Home » The World’s Most Incredible Spas –2017!

The World’s Most Incredible Spas –2017!

Passport Global Studio

by Our Editors

Passport has left no hot stone unturned or therapy untried, to bring you our favorite spas from around the globe.

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 international spas covered here is sure to provide you with just what you need to relax and revitalize.



Muhu is one of the most historic and beautiful of Estonia’s more than 2,000 islands, easily accessible from the mainland by a half-hour ferry ride, but far enough away to have retained its own brand of Estonian culture, along with its own sense of island tranquility. Set along the island’s southern coast, Pädaste is a 15th-century countryside manor that’s been lovingly converted into one of Estonia’s most luxurious spa hotels by partners Martin Breuer and Imre Sooäär (who also happens to be a member of the Estonian Parliament). The manor’s intimate Spa at Pädaste features a range of sumptuous treatments, many inspired by centuries of local Estonian traditions. The Muhu Hay Bath (30 min/$100) uses fragrant field-flower-filled hay from local meadows to stimulate and heal the body (as locals have done for hundreds of years), while the Muhu Mud Wrap (45 min/$100) uses local sea mud (revered for its anti-rheumatic properties) for a treatment based on Estonia’s “Kurbad” tradition, wherein heat calms the body and creates the sensation of floating. Inside the spa’s wood sauna, grab a cluster of young birch branches and flog your skin to stimulate circulation, just as locals have done since time immemorial. The spa’s terrace, overlooking a serene pond and the bay beyond, features a Siberian cold tub, while a seawater hot tub awaits by the bay. All oils, creams, and spreads used at Spa at Pädaste are prepared fresh daily, using only pure and natural ingredients. Treatments can be purchased à la carte or bundled into a half-day package—or even into a three-day program to induce a state of complete relaxation. www.padaste.ee/spa

—Dan Allen


Voted the world’s #1 hotel last year in Trip Advisor’s Travelers Choice Awards, Budapest’s Aria Hotel is an elite member of the divine Library Hotel Collection, which also includes New York City’s Hotel Giraffe and Library Hotel, and Toronto’s long-awaited Hotel X. With a prime location just steps from St. Stephen’s Basilica in the center of Budapest, the fantastic five-star Aria is infused with a musical theme throughout, which carries over strongly into its Harmony Spa. The spa’s beautiful indoor heated pool is strikingly backed by a mural sporting the silhouette of a jazz ensemble, while the statue of a singer perches at the pool’s edge. Harmony Spa’s collection of signature musicinspired treatments comes in four categories: Classical, Jazz, Opera, and Contemporary, each with its own related massage, scrub, and wrap. Classical lovers, for instance, can choose the Senses of Aria Massage (60 min/$110) with a soundtrack of Debussy, Chopin, and Vivaldi, while jazz lovers can opt for a Detoxifying Green Tea Body Wrap (90 min/$155) to the sounds of Billie Holliday, Pat Metheny, and Stan Getz. Those with more contemporary tastes can pick the Orange Cream Body Scrub (45 min/$125) with the likes of Café de Mar, Olafur Arnalds, and Vangelis as their musical backdrop, while for opera fans there’s the Spicy Indian Body Scrub (45 min/$125) with vocals by artists like Andrea Bocelli, Placido Domingo, and Sarah Brightman. Skewing more local, the special Hungarian Rhapsody Treatment (90 min/$225) is inspired by Hungary’s famed thermal baths, and uses Széchenyi thermal water, Damask rose water, and wildflowers handpicked from the Pannonia region for an unforgettable aquatic experience. For a man-focused indulgence, the Gentleman’s Choice (90 min/$245) starts with deep exfoliation, followed by a rejuvenating moisturizer and a facial mask. www.harmonyspabudapest.com

