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Pure Bliss! The World’s Best Spas

by Our Editors

EUROPE

THE SPA AT THE AUGUSTINE
PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

Part of the religious community that sprouted up along the twisty streets surrounding Prague’s famous castle in medieval times, the monks of the Order of Saint Augustine began brewing their noted St. Thomas beer in 1352. You can still drink it, but why not do so while being literally covered in the holy ale at The Spa at the Augustine? Set beneath the Augustine Hotel (part of the Leading Hotels of the World), the spa is located in the beautifully transformed and soothing cellar where the beer itself was once brewed. Their trademark St. Thomas Beer Body Ritual (90 min/$200) is highly recommended. The treatment starts in the Hammam room, where your body is exfoliated with finely ground organic beer hops and nourished with the monks’ secret-recipe beer, all to promote detoxification and hydration; a full-body massage follows. Also recommended are the Gentlemen’s Specials, two treatments specially designed for the man on the go. The Gentlemen’s Body Ritual (90 min/$175) combines a full body massage with a short facial, while the Gentlemen’s Facial (60 min/$135) pays more attention to your lovely noggin, including a deep-cleansing mask and a tension-releasing neck and shoulder massage. On your way out, be sure to peek next door into the remaining section of the still-working monastery, and stroll for a bit through the Wallenstein Gardens, which are just steps away. If you’re feeling fully rejuvenated, make the climb up to nearby Prague Castle itself, and catch an unforgettable view of the city and its sea of red roofs, including the Augustine itself just below. www.theaugustine.com.

—Dan Allen

THE SPA, ANDAZ PRINSENGRACHT
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS

When renowned Dutch designer Marcel Wanders set about transforming the former Amsterdam Public Library on the city’s famous Prinsengracht (just a few blocks from the Anne Frank House) into one of the Andaz brand’s hippest global hotels, he pulled together countless seemingly unrelated elements (Delft blue, den-style manliness, literary homages, navigational references, shout-outs to the Golden Age, etc.) and somehow united them all into a space that oozes with cool sexiness and still feels wonderfully open and fluid. The Spa takes the stylish airiness a step further, offering a fab array of options within a soothingly sparse oasis of simplicity. Treatments designed especially for men feature prominently on The Spa’s menu, no big surprise since the hotel is a big hit with the gays (it even hosted the first-ever international edition of hit Dallas club Dick’s Night Out on Amsterdam Pride weekend this year). The stress-mitigating Heat + Foot massage (60 min/$112) applies deep-tissue therapy to your back, neck, head, shoulders and feet, alleviating tension in the places where you need it most. The men’s Muscle Release massage (60 min/$112) is catered to your current physiology, and uses a line-up of essential oils selected by you. The Fitness Facial (60 min/$85) combines damage-reducing pine bark and antioxidizing Vitamin E in an invigorating and clarifying session. Or choose one of The Spa’s unisex facials, featuring products by either June Jacobs (free from anything artificial) or Perricone (loaded with just enough of the latest technology to prevent and reverse skin damage). Visits to The Spa come with free use of the Andaz’s excellent gym and sauna, and if you’re a guest at the hotel, you can make that perfect Amsterdam canal view even better by letting The Spa’s massages and treatments come to you in your room. www.amsterdam.prinsengracht.andaz.hyatt.com.

