Top Relaxation Spas Around the World

The Christmas ham is gone from the fridge, but has left behind a thickening middle and expanding thighs. We all overindulge during the festive season -- what’s Christmas without rum balls and pudding, and New Year’s without martinis and champagne? But before you start punishing yourself for the extra kilos with a strict diet devoid of fun and flavor, there is another way to get your fitness back and embrace the new year ahead.

Two words: destination spas. Gone are the days of boot-camp-style health retreats with carrot juice and crackers. In their place, you’ll find multiday spa retreats in tropical locations that allow guests to focus on the art of relaxing and rejuvenating.

Reasons to Travel to a Destination Spa
Today’s world citizen is exposed to constant low-grade stress. Mortgages, relationships and career demands can take their toll. Put simply, our adrenal glands are overused and exhausted, which can result in a lingering lethargy, inability to make decisions and a general malaise. It is estimated that 80 percent of adults will experience this at least once in their lives.

Destination spas provide a blend of traditional, holistic and medical solutions to have you feeling healthy and vibrant again from the inside out. A typical day in a destination spa may start with yoga, meditation or a walk on the beach followed by an a la carte breakfast of organic fruit, buckwheat pancakes and freshly baked eggs. Days are spent indulging in spa treatments, partaking in activities or simply lounging by a pool.

Most destination spas offer naturopath consultations at the time of check-in so they can create a program specifically for you, from weight loss to detox to stress relief and fitness. Spend a week at any of these top destination spas and you’ll be guaranteed to feel like a million bucks.

Chiva-Som, Hua Hin Thailand
The doyenne of destination spas, Chiva-Som counts Kate Moss, Liz Hurley and David Beckham as regular guests -- and for good reason. Add an a la carte restaurant with sea breezes, impeccable service and a beachfront location, and you won’t know yourself come check-out time.

Six Senses Sanctuary, Naka Yai, Thailand
Seventy villas dot the hillside, each with a private infinity pool, steam room and personal spa butler. This is seriously stylish eco-chic. Guests cycle around the resort and dine barefoot on white sand in the beachfront restaurant. There’s a yoga pavilion, meditation garden and jungle gym. Plus, the food is so delicious you won’t believe it’s good for you.

Absolute Sanctuary, Koh Samui, Thailand
Absolute Sanctuary specialises in detox and yoga retreats. You can be as hard-core as you like from a naturopath-designed juice detox with four juices a day, supplements, colonic hydrotherapy and daily massage and yoga, to a raw-food detox of smoothies, soups and salads. Five-star accommodation is set off the road in a palm tree paradise.

Ananda Spa, Himalaya, India
The magic of the Himalaya foothills provides the perfect setting for some serious downtime. Set in a Maharajah’s palace, Ananda spells relaxation. The retreat focuses on Ayurvedic treatments in the 20,000-square-foot spa. Dine in the hillside restaurant on sumptuous Indian cuisine, meditate at dusk in the ballroom or do yoga at dawn in the amphitheatre. More active individuals can trek the nearby hills.

Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, Queensland, Australia
Expect to wake to the sound of birds in the native Australian bushland at Gwinganna as the sun rises over the Pacific Ocean horizon. Part owned by Hugh Jackman, Gwinganna features a spa with 30 treatment rooms, two infinity pools, organic garden and a selection of accommodation including four bush pool villas. The retreat offers group-style activities and an education program so you can integrate your newfound wellness into your life back home.