—Dan Allen


Up at 6,100 feet in the Alpe di Siusi, Europe’s largest high-altitude plateau, the speed of life is slow and assiduous. Think Italian hospitality with German efficiency. Jagged peaks of the Dolomites peer over the indoor and outdoor panoramic pool and sauna of the Alpina Dolomites Gardena Health Lodge and Spa. Reclined seats in the outdoor area of the pool provide a throne from which to take in the sunshine, the sound of cow bells, and the smell of fresh flowers. The spa, with big glass windows looking to the mountains, includes a Finnish sauna, a bio-herb sauna, a salt bath, an aroma bath, and indoor and outdoor relaxation areas with water bed and lounge chairs. Detox in the evenings with the daily Aufguss Zeremonie or “ventilation ceremony,” where a college boy from a local village pours scented water into the heater of the sauna and waves hot air at you, twirling a wet towel in the air, until you’re sweating from pores you didn’t know you had. Then, book a session with at the “beauty farm” for a customized one-off or multi-day / multi-week treatment. I recommend the 1-one extravaganza “Alpina Beauty Special” ($400), which includes an intensive facial treatment, body peeling, body massage, manicure, hand massage, pedicure, footbath, and foot massage. Therapists at the Alpina Dolomites also use the Sothys Paris line for a complete menu of facials, including a special 60minute detox treatment for men ($125). www.alpinadolomites.it/en

—Allister Chang


Frank Gehry’s iconic bronze seaside fish sculpture, Peix, greets you at ground level as you enter the design-centric five-star Hotel Arts Barcelona, but you’re headed to almost the top of its 44-story building to the lavish 43 The Spa. Offering incredible views of the Mediterranean coastline from inside its glasspaneled walls (and even wider panoramic vistas from outside on its open-air terraces), 43 The Spa offers a host of pampering options, including two phenomenal signature treatments. The Sublime Diamond Journey (140 min/$370) uses real diamond dust for full-body exfoliation, followed by a concentrated hydration cream to make skin silky smooth, and a facial-lifting treatment to immediately firm the skin. The 43 Experience (80 min/$230), meanwhile, is a massage specialized to stimulate the senses and deeply relax the entire body, incorporating a variety of chiropractic and pressure techniques, stretching maneuvers, and aromatherapy oils. Other popular body treatments include the Citrus Body Scrub (40 min/$90), an antioxidant treatment that infuses skin with Vitamin C; the Citrus Body Soufflé (80 min/$195), which starts with an orange micro-sponge body scrub and ends with a citrus wrap; the Diamond Rose Ritual (80 min/$215), which includes Damask rose, and diamond dust exfoliation, followed by rose cream hydration; and the CO2 Body Perfection (80 min/$195), wherein after a chemical body scrub, a textured mousse mask is applied to oxygenate the skin. For those in a hurry, the spa offers several 30-minute treatments, including Ready to Shine ($95), which uses carboxytherapy (or an application of CO2) to combat the signs of skin aging. All treatments use divine products from Spanish luxury brand Natura Bissé. www.hotelartsbarcelona.com

—Dan Allen

Six Senses Spa at Alpina Gstaad

Six Senses Spa at Alpina Gstaad


Gstaad has long been a respite of luxury and outdoor sport, dating back to the early 20th-century construction of the Montreux Oberland Bahn (MOB) railway network (now called the GoldenPass Line). While skiing, snowboarding, and other alpine adventures are a significant draw, Gstaad’s impeccable five-star hotels attract winter revelers to the region’s world-renowned slopes. Each is unique in its design aesthetic and offerings, but for those seeking modern flair and an award-winning spa should look no further than the stunning Alpina Gstaad. Designed by P49 Bangkok, Six Senses Spa is an idyllic retreat to sooth sore muscles after a day in the brisk elements. With more than 21,000 square feet and featuring 12 treatments rooms, Six Sense indulges in every luxury, including a floatation room, Turkish-style hammam, color therapy room, and salt room. Guests can also discover an indoor pool, yoga studio, two Jacuzzis, and a garden pool open all year round, kept at a muscle-relaxing temperature and with mountain views in every direction. It is the expertise of Spa Director Petula Elzenaar and her trained therapists that turn this oasis into a true healing center for mind and body. Standout treatments include the deep tissue massage (60 min/$212), an intense oil-based massage that relies on cupping to improve blood flow; the men’s rejuvenation facial (60 min/$191), is a purifying and restorative treatment that uses ila skincare products with Amazonian plant extracts to refresh and rejuvenate. For those with the budget and an eye for self-improvement, the iridology consultation (90 min/$497) will explore organ functionality through marks, discolorations, and other visible signs in the iris. Beyond the Six Senses Spa, guests should allow ample time to explore the hotel’s jaw-dropping art collection, which includes metal sculptures by Ann Carrington, Alpine découpage landscapes by Anne Rosat, and soothing mixed media installations by Berlin-based artist Santiago Taccetti. www.thealpinagstaad.com

