Five Soul-Restoring Wellness Escapes to Make This Year
Anyone with a start-up or a successful solo career is usually also in dire need of an all-encompassing wellness adventure at least once a year—a trip that can soothe aching muscles and save you from your iPhone notifications. With that in mind, we’ve cherry-picked the most spoiling sanctuaries in the world, places that offer everything from coca leaf massages and health overhauls to floatation therapy and holistic medicine.
1/6Turkey: The LifeCo Centre
This Turkish beachfront resort is certainly in with the in-crowd—Kate Moss, Sadie Frost and their Primrose Hill crew famously go every April for a week-long detox before the summer season. And while there is a pretty pool and flower-filled steps down to the turquoise Aegean Sea, this is an institute that means business—all vitamin injections, fasting regimes, colonic irrigations and daily acupuncture. If the idea of fasting on holiday fills you with existential dread, fear not: the idyllic coastline is littered with excellent fish restaurants from Il Riccio in Türkbükü, which has a Michelin-starred sister restaurant in Capri, to Gümüşlük, on the peninsula’s west coast.
2/6Peru: Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
The beautiful Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel is located deep in the jungle, with bubbling hot springs, a bear sanctuary and scarlet songbirds all on-site, and the ancient Inca ruins that draw visitors from around the globe a quick drive away. But when you’re not gawping at Inca architecture or sipping on Pisco sours, you should be firmly in the spa. Peru is now the world’s largest producer of the coca leaf, having wrested that dubious crown from Colombia. And while a coca leaf massage sounds like something suited to the likes of Pablo Escobar, it actually harks back to Inca royalty, who saw the coca plant as sacred. The leaf is filled with useful properties that help fight high blood pressure, alleviate altitude sickness and increase fat burning—and its beauty credentials aren’t bad either, given that it evens skin tone and wipes away dead cells. In the delightfully rustic spa hut, coca leaves are ground up into a paste and smoothed onto the skin—and the result is one the most invigorating massages imaginable. Just don’t tell your mother
3/6Tanzania: Zuri Zanzibar
At Zuri Zanzibar, the beach is the star attraction. Or at least it should be. Dhows drift lazily out to sea, Maasai bodyguards wander up and down the silky white sand in scarlet robes, and the faint noise of Swahili rap drifts in from a nearby bar. But the siren call of the spa is equally hard to resist. Set in a wooden villa in the thick jungle, it has hammocks on the veranda, romantic outdoor massage beds for two and impressively talanted therpiasts who will soothe away aches and pains with sea salt, oil and their bare hands. Afterwards, rejuvenate with a fresh juice on one of the plush cushions on the beach or in the upstairs bar, and choose the ingredients for your dinner in the fragrant spice garden.
4/6Switzerland: The Alpina Gstaad
At The Alpina Gstaad, you will hear people loudly showing off that they’re a 90, or looking shamefaced that they’re only a 40. It may sound like some sort of secret Alpine skiing code, but it is actually linked to the Six Senses Spa Gstaad, which has launched an innovative wellness programme that analyses metabolism, heart function, digestion, cell health and stress – and the results are used to create treatments, activities and nutrition packs. Before you leave, a second consultation will check for progress, which means you need to immerse yourself in the heated outdoor pool ringed by snowy mountains, the Turkish baths, the hot and cold plunge pools and the Himalayan salt grotto, which is dark pink and designed to recreate the sensation of being in the womb. There are also massages, facials, colonics and scrubs on offer — oh, and a Tibetan monk to teach you the art of sleeping well. We predict full marks.
5/6Italy: Villa Eden
On a shoreline as beautiful as this, the spa inevitably has some stiff competition on its hands. It has to be more tempting than the glittering Lake Garda below you, better than under-the-Alps dining, and more relaxing than a potter around Gardena, one of northern Italy’s most picturesque towns. But the brains behind the beautifully designed Villa Eden know exactly what they’re doing. Firstly they have brought in the best therapists this side of Milan, and secondly have had the brainwave of allowing guests to enjoy their treatments just about anywhere. Decide between a deck on the lake; the spa, which looks out over a nearby palazzo; or one of the many villas. Options include stylish Italian prince décor in shades of duck green and blue in the Matteo Thun III Villa, or the ultra-glam white and silver furnishings in the David Chipperfield Nord Villa.
6/6Germany: Villa Stephanie
There are times when a relaxing massage under the shade of a frangipani tree is simply not enough to kick start your metabolism into good behaviour. Yearning for a little Germanic tough love in the most sumptuous of surroundings? Go to this elegant mansion-house that sits in super-groomed, glamorous grounds near the Black Forest. The ridiculous spa spans 5,000 square-metres over five floors, with a 500 square-metre sauna area, plunge pool, private gym, hammam and ladies' thermal suite. But don’t kid yourself that it’s all lounging – the state-of-the-art medical care comes from some of Germany’s top experts in fields like aesthetics, gynaecology, holistic medicine, dentistry, ophthalmology and preventive medicine, who medically manoeuver you into better health.