10 Best Spa Trips for 2012
By Rona Berg
Emerge from the long winter with a wellness-inspired pick-me-up—set out for a rejuvenating getaway with one of these 10 best spa trips around the globe. From mountain escapes in the forests of New Hampshire and New York to traditional Thai massages in exotic Bangkok to a Great Barrier Reef-neighboring oasis Down Under (and beyond), our list of top spa trips offers a variety of tempting destinations wide and far that are primed for some well-deserved R & R.
Mountain Escape at Omni Mount Washington Resort
Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
Why Go Now: Fresh from a $20 million renovation, this historic grand dame, built in 1902, features a 25,000-square-foot luxury spa with 13 treatment rooms, a fitness studio, and an outdoor whirlpool touting jaw-dropping views of the White Mountains.
Best Treatment: The Herbal Body treatment (75 min., $175) incorporates a Moor Mud wrap, a full-body massage, and a delicious sugar body polish, infused by fresh herbs from the spa garden.
What to Do: Head to Bretton Woods, the largest ski area in New Hampshire, for a cross-country run or a hike through hushed wooded trails. Another must: Soar above the treetops on the resort’s new Zip Line Canopy Tour, offering nine exhilarating lines (the longest spans more than 800 feet).
Book It: Rooms start at $199/night; visit brettonwoods.com.
Oasis of Calm at the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok
Why Go Now: A luscious new menu at the Oriental Spa features all-organic local ingredients like coconut oil, lemongrass, ginger, and Thai herbs. The refurbished five-star Health Center, set in a bamboo grove, offers tennis, squash, cardio workouts, and more.
Best Treatment: Nothing relieves tension—or jet lag—like the Traditional Thai Massage (60 mins., $95), a pressure point massage with guided full-body stretches.
What to Do: Soak in the literary vibe in suites dedicated to expats like Somerset Maugham, Joseph Conrad, and Noel Coward, all former guests. Chowhounds can sign up for classes at the hotel’s traditional Thai cooking school, while night owls can take a boat ride up the adjacent Chao Phraya River to the lively Night Market.
Book It: Rooms from $366/night; visit www.mandarinoriental.com/bangkok.
Lakeside Idyll at Lake Austin Spa Resort
Why Go Now: There’s a new chef setting up his chopping block in the Texas Hill Country—Stephane Beaucamp, who comes via the Plaza Athénée in Paris and LA (where he cooked for Elton John), delivers exciting new organic local cuisine and monthly Culinary Experiences.
Best Treatment: The LakeHouse Spa's decadent new Pear and Fig Body Polish (with ingredients plucked from the lakeside garden) provides a body polish and peel for dry, sun-damaged skin (80 min., $210).
What to Do: Sign on for Quench, a new four-day water program incorporating stand-up paddleboarding, Aqua Zumba, Hydro Biking, and a sunset cruise on the tranquil lake.
Book It: Three-night package rates start from $1,720 per person (based on double occupancy), including meals, fitness classes, and activities; visit www.lakeaustin.com.
Desert R & R at La Quinta Resort & Club
Palm Desert, California
Why Go Now: Like many of the Hollywood legends who visit, La Quinta, set 19 miles south of Palm Springs, has had a little nip and tuck. Ringed by the jagged Santa Rosa Mountains, the newly renovated 38-room, stucco-accented spa looks refreshed and modernized.
Best Treatment: The cutting-edge anti-aging HydraFacial relies on LED light and a hi-tech machine to deliver plumping serums into the skin (30 or 90 min., $250 or $375).
What to Do: Dine outdoors at Morgan's on a warm night and enjoy live jazz on the patio. Golf one of nine courses, or play tennis with Tom Gorman, who coached Agassi and Sampras. Dip into one of 41 pools (or 53 hot tubs) tucked away in the enclave of spacious casitas.
Book It: Rooms from $259/night; visit www.laquintaresort.com.
Sumptuous Splendor at Four Seasons Florence
Why Go Now: Florence is crowded and getting more so, but this former Renaissance palace offers a glorious haven, with 16th-century frescoes, marble sculptures, and its own private park. Chef Vito Mollica, a Slow Food-movement aficionado, just added a Michelin star.
Best Treatment: Featuring the historic Santa Maria Novella line of Tuscan botanicals, the spa's Bioliv’ Experience (105 min., $320) features a floral water hydration, hazelnut-powder scrub, and full-body olive-oil massage.
What to Do: Enjoy a lavish breakfast in the hotel’s secluded gardens, then take a 10-minute walk to the Duomo or Michelangelo’s David. Grab a copy of the hotel’s new Artisans’ Guide to insider shopping in Florence, and visit as many of the 68 workshops and ateliers as you can.