—Matthew Wexler



A whopping three-year closure, between 2007-2010, saw a glorious restoration and updating of this historic property on Shanghai’s buzzing waterfront district, the Bund, which has played host to luminaries including Marlene Dietrich, Noel Coward, and, in 2016, Justin Trudeau. The Willow Stream Spa is cozy and classic, meant to evoke Shanghai of the 1920s and 30s, with mossy greens, amber, marble, and Chinese carvings. A skylit indoor swimming pool and 11 treatment rooms fill out the space, and the menu includes upscaled takes on traditional Chinese treatments. One of those, which may intimidate those who have seen its after-effects, is gua sha(a scraping of the back regarded as a remedy for illness that often leaves horrific, plum and bing cherry-red streaks and patches for several days). However, the version found in Willow Stream’s Chinese Remedy Journey, at (90 min/$218, 120 min/$276) is refined and more of an inspiration, and won’t leave marks unless you specifically request that.

“You need to see a medical practitioner for the real deal,” I was informed. The Chinese Remedy also features aromatherapy massage and pressure point foot reflexology. The Bamboo Fusion (90 min/$247), meanwhile, incorporated heated bamboo and herbs “to promote circulation and sensory nerve perception.” Since I was seeking relaxation, I ultimately opted for the Willow Stream Wisdom (90 min/$188), the centerpiece of which is a heated herbal pouch containing five herbs, including Absinthe ingredient wormwood, believed to absorb muscle tension and get the blood flowing. It lived up to its promise! Next time, I’ll probably try the Aroma Herbal Yoga Therapist (90 min/$188), which adds traditional stretching, Tui Na, and Shiatsu techniques to unlock all that energy. Also tempting: a Recharge (80 min/$306) with jetlag cure massage, foot reflexology, and Golden Caviar facial. East meets West in a most decadent manner! www.fairmont.com/peace-hotel-shanghai/willow-stream

—Lawrence Ferber


The Spa at HOSHINOYA Tokyo

The Spa at HOSHINOYA Tokyo

In July 2016, Hoshino Resorts opened Tokyo’s first luxury ryokan, (a traditional Japanese inn with spa traditions that date as far back as the eighth century). On the top floor of this skyscraper is a hot spring that is well worth a detour. Right at the heart of Tokyo’s bustling financial district, this one may be the world’s most conveniently located natural saltwater hot spring. After a late night out in one of Tokyo’s 300 gay bars, an alkaline soak and massage at HOSHINOYA Tokyo should wash away any fatigue. Ocean water has been pumped up to the hotel’s top floor to fill a 484-square-meter pool. High black walls block out light and sound from the busy streets below, opening an ethereal window to a square slice of the skies above. Keep in mind that in Japan, tattoos are associated with Yakuza (members of organized crime). You may not be allowed into the hot spring if you have visible tattoos. After your soak, head to your private tatami-matted treatment room for a range of services. The Kohaku Treatment (90 min/$155) is a gentle massage of the scalp, neck, knees, and elbows. Therapists use custom-blended aroma oils (my favorite is their blend of hinoki, ginger, and pinus pentaphylla). For something different, try the shiki(90 min/$185) treatment, where the arms and back are massaged with balls filled with steamed seasonal Japanese herbs. For something deeper, book the Moegi Full-Body Treatment (90 min/$155) focusing on tensions in the back and legs. Afterward, treat yourself to a three-hour culinary exploration in the hotel, lead by Executive Chef Noriyuki Hamada. www.hoshinoyatokyo.com/en

