Spa trek: The most luxurious retreats in the world

When only a pampering experience will restore you, Phoebe Watt finds luxurious retreats that will work wonders


Dior Institut

Dior Institut
Hôtel Plaza Athénée, Paris
Housed in the decadent Hôtel Plaza Athénée (of SATC finale fame), the Dior Institut is a mauve, cream and silver sanctuary where the beauty treatments are as luxe and quintessentially Dior as the surroundings. The Institut’s philosophy is to create an exclusive experience akin to haute couture. If you’re in the market for an $860 facial, try the spa’s self-proclaimed skincare masterpiece, the l’Or de Vie Miracle. A back massage stimulates vital energy before the skin receives the precious and powerful Dior ingredient, Yquem sap. A scalp, face, and shoulder massage rounds out the experience, which promises to leave skin regenerated, revitalised and radiant.

One&Only Spa
Hayman Island, Great Barrier Reef
With treatments inspired by the surrounding natural environment, this destination promises to deliver the restoration and revival you desire. Just one look at the spa’s treatments will have you booking a flight to the Barrier Reef. The spa’s signature ‘Ocean Dreaming’ full-body massage – which invites you to unwind on a floating bed in the sea, surrounded by tropical fish – is pretty hard to beat.

Amaia Luxury Spa 
Te Waonui Forest Retreat, Franz Josef Glacier
In the pristine wilderness of the South Island’s West Coast, a spa experience awaits that is as ambient as it is environmentally responsible. Part of the Te Waonui Forest Retreat, the Amaia Luxury Spa boasts a range of treatments with a distinctly New Zealand flavour, including the Deluxe Honey Facial that uses 100 per cent manuka honey to give skin an intense anti-aging boost. An eco destination, the spa and accommodation are built according to an energy-efficient design, using renewable, local building materials wherever possible. This means that by the time you leave, you’ll be feeling as good on the inside as you look on the outside.


Escape Haven Spa

Escape Haven Spa 
Offering a complete wellness experience, the resort is designed to give busy women a place to get away from it all and reconnect with themselves and each other in a luxurious setting. Founder Janine Hall’s MO is that every woman deserves to be nourished from the inside out, and pampered from the outside in, which is why – in addition to its surfing and yoga programs (a cornerstone of the Escape Haven Retreat), the spa is key. A signature treatment is the Balinese Boreh massage – boreh, a herbal remedy of spices and herbs, promotes blood circulation and keeps the body warm during the rainy season, but it also has detoxifying properties, which make the massage great for digestive health, and relieving muscle aches and headaches. The treatment also leaves skin baby soft. Book a stay here and it will include up to nine hours of treatments.


Spa Grande

Spa Grande
Grand Wailea, Maui
The Spa Grande is surely the jewel in the crown of the Grand Wailea Resort, offering guests a wide variety of luxury spa experiences that take their inspiration from a blend of Eastern, Western and ancient Hawaiian traditions. Its pièce de résistance, not for the faint of heart, is the ultimate couples massage – the 20-Hands Duo Massage comprises five therapists per person, one for the scalp, two for the back and torso, one for the lower left-side, and one for the lower right-side all working in unison.


Shantigiri Spa

Shantigiri Spa 
Schloss Elmau Retreat, Germany
Located in the Bavarian Alps, 1000m above sea level, the spa is open exclusively to guests of the retreat. Shantigiri’s menu offers beauty and body treatments, as well as physio and personal training sessions. Top of our list is the physio relax massage created by spa director, Dr Imke König. It lowers stress hormones while stimulating the release of endorphins and is given in a salt-water pool to enable healing techniques that are not possible on terra firma.

Deep Ocean Spa
Hotel InterContinental, Bora Bora
Situated between two coral islands and only accessible by boat, this spa is spread over an acre of natural beauty. From bungalows perched over the ocean, glass floors allow you to admire the marine life while you enjoy your treatment. Unique in itself, what further sets the spa apart is that it’s the only one in the world where you (and your skin) can reap the benefits of water drawn from the Pacific Ocean at depths of more than 900m.


Pure Fiji Spa

Pure Fiji Spa 
If you already have their products lined up on your bathroom vanity (guilty!), it’s time to really treat yourself and go straight to the source. The Pure Fiji brand prides itself on natural body care from land and sea, and this philosophy shines through at their eponymous spa in Suva. Enjoy an aromatherapy massage that makes use of warmed sea-shells, or a traditional Fijian Bobo massage with a unique blend of cold-pressed nut oils, tropical flowers, and your choice of fragrance. With coconut, orange blossom, frangipani, mango, star fruit, passionflower, pineapple, white gingerlily, and honey, you’ll leave smelling good enough to eat.