These Overwater Spas Are the Ultimate Way to Relax
A far more recent development, however, has been the addition of overwater spas at some of the world’s most luxurious island resorts. Like overwater bungalows, these structures take advantage of their unique locations to provide just that little extra something special. An added benefit? During your treatment, you can listen to the waves crashing beneath you instead of some New Age soundtrack of atonal gongs.
You don’t even have to book a ticket all the way to the Maldives to indulge at one of these (though several are located in the Indian Ocean archipelago) since there are several in the Caribbean, and even one in Europe.
Here are some of the most stunning overwater spas from around the world.
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Over Water Spa
The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island has been a forerunner of luxury travel and unique amenities in the Maldives thanks not only to features like the world’s first underwater restaurant, but also its expansive overwater spa.
Four of its treatment rooms are placed on stilts over those famous turquoise Indian Ocean waters. Of those, three rooms have glass floors with views of the coral reef below where you can watch fish and other fauna float by during your massage. The spa partners with Elemis, so the signature Tropical Indulgence treatment is a must. It begins with a skin polish utilizing coconut, mung bean, spices and papaya before a soothing rubdown with Elemis Frangipani Monoi Oil and a deep-tissue massage focusing on large muscle groups. Be sure leave time after your treatment to relax in the outdoor Jacuzzi on your private “serenity deck.”
Drift Spa at Niyama Private Islands, Maldives
Another Maldivian mainstay boasting its own underwater restaurant, Niyama is a 40-minute seaplane ride south of Malé in the scenic Dhaalu Atoll. It is the only resort in the Maldives with a surf break directly onshore, making it popular with the “Endless Summer” crowd.
However, the word Niyama is Sanskrit for “observance” and connotes a pursuit of healthy habits and activity, so you can bet the spa, which partners with French beauty line Anne Semonin, is a major focus here. It has eight rooms total, of which four are set over the lagoon. Among the specialty treatments, the Niyama Recovery is 90 minutes of magic, beginning with an aromatherapy massage session with either lavender or geranium essential oils. That’s followed by a recharging body masque of Maldivian aloe vera gel and an acupressure massage of the scalp and feet before a final eye massage using chilled lava stones to combat any jetlag-induced puffiness.
Fern Tree Spa at Half Moon, Jamaica
Set along the shore of Montego Bay, Half Moon has been a standard setter for elegant Caribbean hospitality for over six decades. It has rooms, suites and villas scattered over its 400 perfectly maintained beachfront acres, not to mention unique amenities such as an equestrian center where guests can go swimming with horses. It is currently undergoing a $75-million renovation that includes updates to public facilities, new restaurants and an expanded beachfront.
However, guests can still indulge in an experience at its Fern Tree Spa, which includes two overwater bungalows in which spa treatments and fitness classes like yoga take place. Among the notable treatments here are a detoxifying seaweed bath and scrubs incorporating either fragrant Jamaican allspice, oatmeal and essential oils; or coconut oil and invigorating Jamaican coffee.
Iridium Spa at the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort
The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort is located in the Dhaalu Atoll, offering guests the seclusion of being a seaplane flight away from the busy Malé Atoll where the country’s international airport is. In addition to 77 beach and overwater villas – each of which comes with St. Regis’s famous butler service – the resort keeps guests busy with six restaurants and bars, an infinity pool, a tennis court (a rarity in the Maldives), an anti-gravity yoga studio and, yes, an overwater spa. The architecture of this spa, however, is just as stunning as its surroundings.
Designed by WOW Architects, its form pays homage to local marine life including lobsters and squid. The focal point is a relaxation pool called the Blue Hole that mirrors deep sinkholes found in some of the surrounding reefs. As is the brand standard for St. Regis, this is an Iridium spa, and has just six overwater couple’s treatment rooms, each of them branching off from the main building. For something that sets the aquatic ambiance, try the Lava Shell Massage. Tiger-striped clam shells are filled with self-heating lava gel and are used to massage the body, improve circulation and firm the skin.
Arctic Bath Hotel & Spa, Sweden
The Arctic might not be the first place you think of when it comes to spa destinations, but this northern lodge scheduled to open in the fall of 2018 might just put Sweden on your bucket list. The hotel will be built on the Lule River. Literally, on the river, and will float in the summer, while in the winter (the best time to see the Northern Lights), the river freezes and the hotel will be anchored on the ice.
The project is just the latest from the visionary team behind the Treehotel, also in Sweden. The circular main structure will be constructed from timber with a central open-air bath perfect for ice bathing or just a cold-water plunge. The six floating guest rooms will radiate off this central hub, each a moderately roomy 270 square feet and with huge windows to take in the scenery. Rooms are not yet bookable, but should be about six months prior to opening.
