A new sector of travel has emerged to bring us spectacular spas and wellness retreats that combine the opportunity for health and self-care with generous restorative treatments.
An antidote to our fast-paced lives, they are renewing our connection to mind, body and spirit while approaching wellness holistically with a range of activities such as fitness classes, yoga and hiking offered alongside nutritional plans and all the comforts that speak of real rest & relaxation. Thermal pools, massages, beauty treatments and invigorating ice baths further hit the reset button, while directing us to a healthier more balanced lifestyle. Across Europe you will find an array of swish spas and retreats committed to transforming lives, while keeping ever conscious of their environmental impact. Places where silence, space, light and nature live in perfect harmony and where you can seek out rare moments of introspection, refuel the soul and focus on your wellbeing under the guidance of experts.
The BusinessClass.com guide to the best European Spas & Wellness Retreats for restorative holidays:
The Anassa Hotel, Cyprus - 10/10
With a secluded position on a wild peninsular off Cyprus’s Akamas National Park, the Anassa Hotel is recognised as the island’s most exclusive accommodation. With landscaped gardens, alfresco dining and super chic suites, everything at Anassa consider your comfort. The refined whitewashed hotel cascades down to the sandy beach of Chrysochou Bay, which is within toe-dipping distance. The 166 rooms and suites are light and bright, decorated in natural materials such as local stone, marble, bleached wood and crisp white linens. Many have balconies or private patios, most have wraparound windows. Mediterranean and Asian-inspired gourmet dining is presented in the Flagship restaurant, Basilko – always by candlelit. The Helios serves à la carte dishes with a strong French influence, while Pelagos is a seafront taverna where an open kitchen serves as the focal point.
The renowned Thalassa Spa offers an indulgent retreat to health and wellness around a columned sky-lit pool. Thalassotherapy – derived from the Greek word ‘thalasso meaning sea and ‘therapeía’ meaning healing, draws on the restorative qualities of the ocean. Try a saltwater jet spray massage, seaweed polish or algae body wrap, with detox immersions using seawater pumped directly from the crystal bay popular too. The vast indoor pool, 18 treatment rooms, saunas, steam baths, squash court, fitness room and yoga complete the experience. For the more adventurous, take to the rugged coastline, secluded coves, and unspoilt heart of Cyprus with a guide.
Read the full BusinessClass.com review and find the best rates for The Anassa Hotel, Cyprus
Surrounded by the Bavarian Alps, Schloss Elmau is a pristine sanctuary just 100 kilometres south of Munich. Framed by dramatic peaks and thick forests, it offers the choice of a Luxury Spa Retreat or a Cultural Hideaway – both 5 Star “Superior” Hotels. This Cultural Hideaway was built by philosopher and theologian Johannes Müller between 1914 and 1916, becoming instantly popular with artists and authors. Rebuilt in 2007, it attracts spa aficionados and appreciators of art and beauty. There is a choice of 115 rooms and suites, a bookstore, two libraries, five restaurants of which one has two Michelin stars – Luce D’, Tea Lounge, Jazz Bar, Fashion and Lifestyle Shops – you could not want for more. The grand yet warm interiors speak to timeless elegance. All rooms have parquet floors, natural stone in the spacious bathrooms, and furniture sourced from India and Indonesia to complement the usual modern conveniences.
Just 150 metres away, The Retreat opened its doors in March 2015 and has 47 spacious rooms designed to ensure every comfort, with oriental influences and natural materials from around the world. Home to six spas – yes six, including the largest Hammam west of Istanbul, there are various heated pools, saunas and a treatment menu that features a selection of healing treatments including Abhyanga, Shiatsu, Thai massages and Hammam scrubs. Beyond that find an extensive choice of activities to enjoy, from hiking, mountain biking, yoga, Pilates, skiing, and tennis. Schloss Elmau’s very own concert hall plays host to more than 200 concerts each year.
The striking terracotta-hued Six Senses Douro Valley is all about wellbeing. Set in Portugal’s celebrated wine region, the beautifully restored 19th-century manor house has glorious gardens and sweeping views towards the neatly terraced vineyards. The town of Porto and numerous charming heritage villages are to be found nearby. Inspired by natural elements – water, stone and wood, the Six Senses Spa is a blissful retreat with a sauna, herbal bath, laconicum and steam room. Book one of ten treatment rooms for indulgent massages, facials and ayurvedic therapy using local ingredients such as grape pulp, citrus fruit, and schist stones. Consider a skin analysis, wellness screening or specialist sleep program. Take to the heated indoor pool, aromatic saunas, arctic showers, or simply settle in the library with a glass of local wine or a cocktail.
