Whether you want to release your inner hippie or lie back in luxury, let ELLE help you choose the far-flung spa holiday that’s best for you.
PREPARE TO BE PAMPERED IN STYLE WITH ELLE’S PICK OF THE BEST EXOTIC SPAS. YOU’LL NEVER WANT TO LEAVE
Best for a luxury detox
The birthplace of Ayurveda, an India spa experience will take a holistic approach to your body and wellbeing, aiming to balance you inside as well as out. And it’s near impossible to go to India and not feel a strong compulsion to adopt the downward dog position or drink a colon cleansing concoction. Yoga bunnies and detoxers, this is the destination for you.
ELLE LOVES: PARK HYATT HOTEL AND SPA
On the coast in Goa, this hotel spa combines luxury with a holistic approach to wellbeing. Perfect for those who want the hippie lifestyle without compromising on comforts.
The spa. It is a large, beautifully designed complex with custom-scented rooms set in clusters amid vast fountain-filled gardens. Its specialty is ayurvedic treatments and there are always gallons of lemongrass tea around to help you detox.
Signature treatment. A session with resident Ayurvedic doctor Dr Pramod. He assesses your dosha (body type) to pinpoint areas of vulnerability or special needs and find out what treatments, activities and food will suit you best. The Indian Head and Neck Massage is firm but hypnotic – pure bliss.
What else is there? The beach is paradise, but if the hot sand (it melted my Havaianas) gets too much, slide into India’s largest pool with secret lagoon and gentle water slides, set in beautiful tropical gardens.
Costs and contacts. Greaves Travel offers two nights in Bangalore and one week at the Park Hyatt, both on B&B basis, including BA and Jet Airways flights and transfers from £1,888 per person (based on two sharing) until 30 September or from £2,464 per person from 1 October to 10 December. Enq. 0870-850 2497; www.greavesindia.com
ELLE LOVES: SHREYAS RETREAT
An hour outside Bangalore in the south-Indian countryside, Shreyas Retreat is a haven for serious detoxers and the secerly stressed.
The spa. It’s very open and relaxed, with an emphasis on outdoor living. You’ll sleep in tent-style rooms, shower overlooking private gardens and swim in an infinity pool that’s set among swaying palm trees. Party people note: there’s no smoking or drinking – just plenty of yoga and meditation to ensure you return home cleansed and toned.
Signature treatment. The Balinese massage is a heavenly oil-based massage that gets to work on reassure points to relieve tension and soothe sore muscles.
What else is there? An on-site organic farm provides freshly pressed organic juices and meals to aid the cleansing process.
Costs and contacts. Greves Travel offers seven nights at Shreyas Retreat with BA flights, transfers, full-board accommodation, yoga classed and a Erllness consultation from £1,495 per person (based on two sharing) until 30 September or from £1,685 per person from 1 October to 10 December. Enq. 0870 850 2497; www.greavesindia.com
BEST FOR SHORT-HAUL STYLE
Cyprus is now the most stylish spa capital of Europe and is ideal if you don’t want the stress of long-haul travel. It has glorious year-round sunshine, boutique hotels and a romantic culture of traditional bathing and pampering rituals.
ELLE LOVES: THE AZIA CLUB AND SPA
This large five-star resort in Paphos has had a face-lift and the new Asphodel Spa has also opened this year. The atmosphere is relaxed, while room grading means every budget is catered for. I stayed in a simply decorated bungalow room that had sea views and a hot tub on the balcony for sunset-viewing in style.
The Spa. The brand-new spa is spacious and airy and features Elemis’s high-quality products and treatments. You’re greeted with a refreshing orange-blossom drink and can choose between ouzo and anise to scent your treatment room.
Signature treatment. The Bliss Treatment takes place in a gazebo by the sea. You have an hour-long, deep-tissue full-body massage followed by a glass of champagne.
What else is there? There’s a hammam, where you’ll be scrubbed raw, a his’n’hers treatment room and elegant hot-tub area. Beaches are a stroll away.
Costs and contacts. Seven nights B&B accommodation in the Azia Club & Spa costs from £400 per person. Enq (00357 26 845100; www.aziaresort.com).
ELLE LOVES: THE ANASSA
A luxe celebrity favourite.
The spa. This year the Thalassa Spa has been holistically honed with the 100 per cent natural Organic Pharmacy range, plus a Thalassotherapy programme.
Signature treatment. British acupuncturist Christine Whittaker offers facial-rejuvenation acupuncture, which involves placing needles into key points on the face and body to boost blood flow and collagen production. The results are amazing: visibly plumped, glowing skin. She also practices at the Azia.
