As the world continues to recover from more than a year of lockdowns, relaxing and rejuvenating escapes are going to be at the top of the wish list for most travelers. In addition to heading out to pampering stays in exotic places, why not make your next trip all about a self-care and healing wellness journey with a unique back-to-nature experience?
Here are some worldwide locations offering element-based (earth, water, fire, and wood) spa-cations that will refresh, revitalize and get you back in the mood for some international travel – whenever you feel comfortable with getting back out there.
Huvafen Fushi – Maldives
Heading the list in unique spa locales is the Huvafen Fushi in the Maldives. The Huvafen is home to the world’s first and only underwater spa, where reef-facing treatment rooms are set 30 feet under the sea. Therapists here have all trained with acclaimed massage expert Beata Aleksandrowicz, creator of the Pure Massage Spa Training Method.
Over-the-water bungalows and pavilions with plunge pools guarantee you’ll drift off into another world, and the secluded hideaway on North Male Atoll is as romantic as it gets.
Elite Springs Villas – Anxi, China
Hot springs have long been savored for their healing properties, and a good hot soak will make a believer of even the most hardened traditional wellness skeptic. In Anxi, China, the Elite Springs Villas feature private luxury villas that each have their own hot spring pool.
The thermal mineral water here taken from beneath the mountains is noted for helping with rheumatism and arthritis, as well as for moisturizing the skin and delaying aging. The beautiful tea terraces of southern China are a backdrop and serve to enhance this Zen-like retreat.
137 Pillars Suites – Bangkok, Thailand
For a novel treatment using the element of fire, 137 Pillars Suites in Bangkok, Thailand offers a hot stone massage using heated volcanic stones placed on trigger points to penetrate the muscles and relax tension. At the swank property’s Nitra Serenity Center, you can also opt for traditional Thai massage sessions, Reiki treatments, herbal compresses and even Ayurvedic Indian head massage.
Additionally, you can float away after your session in one of the hotel’s two infinity edge pools, with Suite guests having access to a private one up on the roof.
Tanjong Jara Resort – Malaysia
Another interesting warm treatment is the “tuam pasir” heated sand therapy offered by the Tanjong Jara Resort in Malaysia. Hot sand is combined with fenugreek and black seeds, heated in a frying pan and then put into a cotton pouch, which is then used for pressure massage. This treatment is noted for its therapeutic effect on joint pains and inflammation.
An added bonus here is the stunning resort, built to resemble a 17th-century Malay palace and set against a pristine beach, tropical jungle and the South China Sea.
Sankara Hotel – Yakushima, Japan
For wood-based treatments, try the Sankara Hotel in Japan. The resort is located on Yakushima Island, famed for its 7,000-year-old Jomon sugi cedar tree, said to hold magical healing powers. The old-growth cryptomeria cedar trees here contain more cedrol (a musky terpene found in the essential oil of conifers) than normal cedars, and the oils are used for healthy sleeping and to reduce stress and anxiety.
Some spa treatments here at the Sankara Sana Spa even include trekking packages to go with treatments that include salt baths and other delights. The villas here are constructed with dark cedar wood, and the forests on Yakushima are UNESCO-listed for their natural beauty.
Also worth a visit for “wood” treatments is Baros Maldives. Set on a small private island, the dazzling resort’s Serenity Spa boasts a TheraNaka East African wood massage, where small blocks of citrus-infused shea butter are massaged/melted into the patient, while rhythmic patterns from wooden musical instruments accompany the acupressure, resulting in one soothing, restorative treatment for a weary body.
Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary – Neyphu Valley, Bhutan
For an earth-based treatment, why not head to the Himalayas and the high-altitude Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary? This hideaway in Bhutan’s Neyphu Valley is built to resemble a traditional Bhutanese dzong fortress. While here, you can have a private consult with a traditional medicine doctor (included with your room), and then have a spa treatment utilizing some of the Sanctuary’s collection of over 100 traditional high altitude herbs. The staff here will even give you an herbal garden walk to describe all of the healing properties of the plants you are engaging with.
Wherever you choose to go and whatever type of spa treatment you select, just remember that the journey itself is just as important as the destination, and as the wise Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu commented, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
And, of course, make sure that your landing spot and recovery is just as enjoyable, or maybe even that much better.