Image by foodnut.com via FlickrBy Phil Smulian
As havens devoted to pampering spas are supposed to be luxurious, but some spas are more luxurious than others. Fortunately, luxury is a global language and no matter which country you visit, you'll be able to find a little patch of heaven for some extremely indulgent me-time.
Auberge spa at the Auberge Du Soleil hotel, Rutherford, California
The Auberge du Soleil is one of California's most luxurious hotels. It's spread across a gorgeous 33-acre olive grove in the hills of Napa Valley. The spa makes full use of the beautiful surroundings with spacious stucco architecture overlooking the nearby vineyards and olive grove. Spa treatments are designed to make the most of the natural ingredients of the region. Guests are encouraged to arrive early for treatments so they can take part in the spa's unique water ritual: a delicious soak in three temperate springs with unparalleled views of the valley.
One of the highlights offered by The Auberge spa is its Melisse Suite, which offers four friends or two couples the chance to relax and enjoy all the spa's amenities together. The suite includes a fireplace, private tanning deck and heated private pool as well as floor-to-ceiling windows.
Capri Palace Hotel and Spa, Anacapri, Italy
The spa at the Capri Palace is internationally renowned for its Leg School treatments. Hollywood celebrities, including Julia Roberts, swear by its regenerative powers that make their legs look fabulous on the red carpet.
Leg School treatments include medicated mud packs, medicated bandages and "Kniepp" vascular treatments in which guests are immersed in medicated water of varying temperatures. There is also a manual lymphatic drainage massage and a power plate, which is a vibrating platform that stimulates the muscles to firm and strengthen legs.
The spa isn't all about legs. There is also a Heart School that boosts the cardiovascular system and that is said to enhance intellectual and physical well-being; a programme dedicated to weight loss and metabolic response; as well as the usual spa treatments such as facials, massages and body treatments.
Tabacon Grand Spa, Costa Rica
Tabacon Grand Spa is unique in that it is situated at the foot of a volcano, is blessed with a number of natural hot springs and boasts a rain forest practically on its doorstep. According to the website, the energy of the (active) Arenal Volcano, the heat of the Tabacon Hot Springs and the purity and mysticism of the surrounding rainforest, as well as the fertile earth of the Fortuna de San Carlos Region all combine to provide an experience that not only nourishes the body but also nourishes the soul.
Spa highlights include indigenous treatments, thalassotherapy and a three-unit Temazcal, which is led by a Mexican Shaman-trained expert. There are also volcanic mud wraps, coconut and coffee exfoliations, Ayurvedic treatments and outdoor Watsu underwater massage.
Furthermore, Tabacon Grand Spa is carbon neutral.
Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo
The Spa at Mandarin Oriental is not like most other luxury spas. It's not set in beautiful natural surroundings, but that doesn't mean it isn't serene and tranquil. The spa is 37 stories about ground, so while you're being pampered and sinking into deep relaxation, you can watch in sympathy the frenetic activity below. The spa makes use of heat and water treatments to provide an holistic experience. There is a vitality pool to ease muscle tension, a steam room and an ice fountain for extreme refreshment.
Aside from the face, body and skin treatments you would expect to find at a spa, the Mandarin Oriental also has five VIP spa suites with private facilities. These provide the ultimate in spa luxury with private showers and relaxation areas. All treatments (VIP and otherwise) begin with a foot-washing ritual and consultation to ensure that your experience is a personal one.
The Grove, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
The Grove is located on a 300-acre country estate 35 minutes outside of London. The Sequoia Spa within the estate consists of 12 specially designed treatment room and one VIP double room. Treatments combine aromatherapy, hydrotherapy, thalassotherapy and phytotherapy for a total relaxation experience.
Highlights include Ayurvedic treatments which balance the mind, emotions and body, the Sequoia spa signature ritual, which begins with a gentle body exfoliation, followed by the Grove's honey wrap and a soothing full body Balinese Massage and Advanced Facial. There is also the Jewel in the Crown, during which guests are treated to two therapists working simultaneously for an intensive, life-enhancing luxury spa treatment experience.
Phil writes about holiday spas for the South Africa travel & adventure directory, Leeulekker.
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