We’ve all heard the term “positive thinking,” but when it comes to spas it’s all about blissful thinking, combined, of course, with sensual treatments that are designed to rejuvenate body, mind, and spirit. Whether you book a day at the spa or plan to spend your entire holiday being pummeled and pampered, Passport has left no hot stone unturned or therapy untried, to bring you our favorite spas from around the globe. When planning your next delightfully indulgent getaway, you’re sure to find the treatment of your dreams at one of these exceptional locations. Whether it’s a couple’s massage, mud bath, or seaweed facial, the astounding array of interna- tional spas covered here is sure to provide you with just what you need to relax and revitalize.
The largest spa is Germany has hit its stride and developed a cult following. Within walking distance of Berlin’s central train station, Vabali looks and feels so out of place it has to be in Berlin. Outside, the streets leading up to Vabali’s entrance are grungy and industrial. Inside, every inch of the lawn has been freshly mowed, and every inch of every wooden column has been deliberately carved. The resort has 11 saunas and steam baths with temperatures ranging from 55° to 95° Faranheit, each with its own customized aromatherapy. The first couple of years after opening, it felt like guests were fumbling around try- ing to make sense of this giant resort sprawled across 21,500 square feet.
Today, it’s cult followers are such regulars that it’s easy to just follow the crowds to at least appear to fit in. This is the West World of spa resorts: Smoke outside with a pint of beer while you watch other guests swim in the pool, attend an Aufguss ritual (where the “steam master,” usually a scantily covered college boy, takes a towel or a fan and blasts you with steam), read and nap by the fireplace, or get a private rosebud bath by candlelight with your partner. You can’t do much wrong here, except wear clothes (an absolute no no) or enter an Aufguss ritual late (punctuality is a must in Germany). Clients come in all shapes, sizes, and relations, so come alone, bring your Grindr date, or your mom , nobody will look twice.
Indoors there is a 82°F pool with white curtains, palimpsests of Roman debauchery with Orientalist (bordering culturally inappropriate) carvings of Buddha and frangipani flowers. Outdoors and on the rooftops there are lounge chairs to sunbath or cool off. Where the crowds are huddled around a blackboard is where you’ll find the Aufguss schedule. Specialized sessions include green tea infusions, coco peelings, pine wood peelings, honey infusions, and orangesalt peelings.
If you get hungry, order a smoothie or a fullmeal (try the Ozinger Dop Bap with octopus, squid, and kimchi for € 13.90). Any extras you order, like food or massages, will just require a tap of your wristband. Worry about paying for it when you check-out. Day Cards start at €36.50. Don’t get the two-hour pass for €21.50, you’ll end up overstaying and paying for the day pass anyway. Welcome to the cult. www.vabali.de
MAGIC SPA, POUSADA DE LISBOA
Part of Portugal’s network of Pousada properties (all set on significant historic sites, much like the Paradores in Spain), the Pousada de Lisboa enjoys a truly fantastic location at the heart of Lisbon, facing the Tagus River along Praca do Comercio, and what was once the site of the Portuguese royal palace, before a powerful earthquake in 1755 leveled much of the city center. The current grand building was built on the site in the 19th century, and once served as home to the country’s Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Today, the Pousada de Lisboa is a beautifully appointed boutique property, part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Integrated right into the Pousada’s serene gardens is its Magic Spa, which offers a full line of signature treatments in four categories: body massages, body treatments, facial treatments, and stress escapes, all using the spa’s own line of paraben-free Magic Potion products. The deeply invigorating Magic Sports Massage (60 min/$93) uses probing massage movements to relieve accumulated tensions lodged in your muscular system, accompanied by the aromas of peppermint, eucalyptus and rosemary, and sweet almond oil to give your skin a satiny sheen.
If you’re looking to peel back a few years for all of those dazzling Lisbon selfies, the Magic Facial Flash Effect (75 min/$175) uses advanced massage techniques and antioxidant-rich products to battle wrinkles and give your skin an immediate light and healthy glow. The Posada’s Magic Spa also features an indoor pool, Jacuzzi, and both Turkish and Scottish baths, all of which will make you momentarily forget that you’re smack in the middle of one of Europe’s most exciting cities. www.magicspa.pt/en/portfolio/pousada-de-lisboa