Wellness resorts around the world are reporting a spike in bookings. After the year (make that two years) we've all experienced, it's hardly surprising.
All but the virally hesitant and mistrustful have a heightened, pandemic-induced understanding of how precious our health is. And what better time to achieve a new you than in a new year?
"Everyone has woken up to the fact that this stuff is really important," says Neil Jacobs of wellness pioneers, Six Senses.
Indeed, book yourself in at a spa retreat these days and you will be surprised at the sheer scope of treatments on offer.
"People are tired of regular spas," says Philippe Zuber of luxury resort company One&Only. Indeed, wellness practitioners are ready to awaken clients with more and more emotion-focused options, ranging from heart healing to meditative river bathing.
Science-based approaches are also increasingly popular, whether that is using diagnostic tools such as antioxidant scans or treatments using techniques such as infra-red light. For many clients, results are now as important as relaxation, according to Zuber.
"We back up all of our spa treatments with science, but we don't do medical spas; we offer the science element in a resort environment," he says.
With fields such as anti-ageing becoming an increasing focus, the wellness evolution is likely to keep rolling along, according to Sonu Shivdasani, founder of the wellness-centred Soneva brand. "There is a lot of research on epigenetics and how we can roll back the years," he says.
Fountains of youth or otherwise, here is Traveller's global guide to the wild and wonderful ways to immerse yourself – in some cases literally – and at some of the best resorts and locations on the planet, as you plunge into the bold new world of wellness in 2022.
THE TREATMENT Neuro-acoustic therapy, One&Only Desaru Coast, Malaysia
IMMERSE YOURSELF You could call it meditation on steroids. In this unusual treatment, undertaken by many professional athletes, you lie on a bed decked out with headphones and eye mask and listen to a natural soundtrack with electric beats that is designed to slow your brainwaves and induce a deep sense of relaxation.
DON'T MISS This luxury beach resort – one of the last to be designed by the late Australian architect Kerry Hill – also offers plenty of nature-based adventures, including tracking gibbons in the jungle.
ESSENTIALS One&Only Desaru Coast is 2.5 hours from Singapore's Changi Airport. Treatment is RM255 ($A85) for 30 minutes or RM480 ($A160) for an hour. Rooms from $US975 ($A1370) a night. See oneandonlyresorts.com
THE TREATMENT Cryotherapy, Grand Hotel des Bains Kempinski, St Moritz, Switzerland
IMMERSE YOURSELF Short attention span? Then you will love the cryotherapy at Grand Hotel des Bains Kempinski, where each session lasts just three minutes. That's because it takes place in a cryosauna lowered to a temperature of minus 110 degrees. The extreme cold is believed to minimise inflammation, improve your sleep and your body's recovery system. A package of sessions is recommended.
DON'T MISS Come in the winter to enjoy the hotel's direct access to the ski slopes.
ESSENTIALS From CHF65 ($A100) for a single session or CHF60 ($A90) a session for five or more sessions. Rooms from €595 ($A940) a night. See kempsinki.com
THE TREATMENT Gut health program, SHA Wellness Clinic, Alicante, Spain
IMMERSE YOURSELF SHA Wellness Clinic is all about science-based treatments that deliver results. Its new seven-day gut health program focuses on the mental and physical causes of digestive disorders and includes medical treatments, natural therapies and a nutrition plan.
DON'T MISS SHA's facilities include an infinity rooftop pool, a tea lounge with an oxygen bar and macrobiotic cookery classes.
ESSENTIALS The all-inclusive rate for the gut health program is from €5600 ($A8825) a person. See shawellnessclinic.com
THE TREATMENT Sunrise soak, He Puna Taimoana Hot Pools, Christchurch, New Zealand
IMMERSE YOURSELF New Zealand has plenty of hot pools where you can ease your body and relax your mind, but it's the location of He Puna Taimoana, overlooking the sandy beach, that makes this one so special. Upscale the experience with the Sunrise Soak, a two-hour session where you can watch the sky change colour as the day begins.
DON'T MISS The Sunrise Soak includes a floating meditation and a karakia, or Maori prayer.
ESSENTIALS The Sunrise Soak is available on Saturdays between February and October and costs $NZ59 ($A55). See hepunataimoana.co.nz
THE TREATMENT Earth Day Retreat, REVIVO, Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia
IMMERSE YOURSELF This three-day retreat, focused on sustainability and regenerative principles, is designed to connect you with the planet. Activities range from organic cooking classes and forest bathing rituals to hydroponic gardening and a beach clean-up.
