Bliss out: The world's best spas
ELLE jetted around the globe to experience the world’s best spas. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it....
Spa Valmont For Le Meurice (lemeurice.com)
By Rita Silvan
The pomp and pageantry of Versailles come alive at Le Meurice, on the Rue de Rivoli in the heart of Paris. Swirl through the doors, leave the noise of the city behind and enter a world of luxury and fantasy. A favourite of Salvador Dali, Rudyard Kipling and Philippe Starck, the hotel is both understated and opulent — a divine mix of its 18th-century heritage and contemporary design.
With only three treatment rooms, the spa is an exclusive retreat for the lucky few. Loyal clients, like designers Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren of Viktor & Rolf, ask for Pratima and book a Valmont Anti-Aging Intensive ICCT Lifting Treatment. Slide onto a warm bed and fall into a state of bliss during Pratima’s special anti-aging massage, followed by a collagen mask. Afterwards, your skin will look firmer and glow for weeks.
Enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail at the bar. Ask William Oliveri — Dali’s favourite bartender — to surprise you.
Show your fabulous self off at the hotel’s three-Michelin-star Restaurant Le Meurice, helmed by Yannick Alléno. For lunch, try his Terroir Parisien tasting menu, which features new interpretations of classic recipes. There is even a cheeky yet luxe take on the Parisian staple ham and cheese sandwich.
889 Yonge 889 (889yonge.com)
By Laura Decarufel
Housed in a historic building with exposed brick walls and polished wood floors, this downtown spa is on the cutting edge of eco chic. Green is a business here, not a buzzword: The robes are organic cotton, and even the pens are made of recycled plastic. And style is always a consideration: At the on-site boutique, you can stock up on soft bamboo jersey dresses from James Perse or custom pieces by Canadian jeweller Dean Davidson.
The Therapeutic Facial is the ideal tonic for city-stressed skin. In 75 minutes, your facialist (ask for Pauline) will perform 13 steps — the usual cleansing and steaming, plus an exfoliation using papaya grains and a facial massage that improves circulation and hydration.
Among the most in-demand in the city, 889 Yonge’s yoga classes boast Toronto’s coolest clientele: artists, actresses, beautiful people. If you’d like to attend a 7 a.m. class but doubt your snooze-button discipline, the spa can arrange for a wake-up call.
Check out some beach spas on the next page …
Mandara Spa at Atlantis (mandaraspa.com)
By Jennifer Lee
It’s a rare feat for a resort the size of Atlantis (think eight restaurants) to have such a boutique vibe. The secret to its success? Attention to detail. Mandara Spa is housed in a virtual palace (marble floors, displays of rare orchids), and its menu matches the Bali-inspired decor.
The Exotic Coconut Rub and Milk Ritual provides precisely the right combination of polish and moisture for sun-dulled skin. A scrub concocted from mung bean and lavender exfoliates, while the Exotic Frangipani Monoi Moisture Melt from Elemis kicks off the rehydrating process.
Borrow a book from the resort library (2,000 volumes are on offer) and spend a lazy afternoon at the labyrinth of pools. The loveliest is the Grotto, which has cascading waterfalls and plenty of palm trees to offer welcome shade. If you’re looking for an adrenaline high, take the Leap of Faith, a near-vertical drop that sees riders zip through a clear tunnel submerged in a shark-filled lagoon.
Kohala Spa (kohalaspa.com)
By Mary Dickie
It’s hard to be uptight in Hawaii, a place of spectacular beauty, laid-back locals and impossibly fresh air. Still, after a day of hiking in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or snorkelling in the clear waters off the Big Island’s black-lava coast, you might need to unwind a bit. Kohala Spa, set on the lavish grounds of the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the island’s west coast, is governed by the Hawaiian spirit of ho’oponopono, which seeks to heal both mind and body. It offers yoga and Pilates classes, manis and pedis using coconut and sugar cane and luxe indulgences like the Pohaku Hot Stone Massage and the traditional Lomi Lomi Hawaiian Massage.
The Hawaiian Salt Renewal Scrub includes an exfoliating and detoxifying massage with native red-clay salts followed by an aromatic honey-mango rinse. (The spa sells its own Coco-Mango line of skin- and hair-care products in the boutique, along with palm-tree-printed yukata robes.)
Relax among swaying palms and fragrant hibiscus in the outdoor garden lounge or take a dip in the resort’s saltwater lagoon.
Pick up a 180-Second Cocktail (the recipe includes flavoured rums and tropical juices) at the Malolo Lounge upstairs, and step outside to watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. The sun takes exactly 180 seconds to disappear over the horizon.
