The Top 10 International Destination Spas in 2017

Schloss Elmau
Photo: Courtesy of Schloss Elmau

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in all things “wellness,” from the rise of athleisure wear and boutique fitness studios to juice cleanses and detox diets. And when it comes to travel, people who are dedicated to staying healthy at home are determined to take their habits with them on the road. The wellness-minded are also taking time out to experience fitness retreats and destination spas around the globe. According to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness tourism generated $563 billion in 2015, with spa facilities accounting for $98.6 billion of that revenue. Many of the world’s premier spa facilities lie in Europe, and this year, it was a German resort, Schloss Elmau — the setting for the G8 summit in 2015 — that received top honors. This 100-year-old, family-owned property in the Bavarian Alps offers an extensive array of activities (tai chi, qigong, yoga retreats) and has multiple facilities including the Oriental Hamam, the Badehaus Spa (an adults-only wing overlooking the mountains), and the Turtle Spa, which is dedicated to traditional Chinese medicine. What’s even more unique is that the resort caters to kids in its 24-hour Family Spa, complete with an indoor pool, Finnish sauna, and outdoor saltwater infinity pool. “It’s the best spa hotel I’ve visited in the last 10 years,” wrote one reader. “I’ve never seen such a beautiful place.” Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. In the international destination spas category, readers rated properties on their accommodations and facilities, treatments, service, food, and overall value. Other European hideaways that impressed our readers include Fonteverde, a hot-springs resort in Italy’s Val d’Orcia; Les Prés d’Eugénie - Michel Guérard, a French hideaway known for its exquisite “cuisine minceur” (slimming food) and Michelin three-starred restaurant; and Les Sources de Caudalie, where spa-goers can enjoy vinotherapy treatments, as befits the property’s setting in Bordeaux. In Mexico, our readers again ranked Rancho La Puerta — a 77-year-old retreat in the hills of Tecate, Mexico, with 14 hiking trails and over 50 fitness classes daily — as among the top places in the world to unwind. “It’s one of the best weeks ever — your body feels clean and healthy, your mind invigorated,” said one of this Hall of Fame honoree. “Very grounding and magical,” added another. “It is an amazing time to relax and reconnect with yourself.”

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10. Kamalaya, Koh Samui, Thailand

Kamalaya Koh Samui
Courtesy of Kamalaya Koh Samui

Score: 91.20

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9. Les Sources de Caudalie, Bordeaux-Martillac, France

Les Sources de Caudalíe
Courtesy of Les Sources de Caudalíe

Score: 92.42

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8. Les Prés d'Eugénie- Michel Guérard, Eugénie-les-Bains, France

Les Prés d'Eugénie Michel Guérard
Courtesy of Les Prés d'Eugénie Michel Guérard

Score: 92.57

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7. Chiva-Som, Hua Hin, Thailand

Chiva-Som International Health Resort
Courtesy of Chiva-Som International Health Resort

Score: 93.33

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6. Ananda in the Himalayas, Uttarakhand, India

Ananda in the Himalayas
Courtesy of Ananda in the Himalayas

Score: 93.73

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5. Fonteverde, San Casciano dei Bagni, Italy

Fonteverde
Courtesy of Fonteverde

Score: 93.88

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4. BodyHoliday, St. Lucia

BodyHoliday
Courtesy of BodyHoliday

Score: 93.98

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3. Mountain Trek, British Columbia, Canada

Mountain Trek
Courtesy of Mountain Trek

Score: 95.36

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2. Rancho La Puerta, Tecate, Mexico

Rancho La Puerta
Courtesy of Rancho La Puerta

Score: 95.64

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1. Schloss Elmau, Elmau, Germany

Schloss Elmau
Courtesy of Schloss Elmau

Score: 97.69

A year-round wellness oasis in the Bavarian Alps, Schloss Elmau is excellent for “the individual, the couple, or the family.” The resort is divided into two sections — the 115-room main hotel and the newer, 47-suite Retreat — with multiple spa facilities, pools, a state-of-the-art concert hall, and one of the largest hotel libraries in the world. Prepare to unwind in a qigong workshop, while on a nature walk through the surrounding forest, or during an Ayurvedic head massage or. “You do not want the spa treatments to stop,” wrote one reader, “be it a hot stone massage, a physio-relax massage, or a pedicure. Heavenly bliss!”

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