Spa Escapes: 10 Great Hotels for A Little R & R
Calistoga Ranch, Napa Valley, California
It's no wonder royalty, A-list celebrities, and athletes keep returning to Napa’s luxurious Calistoga Ranch: It's in a class all by itself. Guests stay in exquisite private lodges, set on a private 157-acre park-like property complete with hiking trails and a top-of-the-line restaurant and spa. Known as the Bathhouse, this natural spa sanctuary overlooks a creek and moss-laden oaks. Guests can take part in a variety of organic treatments, including the ranch’s signature lavender honey facial or a cabernet body scrub. Treatment rooms also feature outdoor garden showers and private soaking tubs.
Hotel Gauanahani & Spa, St. Bart's
Hotel Guanahani is a beautiful resort on the northeast side of St. Barts that attracts well-heeled guests and celebrities. The hotel offers 75 rooms and separate cottages, all of which feature terraces, colorful, beachy decor, and modern technology. The extensive list of amenities includes a pool, two kids' clubs, tennis courts, several delicious dining options, and a top-notch spa. Featuring soothing, open-air treatment areas, the Spa by Clarins focuses on French techniques to hydrate and purify the skin. Massage therapies include traditional methods from Thailand, Japan, and India, and guests can also indulge in hairstyling and treatments designed by Frederic Fekkai.
The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina
The Inn at Palmetto Bluff in Carolina Lowcountry is really more akin to a sprawling estate. It provides a one-of-a-kind experience that uniquely blends southern history and almost otherworldly natural beauty: rivers, misty marshes, old oaks draped with wispy Spanish moss, and salty breezes. The main hotel building looks like a classic southern mansion, and the 50 Cottages and Cottage Suites are simultaneously homey and utterly luxurious, with working fireplaces, screen porches, and gorgeous bathrooms. The luxury Auberge Spa is widely acclaimed as one of the best spa’s in the nation, featuring unique signature treatments such as the Cypress & Juniper Essential Waters Bath, the Palmetto Pluff Mud Wrap, and the Southern Floral Anti-Aging Facial.
Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, California
The 39-room Post Ranch Inn is one of the most beautiful hotels in the United States—if not the entire world—and offers a romantic, intimate stay in a gorgeous natural setting. The hotel is built into the cliffs of Big Sur, and the organic architecture is breathtaking, seeming to grow out of the ground amid the hotel's surrounding redwoods. The award-winning spa focuses on rejuvenating services and even has a shaman on-site to aid guests’ mental and emotional well-being.
Treatment rooms look out over the mountains and forests surrounding the Post Ranch Inn, and also feature fireplaces and floor-to-ceiling windows. The spa menu is extensive, offering guests ample opportunities—and methods—to relax. Massages, body treatments, and facials are a given, but the hotel also specializes in reflexology treatments, craniosacral therapy, reiki, and vibrational resonance.
One&Only Palmilla, Los Cabos, Mexico
The One&Only Palmilla is easily one of the most luxurious resorts not only in Cabo, but in Mexico. Every single feature here has an upscale touch to it, from the exclusive spa, to the wonderful cuisine, to the beautiful pools—and certainly the rooms are nothing less than lavish, with contemporary and traditional Mexican accents, and high-tech amenities (like flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi). The spa features an extensive list of treatments that focus on ancient healing traditions combined with cutting-edge therapies. Guests are pampered in private villas, many of which include rain showers, Mexican day beds, and whirlpool baths. Hydrotherapy pools, where guests can relax with fruit-infused towels and a special healing tonic, are recommended to kick-off a treatment.
Esencia, Riviera Maya, Mexico
The former estate of an Italian duchess, the ultra-luxurious Esencia oozes Mediterranean elegance and style. With just 29 rooms spread over 50 acres, the property feels intimate and exclusive, and shows a thorough attention to detail. The gorgeous spa, excellent restaurant, and relaxing pools with ocean views are highlights. Aroma Spa is the first organic spa in Riviera Maya, growing its herbs and flowers in its own on-site organic garden. There are several couples’ treatments available, including a temazcal sweat lodge—located by the adults-only pool and overlooking the Caribbean Sea—and rituals with candles and flowers. There are also cold water immersion pits, hot whirlpools, relaxation rooms, and two Mayan-style domed steam rooms. Every treatment begins with a Mayan ritual that includes an aura cleansing session.
Salish Lodge & Spa, Washington
The Salish Lodge & Spa features 84 rooms in a gorgeous setting overlooking the falls in Snoqualmie, about a 40-minute drive from Seattle. The historic property, which originally opened with only eight rooms back in 1916, is a popular romantic getaway. Sexy rooms have wood-burning fireplaces and peek-a-boo bathrooms with two-person tubs. The elegant and award-winning spa has numerous signature treatments (including one with homemade honey!), soaking pools, a sauna, and a eucalyptus steam room. The spa also caters to couples by featuring a variety of romance packages. Salish has even been known to shut down the spa entirely so that couples can toast their vacation—and get pampered—in privacy.
Travaasa Hana, Maui, Hawaii
The Travaasa Hana, overlooking Hana Bay, delivers rustic luxury on Maui's lush, secluded east coast. Incredible service, excellent food, a long list of available activities, and only 70 rooms on acres of uncrowded property are found here, and guests who make the long drive to the property are rewarded with one of the island's best spas. The rooms are large, clean, sleekly furnished—and stripped of TVs, air conditioners, clocks, and radios. All of Honua Spa's treatment rooms have private lounges facing the lush grounds. In keeping with the hotel's respect for local traditions, the treatments focus on Hawaiian techniques. Honua is also the best spa value on Maui: Guests have free use of the facilities, which include an outdoor lava-rock pool, cold plunge bath, stream room, and outdoor shower.
K West Hotel & Spa
K West is a smart and sophisticated option with attractive decor that's a blend of contemporary and traditional. It may be a bit removed from the hustle and bustle of London's main attractions, but the beautiful spa is the main draw on-site, with sleek style and impressive facilities (the jetted hydrotherapy pool and "Snow Paradise" room are both particularly noteworthy). Treatments focus on hot-cold therapy where guests switch back and forth between steamy saunas and frigid ice boxes. These transitions are meant to stimulate body circulation and improve the immune system. Techniques such as these originated in Germany and are a variation on a unique Finnish treatment. The “Snow Paradise” room [pictured here], which exemplifies the methodology best, is kept at a mere five degrees Fahrenheit and is designed to resemble a snow drift. Brrrr!
Viceroy Miami, Miami, Florida
Stunning design by Kelly Wearstler, big rooms with kitchenettes, and a destination restaurant and lounge make the 162-room Viceroy a strong competitor in Miami. The gorgeous 28,000-square-foot spa with Philippe Starck design includes an infinity pool, 10 treatment rooms, redwood saunas, eucalyptus steam rooms, and (oddly enough) a media screening room. The water lounge—with white marble floors, three whirlpools, a shallow reflecting pool, hot and cold plunge pools, and white furniture—is stunning. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the bay, and a giant yellow chandelier increases the sense of whimsy throughout space. Signature treatments include a black lava exfoliating treatment and an earth and air ritual meant to free the body of negative energy.