Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

Top 10 Spa Hotels Worldwide 2005

Like the people who visit them, spas come in all shapes and sizes. Lovers of hot stone massages and seaweed body wraps can choose from day spas, destination resort spas and our favorite, the hotel spa. We can’t imagine anything more indulgent than staying in a luxury hotel that features the ultimate amenity: a full-service spa. Once you’re done being spoiled, there’s no need to hop in your car and face the busy streets. Simply wander back to your room and take a nap. With every luxury hotel opening its own lavish spa these days, it can feel impossible to choose. Let us help by providing a list of our favorites.


Kohala Coast

SPA WITHOUT WALLS: The Fairmont Orchid

Why go all the way to Hawaii just to lie inside a windowless treatment room? At the Spa Without Walls, the Hawaiian landscape—with its orchids and coconut palms—is just as important as technique and ritual. The al fresco hales (cottages) are tucked amid waterfalls, streams and lily ponds. Two are cantilevered over water and feature special windows in their floors so that you can gaze down on koi fish swimming below during your massage. There are also five private oceanfront cabanas where views of the Pacific and gentle trade winds mingle seductively with your Lomi Lomi massage. Among the treatments that incorporate local ingredients, we recommend the Big Island Vanilla Coffee Exfoliation.


Manchester Village, VT


The Spa at the Equinox

Experience the ultimate Vermont spa vacation at this pampering spot in the midst of the Green Mountains. Treatments are bountiful and incorporate local elements, from a maple body scrub to the signature "Equinox Legend", which makes use of fragrance-infused sugars, salts and crushed nuts to bring you closer to nature. Needless to say, the bounty of Vermont is important, from fresh mountain air to the healing waters of the Equinox Springs. And although the setting is rustic, as are the exposed beams sheltering the heated indoor pool, this place is the last word in luxury.


Pasadena, CA

THE RITZ-CARLTON SPA: The Ritz-Carlton, Huntington
Hotel & Spa

When it comes to luxe spa pampering, the residents of Los Angeles can be very demanding. They have choices aplenty, and they know how to weed out the best from the rest. At the top of our picks in this area: The Ritz-Carlton Spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Huntington Hotel & Spa in Pasadena. In this soothing setting in the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley, the spa offers treatments inspired by Carita from Paris. Because the surroundings are inarguably all-American, we were pleasantly surprised by the authenticity (and downright decadence) of the Nirvana package, which includes a proper Ayurvedic consultation, cleansing Bindi treatment and Shirodhara, a ritual in which warm oil is poured on your third-eye chakra in a steady stream to bring on profound relaxation.


Snoqualmie, WA
THE SPA AT SALISH LODGE: The Salish Lodge & Spa

Divine is the best word to describe this spa, which is a showcase for Pacific Rim style. Details such as hand-crafted Shoji doors and therapeutic pools that gaze on Mount Si blend Japanese Zen with Pacific Northwest calm. As for tranquility, they aren’t fooling around. Even in the pool area, which is open to all guests (albeit those of an adult age), there is a “no talking” policy. This means you can relax beneath the “waterfall” in total silence. We tried a fabulous lemongrass body scrub and the heated river rock massage, which was the best we’ve had. Couples will love the special treatment space in a converted guestroom with its own stone fireplace. On your way out, buy some of the spa’s wonderful soaps to take home as a souvenir.


Paradise Island

If spas were flowers, the Caribbean would be the Garden of Eden. And when it comes to which sinful fruit to pluck, we think you’ll be tempted by the One & Only Spa at Ocean Club. While you can take your massage, scrub or body wrap in a regular room, we prefer the alternative. Each of the eight private, Balinese-style villas has its own garden with daybed and jetted tub. All treatments in the villas begin with a floral foot wash ritual and include a Japanese tea ceremony. You also get an extra twenty minutes after to enjoy a waterfall shower or simply relax. Along with Elemis products, the spa incorporates natural spices, fruits and minerals indigenous to the Bahamas into its rituals.



We knew it was only a matter of time before some savvy hotel group decided to set up camp in one of the most beautiful and untouched places in the world. And because the majority of Bhutan’s inhabitants are peace-loving Buddhists, it’s no wonder that group was COMO Hotels & Resorts. COMO’s Uma brand is heavy on Zen philosophy, which is showcased in its COMO Shambhala spas. The emphasis is on healing and tranquility, qualities that are right at home in the Himalayan kingdom. Pampering yourself in this remote land means nurturing peace both inside (treatments cultivate inner serenity) and out, with views that gaze over the stunning Paro Valley.


Hong Kong
PLATEAU: Grand Hyatt Hong Kong

Plateau Spa

Not only is this fabulous spa inside a hotel, it is a hotel in and of itself. Those who don’t want anything to come between a day of pampering and a good night’s rest can book one of the 23 residential-style Plateau rooms or suites; the Plateau Deluxe Suites even have their own private treatment areas with steam facilities and thirty-square foot Jacuzzis overlooking the harbor. Another notable is the size of this eleventh floor spa. Its 80,000 square feet comes as a pleasant surprise in a city so condensed. Along with the fitness center, the spa also includes gardens, a 50-meter outdoor heated pool and a jogging track.



LILY WELLNESS & SPA: Hotel Hoffmeister

There was a time in Eastern Europe’s rich spa history when spas were solely about healing. Thankfully, as the Lily Wellness & Spa proves, we’ve come a long way. In the centuries-old cellar of the Hotel Hoffmeister, classic curative rituals join contemporary aesthetic treatments using Sisley Paris products. And there are plenty of therapies for pure relaxation, as well. The picturesque spa incorporates the city’s ancient medieval walls into its architecture, and the hotel itself is just steps from the foot of the Old Castle in the city’s 17th century Old Town, a UNESCO protected site.


SPA GIVENCHY: Hotel Martinez

Note: This property is now Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez

With its soothing neutral interiors and tranquil terrace, this pretty spa captures the light-hearted glamour of the Côte d’Azur. It is located on the hotel’s seventh floor, along with the rooftop pool that overlooks the Bay of Cannes. Just as jetsetters come to the French Riviera from around the world, so too do spa treatments, from the Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage to the four-hand Ylang Ylang massage to the traditional favorite, the Swedish massage. A sauna and solarium are nice extras, and the sleek outdoor lounge chairs add to the feeling of cachet. The 9,000-square-foot spa exclusively uses Givenchy products.


Cape Town
SANCTUARY SPA: Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa

If going to a spa is all about getting centered, the Sanctuary Spa gets you off to a good start. It has a center, literally. Wellness here revolves around an indoor hydro pool, which is flanked by a brine pool and hot and cold plunge pools, all in a natural rock setting. From here the health bar and treatment rooms branch out, reaching as far as two secluded mountain gazebos for outdoor therapies. Deepening your encounter with Mother Nature is the use of indigenous plant extracts such as Cape May, Snowbush and Chamomile. You can also choose a massage that incorporates the gentle use of South African crystals. For more traditional types, therapies from Clarins are offered.


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