World's Best Hotel Spas 2015
Most hotels worth their weight in eucalyptus-scented towels have a spa to their name. Gone are the days of a single treadmill parked next to a steam room. Hotels are appealing to weary travelers and wellness seekers with sleek, modern facilities that rival standalone, destination spas with stunning designs, elaborate treatments, and state-of-the-art facilities such as three tiered-swimming pools, mineral baths, and Vichy showers.
But the best hotel spas are the ones that evoke the comforting luxuries of their locales, with regional treatments and inspired settings. Opt for a pure macadamia nut and coconut oil hydration massage at the Fairmont Kea Lani in Hawaii, or the Four Seasons Bora Bora’s Kahaia Haven spa ritual featuring Tahitian black pearl powder and native vanilla.
In every region, one hotel spa reigned supreme. Read on to discover some of the best places to get pampered around the world.
Best in Canada: Fairmont Banff Springs
Head to this Scottish castle, ripped straight from the pages of a storybook and placed on a snow-capped peak in the Canadian Rockies, for relaxing soaks in the rooftop hot tub, or a revitalizing spa therapy that calls upon the alpine air and glacial waters. Dry skin, caused by the high altitude, gets repaired during the hour-long signature treatment, Rockies Rehydration. A mineral cream blended with fennel, grapefruit, and mandarin sooths dehydrated skin after a dry-brush exfoliation. Opt for the “blue magic” oil (the mystical moniker for local mountain lavender) during your restorative massage.
Best in Africa & the Middle East: Cape Grace
Enjoy authentic African treatments with Table Mountain poised magnificently in the background of the top-floor spa at Cape Grace. The view over the glittering, yacht-filled marina is as pleasurable as the NeoQi hydrotherapy cocoon, where guests can energize with infrared, chromotherapy, and underwater treatments. The deliberate Spice Route-theme is evoked in the Kalahari Rolling Sands Massage, which calls upon the tribal rituals of the San people, like circular motions that mimic the wind undulating through the desert dunes, and makes use of essential oils in distinctive aromas like honeybush and citrus melon-tsamma.
Best in Europe: Four Seasons Hotel George V
This eight-story, 1928 Paris landmark with 244 rooms (many with private terraces) is home to a Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Cinq restaurant, and a fan-favorite spa that wins top marks for treating guests like royalty. Though the interiors are distinctly French (18th-century prints, trompe l’oeil gardens), the spa uses Australia’s natural Sodashi line and other globally sourced herbal ingredients. Massages are inspired by Marie Antoinette’s love of orange blossoms, and may even conclude with a couple of light-as-air, housemade macarons.
Best in the Caribbean: Sandals Emerald Bay
This sprawling resort is home to a Greg Norman golf course, a 150-slip marina, seven restaurants, three pools (including the island’s largest: a zero-entry masterpiece stretching to an impressive half-acre and crowned with a central fire pit) and, of course, a top-notch spa. The scent of vibrant lemongrass permeates the entire Red Lane Dermalogica concept spa, where resort-goers gather for hot and cold plunge pools, eucalyptus steam baths, anti-aging green coffee wraps, and intimate experiences for couples—like the after-hours Night Blooming massage with Chinese Jasmine and a paintbrush. Talk about exciting.
Best in Mexico, Central and South America: Le Blanc Spa Resort
Forget everything you thought you knew about Cancún all-inclusives: this adults-only gem blows all your preconceptions out of the water with 24-hour butler service, infinity-style pools with submerged chaises, and bamboo gardens. At the polished stone spa, with its billowing white chiffon curtains, guests can indulge in Greco-Roman hydrotherapy rituals, comprised of dips in a series of cool and warm pools. For the ultimate treat, book the Kukulcan Mayan massage, where two sets of hands use specially choreographed movements that simulate the sacred jaguar, snake, and eagle.
Best in Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific: Four Seasons Bora Bora
All of the rooms—and overwater bungalows—at this luxury hotel have extraordinary views over the turquoise-blue, coral-filled South Pacific. The private motu, or small islet, is also home to a stunning spa, fringed with flowering hibiscus and positioned for unobstructed vistas of Mount Otemanu. Reserve the Kahaia Spa Suite for a romantic afternoon with your lover. The room comes complete with an outdoor terrace, a soaking bath for two, and treatment beds that sit on glass floors that showcase the water below.
Best in Asia: Peninsula Bangkok
A city standard for luxury, this three-story, standalone spa by The Peninsula Bangkok overlooks the Chao Phraya River and boasts colonial Thai design elements such as wooden handicrafts and local silks. The menu is a sophisticated blend of European and Ayurvedic services including Himalayan salt scrubs with black sesame, Indian ginseng, limbu, and tulasi—Southeast Asian basil. Participate in a sleep ceremony designed to give you the sweetest of dreams with the help of a sandalwood, myrrh, and geranium-scented bath, mental and physical meditation, a hot stone massage, and a facial.
Best in Hawaii: Fairmont Kea Lani
Fresh off a three-year, $70 million renovation is this 22-acre whitewashed Wailea resort and its Willow Stream Spa. Double the size of its predecessor, the health and wellness center offers amenities like Maui rain showers and a palolo (mud) bar. Book the Natural Hawaiian Journey, a 120-minute long sojourn including a clay body mask, Hawaiian salt scrub, and a lomi lomi massage. Also of note? Island-inspired heat and hydro treatments.
Best in the Continental U.S.: Ocean House, Rhode Island
Inside this 1868 Victorian oceanfront hotel is a sweeping 12,000-square-foot spa, where guests can indulge in a variety of seasonal treatments (think honey and pumpkin in the fall, and wildflowers in the summer). After your appointment, lounge on the plush relaxation room chaises with a cashmere blanket. Consider visiting in the off-season—moody skies, long walks on the private beach, and leisurely laps in the 25-meter spa pool—for a far more intimate (read: less crowded) stay.