Spa and wellness breaks

From ancient hammams to stem cell facials

Spa and wellness breaks Spa at Daintree Ecolodge - ©
By Chris Moss

Restorative retreats and spas in exotic locations around the world offer an array of treats and treatments including a Wine Body Glow, a beer spa and a Dead Sea dip (for the teetotalers).


Spa Cavas Wine Lodge, Mendoza, +54 261 410 6927,
Wine-lovers looking for a hands-on experience in Argentina’s wine country should consider the Wine Body Glow, a beauty and cleansing treatment based on the region’s delicious produce. Take refuge in an expanse of vineyards at the Cavas Wine Lodge.


Daintree Ecolodge, Queensland, +61 07 4098 6100,
Take your body and soul on a sensory journey in the place the Aborigines named ‘Wawu-karrba’, meaning healing of the spirit. Rainforest retreat Daintree offers a range of natural therapies, and many treatments draw on Aboriginal rituals. Try Kambarr rain therapy or a Walu BalBal facial, and detox your innards with local rainforest snacks.

Czech Republic

Hotel U Sládka, Chodová Planá, +420 374 617 100,
This unconventional wellness holiday should appeal to the less hardcore detoxers out there. The ‘beer wellness land’ of Chodová Planá is the first beer spa (apparently, the brew can have remedial effects – although this won’t be news to many people), where you spend all day bathing in beer, and yes, drinking the stuff as part of the treatment. Lava stone massages and tours of the family brewery are also available.


Hotel Kalevala, Kuhmo, +58 086 554 100,
With its traditional remedies that range from ‘bone-setting’ to jumping into ice-holes, Finland may not seem an obvious choice for those whose idea of wellness involves oil and maybe a candle or two. On Lake Lammasjärvi, near the Russian border, you can stick to peat body wraps, saunas and jacuzzis while wolves howl in the snowy forest outside.


Spa Ein Gedi Country Hotel, +972 8659 4221,
Head to the palm-tree lined Ein Gedi kibbutz in the south of Israel and cover yourself from head to toe in the therapeutic black mud found on the shores of the Dead Sea. The unique mineral properties of the saline waters, which lie 400 metres below sea level at the lowest point on earth, will refresh and revitalise tired skin. Just don’t shave too soon before entering the water – it will sting.


Terme Di Saturnia, +39 0564 600111,
These hot bubbling springs in Tuscany were created by a lightning bolt hurled from the heavens by Roman god Saturn, who was fed up with fighting on the Maremma, according to local folklore. Overlooking Etruscan ruins, water from ancient springs and state-of-the-art remedies mesh centuries of tradition with modern techniques.


Gleneagles, 01764 662231,
Known for its world-class golf courses and posh country pursuits, Gleneagles is one of Scotland’s grandest properties. While you unwind at the spa, your children can occupy themselves learning the forgotten art of falconry. From heated limestone floors to Arctic mist showers, the range of treatments should suit all tastes.

Read more about great spas in Britain


Ritz Carlton Istanbul, +90 212 334 44 44,
Among the oldest water therapies is the Turkish hammam or steam bath. Experience it in luxury, at a spa overlooking the azure waters of the Bosphorus strait. For pure indulgence, try a chocolate body treatment before heading to the rooftop terrace for a refreshing cocktail.


Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath, 01225 823333,
Fine dining and long walks in the secluded gardens of the Royal Crescent Hotel will take you back to the times of Jane Austen. From full body algae wraps to a special space for men, the hotel’s spa – converted from the property’s stables – has all the amenities you’d expect.

Read more about great spas in Britain


California, Two Bunch Palms, Palm Springs, +1 760 329 8791,
The place to spot celebrities, although be warned they might be lurking under several feet of mud in the healing baths of the Two Bunch Palms resort. The grotto and steaming waters were a sanctuary for Native Americans and, later, for Al Capone; his cottage, which still bears a bullet hole and his initials on a desktop, is now Suite 14.