The relaxing powers of a spa, even on a holiday are undeniable. In my travels I have experienced a number of different spas and consider myself somewhat of a spa aficionado (nice word for spa junkie, really). Yes, it is true that I will pretty much walk into any place that offers me a good massage. But there are only a few that set the experience apart, and leave me thinking about the blissful time spent there, for days after. This caliber of luxury spas compete to have your loyalty and recommendations, and in a $40 billion industry (according to Forbes.com) why shouldn’t they? Each of one of my favorites below looks to offer the whole experience, along with an excellent treatment. Here they are:
5. The Spa at Mirror Lake Inn, New York State, USA
Set amongst seven acres on a hilltop overlooking the Adirondack peaks and Mirror Lake, this small luxury hotel with 100 guest rooms and 31 suites, houses The spa at Mirror Lake Inn. Don’t let its size fool you, as this little abode has huge accolades to back it. The 6000 sq foot plus, marble and mahogany clad spa and salon, offers a variety of services from scrubs and wraps to specialized massage therapies and facials. The staff is extremely knowledgeable and well trained. They make your experience personalized and are happy to help you decide what’s best for you. The salon, although a little under staffed, offers great hair and nail services. I recommend the maple sugar body scrub, to leave your skin exfoliated and shiny. The custom deep tissue massage and the eucalyptus steam room before or after are great for detoxification. They also have a Jacuzzi and indoor lap pool with a waterfall. If you visit in the fall/winter, take nice hot shower after your treatment and make sure to relax at one of the hotels 29 fireplaces. The Spa is open daily from 8:00am to 8:00pm but requires a credit card confirmation when you book.
4. The Spa at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay, California, USA
The location of the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay Golf and Spa Resort, in Nothern California, makes it a place that’s hard not to love. Easily accessible from San Francisco International Airport, it is only 23 kms along the coast. However, when you get to the cliff upon which this Scottish mansion style hotel is built, you feel far away from any sign of hustle-bustle. The lush green golf course filled with the sound of the waves crashing against the foot of the cliffs evokes a sudden calmness, even before you get to the resorts award-winning spa. The spa is modern and has all the latest, luxurious amenities you expect from a Ritz Carlton hotel. The staff members at the spa are extremely friendly, helpful, and ensure that your service is highly personalized. The spa menu covers all the popular treatments you can think off, as well as a list of treatments designed especially for brides to be and teens! I recommend the revitalize massage and the roman mineral bath after, which leaves you feeling fresh and new. The spas opening hours vary by season and if you are a guest of the hotel they are usually flexible with your appointments.
3. The Oberoi Spa at the Wildflower Hall, Mashobra, India
This fairy tale luxury resort is set in 22 acres of pine and cedar wood forests, 8250 feet above sea level in the Himalayas. Enough said! For years the famous Himalayas have inspired spirituality and awe in all those who have visited them and longing in those who haven’t. The spectacular views amidst these mountains, including the sun rises and the sunsets, convert even the most unwavering urban dweller into a lover of mother nature. The hotel and spa itself is reminiscent of India’s colonial past. This former residence of a British Lord, not only has teak wood floors and knotted rugs in rooms with spectacular views, but also has all the modern amenities you can think of. The Oberoi spa lives up to the hotel and its location, with excellent highly trained staff, fantastic facilities and amazing aromas making it a true five star experience. The views from the therapy rooms are breath taking. The spa menu is extensive and creative, and has all the signature Oberoi treatments from the milk and rose bath to the indigenous rituals. I recommend the couples massage, followed by the milk and rose bath. Being pampered together, while you watch the vistas of the mountains, is quite an experience. The outdoor Jacuzzi is definitely worth a visit.
2. The Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont in Banff Springs, Canada
Another jewel in the mountains, the 125-year-old Fairmont Banff Springs in the Canadian Rockies is dramatic to say the least. Surrounded by pristine wilderness and lakes, this Scottish castle type beauty, blends opulence and hospitality perfectly. One of the Fairmont chain’s most coveted properties, this UNESCO world heritage sight, boasts world-class skiing, hot springs, golf and summer activities. The massive 38,000 sq foot Willow Stream spa exceeds every expectation, the hotel sets forth. Willow stream is the Fairmont’s own chain of independently, superbly managed spas, housed within select properties. Complete with spectacular spa views, waterfalls, Jacuzzis and mineral pools in the heart of the spa, it has 23 treatment rooms; many steam rooms, saunas and inhalation rooms for men and women. It also has an indoor heated salt-water swimming pool. Here I recommend the 4 hand Swedish massage, which leaves your body in a blissful state. The spa is open from 6:00am to 10:00pm. reservations require credit card confirmations.
1. The Oberoi Spa at the Udaivilas, Udaipur, India
Number 1 on my list is the unparalleled experience offered by the Oberoi spa at Udaivilas in Udaipur, India. Udaipur is located in the princely state of Rajasthan in western India. Although the maharaja’s are long gone, their way of life and flaring opulence lives on and is well captured by the state’s leading hotel chains. The Udaivilas, which rests on the banks of Lake Pichola, is a re-creation of a traditional indian palace, with its courtyards, fountains, gardens and reflection pools. You are made to feel like royalty the minute you set foot on this gorgeous property. The spa experiences match the royal treatment you receive during your stay. If you want to know how the Maharaja’s spa’d, this is the closest you will ever come to it. The spa menu is extensive, creative and similar to that of the Wildflower Hall, with more opulent and royal settings. Everything is worth a try here, just to experience the fan-fare that goes into making you feel like royalty. I recommend you start with the Magic of Mewar package, which entails a body scrub, a massage, an ayurvedic facial and a flower bath and lasts a blissful two hours. They aim to please so appointments are flexible and the staff is excellently helpful.
I look forward to comments from readers on the most luxurious spa experience’s they have had, so that I can add those to my wish list! Until then I hope you enjoy these, as I endeavor to find more.
Disclaimer: Like most people, I haven’t gotten down to taking my camera to the spa (just yet). The photographs in this article are picked from the spa’s website. Clicking on these will redirect you to their official page.
Update: check out TNT’s article on Ananda Spa