By Siobhan Reid
July 08, 2020
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Credit: Courtesy of Rancho La Puerta

Over the past decade, a multitude of health resorts have popped up all over the world, each extolling a different wellness philosophy and offering a unique mix of treatments and regimens. The past few years alone have seen the openings of a quantum science–backed retreat in Suzhou, China; a yoga-and-surf-centered boot camp in Portugal; and a health-focused jungle hideaway in Papagayo, Costa Rica. All that innovation sets a very high bar for the best spas in the world.

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 destination spas category, readers rated properties on their accommodations and facilities, treatments, service, food, and overall value.

Novelty aside, it’s clear from the results of this year’s survey that readers seek out transformative experiences in inspiring locales. Just take BodyHoliday (No. 4), the famed all-inclusive wellness resort in St. Lucia. With its heavenly setting on Cariblue Beach, on the remote northwestern tip of the island, the resort “feels like paradise,” one respondent wrote. As for the activities, there’s everything from tai chi and personal-training sessions to windsurfing and scuba diving — plus complimentary daily spa treatments. “I’ve been to BodyHoliday 19 times,” one traveler raved. “It’s stress-free, and everything is done impeccably.”

In Spain, the results-driven Sha Wellness Clinic claimed the No. 3 spot on this year’s list. Set on a verdant hill overlooking the Balearic Sea, the strikingly Modernist resort could pass as just another lavish hotel. But inside is a 64,600-square-foot medical facility where guests receive personalized treatments in cognitive health development, genomic and preventive medicine, aesthetic dermatology, and other areas.

Mexico is home to three of this year’s best properties, including runner-up Chablé Yucatán. A revamped 19th-century estate in the jungles of the Yucatán Peninsula, it boasts pre-Hispanic-style temescals (saunas) and 40 hacienda-influenced guest rooms. The year-old sister property, Chablé Maroma (No. 5) in the Riviera Maya, also made it onto this year’s list, wowing guests with its beachside location and Mayan-inspired spa treatments.

Learn more about our winning property, Rancho La Puerta, and the other health resorts that readers voted onto this year’s list of the best spas in the world.

1. Rancho La Puerta, Tecate, Mexico

Credit: Courtesy of Rancho La Puerta

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 96.12

More information: rancholapuerta.com

This year marks the 80th anniversary of Rancho La Puerta, a renowned destination spa spread across 4,000 cacti-studded acres in Tecate, Mexico. Spanish-style casitas sit against a backdrop of ancient oaks, in the shadow of the 3,885-foot Mount Kuchumaa. “A magical place for mind and body rejuvenation,” one traveler gushed. Clearly other travelers agree, as many are repeat guests: “I go as often as I can,” one respondent wrote, “and every time I visit, it’s as good as my first time there, more than two decades ago.” Said another visitor, “It has been my great fortune to have been there many times. The beautiful grounds, helpful staff, tasty meals, and abundance of activities never fail to please.” Guests can choose from fitness classes such as aquatic conditioning, cardio drumming, and stretching sessions, as well as pursuits like bird-watching, cooking demos, and creative-writing instruction. There are also three spas administering treatments that run the gamut from pampering (hot-stone massages, facials) to osteopathic (chiropractic and biodynamic craniosacral therapy).

2. Chablé Yucatán, Chocholá, Mexico

Credit: Courtesy of Chablé Hotels

Score: 95.29

More information: chablehotels.com

3. Sha Wellness Clinic, El Abir, Spain

Credit: Courtesy of SHA Wellness Clinic

Score: 94.29

More information: shawellnessclinic.com

4. BodyHoliday, St. Lucia

Credit: Courtesy of BodyHoliday

Score: 93.60

More information: thebodyholiday.com

5. Chablé Maroma, Punta Maroma, Mexico

Credit: Courtesy of Chablé Hotels

Score: 92.45

More information: chablehotels.com

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2020.