In-di-go Spa at Indigo Pearl Resort (indigo-pearl.com)
Nestled beside the aquamarine Andaman Sea, Indigo Pearl takes its architectural cues from 19th-century tin mining, one of Phuket’s historic industries. That unlikely inspiration translates into gleaming cement floors, exposed teak beams and industrial metal sculptures placed among the resort’s pools and blue jasmine bushes. At the spa, natural ingredients rule — think sea salt and coconut milk.
In-di-go Spa specializes in creative body treatments like the Moist Chocolate Pudding Scrub, but it’s the Pearl Scrub — with real powdered pearl — that really raises the bar on indulgence.
For the type-A spa-goer
Indigo Pearl offers a 7 Days Many Ways program that allows guests to book group or private yoga sessions, cooking classes, tennis lessons and weekend market trips to Phuket’s Old Town.
At Nai Yang Beach, which borders the resort, hire a longboat and take a two-hour snorkelling trip in the azure waters. Relax with a Thai Mango Passion Cocktail at the nearby Rebar while you watch the sun set over the ocean.
100 Fountain Spa at Pillar and Post Hotel (vintage-hotels.com)
Originally a canning factory that was famous for its peaches and tomatoes, the Pillar and Post Hotel is now Ontario’s only five-star country inn. It’s as cozy and welcoming as you’d expect, with a fireside lounge where you can relax before and after treatments.
The Head-to-Toe Wine Taster package — which includes a Purple Feet Pedicure, a Vinotherapy Wellness Wrap and a Vinotherapy Facial — is the ne plus ultra of the spa’s signature wine-based treatments, featuring antioxidant-rich grape extracts from local vineyards. Must-do The spa is home to Niagara’s only outdoor hot springs, where you can sip a chilled glass of wine beside a rocky waterfall.
If you’re the type of spagoer who wants to dine on lettuce and water, Niagara-on-the-Lake isn’t for you — there are just too many delicious distractions. Down the road from the Pillar and Post, the Prince of Wales hotel boasts an 8,000-bottle wine cellar. Have a word with sommelier Fred Gamula, who suggests pairings with entrées like Poached Lobster Ravioli and Crisp Maple Bacon. (His tip: Keep an eye on the next crop of Ontario Chardonnays.)
Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa (ojospa.com)
By Noreen Flanagan
Ojo Caliente, N.M.
With the desert that inspired Georgia O’Keeffe as your backdrop, stepping into these warm waters is both an artistic and a hedonistic pleasure. The spa, which opened in 1868, is the only hot springs in the world to have four different mineral waters bubbling to the surface at temperatures between 27°C and 43°C. The iron pool, which is set against the dun-coloured cliffside, is said to boost your immune system, the soda steam pool may improve digestion, and the arsenic spring reportedly soothes skin conditions and arthritis. Between soaks, sip the mood-lifting lithium spring waters, which are drawn from an old-fashioned pump. At the mud pool, cover your body in the spa’s special blend of clay and bake under the sun like a side order of tortillas. In this setting, which was inspired by ancient Pueblo architecture, the clientele ranges from Native American elders to stylish bohos to notable locals like Ali MacGraw.
Finish your day with a Milagro Relaxation Wrap at the spa. First, you’re tightly swaddled in a light cotton sheet and then rolled in a heavy wool blanket. Bundled like a papoose, with your eyes covered, you sweat out any lingering toxins while listening to flute music. Twenty-five minutes later, you emerge from your heated cocoon totally chilled—emotionally, anyway.
You can book one of the three private outdoor pools in advance. If you’re staying the night, splurge on one of the cliffside New Mexico-style suites. Light the kiva fireplace and take a dip in your own private pool under the stars.
Located in the spa’s historic hotel, which was built in 1916, the Artesian Restaurant offers Southwestern cuisine with a modern twist. Our faves: Grilled Trout with Toasted Piñon Glaze and Green Chile Fries.
Ten Thousand Waves Japanese Spa & Resort (tenthousandwaves.com)
By Noreen Flanagan
Santa Fe, N.M.
This mountainside spa is a peacefully stylish Zen oasis for those who are open to taking ofuro, a bathingsuit- optional Japanese bath. After rinsing off, soak in the slate hot tub and relax in the cedar sauna. In the shoji-screened cooling berth, you can lie on a silk mattress and breathe in the pine-tree-scented air.
The Shiatsudo Massage, based on traditional Japanese Anma massage techniques, realigns energy imbalances. The deeptissue work is done on a mat on the floor in a private pagoda.
Maintain your Zen state a little longer by booking one of the spa’s 13 rooms. For a unique take on the Japanese “tiny capsule hotel” concept, there is a charming mini Airstream trailer.
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