DON'T MISS Dial up the indulgence with daily massages, yoga and organic plant-based cuisine.
ESSENTIALS The fully-inclusive retreat, including airport transfers, accommodation, meals, treatments and activities, runs from April 21 to 24. It costs from $US1500 ($A2100) a person single occupancy and $US1100 ($A1543) a person twin share. See revivoresorts.com
THE TREATMENT Journey into Mindfulness, Loy Pela cruises, Bangkok, Thailand
IMMERSE YOURSELF Drift down the Chao Phraya River on a converted rice barge and relax on this wellness-focused, two-night return journey to the ancient capital of Ayutthaya. Guests can choose from treatments including private yoga lessons, IV therapy and massages, or get in touch with your creativity during the meditative art class.
DON'T MISS Rise early one morning for a temple visit and the opportunity to make merit by donating to the monks.
ESSENTIALS Cabins from THB160,000 ($A6710); private charters are also available. See loypelavoyages.com
THE TREATMENT Antioxidant Hand Scan, The Spa By Equinox Hotels, New York, US
IMMERSE YOURSELF No needles involved in this diagnostic test; instead, this non-invasive procedure uses a biophotonic scanner to measure your body's antioxidants levels. Depending on the results, the team can recommend dietary changes and supplements to boost your antioxidant count and restore your body's anti-ageing defence mechanisms.
DON'T MISS Equinox was a wellness operator before it launched its first hotel, so it's no surprise that on-site fitness facilities are seriously impressive.
ESSENTIALS Treatment is $US45 ($A65). Room rates from $US895 ($A1255) a night. See equinox-hotels.com
THE TREATMENT The river bath, The Well at Hacienda AltaGracia, Costa Rica
IMMERSE YOURSELF Take it to the river with this nature-powered treatment. After a riverside meditation, you submerge yourself in a riverside bath heated by a wood-burning fire. The quiet rush of the river is as relaxing as the rich forest air.
DON'T MISS The food, much of it grown on the resort's own organic farm, is one of the highlights of a stay at Hacienda AltaGracia.
ESSENTIALS A 120-minute river bath experience for two costs $US350 ($A490). All-inclusive room rates, from $US1475 ($A2070) a night. See aubergeresorts.com
THE TREATMENT Love Your Heart, Six Senses Ibiza, Spain
IMMERSE YOURSELF This one-day program is designed to help anyone dealing with anger, grief, anxiety or a feeling of being overwhelmed. Activities include a heart meditation, a mindful hike, a massage and a fire ceremony.
DON'T MISS Forget about being greeted with a hot towel; at this wellness retreat, guests are welcomed with an energising shamanic smoke cleansing ceremony.
ESSENTIALS Packages from €338 ($A530) a person or €575 ($A905) for two. Rooms from €455 ($A720) a person. See sixsenses.com.au
THE TREATMENT Unlimited spa package, Soneva Soul Spa, Soneva Jani, The Maldives
IMMERSE YOURSELF This tropical spa retreat offers all the trimmings, from open-air spa facilities and a yoga pavilion to all-natural facials and Ayurvedic therapies. If you want to try the lot, the unlimited spa package allows you to enjoy as many treatments as you can fit in during your stay.
DON'T MISS Soneva resorts are known for their outstanding food, which leans heavily, but not exclusively, to plant-based proteins.
ESSENTIALS Unlimited spa package is $US500 ($A700). Rooms from $US1840 ($A2580) a night. See soneva.com
THE TREATMENT Temazcal Ceremony, Palmaia: The House of Aia, Mexico
IMMERSE YOURSELF There is a distinct jungle feel to the Atlantis Spa, part of the tranquil Palmaia: The House of Aia Resort set on Mexico's Caribbean coast. The Temazcal Ceremony draws on pre-Hispanic traditions designed to connect the body with the natural elements of earth, water, wind and fire. The 2.5 hour ceremony incorporates elements of a sweat lodge and is designed to detoxify the body, open the respiratory tract and boost the immune system.
DON'T MISS All the cuisine at Palmaia: The House of Aia, Mexico is plant-based.
