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 2006

In recent years, the Swedish massage has become the missionary position of the spa treatment world. Been there, done that. Then, for a while, spicing things up meant adding a Vichy shower, followed by a Watsu pool. But these days, with hotel spas proliferating like bee-stung lips on certain Hollywood starlets, a hotel spa must do more than embellish the classics to stand out. On our list, you will find post-facial cosmetic surgery care, Zen and the art of archery and Arabian Nights treatment tents. If only it was healthy to have a ciggie after your treatment, the experience would be complete.

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UNITED STATES

Scottsdale
SPA AVANIA: Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch
scottsdale.hyatt.com

Prepare to light up your life at Hyatt Regency's Spa Avania. Working in harmony with your body's inner clock, rituals incorporate music, essential oils, antioxidant teas and natural light. Holistic sensory experiences are in sync with the time of day that you visit: morning treatments awaken, midday pampering balances and afternoon therapies renew. Customized elements include a body scrub made with locally harvested white sage. Soothing embellishments, such as a lotus pond, strike a stunning note in this desert setting.


Coconut Grove
SPATERRE MIAMI: The Grove Isle Hotel & Spa

www.groveisle.com

Although SpaTerre Miami is inspired by the aesthetics and philosophies of Indonesia, it is still Floridian at heart: airbrush tans, Key Lime Margarita Pedicures and pre- and post-facial cosmetic surgery care are on the menu. You will find the expected basics—Watsu pool, yoga platform and Vichy shower—as well as exotica such as the Javanese Lulur Royal Spa Treatment, complete with rose petal soak. Thatched roofs, candlelit treatment spaces and therapists in sarongs ensure the romantic appeal at this private island resort.

Las Vegas
THE SPA AT RED ROCK: Red Rock Casino Resort Spa

www.redrocklasvegas.com

This Sin City spa is proof that tried-and-true classics can benefit from fresh new twists. A hot stone massage here is served On The Rocks and a body polish and wrap morph into the No Regrets Hangover Treatment, the latter presumably to cure you after shenanigans at onsite Cherry nightclub. Along with microdermabrasion and Couperose Ampoule (an anti-redness serum for "velvety soft" skin), you can try an Adventure Treatment. Unconventional, these outings include horseback rides and canyon hikes. Essentially, they aren't treatments—particularly the Adventure Bus Trip—but we laud the spa for working them into the repertoire.

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AUSTRALIA

Brooklet

AMALA DAY SPA: Gaia Retreat & Spa

www.gaiaretreat.com.au

Part-owned by Olivia Newton-John, this Down Under eco-friendly retreat near Byron Bay takes the Aussie songbird's anthem one step further: it wants you to get spiritual, as well as physical. Choose a Ritual Asian Adventure, incorporating jasmine, sandalwood, ginger and lime essential oils. Or go for Dreamtime Travel, with its soothing use of macadamia and Tasmanian lavender. To fully appreciate the setting, wander up to Samira Lookout at the highest point on the property, for views from the ocean to the Nightcap Ranges.

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CYPRUS

Coral Bay
ANAGENISIS SPA: Thalassa Boutique Hotel & Spa

www.thalassa.com.cy

This year we bypassed some impressive properties in Turkey and Greece to take you down a less trodden path. Cyprus is much quieter than its overcrowded neighbors, and with the arrival of Anagenisis Spa, it now has its own holistic retreat. Along with incorporating local menu items, such as organic olive oil, sea salt, fresh herbs and yogurt, it uses Sodashi, an all natural skin care line, whose philosophy mirrors the spa's: ingredients, as well as actual treatments, should be in harmony with nature.

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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Puerto Plata
THE BAGUA SPA: Casa Colonial Beach & Spa Resort

www.epoquehotels.com

The healing quality of amber is the standout feature at the Feng Shui-influenced The Bagua Spa. Petrified tree sap, this gemstone is an antioxidant and found in abundance on the Dominican Republic. Hence the fittingly named Amber Coast, where this resort resides. Along with the Salt and Gem Exfoliation, using crushed amber resin and ocean salts, we recommend the turndown couples massage in the privacy of your room, and treatments in an oceanfront gazebo set over a tropical pond.

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Dubai
TALISE: Madinat Jumeirah, The Arabian Resort

www.madinatjumeirah.com

Talise spa

We must confess, we long resisted Dubai's mega-everything attitude the way we once opposed Las Vegas's too big, too tacky resorts. But times are changing, and there’s no surer sign of this than a spa that personally caters to individual needs in this larger-than-life place. The therapists at Talise blend international techniques with therapies from ancient cultures to create their signature treatments, such as the Talise Herbal Stone Poultice: dark green aventurine spheres and lavender are applied to the skin to awaken the body’s healing abilities. Guests can enjoy exquisite pampering in one of the spa’s 26 unique rooms or stroll through private courtyards and gardens.

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ENGLAND

Hertfordshire
SEQUOIA: The Grove

www.thegrove.co.uk

Just north of London, the debonair Sequoia provides a pleasant complement to the country estate it inhabits. The Grove is particularly proud of its therapists' backgrounds, which range from the Royal Ballet to the movie "Van Helsing"—as a result of the latter, archery is now offered. Day packages get you access to the hotel's grounds, which include 300 acres of park and woodland for cycling, and a two-course lunch in the Spa Garden Room. The Spa and Golf Combo pairs 18 holes on the resort's own course with a muscle relaxing massage.

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LAOS

Luang Prabang

THE SPA AT BELMOND LA RESIDENCE PHOU VAO: Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao

www.residencephouvao.com

Luang Prabang is arguably one of the most enticing towns in Southeast Asia. Simply being there is calming. Add to that a treatment at The Spa at Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao, and relaxation is assured. Custom rituals include the Mohom Indigo Healing Art, using the native indigo plant, and the Piu Nuan Lao Secret of Sensual Skin, featuring an herbal compress of local sticky rice, black sesame seeds and heated honey.

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SOUTH AFRICA

Knynsa
PEZULA SPA & GYM: Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa

www.pezula.com

Created just for Pezula Spa & Gym, a Maruwa product line contains ingredients from Western Cape fynbos—shrub vegetation—which have been used medicinally by the indigenous San and Khoikhoi people for centuries. Added draws at this savvy spa, located along South Africa's scenic Garden Route, are soothing sand tones, unobstructed open spaces, yummy three- and five-day packages, and the signature post-treatment treat: a heated water bed that massages you into a state of bliss.




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