1. Luxe detox in New Zealand
Forget everything you know about detox retreats. At Aro Ha Wellness Retreat there are no military-style drills, juice fasts or colonic irrigations. Instead, imagine daily deep tissue massages, satisfying vegetarian meals, and mountain views to make Peter Jackson swoon.
Aro Ha offers an active weight-loss experience that doesn’t skimp on luxuries. For starters, it’s located in New Zealand’s majestic Southern Alps, about 40-minutes drive from Queenstown on the south island. Each of the property’s eight zen-style cedar cabins boasts jaw-dropping views of the sapphire Lake Wakatipu rimmed by towering bluffs. The five- to seven-day all-inclusive “wellness adventures,” meanwhile, are designed to get results. The day kicks off with sunrise flow yoga followed by an energizing breakfast featuring an array of fruit and vegetables grown on-site. Then, you’ll get the heart pumping with a four-hour subalpine hike (above) through the very terrain brought to life in the Hobbit movies. Come afternoon, you’ll be ready to retire to the spa, where an infra-red sauna and plunge pool with mountain views are waiting.
2. Animal therapy in South Africa
Part safari lodge, part wellness getaway, Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat is about a three-hour scenic drive from Cape Town. Located in a predator-free nature reserve and surrounded by the rugged Cederberg Mountains, the retreat’s scenery is its own kind of therapy. With personal game rangers assigned to every guest, days can be filled with drives or bike rides to see roaming zebra and bontebok, or excursions to 1,000-year-old rock art sites hidden within the sandstone cliffs. By night, the resort’s acclaimed food and luxurious lodgings — in the Riverside Suite, for example, one can soak in the heated plunge pool while taking in the beautiful rock formations — will lull you into a restful repose.
But if spa treatments are what you’re after, then Bushmans Kloof does not disappoint. Offerings include hot stone massages, Rooibos milk footbaths and sessions of lying on a giant quartz crystal while steam envelops you. But the highlight, without a doubt, is the outdoor spa gazebo. The sound of the babbling Boontjies River and twittering birds married with panoramic views of hills glowing gold will elevate your experience to unforgettable heights.
3. Bath bliss in Iceland
While not technically a spa town, Reykjavik is close to a number of geothermal pools where one can unwind amid Iceland’s otherworldly landscape. The most famous of these, the Blue Lagoon, is a full-service, indoor-outdoor spa built on the country’s largest hot spring. The pool’s unique milky-turquoise appearance is due to silica, algae and minerals, which give the geothermal seawater its restorative qualities. In the outdoor pool — a toasty 40 degrees Celsius year round — you can enjoy a range of “in water” massages in a private area of the lagoon, or help yourself to crates of pure white silica for slathering on skin. Located half way between the airport and the capital, and with a hotel and restaurant onsite, Blue Lagoon is a convenient way to experience the wilds of Iceland.
But if you prefer to take your R&R sans crowds, the intimate Laugarvatn Fontana, located 70km out of Reykjavík, is a series of hot spring pools set against a stunning lake. Choose to heat up in the steam room and Finnish-style sauna, or outdoors in the interconnected mineral baths. Then, step through the property’s gates and into the lake, where the shores are made of Iceland’s famed black sand.
4. Soak in the sun in Oman
Six Senses Zighy Bay offers a true antidote to the intense, always-plugged-in life of the city slicker. Here, date palms cast cool shadows over sandy paths that weave through a compound of primitive stone dwellings. The barren setting is deliberately spare to ensure guests can truly power down. The service, on the other hand, leaves no detail unnoticed, from date smoothies presented on arrival to private pools in each villa.
The blue-chip spa is no exception. A team of expert trainers, yoga instructors and natural medical practitioners combine their knowledge into wellness programmes running the gamut from tough bootcamps to proper detoxes. The spa treatments, meanwhile, are indulgent yet effective. Indigenous-themed treatments include steam baths in a traditional Morroccan hammam, and Arabian facials using figs, almonds and warm honey. More options involve Balinese scrubs made from spices and body sculpting using chilli and coffee oil.
5. (Not) roughing it in the USA
Want to relax close to nature but don’t want the hard work that realistically comes with roughing it? The Ranch at Rock Creek offers glamorous camping – or glamping – as well as a deluxe spa. Set on a spectacular ranch in western Montana, the five-star accommodations include individual lodges, a converted 19th-century barn and luxury log cabins. But the real treat are the glamping cabins, which provide creature comforts – antique furnishings, gas kitchen and a screened porch – all inside a glorious canvas tent set beside a rippling creek.
After a day spent fly-fishing, horseback riding and hiking, the resort’s Granite Spa is on hand to iron out the creases. Choose from the hot tub or cedar sauna, plus locally-inspired treatments and pampering massages. There are also private yoga sessions held against the amazing backdrop of Montanta’s majestic mountains.