The 8-hectare property has several open-air meditation areas, an outdoor pool, an organic garden of vegetables and herbs to enjoy. The wine bar has over 750 vintages from the region and serves tapas to complement the tastings. The Vale Abraão Restaurant has an open kitchen and river view terrace and serves both gourmet and international cuisine. The hotel has 60 rooms that range in size. Completely renovated, the décor has a natural style with Portuguese oak floors, textured walls, and floor-to-ceiling windows. The Quinta Duplex Suites have bathtubs that have sensational views towards the Douro River, while the 2 and 3-bedroom apartments have kitchens, and the villa a private pool and garden.
The Leali family opened Lefay Resort & Spa Lago di Garda on the shores of Lake Garda with a clear focus of combining wellbeing and sustainability with Italian elegance to create a haven for rejuvenation. This they have achieved. At the hotel’s core is the Lefay SPA, a 3700 square metre oasis that nurtures the body and mind with a combination of traditional Chinese medicine and Western scientific research. Connected by heated indoor and outdoor pools, six saunas and five relaxation areas, the spa carries an innovative philosophy born of various disciplines. Lefay has a range of vegan-friendly, cruelty-free cosmetics.
The extensive hotel grounds include a running circuit, fitness trail and an energy garden. Blending into the countryside, the 93 suites are a tasteful mix of stylish oak furniture and bathrooms in Italian marble, each with a balcony or terrace and lake views. The top pick is the Royal Pool & Spa Suite with a private garden and infinity pool overlooking, and abstract works by artist Antonio Mazzetti on the walls. Executive Chef Matteo Maenza designed the menu at Lefay’s two restaurants, the high-end La Grande Limonaia and informal Trattoria La Vigna with a focus on local, seasonal organic produce. There is a range of exclusive experiences – Lake Garda sailing trips, trekking through Alto Garda Park, biodynamic wine tasting and visits to the unique Vittoriale Degli Italiani, the former home of Italian poet Gabriele d’Annunzio.
SHA Wellness Clinic, Spain - 9/10
The story of the SHA Wellness Clinic in Spain began when owner Alfredo Bataller Parietti, who had suffered years of medical issues, managed to recover his health through a combination of nutrition and lifestyle changes. Amazed by the impact food and specialised therapies can have on wellbeing and feeling the need to share this valuable knowledge in the hope of helping others, he opened the clinic. Situated on a hill overlooking the Balearic Sea on Spain’s South Coast, SHA’s all-white modernist building stands out against the rows of terracotta-roofed houses, its simple style broken by lush shrubs that spill over its terraces.
The clinic offers medical diagnostics for anything from sleep recovery to weight loss and detox. There's a programme to stop smoking, lots of treatments to combat stress, and an assembly of experts on hand – doctors, naturopaths, nutritionists, yoga teachers and talented acupuncturists. The Resort has Zen, Mediterranean and tropical gardens, big indoor and outdoor swimming pools, waterfalls, numerous relaxation areas and a vast wellness area on different floors. Five buildings make up the medical hotel where 93 sea and mountain-view suites in minimalist design offer the best in technology, style, and serenity. The Penthouse Residence is the most exclusive of the SHA accommodation, with a solarium, private pool, and expansive terrace.
Aman Le Mélézin, France - 9/10
In the heart of Les Trois Vallées within the Tuéda Plan National Nature Reserve with views towards the Graian Alps, the upmarket Aman Le Mélézin offers an exceptional skiing experience with all the traditions of the finest French chateaux. Rising four storeys into the pine-scented air above Courchevel, the hotel has an enviable position right on the Bellecôte Piste. Reopening its doors after an ambitious and extensive project to dig out two additional underground levels, the interiors of the lounges and public areas retain the same cosy atmosphere. Combining comfort and style, the 31 rooms in 11 categories range from the smaller Chambres Nords to large top-level suites. All suites have a balcony and a separate living room, with large windows to let light into every corner. Most have Alpine views and a couple have hot tubs on their large private terraces. The subtle lighting, soothing colours and natural woods are complemented by ornate screens, thriving orchards and fruit bowls in Aman’s signature style.