—Dan Allen

LONGEVITY MEDICAL SPA, CORINTHIA HOTEL LISBON
LISBON, PORTUGAL

After savoring the aerie view of the Aguas Livres Aqueduct traversing the valley and beyond that the 25th of April Bridge spanning the Rio Tejo, I head down from the executive lounge at the Corinthia Hotel Lisbon to the Longevity Medical Spa to ease the kinks in my back from the nine-hour drive from Granada to Lisbon. After a dozen leisurely laps in the indoor pool, I spend 30 minutes before my treatment to relax in the extensive spa facilities. The spa offers numerous diversions: a dry sauna, steam bath infused with eucalyptus vapors, a spacious hydrotherapy pool with various jet stations, and, my favorite, the overhead streams of water that give my sore back muscles a powerful thrumming. Other options include a cool Pebble Walk, a shallow pathway of underwater stones that stimulates the pressure points in your feet. For those who like it cold as I do, you can rub snow from the ice fountain over your face and body. A unique aspect of the Longevity Medical Spa are the doctors available to consult about lifestyle, imbalances, and risk factors that may be contributing to less than optimal health. They are happy to work with you to create a personalized treatment plan. Additionally, on staff are an Osteopath and a nutritional counselor. Highlights from the Spa Menu include: The Longevity Welcome Ritual (3 hours/$310), which includes body exfoliation with a blend of salt crystals, essential oils, and orange zest, followed by a relaxation massage and face-cleansing ritual; Ghassoul and Lavender Ceremony (90 min/$195) where mineral-rich clay from the Atlas Mountains is applied to the body, then lavender foam for a detoxifying scrub, followed by a massage; Seaweed Wrap (90 min/$120), bliss out in a protein, mineral, and vitamin sea wrap on a water bed, then sink further into oblivion with a massage. After two weeks pounding the cobblestones of Iberia’s splendid cities, I chose a body and back massage the Longevity Deep Relaxing Massage Ritual (60 min/$130). My therapist, Sonia, got right down to business, her strong hands focused for a deliciously long time on my mid- and lower-back. Afterward, I fell blissfully asleep in the warm and soothing relaxation lounge. www.corinthia.com/hotels/lisbon.

—Bill Strubbe

ASIA

ESPA AT RESORTS WORLD SENTOSA
SINGAPORE

Singapore’s Sentosa island is like a miniature Orlando, Florida meets Las Vegas, with casinos, attractions for all ages, a Universal Studios Theme Park, and the Resorts World complex. Opened in July 2012, Resort World’s ESPA is the country’s first bona fide destination spa and, measuring in at 107,000 square feet, its largest. Set on lushly landscaped grounds with chirping birds cutely flying about, ESPA’s extensive facilities include 24 treatment rooms, two spa suites, two Beach Suites, a silver-domed marble Turkish Hammam, a crystal steam room, rock sauna with floor-to-ceiling views of a sunlit garden, vitality pools, Technogym machine outfitted fitness center, greenery-set Japanese Forest Onsen-style pools, relaxation zones with sleep pods and swing chairs, hexagonal Zen Studio, nail studio for manicures/pedicures, and Tangerine Spa Café serving Chef Sam Leong’s delicious, healthy fare like a delicately spiced salmon filet with red capsicum coulis, and refreshing avocado and chocolate sorbet. After looking over the spa’s extensive menu, which boasts a men’s section of a dozen treatments and packages, I began with the Ultimate Hammam Ritual (120 min/$315). My male therapist, dressed only in a towel, ushered me into the chamber of slick marble streaked with varying shades of grey, some sections laid with mosaic patterns. Following a deep, cleansing steam, I savored a full-body scrub (the exfoliating glove was given to me afterward as a take-away). A massage followed, incorporating both pressure-point and deep-tissue techniques: one thing that set it apart was the attention paid to my posterior–the butt muscles were thoroughly pressure pointed into submission. Relaxed and steamed, I next enjoyed the Mens’ Age Rebel Facial (90 min/$276), which entailed a skin cleanse, enzyme peel, facial massage, and toning mask. Each product smelled absolutely delicious, and was numerated in a pamphlet I received following the treatment—I absolutely glowed, attested my dinner guest that evening. To really de-stress and soak in the Sentosa/ESPA ambiance, one- to three-night spa holidays are available starting at $567 per night per person, inclusive of accommodations at the Equarius or Beach World hotels (and transportation via Resort World’s complimentary buggy system), spa facilities, and three meals. Oh, and this being a street-food capital, Resorts World boasts an indoor, old-town style hawker center with authentic plucked-from-Malaysia vendors serving up dishes like Hokkien mee and assam laksa. www.rwsentosa.com.

