The 11 Best International Wellness Travel Destinations
Inside the world’s best (and most luxurious) wellness retreats.
Beyond the antipodean bubble, here is a lofty list of the world’s most indulgent wellness havens that deliver head-turning style and holistic health in equal measure.
Remedy Place: USA, Los Angeles
America’s first health sanctuary dedicated to “social wellness”, design-driven Remedy Place comes fitted with a spacious cryotherapy room that you and friends can cool off in together. The sleek space also features minus-40-degree ice baths and a recovery specialist on hand to assist with calming breathwork—an essential element of the Wim Hof Method—to help set your mind in a meditative state. Then, warm up in the infrared sauna, try a sound “bath”, get hooked up to an IV drip of vitamin B and collagen, or suck in pure oxygen in a hyperbaric chamber. r
SHA Wellness Clinic: Spain, Alicante
Spain’s beautiful people regularly check in to SHA—then linger for weeks on end. It’s easy to see why. Exclusivity is key across both the retreat’s villas and its wellness centre, where you can opt for medical rejuvenation procedures alongside natural and physical therapies and spa treatments aplenty. There’s also a daily roster of workshops and activities, with experts tackling topics as diverse as nutrition and happiness, how to improve sleep routines and reducing stress. It’s all complemented by healthful, nutritionally balanced meals and a drop-dead-gorgeous setting overlooking the Mediterranean.
Ananda in the Himalayas: India, Rishikesh
On a 40-hectare Maharaja’s palace in the far reaches of northern India, this resort is as close to nirvana as you can get. In the foothills of the Himalayas, overlooking the spiritual town of Rishikesh and the Ganges river valley, this part of the country is where yoga, meditation and Ayurveda were born. Ananda takes this legacy seriously, offering guests a holistic approach to healing that combines both Eastern and Western therapies. This means you can indulge in everything from Vedanta sessions (an ancient Indian philosophy answering fundamental life questions) to personal training and reiki, using crystals cleansed at the source of the Ganges.
Bürgenstock Resort: Switzerland, Lucerne
The extravagant Bürgenstock Resort not only comes with four hotels (one of them dedicated to medical rejuvenation), but also features a nine-hole golf course, 10 restaurants and bars, and one of Switzerland’s most opulent wellness retreats. The knockout Alpine Spa is ranged across three levels, with floor-to-ceiling windows emphasising its mountain-eyrie magnificence. Begin your journey here enjoying spirit-lifting views while sweating it out in a peppermint-infused steam room, stretched out by the indoor lake-water pool, or soaking in the alfresco infinity-edge pool, backdropped by the Alps. And end it with a hot-stone massage or La Prairie facial, before gliding back to your room.
The Well At Hacienda AltaGracia: Costa Rica, Cajon
Equine therapy, jungle treks, river bathing and crystal healing are all on the agenda at this nature-inspired cocoon, perched high in the unpeopled Talamanca Mountains. The wellness menu is an homage to Mother Earth, Pachamama, adopting a holistic approach that draws from thousands of years of healing. When you’re not in the hydrotherapy tub, thermal suite or ranchos trying acro-yoga, book in for signature rituals like “Hierbas Y Flores”—which sees freshly picked native herbs and flowers massaged into your body to cleanse your skin—and “Maderoterapia”, or wood therapy, a holistic massage technique practiced in Central America and combined here with house-made coffee butter.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort: Hawaii, Lanai
This adults-only haven unites personalised stays with healthful food—it comes courtesy of Nobu—on an estate that inspires calm from the moment you arrive. The Sensei philosophy focuses on three paths—move, nourish and rest—under the advice of specialists in performance psychology, mindfulness, stress management and nutrition. There are also therapists on call to assist with guided forest bathing, meditation and tai chi, perhaps, or a private aquatic bodywork session that sees you floating in the warm water of your “hale” pool while being guided through a series of intuitive stretches combining massage, joint mobilisation and shiatsu.
Habitas AlUla: Saudi Arabia, Ashar Valley
A striking design-led oasis set against a surreal desert landscape of endless sand dunes, Habitas is drawing wellness-seekers to this spellbinding pocket of Saudi Arabia. If you can tear yourself away from your dreamy villas, visit Thuraya spa for rituals that range from transcendent sound healing and Mexican sobada to signature treatments that incorporate local ingredients like roses, date seeds and prickly pear oil. Multi-day programs are deeply immersive, and might unite sleep enhancement workshops with cacao therapy—an ancient Mayan ritual that pays homage to this medicinal heart opener through music, chants and prayers to bring peace and joy.
The Farm at San Benito: The Philippines, San Benito
The Farm may be a breezy 90-minute drive—or 25-minute helicopter ride— from Manila, but it’s a world away in setting and style. Enveloped by coconut palms and bougainvillea-filled gardens,
the retreat’s villas are designed with teak and local fabrics, each offering commanding views over the jungle-trimmed Malepunyo mountains. In the light-filled spa, therapies like the “Hilot Haplos” incorporate ingredients sourced from the immediate surrounds, including fresh coconut milk, coffee, cocoa and papaya. Days here are punctuated with flavourful vegan cuisine, combining herbs and vegetables from the retreat’s organic garden.
Chiva-Som: Thailand, Hua Hin
The expansive spa menu at this pioneering Thai wellness resort, tucked into jungle beside the beach in Hua Hin, lists everything from acupuncture to watsu, with kinesis and tecar massage therapy in between. Visits can last from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, and often involve consultations with experts to help you achieve your goals, whether those are related to weight loss, stress management or improving your physical fitness. After a day of yoga, hydrotherapy and delicious low-calorie cuisine, you can bed down in one of the retreat’s villas, all designed
with thoughtful Thai accents, sans Wi-Fi and TVs.
Como Shambhala Estate: Indonesia, Bali
Bali’s spiritual heart, Ubud has its fair share of wellness retreats. But none are quite as sophisticated, or pretty, as Como Shambhala Estate. One of the island’s pioneers in holistic healing, the resort is set high in the hills above the Ayung River, its rooms lovingly maintained to ensure maximum cocooning. Targeted programs are completely personalised—you’ll be assigned a mentor to help craft your timetable, which might involve an Indian oil massage to deal with stress-related weight gain, or Japanese acupuncture to get subtle energies working as part of a fitness regime. There’s plenty of time reserved for blissing out in the spa, not to mention getting back to nature across the jungle-laced grounds.
Clinique La Prairie: Switzerland, Montreux
Stays at this landmark 1931 spa, developed off the back of medical “cell revitalisation” treatments pioneered by professor Paul Niehans, begin with a nurse taking your blood and testing your blood pressure. Your individual prescription for wellness will then direct you to some of the 50 specialists on call, able to help with everything from cell revitalisation and sleep improvement to weight loss, full medical check-ups and DNA examinations. In between you can be massaged, wrapped, steamed, soaked and facialised while taking in sparkling views
of the chateau’s manicured gardens and Lake Geneva.
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