It wasn’t too long ago that the word ‘spa’ conjured up images of white robes and pampering facials. And then it took a harsh turn into the world of juice cleanses and hydro colonics. Today, it has beautifully weaved its way into the heart of wellness and found a home in exotic locations, private islands and handcrafted superyachts. Add to this a healthy balance of delicious ‘clean’ cuisine, a menu of treatments to heal, soothe or relax, and a plethora of activities to calm or excite, and you’ve entered the new world of spa.

Whether you want to detox, destress or simply do nothing – there is a spa tailor-made for you. And just because you want to focus on improving your health and state of mind, doesn’t mean you have to give up cold turkey service, luxury or – dare I say it – decadent desserts (for they just might be vegan).

So, whether you want cutting-edge treatments using the best science, or simply to commune with Mother Nature, here are the spas you need to visit.

Total privacy

Voavah Private Island, Maldives

Imagine an entire island all to yourself? This seven-bedroom, private-island resort is the world’s first exclusive-use UNESCO hideaway, and is about as an indulgent escape as it gets. Surrounded by pristine, powdery, white beaches and sapphire blue water, you can book this island and have total privacy, except for the staff who are there to cater to your every whim. Managed by the Four Seasons hotel group (which was presented several Forbes Travel Guide Five Star awards for various hotel locations in 2019) you get to enjoy the attention to detail it is renowned for.

Every single thing is about you. What would you like to eat, and where would you like it to be served? Would you like us to prepare the jet skis or would you prefer yoga? There are Ayurvedic physicians, acupuncturists and hair consultants on call. And of course you must indulge in a bespoke treatment at The Ocean of Consciousness Spa.

According to Saru, Voavah’s Bhutanese therapist, the most popular treatment is ‘Trust Sets Us Free’. It includes a mind-expanding, upper-body experience featuring Palo Santo smoke cleansing, a neck-and-shoulder massage, Shirodhara, clear-quartz resonance therapy and a guided meditation. There is also a luxury yacht available to sail in the Baa Atoll should you wish.

From A$46,360 per night.

A five-night, full-board stay for 10 people costs from A$741,000. The price includes use of the Voavah Summer yacht within Baa Atoll, all water sports, diving, fishing and excursions, return private jet from London Luton and VIP seaplane transfers from Malé to Voavah.

Back to nature

Karkloof Safari Spa, South Africa

Safari and spa are rarely spoken in the same sentence, yet this is exactly how you’d describe Karkloof Safari Spa. It’s Africa’s first inclusive spa property and offers escapes that are both luxurious and unique. It takes getting back to nature to a whole new level. While you stay in a luxury boutique hotel with open fires and large leather lounges, giraffes and zebras are not too far from your doorstep.

There is no set agenda; you simply arrive with a goal in mind and the team at Karkloof do all they can to help you achieve it. Here it is all about unwinding and restoring. Meals are prepared by chefs trained in nutrition using only the freshest organic ingredients. You can take advantage of unlimited access to the hydrotherapy and fitness facilities and have up to 11 treatments a day!

The hydrotherapy area is state-of-the-art, yet embraces traditional water-healing therapies. There’s an indoor Roman bath, hot and cold Kneipp pools, a sauna, a steam bath and an open-air jacuzzi. The award-winning spa is an exotic fusion of Eastern and Western treatments all designed to help you rejuvenate. Each of the 17 treatment rooms takes advantage of the incredible views across the valley.

The philosophy at Karkloof is to get back to nature and lose track of time. That said, make sure you do make time for a guided safari to see and learn about the amazing wildlife surrounding the property such as hippos, antelopes, giraffes and rhinos. Nothing restores health and vitality than getting intimate with Mother Nature in all her glory.

From A$1,200 per night, meals included.

Detox and destress

Kamalaya, Thailand

Centred around a cave that once served Buddhist monks as a place of meditation and spiritual retreat, Kamalaya’s essence is the growth and unfolding of the human spirit.

With devotees such as Oprah Winfrey, Kamalaya appeals to those looking for a true wellness retreat, ensconced in luxury. Founded by a former yogi monk and his wife, an acupuncturist and Traditional Chinese Medicine expert, the offering is strongly influenced by Eastern philosophy with a Western twist.

It is known (and has been awarded) for its highly effective detox programs. The programs combine a mostly raw diet, infrared sauna sessions, and chi nei tsang, a Taoist abdominal massage. Other wellness programs on offer help with stress, adrenal burnout, poor lifestyle and sleep. You can also have the team of international experts create a bespoke retreat utilising their extensive range of holistic medicines, spa treatments and healing therapies. Kamalaya is for those who want to experience a life-enriching, healthy holiday in a tranquil, nurturing environment.

From A$2,500 for the Introduction three-day detox retreat

Royal treatment

Ananda, India

India is the home to some of the best wellness retreats and spas in the world, simply because it lays claim to one of the world’s oldest healing modality – Ayurveda – and is birth mother to the practice of yoga. Ananda, is touted as the best luxury wellness retreat in India, integrating traditional Ayurvedic philosophies with various forms of yoga.

Add to this the spectacular backdrop that is the Himalayas, and you have the ultimate wellness experience wrapped up in a bow of understated opulence. Having played host to some of India’s most renowned heads of state during the Maharaja’s reign, the Viceregal Palace features a resplendent facade worthy of this luxury spa destination.

With specialised areas dedicated to traditional Indian Ayurveda, as well as Oriental and contemporary Western therapies, the spa offers an eclectic menu of over 80 body and beauty treatments. With a comprehensive wellness program including stress and weight management, rejuvenation, detox, fitness and anti-ageing, it caters to everyone, even those just wanting a place to relax.

From A$1,200 per night

Just OTT

Hotel Victor, USA

If you’re short on time and just need a quick fix, the Art Deco Victor Hotel in South Beach, Miami, offers something truly unique. A US$5,000 Evian Bath! This treatment is relaxing, healing and uses 1,000 bottles of the French mineral water. It is only available to guests of the US$10,000 per night penthouse suite, and includes Champagne, dessert and an additional treatment of choice for two.