Book It: Rooms from $388/night; visit www.fourseasons.com/florence.
Restorative Retreat at Canyon Ranch
Why Go Now: At this premier integrative health spa in the Berkshires, known for pampering and preventive medicine, the new medically informed Gait Analysis serves to strengthen tired feet, while Back in the Game strives to reduce back pain.
Best Treatment: The Detoxifying Organic Seaweed Wrap (80 min., $300), a full-body scrub, seaweed wrap, and scalp and foot massage, utilizes hand-harvested wild seaweed extracts and organic essential oils for silky-soft skin.
What to Do: Hourly fitness classes combine with a track, indoor pool, and the great outdoors for pretty much any wellness activity your heart desires. Plan your summer visit to coincide with Tanglewood, the renowned classical music festival held in Lenox.
Book It: Three-night package rates start from $1,810, including food and facilities; visit www.canyonranch.com/lenox.
Rain Forest and Reef at Daintree EcoLodge & Spa
Why Go Now: Lodge owners Terry and Cathy Maloney have not only set the benchmark for ecotourism in the world’s oldest rain forest, they’ve also partnered with the local aboriginal community to promote cultural tourism. At the renovated spa, treatments are inspired by aboriginal healing and exotic local ingredients.
Best Treatment: The Waterfall Spa Treatment (90 min., $295) features an ocher clay detox mask, wattle seed and lemon myrtle scrub, and a full-body massage, complete with a cleansing dunk beneath the falls.
What to Do: Take a guided rain forest tour; sign up for an aboriginal painting class with a local artist; catch a nearby boat to the Great Barrier Reef; or, hike the stunning Mossman Gorge, an Aboriginal Heritage Area stippled with waterfalls.
Book It: Rooms from $490/night, including breakfast; visit www.daintree-ecolodge.com.au.
Thermal Waters at Adler Thermae Spa Resort
Why Go Now: The ancient Romans took the waters here, and you can, too. Surrounded by Tuscany’s rolling hills and vineyards, the region is home to countless natural springs, while the Adler has a thermal-pool course on site. Try the resort’s new treatments: Tuscan Wine Experience (with grape-seed extract) and Aqua Relax (incorporating hydrotherapy).
Best Treatment: The Milk and Honey massage for two (45 min., $90), comprises a relaxing therapeutic massage with heavenly milk and honey moisturizers. (Dip in the Salt Water Grotto or Herbal Sauna first.)
What to Do: Savor the extraordinary resort cuisine, featuring four- and five-course dinners with superb local wine pairings. Tack on a day trip to the lovely wine towns of Montalcino and Montepulciano (a 15-minute drive) or Siena (40 minutes).
Book It: Rooms from $285/night; visit www.adler-thermae.com.
Mountainside Serenity at Mohonk Mountain House
New Paltz, New York
Why Go Now: The resort’s state-of-the-art and eco-friendly spa just brought in new organic lines—Hope Gillerman Organics and OM4—and expanded treatments for men. The chef’s updated dining menu now features delicious vegan and vegetarian options.
Best Treatment: The new Maximum Muscle Rescue (90 min., $185)—hydrotherapy, and deep-tissue massage with warm anica oil and peppermint balm—is just what’s needed after hiking the Shawangunk Mountains.
What to Do: Explore the Lemon Squeeze, a mountain crevasse; swim in the indoor pool (complete with underwater music); or, psyche yourself up for a private weight loss and wellness meditation.
Book It: Rooms start at $270 per person, per night, including meals and activities; visit www.mohonk.com.
Cliffs and Kangaroos at South Ocean Lodge
Kangaroo Island, South Australia
Why Go Now: A puddle-jump from Adelaide, with its hopping restaurant scene and organic markets, the lodge’s deserted beaches, intimate spa, and wildlife in the wild (kangaroos and koalas) make it the perfect romantic getaway.
Best Treatment: The Ligurian Honey and Almond Wrap (with pure local honey and salts from the Bay of Shoals) offers a vigorous body exfoliation, mask, and massage, followed by a refreshing rainwater shower (90 min., $260).
What to Do: At Seal Bay Conservation Park, get close to hundreds of sea lions on the beach; have a cookout in the bush with Exceptional Kangaroo Island Tours; or, climb the Remarkable Rocks, enormous eroded granite outcroppings in Flinders Chase National Park.
Book It: Rooms from $990 per person, per night; visit www.southernoceanlodge.com.
Photo Credits: courtesy Omni Mount Washington Resort; Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group; Lake Austin Spa Resort; La Quinta Resort and Club; Barbara Kraft; Canyon Ranch; Tourism Queenland; Adler Thermae Spa Resort; Jim Smith Photography; Southern Ocean Lodge.