Maldivian Paradise

Joali Being

The Joali Being is a wellbeing retreat located on the secluded island of Bodufushi in Raa Atoll, in the Maldives. With 33 private beach and 35 over-water villas (each comes with a private pool and its own jadugar or ‘skilled magician’ in Dhivehi or the Maldivian language), and built using Biophilic design principles, the resort reflects the local landscape, such as its shorelines, sea waves, shells, and greenery.

Guests are encouraged to discover their own ‘weightlessness’ as they are guided on their journey of self-discovery. This translates into the Four Pillars of Joali Being that one can experience from five nights to three weeks — the Mind (meditation, sound therapy); Microbiome (eating around your circadian rhythm); Skin (world-class rejuvenating treatments); and Energy (through movement practices).

There are 39 treatment rooms and ‘transformative’ spaces such as Areka (alternative healing, meditation deck over water), Core Movement Spaces (fitness and diagnostic rooms), Aufguss Sauna (where a person pours oil and water over hot stones, and fans them out over the guests), and Seda — Sound Therapy Hall, among others. There are three signature kitchens to serve vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisine. Tthere are personalised nutritionist sessions as well.

Price: $2,035 onwards for bed and breakfast, per person per day (minimum stay 5 days); Immersion programmes start from $1,665 per person based on a 5-night Joali Being Discovery Programme.

Calm Oasis

Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som

It has the famed expertise of the Chiva-Som brand. Spread over 280,000 sq. m., the resort offers an array of wellness experiences based on Traditional Arab and Islamic Medicine (TAIM). There are two sanctuaries — the Zulal Serenity for individuals (adults only, 16 years and up, with 60 rooms and suites), and Zulal Discovery for families (with 120 rooms and suites) — with health, safety of guests, and sustainability as its tenets.

Zulal (which means ‘water’ in Arabic) sits on the Al-Khasoona private coastal area. Proprietary treatments focus on alleviating chronic illnesses and lifestyle diseases via TAIM treatments, fasting, and medicinal herbs, for guests (from three nights to 14 days). One can unwind in the outdoor pool and lagoon and tempt one’s tastebuds at the elegant restaurant and demo kitchen, or just go for a barefoot walk on the coast at low tide — known as Earthing. Wellness programmes are tailor-made and include Spa, Holistic Health, Nutrition, Physiotheraphy, Aesthetics, and Fitness — the six pillars. Some of the signature treatments include Massage Al-Batin (abdominal massage), Hijama (cupping therapy), Full Body Tadleek (massage to enhance lymphatic flow, with herbal oil), Al-Bashria Al-Qamria (steam and mask facial therapy), and Traditional Qatari Hamiz (circular massage with oils infused with Qatari herbs, combined with hot stones).

Other treatments include Seaweed Detox Body Scrub (with aromatic oil and Sidr charcoal), and the Celestial Black Diamond Non-Surgical Lift, Facial (using diamond powder, to ease wrinkles), and Cranosacral Therapy (gentle manipulation of cranial bones). There’s also Pranayama, Meditation. Pilates, Balance, Fitball, Aqua Training, TRX, Thai Boxing, Boot Camp, Tabata, Zumba, and Thermage, CO2 laser, mini thread lift, for beauty.

Price: Serenity Sinan Suite, double and Discovery Junior Suite, double (QTR 48,750 per day each); Zulal Serenity Retreat, Qataf Suite, Zulal Discovery Retreat, Discovery Executive Suite (on request); QTR: Qatari rial.

European Tradition

Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa

If you live in Europe and think of a luxury spa, the first place that comes to mind is Baden-Baden (which literally means bath-bath in German), a 2,000-year-old spa town in Germany. The luxurious Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa (opened in 1872), located in the historic Villa Stéphanie, close to the hotel’s main building, offers a comprehensive healthcare concept, focusing on Beauty, Detox and Nutrition, Emotional Balance, and Medical Care. There are 12 double rooms and three suites, at the heritage-redolent Villa Stéphanie, nestled in a charming private park and next to the world-famous Lichtentaler Allee. The villa is directly connected to the ‘Haus Julius’, a 1,700 sq m mansion designed to offer exclusive medical care to guests.

A 5,000 sq m building is entirely devoted to the spa experience, with a salon, and an impressive library strewn with modern art. The Villa Stéphanie has three plush suites with a private spa — a plunge pool, a 500 sq. m. sauna, a Hammam, a private sauna, steam room, fitness section, and treatment rooms.

Detox programmes, physio programmes, and pampering sessions with Sisley, Skinceuticals, and the German Anika Organic Luxury treatments are prepared and executed by some of Europe’s best therapists and trainers. The Brenners Vitality-Detox Cuisine comes in at 400 calories for three courses, which are filling and delicious.

Price: €20,000 per day for the Euro Park Villa; €12,000 a day for Royal Garden 2-bedroom suite.

Island Delight

Ultima Corfu

Imagine your own ocean-front, private villa on a Greek island, the Ionian Sea gently lapping against the rocky coast beneath you, with a full team of spa therapists and staff to look after your every need, and access to your own private yacht. The 1,000 sq. m. Ultima Corfu Villa provides the most luxurious experience,, hosting 12 people across six en-suite bedrooms with private balconies and terraces with 180-degree views of the Greek and Albanian coasts, and two infinity pools set on two levels, joined by a waterfall.