—Allister Chang


Since it opened in 2015, Taipei’s 303-room Mandarin Oriental has played host to celebrities including Madonna and Coldplay, and seriously high-end VIPs. You may not spot Madge during a visit to The Spa, but you will be met with the sublime design work of gay power couple Yabu Pushelberg that eschews obvious Taiwanese motifs for more modern, slick, and subtly rendered local inspirations. Spread over two floors and nearly 38,000 square feet, and also encompassing a fitness and wellness center with outdoor heated pool, a beauty salon, and boutique, the spa composes 12 treatment suites, gender segregated experience showers, crystal steam rooms, vitality pools, saunas, and ice fountains. Sense of place figures heavily in the treatment menu via traditional and contemporary Taiwanese therapies, particularly with signature Suite Experiences and Journey packages. The Formosa (150 min/$321) incorporates sea pearl and salt skin polish, a white mud wrap, scalp and face gua sha scraping, and a drink of high mountain oolong tea. The blissful Zhongyang (170 min/$388) features an oolong tea body exfoliation, a mandarin, frankincense and ginger soak, and body massage. Want to go full-on VIP? Order the Royal Sturgeon (170 min/$1,179) golden caviar body treatment and facial, complete with an Oscietra snack and beverage. Meanwhile, the Gentleman Essentials section boasts massages designed for alleviating jetlag; Red Eye (90 min/$190) and post-exercise fatigue; Urban Back Relief (90 min/$190), plus facials. I opted for the Oriental Fusion (60 min/$125) massage, a blend of Asian/Western techniques and my choice of oil (lemon, lavender, or rose). As I was suffering from an unfortunate, painful case of frozen shoulder (a temporary albeit massively uncomfortable affliction), my therapist was especially mindful of my limited movement range and was careful with my arm. Afterward, feeling loosened up, I was ushered to the tea lounge, where one has the choice of a cozy communal area or more private-style quarters and adjustable recliners, plus a selection of tea and pastries. I left feeling just as radiant as Madonna, albeit without the paparazzi. www.mandarinoriental.com/taipei/luxury-spa

— Lawrence Ferber

Swimming Pool at Mandarin Oriental Taipei

Swimming Pool at Mandarin Oriental Taipei



The flagship property of Australia’s wonderfully quirky and stylish QT Hotel family, the QT Sydney blends Gothic, art deco, and Italianate-influenced architecture, and coats it all in a hip, arty, playful, and attitude-free sensibility that’s unmistakable from the moment you arrive (the hotel’s door girls, for example, don red bobs and black berets). Tucked on the QT’s mezzanine, the spaQ offers an array of treatments geared toward modern world travelers, including quite a few dedicated solely to bringing out your mug’s most selfieworthy best. The Facial Therapy by Kerstin Florian menu includes a Signature Caviar Facial (60 min/$175, 90 min/$230), which uses a combination of cellrejuvenating caviar and Chinese botanical antioxidants to increase collagen production, soften lines and wrinkles, and give your skin a powerfully youthful puff. The Facial Therapy by USPA menu includes two facials formulated just for men: the Fast Eddy Men’s Facial (30 min/$75), which uses products with grapefruit, bamboo, ginseng, aloe vera, and green tea; and the longer Supernatural Men’s Facial (60 min/$120), which makes use of products with birch extract, almond oil, and ginseng. As an extra-special bonus for guys, spaQ features its own classic barber shop with antique leather barber chairs. Opt for a simple haircut (30 min/$40), or treat yourself to a traditional wet shave, featuring steaming scented towel, rich shaving cream, and a straight razor. Two shaves are on the menu: The Don (30 min/$40) to get you cleaned up and in and out quickly and Mr. Bond (45 min/$60), where additional attention is paid to unruly eyebrows and such, and the treatment is capped by a shoulder or hand and arm massage. It’s all deeply relaxing, but just to be sure all barber shop services come with whiskey neat, courtesy of Chivas Regal. www.qthotelsandresorts.com/sydney-cbd/spaq

—Dan Allen

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