among the top 20 survey results.
Jamaica fared well, too, with two winners thanks to the island’s great value options and ocean views. But familiar spas had to make room for a few newcomers on this year’s list. Discovery Shores Boracay, in the Philippines, for instance, debuted at No. 7. This beachfront property won raves for spa services that incorporate virgin coconut oil and traditional Hilot massage techniques.
Meanwhile, the Four Seasons hotel spas have made a reputation for showing off their destinations, not only in Buenos Aires, but in Chiang Mai, Thailand, which uses lemongrass fragrance, and even in Las Vegas, where body scrubs are mixed with—what else?—14-karat gold.
There are other wellness trends T+L has our eyes on, from traditional Indian Ayurvedic techniques to high-tech openings from top beauty brands. But when it comes to the best in the world, a spa that connects travellers to a place will always reign supreme.
So which peaceful retreat is the World’s Best Hotel Spa? Read on for all the winners.
Almost 300 chandelier-topped rooms, round-the-clock butler service, and celebrated dining are hallmarks of this gleaming downtown tower in Singapore. Along with complimentary champagne and personal iPods, the Remede Spa treats guests to signature treatments such as warm jade-stone massages and olive-and-eucalyptus scrubs.
An eight-story 1928 Paris landmark with 244 rooms (many with private terraces) and the Michelin-starred Le Cinq restaurant, the Four Seasons Hotel George V also has a posh spa. Though the interiors are distinctly French (18th-century prints; trompe l'oeil gardens), the spa uses Australia's natural Sodashi line and other globally sourced herbal ingredients.
Mandarin Oriental Bangkok's newly renovated luxe spa--across the river from the hotel in a traditional teakwood house--is beloved for its Thai and ayurvedic treatments, vitality pools, and a Moroccan-style rhassoul mud steam bath.
At this 87-room oceanfront resort, on powder-soft White Beach in the Philippines, the holistic Terra Spa uses Filipino ingredients (virgin coconut oil; sea salt) and techniques (Hilot massage).
30-five oceanfront acres in Ocho Rios are the setting for Couples Sans Souci's 150 all-inclusive suites, a private beach, natural mineral springs, and a spa with an open-air, cliff-top massage pavilion and European-style treatments.
Located 200 miles from Philadelphia, this historic resort has been recently refreshed to the tune of $120 million (216 upgraded rooms; a restored golf course). Now services at the 30,000-square-foot spa incorporate the area's healing mineral waters and local ingredients such as black walnut and honeysuckle.
This Roman icon's plush rooms and three-Michelin-starred La Pergola restaurant overlook the Eternal City; the underground spa and health club is a daily meeting spot for well-heeled locals. It honours Roman bathing traditions with plunge and hydromassage pools and Turkish steam rooms.
Once a getaway for the 1950s Hollywood set, this retro-chic all-inclusive in St. Mary, Jamaica, pampers with peppermint-seaweed wraps and Four Layer facials, as well as freshwater swimming pools. (Spa services are not included in the all-inclusive rate.)
Here, you'll find southern hospitality, elegant beau monde design, and a lovely 25,000-square-foot spa featuring N'awlins-inspired treatments (café au lait massages and Marie Laveau Voodoo Love baths), just a block from Bourbon Street.
The Sofitel's French-inspired LeSpa, set within this 82-room Queenstown hotel, is the place for classic European facials and traditional Maori rituals using greenstones and Manuka honey. The space is also home to the country's only infrared sauna, which helps boost circulation and soothe sore muscles.
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