Beauty / Booking

Immerse yourself: health retreats to add to your bucket list

Serenity now. From Icelandic lagoons to the grottos of Italy, let us take you on a world tour of the best scenic health retreats. In honour of our Place To Be issue, it seemed only natural to explore the spas harnessing the healing powers of the land.

Al Faya Lodge & Spa

United Arab Emirates

You’re at the mercy of the elements in the centre of the desert. Heat radiates relentlessly and temperatures straddle the extreme. It’s here, in the Sharjah Desert, that you’ll find the low-lying Al Faya Lodge & Spa. The spa’s focal point is the surrounding landscape: a rooftop terrace for gazing at the stars and an open-air saltwater pool nestled at the foothills of Mount Alvaah. Take your pick from the three signature experiences: heat, water and salt. Or combine them all into one multi-sensory immersion. Herbal and Himalayan salt rooms heal the physical, sound baths sooth the mind and light therapies are harnessed for body and spirit. Surrender is key; let the elements be your guide.

Al Faya Lodge & Spa

United Arab Emirates

You’re at the mercy of the elements in the centre of the desert. Heat radiates relentlessly and temperatures straddle the extreme. It’s here, in the Sharjah Desert, that you’ll find the low-lying Al Faya Lodge & Spa. The spa’s focal point is the surrounding landscape: a rooftop terrace for gazing at the stars and an open-air saltwater pool nestled at the foothills of Mount Alvaah. Take your pick from the three signature experiences: heat, water and salt. Or combine them all into one multi-sensory immersion. Herbal and Himalayan salt rooms heal the physical, sound baths sooth the mind and light therapies are harnessed for body and spirit. Surrender is key; let the elements be your guide.

Spa Kinara

Australia

Australian ingredients are having their moment in beauty, but in truth we are only just catching up to what indigenous Australians have known for millennia. Located under the soulful gaze of the sacred Uluru in Central Australia’s Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Kinara – meaning moon – integrates the ancient techniques and rich culture of Australia’s Indigenous peoples. Products from beauty brand Li’Tya, handcrafted using traditional herbal knowledge and healing techniques, will scrub, nourish and soothe, using resources the land offers forth naturally.

Grounded in the landscape, the spa’s design echoes the traditional wiltja shelters of the land’s Indigenous ancestors. The view alone is enough to nourish the soul. But if you have time (and we recommend taking as much as you can) then settle in for a signature ceremony. The Dreaming offers a three-hour long experience – including exfoliation, mud wrap, massage and facial – that will leave you emerging in sync with the grounding spirit of the land. This may just be the rebirth you’ve been chasing.

Grotta Giusti Spa

Italy

Aptly named after Dante’s The Divine Comedy, the underground thermal caves of Tuscany’s Grotta Giusti Spa are affectionately known as Inferno, Paradiso and Purgatorio. If detoxifying is at the forefront of your healing needs, then an hour spent sweating in the caves’ system of natural steam rooms is just the beginning. Troubles feel of another world when you’re this far underground. Steam expels toxins from the body – and when paired with deep breaths and releasing thoughts, you might just detoxify your energy too. If yoga is your thing, there are classes down below. (The heat generates malleability and steam accelerates the efficiency of your body’s natural release.) Or, for the more adventurous, cave diving in the underground lake is a must.

Grotta Giusti Spa

Italy

Aptly named after Dante’s The Divine Comedy, the underground thermal caves of Tuscany’s Grotta Giusti Spa are affectionately known as Inferno, Paradiso and Purgatorio. If detoxifying is at the forefront of your healing needs, then an hour spent sweating in the caves’ system of natural steam rooms is just the beginning. Troubles feel of another world when you’re this far underground. Steam expels toxins from the body – and when paired with deep breaths and releasing thoughts, you might just detoxify your energy too. If yoga is your thing, there are classes down below. (The heat generates malleability and steam accelerates the efficiency of your body’s natural release.) Or, for the more adventurous, cave diving in the underground lake is a must.

Retreat Spa, Blue Lagoon

Iceland

If you happen to find yourself north – the kind of north where daylight lasts just six hours and the mercury slides below zero – you’d be wise to travel to the waters of Iceland’s aptly-named Blue Lagoon. A happy by-product of the neighbouring geothermal power plant, the silica-rich waters are famed for treating skin conditions thanks to the high levels of salt, algae and minerals found within. Water is extracted from an underground lava flow, superheated and then dispersed onto the surrounding black lava field, into the now iconic healing baths. Completely renewed every two days, the water temperatures sit at a balmy 39 degrees year-round.

Bathing culture – the Nordic countries know it well. Our only recommendation? Book ahead and take your time. You can enhance your visit with a massage (in water, at that), a visit to the bar (also in water), and a choice of fine dining options. Or stay at the hotel where your own private lagoon a step away. Juergen Teller famously photographed Björk and her son in these waters, but we’d rather forget the photo op and simply sink in.

From top: Al Faya Lodge & Spa, PHOTOGRAPHY @anarchitect_co; Spa Kinara, PHOTOGRAPHY George Apostolidis; Grotta Giusti Spa, PHOTOGRAPHY Grotta Giusti Resort; Retreat Spa, Blue Lagoon, PHOTOGRAPHY Blue Lagoon, Iceland.