The Japanese-inspired Aman Spa has five double treatment rooms, a bamboo-floored yoga room, fitness and hydrotherapy areas, pool with hot tubs, hammam and sauna spread over two entire floors of the four-floor hotel. Offering a wide range of therapeutic and pampering treatments, it is the ideal space in which to prepare, or recover from an active day outdoors. The hotel has an impressive ski room with heated boot racks, a winter sports shop with equipment to rent or buy and knowledge and helpful staff. An experienced instructor can assist you with private lessons in all disciplines, on-piste, off-piste and slalom. For an aerial view of the majestic landscape, take to the sky on a hot air balloon ride, helicopter flight or with a paraglider. Enjoy the slopes on Fat Bikes or rent a MoonBike snow scooter - fast, reliable, quiet and 100% electrical.
Arctic Bath, Sweden - 9/10
In the last remaining northern wilderness, the Arctic Bath is a destination like no other, and the ideal place to reconnect to nature – and yourself. Located in Swedish Lapland, the hotel has impressive accommodations and a phenomenal spa and restaurant. An oasis of wellness under the northern lights in winter, and the midnight sun in Summer. Glass walls, floating walkways and sky-gazing decks connect the inside with the great outdoors. This is Scandinavian design at its most chic, with interiors crafted from wood, stone and luxuriously tactile textiles. The hotel is committed to a light touch on its Lapland landscape and all cabins were built from sustainably sourced timbers, with all products in the restaurant local, seasonal and organic. Every guest is issued a pollutant-free swimsuit to protect the river.
Arctic Bath has only 12 exclusive luxurious cabins, half of them float on water, and the others are tucked away from the shore with huge glass windows facing north. The main round building has an open-air cold bath in the middle, ringed by three saunas, a spa treatment room and hot baths. The extreme contrast between the hot and cold ensuring increased blood circulation to soothe the muscles and soften the skin. Activities range from yoga, meditation and spa, to dog sledging, snowshoe hiking, cross country skiing, fat bike excursions, bear watching and wildlife photography.
The Palazzo Fiuggi Wellness Medical Retreat, one of Italy’s most iconic and historical hotels, has been completely transformed into an innovative medical retreat. Located in a private 8-hectare park just 50 minutes from Rome, the Palazzo Fiuggi is a culmination of years of research by a team of experts that specialise in strengthening the immune system and in cellular regeneration. At 700 metres above sea level, it offers clean oxygen-rich air to aid personal transformation. Fiuggi is known for its water, which is said to hold unique healing powers for restoring the kidneys and balancing the immune system. Three-star Michelin chef Heinz Beck has used his expertise and an honorary degree in Natural Bioenergies to create light and healthy, delicious menus using biodynamic and natural ingredients.
The Medical Wellness retreat, spanning 6,000 square metres, offers the highest range of MRI Technology, infrared for brain health and sleep, retinal scanning and diagnostic testing. Hydro therapies, Hydro Circuit, a state-of-the-art gym as well as Pilates and Yoga equipment. The 153 rooms are stylish and well-appointed, some have a balcony. The seven-day programs are firmly 21st century in design, with a focus on detox, weight loss, longevity – and the team mastering transformation in just days.
MasQi, The Energy House in Spain’s Bañeres de Mariola provides accommodation in a restored 19th-century farmhouse with an outdoor swimming pool and large garden. The holistic spa resort for adults only lies in the middle of nature with relaxing yoga and meditation and the most delicious and healthy macrobiotic food. The beautiful farmhouse offers all the comforts of a boutique hotel. Founded by Sonia Ferre who have previously led a busy and highly stressful life only to discover for herself the great personal benefits of yoga, meditation and the macrobiotic diet. There are a total of eight relaxed rooms distributed over two floors, the four categories being Double, Superior Double, Junior Suite and Suite. Each room is unique and comfortable, tastefully decorated with beautiful furniture, high-quality beds, and bedlinen.
Quiet to the point of silence, apart from birdsong, and set in a national park, MasQi is remote, peaceful, and utterly restorative. The yoga and meditation sessions are held in a spectacular dome-shaped room next to the pool, where you can feel the warmth of the sun coming in through its transparent canvas windows. Across from the farmhouse, shaded by flowering bushes is a converted barn that now houses the massage house. Here escapist sessions merge ancient techniques such as traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda with innovative techniques such as kinesiology.