—Lawrence Ferber

SPA AT MANDARIN ORIENTAL BANGKOK
BANGKOK, THAILAND

In Bangkok, it’s not unusual to skip the hotel spas and head straight to the streets for cheap (and quite good) massages. Not only are they wildly inexpensive (no more than ten bucks for an hour foot massage!), but it’s also long been a pastime for tourists. After a visit to the Spa at Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, I learned the true meaning of decompressing. The spa—equipped with ten treatment rooms, specialty suites, yoga and meditation rooms, poolside spa cabana, and a whole lotta Zen—is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. It’s one of the first hotel spas in Bangkok. It’s also a good time to be a man when visiting here. They recently just launched a new line of men’s facials that use a new product line exclusively for guys called Refinery by Aromatherapy Associates (a leading spa beauty brand). It’s a no-brainer to try the Refinery Essential Facial (60 min/$93), which is deep cleansing and brightening, not to mention deeply invigorating and hydrating. And Aromatherapy doesn’t skimp out on the, well…aromatherapy. Expect intoxicating scents like bergamot, frankincense, and sandalwood in the product line. Obviously, the traditional Thai massage (60 min/$93) is a popular treatment. After a foot scrub, my therapist went to town with stretching and pressure-point massaging. It beat any massage I ever got on the street, and the spa setting is well worth the price. The spa is in its own decadent, private oasis on the other side of the Chao Phaya river from the hotel, where guest take a relaxing teak boat ride to get to. However, for those who want a quickie, the spa recently opened the Beauty Corner, tucked away in the Authors’ wing of the colonial-style hotel. Four treatment rooms offer high-performance facials and a mani/pedi station where one can get pampered while sipping tea. www.mandarinoriental.com.

—Jimmy Im

AFRICA

CONRAD PEZULA
KNYSNA, SOUTH AFRICA

One of the first things I did upon arriving at the Conrad Pezula Resort & Spa was to arrange for one of their luxurious spa treatments. This world-renowned resort is not only widely celebrated for being one of the best luxury accommodations in South Africa with its extensive facilities and gorgeous rooms, but it’s also home to an award-winning spa that has guests and locals clamoring to make appointments for a little Zen in the Southern Hemisphere. Arrive one or two hours early to take full advantage of the facilities that include a fully equipped gym, heated indoor pool, sauna, steam room, rain forest shower, rasul chamber, juice bar, nail bar, hair salon, and sun bed. Their extensive menu of spa treatments uses many locally sourced products, providing for a truly authentic South African experience. Book an African Dawn package (285 min/$316) for unforgettable full-body pampering. Starting with a Daka mud wrap, this treatment has your body covered in clay and essential oils that work to hydrate your most important organ—your skin. Afterward, lie down and enjoy a Swedish massage followed by a Deluxe Facial that uses local ingredients to exfoliate and clear your face. Looking for something even more unique to South Africa? Book a Matombo Experience (120 min/$157) where African traditions are used to achieve ultimate relaxation. After your body is completely cleaned and exfoliated your specialist will give you a Phumla Massage that incorporates mineral volcanic stones to relax those overworked muscles. Finish off your spa visit in the post-treatment room where massaging waterbeds and assorted teas keep you in a state of bliss. www.conradhotels.com.

—Paul Summers

AUSTRALIA

CROWN SPA AT CROWN TOWERS
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

When a spa has a massive, $10.3 million renovation, you would hope it delivers. Fortunately, the Crown Spa at Crown Towers in Melbourne exceeded expectations. The hotel day spa was already a hot spot for affluent spa-goers, and now they can return to a more unforgettable experience thanks to the “facelift.” The ambience is now ultra-calming with a soothing palette of pale blue, green, and neutral tones (inspired by nature, what else) as well as an “experience corridor” with customized carpet and hand-painted silk walls. The spa has 19 treatment rooms, two exclusive couples suites, male and female relaxation lounges, and a beauty salon. Water lovers will be impressed with their new Aqua Retreat that features a Hammam steam room, deluge shower, and large vitality pool (men and women get their own separate playground). Furthermore, there’s an 80-foot, indoor heated pool should you need to do laps with other Speedo-clad spa junkies. The pool has great city views, so watching a sunrise here is not unusual. When I visited, I made a beeline to the pool then was escorted to a treatment room for the White Caviar Illuminating Facial (90 min/$245), which is exclusive to Crown Spa in partnership with La Prairie. The products used are known to brighten, tighten, and reduce pigmentation, and my face glowed for days. When spa-ing with advanced and curious treatments, sometimes you need a straight-up, no-frills massage, so I went basic with the Deep Tissue (60 min/$160). The therapist truly went deep and melted all the knots and lactic acid that built up from the flight over…and the fact I have poor writer posture. It was like a session of yoga. Afterward, I felt tall, relaxed, and completely ready to check out the cosmopolitan city of Melbourne. www.crownhotels.com.au.