ESSENTIALS Treatment from MXN3700 ($A250) as part of a group or MXN14,800 ($A995) for a private session. Room rates from $US1200 ($A1685) a night for two, including meals. See thehouseofaia.com
THE TREATMENT SEA Thermal Suite aboard Celebrity Beyond
IMMERSE YOURSELF Passengers aboard the new Celebrity Beyond don't need to sign up for one of the 120-strong range of spa treatments to give their body a boost. They can simply book in at the SEA Thermal suite, a collection of eight healing spaces including the Crystalarium, with natural stone walls and healing amethyst crystal, a salt room, a hammam, a rainfall water therapy room and an infrared sauna.
DON'T MISS Celebrity Beyond also offers more than 120 different spa treatments, including destination-inspired therapies.
ESSENTIALS Sea Thermal Suite passes cost from $US59 ($A82) a person for a day pass. AquaClass guests enjoy unlimited access, as well as complimentary fitness classes. Cruise pricing from $A3409 a person for a nine-night Italian Riviera and France cruise, or $A6400 a person for AquaClass. See celebritycruises.com
THE TREATMENT Caviar Journey, St Regis Vommuli, Maldives
IMMERSE YOURSELF This ultra-luxe facial draws on the anti-ageing proteins found in caviar to tone, refine and hydrate your skin but no, it doesn't involve planting yourself face first in a vat of caviar. Instead, this 3.5 hour treatment uses caviar extracts, and also includes exfoliation, body buffing and a therapeutic massage.
DON'T MISS The treatment culminates in a grand finale: soaking in a lavender bath while gazing out over the Indian ocean, sipping champagne and, of course, nibbling on caviar.
ESSENTIALS Treatment from $US850 ($A1190) a person. Rooms from $US2400 ($A3370) a night. See stregis.com
ESSENTIAL SPOILS: FIVE OF THE HOTTEST SPA TRENDS
With many of us struggling to get a good night's sleep, wellness retreats are offering programs focused on enhancing your sleep. At Thailand's Kamalaya Koh Samui, techniques include massage treatments and bioresonance therapy, which uses electromagnetic waves to balance your emotional and physical state. See kamalaya.com
ESCAPE TO THE CITY
Not so long ago, spas were about escaping the city. These days, urban wellness is in. Big brands such as Six Senses and Aman will shortly be opening properties in New York City, providing oases of calm in the heart of the metropolis. See sixsenses.com; aman.com
Some wellness retreats, such as Mexico's Palmaia: The House of Aia, have removed meat from the menu entirely, while others, such as Soneva Jani, are actively reducing it, with at least 30 per cent of its menu plant-based. See thehouseofaia.com; soneva.com
BEFORE AND AFTER
It's no longer just about what happens during your stay, with post-stay follow-up increasingly common. Properties such as Mystique Hotel in Santorini get you into holiday mode early, providing a pre-arrival meditation on their app. See mystique.gr
HIT THE HEMP
Cannabidiol, or CBD – one of the active ingredients in marijuana – is being hailed for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties. CBD derived from the hemp plant is now found in spa treatments around the world, such as the Supernatural facial at the Miami Edition spa. See editionhotels.com
HEALTHY HAVENS CLOSER TO HOME
PENINSULA HOT SPRINGS, VIC
There is no need to rush your steam and soak at these inviting pools on the Mornington Peninsula; the new glamping tents allow you to make a weekend of it. See peninsulahotsprings.com.au
SOMA AT BYRON BAY, NSW
This sleek meditation-centred retreat provided the location for the Nicole Kidman mini-series, Nine Perfect Strangers. Devotees rave about its forest vibe and its Ayurvedic food. See somabyron.com.au
SILKY OAKS LODGE, QLD
It's not just the treatments that will relax you at this indulgent spa, which reopened just before Christmas with new owners and following a major refurbishment. The tranquil Daintree Rainforest setting will also work its magic. See silkyoakslodge.com.au
GATEKEEPER'S DAY SPA, SA
This lovely Adelaide Hills retreat doesn't just offer facials and massages; it also offers alternative therapies such as reiki. See gatekeepersdayspa.com.au
INJIDUP SPA RETREAT, WA
This is not just one of Margaret River's best boutique accommodations; its spa, run by WA's homegrown wellness heroes, Bodhi Spa, is also outstanding. See injidupsparetreat.com.au
FLOATING SAUNA, TAS
Lake Derby is the setting for this Scandi-inspired experience. Heat up in the sauna, plunge into the lake to cool off. Rinse and repeat. See floatingsauna.com.au
RED OCHRE SPA, NT
A trip to the Red Centre doesn't have to be without its little luxuries, and a treatment at this spa at the Sails in the Desert hotel is one of the most enticing. See ayersrockresort.com.au