Editor’s Note: Monthly Ticket is a CNN Travel series that spotlights some of the most fascinating topics in the travel world. In November, we’re checking into the world of hotels and resorts.
Being pummeled by strangers, soaked in aromatic waters, or encouraged to throw yoga shapes in beautiful surroundings isn’t going to erase the problems of the past few years.
But for those of us still carrying the baggage of anxiety or long-term health consequences brought on by these fraught times, such wellness-inducing activities will certainly come as a welcome escape.
Whether you’re looking for deep cleanses amid the snowy peaks of New Zealand, massages in the Maldives and Saint Lucia, or spa therapy in Saint Lucia, here are some of the best rejuvenation hotspots the world has to offer.
Aro Hā, New Zealand
Surrounded by the snowy peaks of the Southern Alps, Aro Hā says it has a simple kaupapa, or purpose: to regenerate the mind and body.
It doesn’t come easy though – guests are expected to cut ties with alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes before arriving for their wellness journey.
Days at Aro Hā start with the chiming of Tibetan bowls, dynamic Flow Yoga against the backdrop of the rising sun and a breakfast of carrot loaf with an apple butter and berry coulis, all sourced from the resort’s garden.
To keep up the mind, body and spirit cleanse, the kitchen is plant-based with an emphasis on garden-to-table. Fitness is just as key, so enjoying a subalpine hike around the region before some spa time and a therapeutic massage is highly recommended.
Willka T’ika, Peru
Nestled in the Andes between the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu and the Incan capital Cusco, this eco-friendly resort sits amid one of the world’s most spectacular landscapes.
Throw in a luxurious spa and it’s the perfect post-pandemic retreat.
The stunning beauty goes beyond the picturesque outdoors; among the pink-hued buildings of this boutique hotel, is the Seven Chakra Gardens – a restorative space landscaped to represent the seven classic chakras, said by some beliefs to be the energy centers of the human body.
While traditional Andean ceremonies can be experienced outside the resort, staff including indigenous Quechua people ensure that guests’ stays are influenced by their relationship with Pachamama – Mother Earth. A great way to get in touch with nature is a soothing soak in a salt-and-herb-infused floral solar bath under the night sky, heated by the sun during the day.
BodyHoliday, Saint Lucia
An idyllic Caribbean Sea setting among powder sand beaches and tropical rainforests bolsters confidence in BodyHoliday’s promise: “Give us your body for a week and we’ll give you back your mind.”
Depending on the program, guests can spend their entire stay doing yoga or exploring the island with thrilling activities such as scuba diving and archery.
There’s a Wellness Center complete with a skin clinic, that boasts “restorative beauty” among its other spa and therapy treatments.
Popular with guests is the “Serenity Massage,” a Swedish technique using a special blend of oils to help with breathing and sleeping, alongside Ayurvedic principles.
Anantara Eastern Mangroves, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Overlooking beautiful mangroves at the edge of the city, Anantara uses its natural surroundings to create an oasis of healing that combines eastern healing with Arabic influences. Exclusive treatments here include the “Vichy desert sand body scrub” and the “Neom de-stress candle massage.”
Depending on the mood, guests can experience the Turkish hammam or venture out to Anantara’s waterfront where they can get involved in one of the many water sports available.
Other therapies include the typical indulgences of a luxury hotel – numerous fine dining options and the offer of bottomless drinks on the house.
Ananda in the Himalayas, India
Sitting in the Himalayan foothills surrounded by the Sal forests, Ananda calls itself a “spiritual pathway.” It offers therapies tailored to the needs of guests – pandemic-weary arrivals may want to take advantage of the “stress management” program.
Full medical check-ups are provided, along with spa consultancies to ensure activities such as yoga, meditation, pranayama (breath regulation) and refreshing plunges deliver the maximum benefits.
Guests at this rejuvenating retreat are said to include British royalty and A-listers including Elizabeth Hurley and Brad Pitt. If you’re lucky, you may end up on a trek through the forests with someone you recognize.
Stanglwirt Green Spa Resort, Austria
“The Sound of Music” meets “The Hobbit” in this sprawling, grass-roofed Alpine chalet in Austria’s Wilder Kaiser mountains, where the Hauser family presides over upscale eco-escape.
Environmental credentials are bolstered by home-produced food from the Stanglwirt’s organic farm, while the resort’s eco-sauna is made from local arolla pine.
Activities on offer include golf, horseback riding and skiing. There’s also a 500-square-meter indoor fitness garden.
Stanglwirt highlights include water features designed to mimic the rocky mountain surrounds. Letting the brine from the saltwater pools soothe the skin while reclining in a massage alcove is recommended, before guests can head up the moss-clad stairs to indulge in the spa’s organic treatments.
Palazzo Fiuggi, Italy
This medical retreat claims to take a 360-degree approach to wellbeing, with a serious focus that could potentially offer respite to those suffering from illnesses including long Covid.
The setting is idyllic, with healing waters and the natural beauty of Italy’s Appenine mountains as a backdrop.
Palazzo Fiuggi offers bespoke wellness treatment programs with holistic therapies and medical services tailored by a team of doctors and experts.
Guests can choose from “medical and diagnostic” treatments like its “Post Covid-19” program or a “regeneration” plan like its “Restore and Balance” program.
All treatment plans come with extensive medical workups, soaks in the Roman baths and lymphatic drainage, aromatherapy and other massages.
The best kind of wellness treatments also include good food. Here guests can enjoy a menu devised by a three-star Michelin chef.
Euphoria Retreat, Greece
The charming hill village of Mystras is a cooler escape from the plains of Greece’s inner Peloponnese region, and a gateway to the fabulous ancient wonders of the Byzantine fortress that overlooks it.
It’s also home to another escape. Euphoria is a spa resort complex built in a classical style that offers guests, among other things, treatments specifically designed to aid post-pandemic recovery.
Euphoria’s “Feel Alive Again” program aims to relieve guests of pent-up negativity through a combination of activities such as laughter yoga, breathwork and music.
The resort says these activities are designed to coax out unconscious thoughts and feelings to cleanse the mind.
It also offers a patented “3GL PLUS” therapy that measures the most important markers for metabolic health as guests journey through Euphoria Methodos, the spa’s approach which combines holistic Hippocratic medicine with Taoist spirituality.
Hopefully, guests leave in a state of euphoria.
Joali Being, Maldives
Surrounded by soft sands and the ocean breeze, this island wellbeing resort centers around the concept of “weightlessness.” No laws of gravity are broken, though; at Joali Being, that means delivering a sense of freedom.
The resort says it mixes modern science with ancient healing arts to give a stay inspired by its four pillars of wellbeing: mind, microbiome, energy and skin.
On offer are programs tailored to rebalance guests’ wellness, including the Abhyanga full body massage to therapies in the refreshing waters of resort’s Hydrotherapy Hall.
And for drinks? There are over 60 types of organic tea available at the tea lounge, Sai, for guests to sip away at and, hopefully, feel that weightlessness.
Published in April 2022, updated in November 2022.