What else is there? Take a dip in the freshwater infinity pool and enjoy the views to the sea or across to the mountains of the Akamas Peninsula.
Costs and contacts. Abercrombie & Kent offers three nights at the Anassa from £939 p.p., including flights, transfers and B&B accommodation. Enq. 0845 0700612; www.abercrombiekent.co.uk. British Airways flies to Paphos from Manchester and London Gatwick from £139 return. Enq www.ba.com
Best for sheer indulgence
Wellcome to pure paradise, complete with dolphins, turquoise waters on white sands. Spas here are part of the laid-back but luxe. Maldives experience, making this the perfect environment for serious self-indulgence.
ELLE LOVES: ONE & ONLY REETHI RAH
With its super-glam guests (and the odd footballer), this is proper A-list territory. Huge villas have their own share of the beach, a personal butler and golf buggy for transport.
The spa it’s exquisitely designed with a vitality pool, tropical rain shower and relaxation pavilions, plus a very high-tech gym. It also offers tailor-made holistic programmes that include nutrition and fitness.
Signature treatment. The Balinese massa with volcanic hot stones. Your entire body is massaged using E’Spa essential oils before hot stones are places on vital energy points.
What else is there? This resort has its own fashion label, sold in a boutique alongside Matthew Williamson and Roberto Cavalli.
Costs and Contacts. Kuoni World Class offers seven nights’ B&B at One & Only Reethi Rah from £2,049 p.p. based on two sharing a beach villa, including Monarch Airlines flights from Gatwick and transfers. Enq (01306) 747001; www.kuoni.co.uk/worldclass
ELLE LOVES: ONE & ONLY KANUHURA
The resort is very chilled and has a reat at-one-with-nature vibe. There are villas on the beach or on stilts in the sea, exotic flowers are scattered across your bed every day and on my last night, the room was filled with candles.
The spa. It’s serene, low-lit and beautifully scented. Fresh ginger tea is offered on arrival and all treatments use Pevonia Botanica products, which are designed to work especially well in tropical heat.
Signature treatment. The bastien Gonzalez pedicure. Gonzalez isn’t called King of Pedicures for nothing. His personally trained therapist buffed and polished my feet so they literally sparkled. My nails were so glass-like they didn’t even need polish.
What else is there? The resort is very friendly and sociable – the owner holds a party for guests and staff every Saturday.
Costs and contacts. Kuoni World Class offers seven nights’ B&B at One & Only Kanuhura from £1,604 per person based on two sharing a beach villa, including Monarch Airlines flights from Gatwick and transfers. Enq (01306) 747001; www.kuoni.co.uk/worldclass
Best for holistic heaven
Treatments are not mere pampering but a way of life in Thailand. The therapists here are highly sought after and their techniques have been copied all over the world. Expect a spiritual journey as well as a good rubdown.
ELLE LOVES: EVASON HIDEAWAY
Thirty minutes’ flight south of Bangkok is this hidden eco oasis in Hua Hin. Each of its 55 secluded villas has a pool, outside showers and a wow-factor hot tub suspended in a lotus pond.
The spa. The Sodashi products used in the Hideaway’s Six Senses Earth Spa are made from 100 per cent plant extract, many grown organically on site. Arrange for a tailor-made spa package including yoga, meditation and daily treatments, and you’ll look and feel like a new person by the time you lave.
Signature treatment. The Tibetan Sining Bowl Healing Ritual involves sound vibrations and a back and head massage to realign the chakras. When the bowl was played against my skin, I could feel sound vibrations shooting down every nerve.
What else is there? In-villa spa services and dining (try a fresh seafood BBQ under the stars) and an on-call butler.
Costs and contact. Wellbeing Escapes offers seven nights B&B at Evason Hideaway from £1,575 p.p., including flights, transfers and treatments. Enq 0845 602 6202; www.wellbeingescapes.co.uk
UK SPAS WE LOVE FOR A QUICK FIX
ST. DAVID’S HOTEL, CARDIFF (BEST FOR DETOXING)
This water-side spa offers high-spec Thalassotherapy and healthy food. Enq (02920) 454045
SEQUOIA AT THE GROVE, HERTS (BEST FOR LUXURY)
Unwind in the vitality pool, relax in the crystal steam rooms and soak up the luxurious atmosphere.
Enq (01923) 807807
BABINGTON HOUSE, SOMERSET (BEST FOR COSY CHIC)
The Cowshed spa at this super-stylish hotel offers all manner of treatments using home-grown herbs. Enq (01373) 812266
MIDDLE PICCADILLY, DORSET (BEST FOR HOLISTIC HEALING)
This Tranquil spa is renowned for its vegetarian menu and alternative therapies. Enq (01963) 23468