The Best: Outdoor Spas


palmilla_mexico_pool_beach_11_07_2013_4191hr-1024x502One&Only Palmilla resort Los Cabos – mexico
The One&Only Palmilla spa covers more than 2000 square metres and is open to anyone with a reservation. There are 12 secluded private villas, set in tropical gardens, with open-air rainfall showers and whirlpool baths. It masterfully exploits its beachside setting, with palapas (open-sided palm-thatched shelters) shading day beds for relaxing between treatments. In November 2008, the One&Only Spa opened its Moon & Stars Garden for guests to enjoy after their treatments. This space is made especially enchanting in the evening, with the stars, glowing lights, natural sounds and scents, all designed to help improve the sense of relaxation. Treatments specifically tailored to the outdoors setting include the Secret Garden Remedy, which uses ‘Palmilla garden oil’, infused with local jasmine, lime, sweet orange, rosemary oil. Palmilla’s newest offering is the renovated One&Only Salon, a luxurious hairdresser with a private outdoor retreat.

The-Outdoor-Infinity-Whirlpool-Wildflower-Hall-Shimla-in-the-Himalayas-An-Oberoi-Resort-1024x683Wildflower Hall Oberoi – INDIA
Wildflower Hall, Shimla in the Himalayas, stands 2500 metres above sea level, hidden in 22 acres of pine and cedar forest. The spa design, by Chandu Chhada, of Chhada, Siembieda & Associates, Hong Kong, makes the most of the natural beauty of its surroundings, the piece de resistance being the outdoor infinity whirlpool, with astounding edge-of-the-world views. Nomi Katoky, representative for Wildflower Hall, explains, “The Oberoi Spa allows guests the opportunity of immersing themselves in the breathtaking natural surroundings. It has been designed keeping our guests in mind. It provides them with the beautiful views of the valley, cedar forest and the majestic Himalayas while they experience complete rejuvenation during their spa treatments.” Other outdoor facilities include two Spa Pavilions (292.20 sq. ft each) located within the dense forest.  All the spa rooms have Burmese teak floors, antique prints, fresh flowers, lit candles, and are furnished with two massage beds, freestanding bathtub and steam shower, ideal for couples’ treatments.

GE-Fleming-Villa-May14-copy-1024x748Goldeneye – Jamaica
This was once Ian Fleming’s personal retreat, where he wrote 17 of his James Bond novels. The minimalist Jamaican mansion, Goldeneye was subsequently bought by Chris Blackwell (it was also briefly owned by Bob Marley). Blackwell had several architects and designers work on it to turn it into a unique luxury hotel much favoured by celebrities like Jay Z and Beyonce. Anne Hodges designed the spa, which is set outdoors amongst the hotel’s 30 tropical acres of lush vegetation. The spa’s locally inspired design and the natural surroundings are beautifully married to produce a tranquil place ideal for relaxing treatments. It has only three rooms, which adhere to Blackwell’s belief that the outdoor spaces should be as functional as the indoor. But what makes Goldeneye’s spa particularly special is the fact that you can swim or kayak up to it, as it is set on the edge of a lagoon.

Geothermal-Hot-Springs-Dipping-Pools-Evening-Shot-1024x576Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat – Malaysia

Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat is set in a 16-acre valley surrounded by tropical rainforest.  Its geothermal hot springs billow up at a rate of 3 million litres per day, or 2000 litres per minute. Its source is a deep underground reservoir fed by rainwater that trickles through limestone and granite, collecting minerals and dissolved ions en route and making it ideal for use in the spa. A cornucopia of extraordinary facilities include the Jacuzzi-style Geothermal Hot Springs Dipping Pools and a thermal steam cave, fitted with a platform overlooking the hot springs (65ºC-70ºC), providing a natural sauna, after which guests can plunge into the Ice Bath.  One of the area’s natural caves has been styled as a Meditation Cave; in the Crystal Cave, amethyst and quartz crystals facilitate metaphysical healing (such as Reiki); and the Doctor Fish Pool contains exotic Garra Rufa fish to eliminate dead skin cells.

Six_Senses_Spa_-_pool_536-ORIGINAL-1024x683Six Senses Spa, Evason Ma’in Hot Springs – Jordan
Evason Ma’in Hot Springs, Jordan lies a remarkable 260m below sea level, not far from the Dead Sea. This hotel has been constructed to feel like a dreamlike oasis in its desert surroundings. The spa makes use of both the natural hot springs and the extraordinary backdrop to astounding effect. The spa covers 2000 square metres and is open to both in-house and non-resident guests at a fee of $US54 per day. The stunning outdoor pool sits beneath a crashing natural waterfall that runs down the ochre and gold cliffs that surround the property. The spa’s treatments are very much in tune with the landscape, focusing on Dead Sea therapies and using the local mineral-rich water. To complement the use of the local natural resources, all products used are organic.