Discover six of the best overseas health and wellness properties as voted by Luxury Travel readers in the 2017 Gold List Awards.
1. Kamalaya Koh Samui, Thailand
This serene Koh Samui retreat is built around a centuries-old Buddhist monks’ cave with a philosophy based around the unity of mind, body and soul. Kamalaya offers five treatment plans that focus on different aspects of life: Healthy Lifestyle, Detox, Stress & Burnout, Emotional Balance, and Yoga. With numerous skilled therapists, acupuncturists, naturopaths and spiritual healers guests also have the option of creating their own program based on particular needs and interests.
Guests can choose from a variety of accommodations including the retreat’s classic Hillside Rooms or Penthouse Pool Villas. The Garden Pool Suites, Pool Villas, and Penthouse and Beachfront Pool Villas all feature private pools with garden and ocean views.
The resort has three dining facilities: Soma Restaurant for breakfast and dinner, Amrita Cafe for lunch, and the Alchemy Tea Lounge for tea and snacks. At Soma Restaurant, guests can choose to dine alone or eat with other guests at the communal table.
At the holistic spa’s herbal steam cavern, guests can open their pores and cleanse their skin before a massage or body treatment. One of the retreat’s signature massages is the Vital Essence Oil Massage, which uses Asian therapies and aromatherapy as well as the guest’s choice of one of five Element essential oils: water, wood, fire, earth, or metal.
2. Chiva-Som International Health Resort, Thailand
Located 185 kilometres south of Bangkok on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand, Chiva-Som Health Resort focuses on balancing the mind, body, and spirit using a combination of ancient and modern therapies.
Over a dozen customisable programs are available and include health consultations, all meals, access to eight daily fitness activities, access to the water therapy suites, and a complimentary daily treatment. Days at Chiva-Som involve a mixture of yoga, fitness classes, lectures, massage, skin treatments as well as physiotherapy and delicious, healthy meals.
The retreat firmly believes that food directly impacts long-term health and the chefs at Chiva-Som offer menus featuring low-calorie international recipes using fresh ingredients. There are two dining options, the Emerald Room with an international menu and A Taste of Siam nestled between the pool and the beach, which serves Thai food with a healthy twist.
The retreat’s spa offers a variety of signature treatments, ranging from the Chiva-Som Signature Massage to a Spa Haven Body Cleansing Cocoon that involves a Coffee Body Polish for exfoliation. The Niranlada Medi-Spa offers skin tightening treatments as well as laser and Botox treatments performed by US-trained dermatologists and plastic surgeons.
3. COMO Shambhala Estate, Bali
Just 90 minutes from the Denpasar International Airport and settled in the jungle outside Ubud, COMO Shambhala believes that adventure and cultural discovery should be a comprehensive part of the holistic healing approach.
Guests can go white-water rafting down the Ayung River or cycle through rural rice fields and past countryside temples or head to the spa for a COMO Shambhala Massage which is the retreat’s signature treatment. The Estate’s other wellness facilities include natural spring water vitality pools, private treatment areas overlooking the Ayung River, indoor and outdoor gyms, a rock climbing wall, yoga venues and Pilates studio.
Guests can choose to take meals at their private residence or dine at the Glow dining room or Kudus House Indonesian restaurant. For specific wellness programs, the retreat employs a resident nutritionist to help guests plan personalised meals. The Estate’s resident experts also include a yoga instructor, Ayurvedic doctor, certified colon hydrotherapist and oriental medicine master, as well as a personal assistant to attend to guests’ other needs.
The wellness programs at COMO Shambhala range from three to seven-night stays and focus on detoxification, fitness, stress management, rejuvenation, or wellness through oriental medicine.
4. Aro Ha, New Zealand
This 21-acre luxury lodge forty minutes outside of Queenstown, has an eco-friendly focus, maintaining a minimal carbon footprint by using its own solar and hydro systems, a septic system that uses worms and New Zealand’s first renewable heating system. It is permaculture based and practices organic farming. The retreat’s philosophy is less about pampering (no facials or mani/pedis here), and more about connecting you with nature, nutritious food, mindfulness and physical activity, with plenty of hikes in the rugged surrounds. The all-inclusive programs use the acronym BREATH to represent being, relating, eating, activity, toxicity, and healing to promote healthy lifestyle changes. The diet is vegan (with the exception of a bit of honey and bee pollen), raw, and paleo light: no meat, no dairy, no caffeine, no refined sugars, no alcohol and no gluten.
Towards the end of the day, between afternoon restorative yoga and dinner, guests are treated to a deep tissue massage with one of the massage therapists in the Obsidian Spa. The Spa is also home to a Finnish sauna and an infrared sauna, and the outdoor deck overlooking the lake offers a hot tub and cold plunge.
Aro Ha runs three to four programs per month, ranging from a four to six-night stay. The Winter Wellness and Wellness Adventure retreats are two of Aro Ha’s signature programs and focus on natural health involving activities such as hiking, spa treatments, and fitness training to strengthen the mind and body. Guests stay in one of three eco-suites, from a suite comprised of single rooms to a private double king suite.
5. Spa Village Resort Tembok, Bali
Before arriving at Spa Village Resort Tembok, guests are contacted by a representative from the resort to help plan an itinerary from the 50 activities available. Guests can choose between four paths – balance, creativity, vigour or Spa Academy – to structure their stay, and are welcome to join any of the classes such as yoga, meditation, tai chi, weaving and woodwork scheduled throughout the day.
Spa Village’s signature experience is stargazing, which they encourage every guest to try. This involves relaxing on a large inflatable mattress set up in the pool, listening to specially selected meditation music on an iPod and looking up at the stars. Every guest is also treated to a signature pengantet melukat treatment, a centuries-old technique designed to cleanse the mind, body and spirit. A Balinese massage is followed by a boreh body scrub using traditional roots and spices like galangalal, turmeric, ginger and cloves, before being wrapped in warm towels and left to bake. Fresh milk is then applied to the skin before finishing off in a floral bath. No commercially made products are used in the spa and all scrubs and oils are mixed from fresh ingredients shortly before your treatment.
The menu at the resort’s open-air Wantilan Restaurant is based around what is available in the local area. Fishermen bring what they have caught each day, meat or poultry are from local farmers and fruit, vegetables and herbs come from the resort’s own garden or are purchased from the local village. Everything is fresh and seasonal and very little is imported.
Spa Village Tembok features two major programs: the Return To Yourself yoga and wellness retreat exclusive to women and the Spa Village School Of Life program that combines spa treatments, wholesome cuisine, and physical and mental activities to give guests a holistic healing holiday.
6. Canyon Ranch, Arizona
Located in the heart of the desert in Tuscon, Arizona, Canyon Ranch takes an integrated approach toward improving the health of its guests. With a Personal Program Advisor to assist, guests are encouraged to personalise their treatment plans to include elements of fitness, nutrition, ayurvedic medicine, healing energy, Chinese medicine, spiritual health and massage.
The chefs at the retreat use organic seasonal ingredients and provide comprehensive nutritional information on each dish. Guests can dine at the main dining room or Double U Café for breakfast, lunch, or dinner or participate in a cooking class at the demonstration kitchen for lunch. Canyon Ranch packages are all-inclusive and feature three daily meals, a variety of classes and outdoor activities, use of all facilities, airport transfers, and cooking demonstrations.
Guests can also add on a health or weight loss package to their stay at Canyon Ranch. Health packages such as Stress Management & Resiliency and Optimal Living focus on improving emotional and physical health, and the weight loss program runs for seven nights and is customised to each individual.