Kamalame Cay Private Island Resort & Residences, Bahamas
This intimate family-owned resort, is where luminaries like Serena Williams have come to honeymoon and get off the grid. It is located on a 96-acre private island with three miles of sandy beaches fronting the Andros Great Barrier Reef, and is home to the Bahamas’ only overwater spa. Treatments are performed with Naturopathica products. Never heard of them? That’s because they are the resort’s own in-house line of organic, sustainable, all-natural products created from botanicals by herbalist, esthetician and aromatherapist Barbara Close.
The service to book is definitely the signature Kamalame Massage. It incorporates a choice of specially blended essential oils from which guests can choose. The Detox mixes pine, juniper and cypress to stimulate the lymphatic system while the Renew combines lemongrass and ginger to stimulate the muscles and fight fatigue.
Over the Ocean Náay Spa at the Palafitos - Overwater Bungalows at El Dorado Maroma by Karisma
Karisma Hotels brought overwater bungalows, or palafitos, to Mexico with the opening of this resort in 2016. Located in the Riviera Maya between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. The accommodations start at over 800 square feet and proffer destination-driven design touches like glass-bottom floors and outdoor showers.
The Náay Spa at the resort includes a juice bar, a beauty salon, a gym kitted out with CrossFit equipment and 14 spa suites, four of which are overwater. Treatments are inspired by Mayan healing techniques and incorporate locally sourced ingredients. Perfect for combatting sun damage and fine lines, the Sea Moss Anti-Aging Facial begins with a facial cleansing and tonic, both of which use antioxidant-rich Maroma sea moss harvested from nearby beaches. A gentle exfoliation incorporating cactus extract and Royal Jelly produced by honeybees is then followed with a calming masque of aloe vera serum and cucumber concentrate for a powerful one-two moisturizing punch.
Ocean of Consciousness Spa at Four Seasons Maldives Private Island at Voavah
Four Seasons’ newest Maldives resort (it already had two here) opened in December 2016 and kicked tropical luxury up a notch. This private island resort has just seven suites and villas. But don’t let that fool you. It also has its own seaplane and a 62-foot yacht, private chefs to cater to guests’ every whim, a PADI 5-Star dive center…and the overwater Oceans of Consciousness Spa, whose treatments are predicated on balancing the five Vedic qualities for life: Truth, Right Action, Love, Peace and Compassion.
The three-hour Oceans of Consciousness Experience begins with calming breath work followed by a body scrub with Himalayan salt, gem powders and essential oils chosen to channel a specific life consciousness pathway. After a bath infused with milk and honey comes a massage tailored to the guest’s preferences. The final act is a resonance therapy session in which tuning forks are used to bring chakras into alignment before a guided meditation to the sounds of a quartz singing bowl sound bath.
The Spa at the Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi
Compared to other Southeast Asian beach destinations such as Bali and Koh Samui, Langkawi remains relatively quiet. The Malaysian island has seen a recent bumper crop of new luxury hotels, though, including this one, which just opened last September along the lush, jungly hillsides of a secluded cove north of the airport.
The hotel takes advantage of its seaside setting with features like a curvaceous family infinity pool and an overwater Chinese fine-dining restaurant. But it is its ESPA spa, whose treatments are inspired by local healing rituals, that truly catches the eye. Its five freestanding cabanas are designed to resemble traditional Malay fishing traps called bubus, with rounded wooden beams culminating in points at the top and bottom, and are perched just at the water’s edge. Informed by that same sense of place, the Mandi Bunga Ritual is a purifying and restorative experience that draws upon the Malay tradition of cleansing baths with therapeutic blossoms believed to dispel bad luck. After the bath, a pouring of aromatic oils and a relaxing rhythmic massage will definitely make you feel like your luck has changed for the better.
The Spa at Song Saa, Cambodia
Song Saa opened in Cambodia’s Koh Rong archipelago back in 2012, putting the country’s unspoiled southern seacoast on the jet-set must-hit list. Since then, its conservation-driven philosophy has become the benchmark for responsible development in the region. The 24 villas spanning the resort’s two islands (Song Saa means “The Sweethearts” in Khmer) are constructed of timber salvaged from old fishing boats.
Its kitchen sources sustainable ingredients from local farmers and fishermen. Owners Mel and Rory Hunter founded the Song Saa Foundation to spearhead projects ranging from marine conservation and wildlife protection to providing medical care in local villages. But do-gooders also need a bit of wellbeing. For such necessities, the resort’s “no walls” spa, includes an outdoor sala that looks right out over the water. Among the treatments inspired by Cambodia’s history and culture, the Khmer Leaf Herbal Compress Massage was once used to sooth the aching muscles of warriors returning from battle, but is now the ideal antidote to travel wear and tear. Hot poultices made with ingredients like lemongrass, kefir lime and turmeric are rubbed over the body to reduce inflammation and stress, though the view from the sala is probably all you need to relax.