Some of the most swoon-worthy new boutique hotel spas of the last year have emerged in relatively unlikely locations—and we love them all the more for it. An outdoor adventure-filled holiday in Peru’s Sacred Valley, say, can now include massages and hydrotherapy in a repurposed 17th-century structure built on Incan foundations, and a long weekend in Upstate New York might feature yoga, spin and boot-camp classes, as well as extreme hiking and an introduction to intermittent fasting. Read on for plenty of unexpected discoveries and secret spots, all with surprisingly robust wellness offerings.
Euphoria Retreat, Mystras, Sparta, Greece
Founded by Marina Efraimoglou—a former bank head who trained in Chinese medicine following a cancer scare—this 45-room spot ups the ante when it comes to Greek destination spas, bringing to the country something on par with Spain’s SHA Wellness. Here, set among the inland mountains of the Peloponnese peninsula, rather than on the more expected Aegean shores, sits a holistic spa as focused on healing as on pampering: For every relaxing forest bath, there can be a body-mending acupuncture appointment; for every plunge in the thermal pools, a meeting with the resident metabolic medicine expert.
Explora Valle Sagrado, Urquillos, Peru
Like Chablé Maroma, the new spa at this two-year-old hotel, another Readers’ Choice Awards winner, is also built on ancient foundations—in this case, ones both figurative and literal. It occupies a large 17th-century, fresco-walled colonial house whose stone supports date back 200 years prior, to the time of the Incas who once farmed corn here. Now, guests who’ve spent days adventuring on the treks, trail walks, and bike rides for which Explora is known can treat themselves to downtime in the restored and repurposed Pumacahua Bath House. Named for the Peruvian independence fighter who once called it home, it sports a sauna, steam bath, and relaxation areas, with pool and Jacuzzi outside, all complementing a menu of massage, reflexology and Reiki treatments.
Marlborough Lodge, Blenheim, New Zealand
Found amid the prized vineyards of the region from which it takes its name, this ten-suite, two-year-old hotel on New Zealand’s South Island inaugurated its new stand-alone spa in November. The wellness space occupies a century-old former chapel on the property, which itself once served as a convent, and it remains a devotional space of a sort. The original vaulted beamed ceilings and stained-glass windows are in place, but now the chapel is as devoted to the salvation of the body as the spirit. Deep tissue, hot stone and relaxing massages, many using the purest of products from the country’s oldest essential oil factory, tend to the aches and pains guests might experience after outdoor adventures like kayaking with dolphins and seals, hiking secluded coves, and biking through vineyards.
Zuri Zanzibar, Kendwa Zanzibar, Tanzania
The beachy island of Zanzibar now has a new spot to fly-and-flop following adventurous on-the-go safari stops elsewhere in East Africa. And, thanks to this barefoot-chic retreat, it doesn’t have to be all flop (or flab) anymore. In addition to a three-pavilion spa offering facials, massage and more—all inspired by local spices and the natural surroundings—this member of Design Hotels promises an alfresco “wild fitness” gym, and yoga and meditation classes in an open-air sala surrounded by palms. The beachfront, mosaic-tiled infinity pool cries out for endless lap-swimming, too.
Valley Rock Inn & Mountain Club, Sloatsburg, New York
Created by tastemaker Michael Bruno—founder of online luxury goods marketplace 1stdibs—this recently-opened retreat sits poised to remake the lower Hudson River Valley as a luxe fitness and wellness destination. Massage rooms will make their debut just beyond the Olympic-sized pool this summer, but in the meantime, guests staying in the hotel’s 17 rooms—divided among four historic cottages on three gardened acres—will find spin, yoga and bootcamp classes; a 7,000-square-foot gym; and road, mountain, and e-bikes. Bruno will soon launch intermittent fasting and meditation retreats, and guides are already at the ready for hiking, biking, snowshoeing and kayaking adventures that can cover some of the 70,000 acres of protected parkland adjacent to the property.
Monkey Island Estate, Bray-on-Thames, England
Fitting for a new luxury hotel on a private seven-acre island in the middle of the River Thames, this retreat, opening next month, will house its spa in a custom-crafted, traditional wide-beam English canal boat. Occupying an aristocratic 18th-century fishing pavilion-turned 19th-century country inn, the much anticipated 41-room residential-style hotel, designed by the firm headed by Alexandra Champalimaud, will treat guests to spa rituals that celebrate the power of water. Expect treatments developed in partnership with British spa brand Moss of the Isles, all of which use natural ingredients reflective of the hotel’s surroundings, including rosemary, peat and horse chestnut. Not to be missed: The boat’s onboard Elixir Bar, which will mix healing potions using medicinal plants and herbs grown in the hotel’s teahouse.
Borgo Santo Pietro, Località Palazzetto, Tuscany, Italy
Having secured a Michelin star for its farm-to-table restaurant, Meo Modo, this Reader’s Choice Award-winning getaway, set on 220 acres in a relatively unexplored area of the Tuscan hills, recently updated its spa program. When the hotel opens for the new season in April, guests of Danish owners Jeanette and Claus Thottrup—who bought the 13th-century hamlet in which the hotel is set nearly two decades ago—can enjoy a farm-to-massage table experience in the charmingly stonewalled, red-tile-roofed spa. After years of research, Jeanette launched her Seed to Skin product line in 2018, incorporating ingredients grown on the estate, and these salves will be used in the spa starting this spring.
Villa Lacoste, Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade, France
Over the summer, this 18-month-old, 28-suite Gold List hotel in Provence welcomed a spa to its 60 acres of vineyards, olive groves, lavender fields and pine forests. The new wellness program boasts a pedigree as impressive as that of the hotel’s design and art, which includes buildings from architects Frank Gehry and Renzo Piano and works by Damien Hirst, among others. Greg Payne, the former spa director of Amanresorts, runs the show here, and he’s assembled an international dream team of top practitioners—an Israeli yogi, a Russian cranio-sacral healer, an Irish meditation master who trained in India—as well as an extensive hydrotherapy space and a tempting treatment menu that makes use of local salt, mud and herbs.
Chablé Maroma, Punta Maroma, Mexico
Sister of the Readers’ Choice Award-winning Chablé Resort & Spa, which made its debut just outside of Mérida on the Yucatán peninsula in 2017, this four-month-old property brings the original’s signature spa and wellness program to the powdery white-sand beaches, coral reefs, and lush greenery of the Mayan Riviera. A stay in one of the 70 casitas dotting the jungled property—each with a retractable glass wall and a private pool—grants access to the sprawling 17,000-square-foot spa, whose treatments, like the suite’s décor, incorporate local Mayan elements. That means a focus on restoration and weaving ancient wisdom into modern modalities. The overarching goals are purification, balance and transformation.