Wellness is the mantra here. There’s a spa and mosaic-tiled Hammam with heated stone seating, a jacuzzi, and gym with ocean views. What’s unique about this ultra-luxe villa is the fact that one can enjoy relaxing massages in the air-conditioned treatment room or outside by the pool.

The Ultima Corfu features exclusive brands like Swiss Perfection for the spa, Hermès for comfort, Bulgari for bathroom amenities, and Baobab for ambience scents. The wine cellar is filled with some of the most renowned champagnes and wines from around the world. The villa’s private chef ensures the perfect wine pairing, no matter the menu of the day.

Price: €136,000 for 7 nights (includes half-day boat trip around the island).

North African Gem

Royal Mansour Marrakech

For 10 years now, the 2,500 sq. m. Royal Mansour Marrakech Spa has been shaping luxury wellness tourism through the confluence of Moroccan heritage, ancestral techniques and technology. Hidden within the red clay fortifications of the Old City of Marrakesh, it has a white lace-like filigree walled atrium, the musharabieh, which offers hot steam, ceremonial massages, body wrap treatments with ghassoul, and an ancient hair ritual called takhlita, that happen in the 10 booths around the atrium. Under a glass roof is a 22 m. pool, and next to it, the marble Hammam (Turkish sauna). There’s also space for pilates and yoga.

“We wanted to create a setting that inspires serenity and invites guests to disconnect,” says Jean-Claude Messant, MD, Royal Mansour Marrakesh.

Created under the watchful eyes of Royal Mansour’s two multi-Michelin-starred chefs, Massimiliano Alajmo and Yannick Alléno, the Wellness Programmes’ menus are as delicious as they are healthy. The hotel’s four restaurants’ specialties include Mediterraneo-Asian fusion, Moroccan, French, and Italian. There’s also art therapy — painting, modelling, calligraphy — as well as Exceptional Experiences, from unravelling the secrets of distillation, to harvesting rare and wild plants. There are four targeted wellness programmes, focused weight control (with body wraps and anti-cellulite massage), rejuvenation (with a green caviar facial), immunity boost (with deep tissue Blissful Marma massage) natural health, recovery, and fitness (for 3,5,7, or 14 days).

Price: Starts at €1,400 for 1 bedroom per night.

Eastern Flair

Chiva-Som Hua Hin

Where do celebs like Madonna, David and Victoria Beckham, and Kate Moss head to when they are feeling stressed? The answer is Chiva-Som — a 7-acre refuge in Hua Hin, Thailand offering an all-encompassing retreat in a beachfront setting, with 54 rooms and suites.

Chiva-Som stays are based on six wellness modalities — Spa, Holistic Health, Fitness, Physiotherapy, Aesthetic Beauty, and Nutrition — tailored to one’s goals, and offer some of the most extensive treatments (over 200) in the world. The experts combine therapies such as Bio-Feedback Rebalance, Acupuncture, Soft Tissue Mobilisation, Shirodhara, and Stress Release to achieve, say, cranial relief. One can also opt for a Cell Vitality programme with a Skin Haven Facial, Jet Lag Therapy, Mood Mist, Pranayama, Traditional Thai Massage, and Refunctional Exercise. For immunity, there are treatments like Shirobhyanga, Fast-Track Back release, and Spine Resilience. To detox, there’s Colonic Hydrotherapy, Body Cocoon, Balneotherapy, Body Jet Blitz, and Dry Skin Brushing. Add to this the wellness cuisines, and an array of Thai and international dishes. The Water Therapy Suites feature flotation tubs, jet blitzes and a Watsu pool. The Bathing Pavilion has a large jacuzzi, sauna, plunge pool, and an indoor pool for aqua-aerobics. The gym has pilates reformers, and yoga studio.

Price: Starting from THB (Thai baht) 117,000 per night for Ocean Room Single; THB 363,000 per night for double occupancy of The Leelawadee Suite, plus 17.7% tax.

"Wellness is a $4.5 trillion industry... It’s everywhere"

Chiva-Som has a cult-like status as the global pioneer in wellness and lifestyle transformation. Krip Rojanastien, chairman and CEO, Chiva-Som International Health Resort, talks to Fortune India about the transformative powers of wellness therapies in an increasingly fractured world. Edited excerpts.

How do you address wellness in a post-pandemic world?

The pandemic convinced everyone that wellness and being illness-free is what everyone wants. At Chiva-Som Hua Hin we came up with new treatments — to boost immunity, with nutrient-rich cuisines, detoxifying treatments and mindful exercises. We have a ‘Gut-Health’ Retreat with personalised meal programmes, while Nature’s Embrace is about being grounded in nature. We also have water-based therapies to strengthen key muscles, as well as massages rooted in Ayurveda. The aim is for a full lifestyle transformation, and balance the wellbeing of mind, body, and spirit.

Will wellness become the biggest aspect of luxury?

Wellness is a $4.5 trillion industry, according to the Global Wellness Institute (2018). Wellness tourism in Thailand has been growing consistently. It’s everywhere. Even hospitals are getting on board, with doctors addressing the need to not only fix a problem but to get at its root. Heart disease, cancer, hypertension, diabetes – these are all lifestyle diseases, and the only way to deal with them is to change their lifestyle.

Any plans for India?

We are open to doing a project in India and are in touch with Indian entrepreneurs regarding the same. We have a lot in common with our wellness traditions. India is a significant market for us, and we have many Indian clients – one of them holds a record for the highest number of visits to Chiva Som Hua Hin – he’s been there 95 times.

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