Happy daze

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 July, 2010, 12:00am

Nothing restores mind, body and spirit better than a holiday packed with spa treatments, yoga and power naps. But in an industry overflowing with tempting destinations it's difficult to separate the good guys from the cowboys.

So to help take the pain out of the selection process, here's some perfect places for pampering. The One&Only (www.oneandonlyresorts.com) is five-star luxury at its best and it doesn't get much better than its Le Saint Geran resort in Mauritius if you want to soak up some sun, yoga and tai chi.

But the icing on the chilled cake is a spa session in a funky tipi with the sound of waves as a backdrop. Created by British designer Alice Temperley, the tipi's exterior is embellished with sparkling jewels while the inside features a chic Parisian chandelier and wooden floor.

The Daintree in Australia is one of the world's oldest rainforests and tucked away in its lush heart is the Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa (www.daintree-ecolodge.com.au). This hidden gem has 15 villas: think low environmental impact but big-impact pampering. Its spa treatments follow the natural path with pristine rainforest water combined with native fruit, flowers, nuts and seeds. Check out its signature walbul-walbul (butterfly) treatment: two hours of soothing massages and a full-body exfoliation.

A rogue volcano became an obsession for the travelling public earlier this year but if you're seeking a positive volcanic experience then visit New Zealand's Hells Gate & Wai Ora Spa Rotorua (www.hellsgate.co.nz). Mud, mud, mud and, well, more mud awaits those eager to wash away stress in the bubbling mud pools and the largest hot waterfall in the southern hemisphere. Get hands-on with a traditional Maori massage.

Peace of mind is easier to find when rockhammers and car horns aren't blasting, so imagine how quickly it is reached at 360?Leti in the Himalayas of north India. Perched on a plateau 2,500 metres above sea level, 360?Leti has fantastic panoramic views and earth friends can breathe easy knowing the stone, glass and wood structures draw on solar power and mountain water. There's yoga and meditation to keep you balanced and no distractions such as the Internet, mobile phones or television ... just space.

South Africa's Camp Jabulani and its spa, Therapy Lapa, is as close to nature as you can get. Have a treatment in the bush or in your suite in front of a blazing fire. Therapies combine traditional African skincare products made with local ingredients such as marula, rooibos, African potato and aloe vera with very cute names such as a spotted hyena deep-cleansing facial and giraffe back and neck massage.

The Sanctuary at The Palms in Zanzibar has a treatment fit for a king, well a sultan anyway. Taking a luxurious leaf out of the old sultans' bathhouses of Zanzibar, The Frangipani Spa hands out the ultimate in pampering and relaxation, with soothing aromatherapy massages and relaxing baths in its mosaic-tiled pool. Visit www.palms-zanzibar.com for more.

If restoring your chakras while on the high seas appeals to you then hop onboard Silversea's Silver Spirit ship. Its 8,300 square feet spa is the largest in the Silversea fleet, with two beauty salon, a fitness centre, nine treatment rooms, two sauna rooms and two steam rooms.

In 1891, French post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin escaped European civilisation and 'everything that is artificial and conventional' in search of tropical nirvana. He landed in Tahiti. Wise man. Today's paradise-seekers can follow in his footsteps - but in more style and comfort, like a luxury yacht. Nomade Yachting Bora Bora (www.nomadeyachting.com) has two 226-foot yachts - the Tu U Moana and Ti'A Moana - in its fleet. Chill on the deck, in the onboard spa, on the beach, in the pool ...

The Auriga Spa at Capella Singapore (www.capellasingapore.com) will have you howling with joy with treatments that follow the lunar cycle.

It believes the new moon is a time for renewal and introspection, the waxing moon a period to refocus and sow seeds, the full moon to reach full potential and the waning moon the perfect time to cleanse. Capella also has four-day wellness plans covering topics including stress management, relationship enhancement and a beauty programme that includes tai chi, pilates, breathing classes, facials and manicures as well as lectures on nutrition and stress.

The Six Senses Destination Spa in Phuket, Thailand, has one of the most comprehensive wellness menus on Earth, covering spa, holistic fitness and integrative health. Tailor-made programmes, a personal butler and private pools and steam rooms make it an experience to remember.

Desert life doesn't get much better than The Serai (www.the-serai.com) in the Indian city of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. The 21 tents are an oasis of luxury living with fine linen, hand-made furniture, stone floors and local artefacts. But the jewel in the crown is the Raison d'Etre spa which uses chemical-free products inspired by the Rajasthani environs, that are blended from Indian herbs and spices.

