With the chilly temps and harsh winds around the corner, what better way to fight back than by indulging in some of the season’s best spa treatments. And come winter, spas around the country roll out some of their most indulgent and delicious offerings – serving up the season’s most popular flavors in the form of a body wrap, facial or foot treatment.
Gstaad Palace, Gstaad, Switzerland
For over a century, Gstaad Palace had been the Swiss hideaway of choice for Europe’s ski elite. Its castle-like exteriors and interiors match (or rather, are cause for) its grand reputation: rich royal fabrics and old-world furnishings and service. The spa is a newer, chicer version of its parent building, but no less glamorous. The hotel spent a small fortune carving out the basement space for a 20,000-square-foot spa and pool complex, which now features eight treatment rooms, a solarium, a wall installation featuring 50 tons of granite brought from the Blausee region, and its own hammam. Take in the views from the fur-covered sofas surrounding the spa’s central fire pit—or better yet, from the heated outdoor pool, with the Alps on all sides.
Acquaforte Thalasso Spa, Forte Village, Italy
The highlight of Acquaforte Thalasso Spa at Forte Village in Sardinia is a group of saline-dense thalassotherapy pools set in a tropical garden.
Slide into each one in turn — it takes about an hour and the temperature changes from 38 C to 20 C while jets massage and pulverize along the way.
The result is instant and total relaxation as the water takes all the weight off the body. It’s very popular with injured sportsmen (particularly soccer players), who head for the pools with their physios.
It is also one of the few spas to offer zero-gravity yoga — another weightless exercise — alongside a choice of massages (including watsu) and a host of beauty therapies from facials to botox.
Gleneagles, Perthshire, Scotland
One of the grandest golf resorts on the planet, dotted with three of the most famous courses ever (including the PGA Centenary Course), Gleneagles also has the most glamorous spa in the British Isles — Espa Spa.
It’s a hedonistic heaven decked out with velvet chaises longue and deep sofas, all in shades of bronze, eggplant and dark chocolate.
One area is flooded with daylight, while the other is dark and dramatic with glowing fires and faux fur throws.
And while there are more than 60 therapies to choose from, there is a more recent addition of a wellness menu — Espa Life — which provides naturopathy, physiotherapy, fitness assessment, nutrition and acupuncture to deal with problems at a deeper level.
Schloss Elmau, Oberbayern, Germany
Schloss Elmau is a Bavarian hideaway where the mind is as important as the body.
Hiking, biking, golf and yoga meet concerts, lectures, books and beauty.
It has four spas (including one for families), two libraries, one concert hall, six restaurants — one with a Michelin star — and the largest hotel bookshop in the world.
There are three-and four-night breaks, as well as a five-night anti-burnout package — or stay as long as you wish.
Otherwise, opt for massage, facials, pedicures, physiotherapy or postural realignment. Go in winter to ski, or the rest of the year you can walk, sketch, paint, take yoga and tai chi classes or attend any of the many musical and literary events held throughout the year.
La Reserve, Ramatuelle, France
Take all the research and rigor from one of Geneva’s grandest spas and whisk it several hundred miles south to that flighty peninsula between St Tropez and Port Grimaud.
That’s exactly what happened with La Reserve, when it set up home in Ramatuelle, one of the prettiest villages on the Riviera.
Here, it overlooks the Mediterranean and has the award-winning spa’s anti-aging therapies (the non-invasive variety) prominent on the menu.
Following an individual lifestyle assessment, each guest has a personalized program of health, fitness and beauty treatments recommended.
It was the first spa to offer treatments from Crème de la Mer, which enhanced its standing with the lotus-eaters who flock to the area each summer.
The serious-minded will want the whole five-day regime, others will just want tasters of what is on offer.
Belhurst Castle, Geneva, New York
The grounds of Belhurst Castle offer three distinct accommodation options, including the on-site castle that dates back to the 1880s. Just off Seneca Lake, in the Finger Lakes region of New York, Belhurst Castle offers guests the option to relax in the warmth of one of its 14 rooms. The main attraction, the Isabella Spa, is a full-service relaxation haven complete with an impressive menu of specialty treatments. Winter favorites from the spa include the Simple Solitude pedicure, which blends aromatherapy with a clay mask beneath a warming towel, and the soothing Isabella’s Raindrop Experience which features nine essential oils in combination with reflexology and massage.