—Jimmy Im

CARIBBEAN

SPA AT PETER ISLAND RESORT
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

It’s not uncommon to describe Peter Island as “paradise.” This high-brow, über-luxurious resort sprawls 1,800 private acres (of which only 300 acres are actually developed)—talk about an authentic, tropical getaway. There are five white-sand beaches, gorgeous villas, and, my favorite escape within an escape, the Spa at Peter Islands Resort that spans 10,000 square feet in its own private area. It’s massive for a private-island spa and gets as much action as the notable beach bar. The spa is equipped with ten indoor treatment rooms, two outdoor bohios (an indoor/outdoor space right along the sea), a romantic couples suite, a beachside outdoor Jacuzzi, and even a garden…all of which have therapeutic views of Big Reef Bay. Because the Caribbean in general doesn’t have a specific holistic ritual (other than sunbathing with a cocktail), Peter Island Resort has adopted the Ayurvedic philosophy, an ancient Indian practice renown for detoxifying and rejuvenating the body, though you can still immerse yourself in a bevy of Western treatments like massages, facials, etc. The popular Abhyanga Massage (75 min/$175) was truly indulgent yet it also left me feeling pretty aligned. The therapist used warm herbal oil to massage my skin, hitting all the soreness that collects in my shoulders, upper back, and calves. Afterward, like tradition in India, I took to a steam bath that truly detoxified and dislodged all the toxins I had accumulated up to that point. There’s nothing more revitalizing than coming out of a steam room, but I was completely knackered from the massage and reached a state of nirvana that was unbelievably blissful. I also had to try the Diamond Lifting Facial (90 min/$260), which uses the Natural Bisse luxury skincare line from Spain (it’s been getting tons of US love these days and is more visible at top spas). The experience lifts, lightens, firms, and brightens thanks to its top ingredients like Glyo-3 Peel. After treatments like these, I didn’t really need that fruity cocktail to unwind but, hey, when in the Caribbean. www.peterisland.com/spa.

—Jimmy Im

SPA BOTANICO AT DORADO BEACH,
A RITZ-CARLTON RESERVE
PUERTO RICO

Plenty of spas call themselves “sanctuaries,” but this one, located at the new Ritz-Carlton’s Reserve resort, truly lives up to the word. When I passed the 85-year-old ficus tree fronting Spa Botanico at Dorado Beach and entered what looked like a small stucco building, I hadn’t expected a five-acre ode to ohmm. Not only is there a foliage-draped grotto area with several plunge pools, including a cool water bucket drenching feature, but the inside relaxation area is sure to lull you to sleep pre- or post-treatment. The true design wonder is the spa’s treehouses, where several treatments are administered. I opted for the unusual Hammock Massage (60 min/$200), where one is placed cocoon-style in a parachute fabric-like hammock. A therapist then lies underneath you and proceeds to massage various pressure points in your back, hands, and feet using their fingers and toes, all the while swaying you back and forth. To compare it to being swung like a baby isn’t an exaggeration. The gentle sway plus the sounds of the ocean puts you out like a light, no matter how much you fight it. As for other options, a facial is always in order in Puerto Rico because for some reason, locals look immaculate, so signing up for the Age Defying Lip & Eye Treatment (60 min/ $225) seemed in order. With the multi-purpose promise of face lifting, eye-wrinkle smoothing, lip plumping, and more, this therapy gave Botox-like results without chemicals. The bonus eyebrow shaping plus brow and lash tint made me ready for a night out on the town. And this being Puerto Rico, evening fun is nearly mandatory, so I was relaxed and ready. www.ritzcarlton.com.

—Chanize Thorpe

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