On the banks of the sacred Menik Ganga (Gem River), in south-east Sri Lanka, is Galapita Healing Garden (www.galapita.com) an eco oasis with your mind and body in mind. Nestled alongside the Yala National Park, the resort is an oasis of lakes, lotus ponds and paddy fields enhanced by the more than 10,000 indigenous trees that have been planted in the area. In keeping with its green status, all villas, sleeping pavilions and yoga salas are made from locally sourced, renewable wood, stone and mud and its lodge is solar powered and herbs are sourced from its gardens and used in the spa's expansive range of authentic Ayurvedic therapies. As well as dawn and dusk yoga classes, guests can indulge in jungle treks, bird-watching, elephant watching, cycling and river bathing.

Some people spend years looking for enlightenment. If you want to check into it, then step inside Beniya Mukayu (www.mukayu.com) in the Japanese spa town of Yamashiro. Each room - there are 17 - has a private open-air hot spring bath that looks onto an authentic Japanese garden. Chill with a traditional tea ceremony, yoga lessons or an invigorating medicinal spa treatment. Zen indeed.

For many, a wellness retreat is about detoxing - ridding the body and mind of toxins brought on from a poor diet, polluted environment and hectic lifestyle much like the one many Hongkongers follow.

One of the leaders in the industry of well-being tourism is COMO Shambhala (ww.comoshambhala.como.bz) and one of its most luxurious retreats is the COMO Shambhala Estate on the Indonesian island of Bali.

The resort works on the premise that the lymphatic system, liver, bowels, kidney and skin must work optimally for effective natural detoxification. Consultants prescribe regular exercise, good nutrition to improve lymphatic circulation and to keep these organs in top working order.

Check out the resort's range of programmes such as its beauty plans that combine the beneficial effects of spa treatments with healthy eating and positive thinking. Other programmes include Get Fit and Stress Management.

Getting close to nature is a simple task at the Gayana Eco Resort (www.gayana-eco-resort.com) in Borneo. It has 44 private luxury villas that sit over a pristine coral reef hugging a lush rainforest off the coast of Borneo and boasts its own Marine Ecology Research Centre.

Spa hunters seeking a true oasis in the desert will be more than satisfied with the Desert Palm in Dubai (http://desertpalm.peraquum.com). It has sensual accommodation - think Arabia touched with the avant-garde - and its Lime Spa has a range of treatments to help with its philosophy: 'rub, soothe, soak, heal, treat, pamper and restore to a blissful state'. The Midas touch is the luxurious Goldmine facial in which 24-carat gold is used. Good reason to glow.

Lush & local

The Four Seasons Hotel in Central has a smorgasbord of summer therapies to keep you cool. Try the Sunset Cool Jade Massage (HK$1,050/60 minutes), a one-hour full-body treatment with aloe, lavender and peppermint combined with cool jade stones to soothe the skin. It comes with a scalp massage with a coconut and avocado hair serum for sun-frizzled follicles.

New to the Mandarin Oriental in Central is a Bamboo Ritual massage (HK$1,450). The 90-minute treatment incorporates the use of bamboo rods and essential oils with deep-tissue massage, Swedish massage and lymphatic drainage.

At the Peninsula Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, guests can immerse themselves in the Body and Sole Rejuvenator Spa Journey package (HK$1,500). Available until August 31, it includes an aromatherapy massage (60 minutes); cooling algae foot mask (50 minutes); complimentary Simply Peninsula product and use of the hotel's spa facilities, including thermal suites with harbour-view sauna and crystal steam room, tea lounge and the hotel's Roman-style swimming pool.

Chuan Spa at the Langham Place Hotel, Mong Kok, has a treatment for those who prefer to live a chemical-free lifestyle. Organik Integrity (HK$1,580/2 hours) uses 100 per cent organic products and includes a facial clay peel, warm honey exfoliating mask, hydrating massage and a flax serum and top-to-toe body polish, body wrap and scalp massage.

The Plateau Spa at the Grand Hyatt in Wan Chai has introduced a programme of treatments designed for two people at a time. Its Relaxing Couple's Journey (HK$3,800/2 hours) includes a lemon-sugar body polish and hydrating massage while its Deluxe Dual Experience (HK$4,900/2 hours, 45 minutes) includes a purifying body exfoliation, massage and facial.