Traveller's guide: Spa breaks

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

There has never been a wider range of opportunities to recharge, recuperate or exercise your way back to health, as Caroline Sylger Jones reveals

“Keep breathing,” says the therapist, as you hold your breath. “Don’t be afraid to use your voice.”

Your four-handed Lomi Lomi massage has turned into a table-top dance, in which your body is eased and rubbed, cradled and moved in different directions. As you are asked to breathe deeply with each new movement, you feel a great welling up inside you, as if all your worries are about to be released. You close your eyes, and as the massage progresses, tears start streaming down your face. You make a noise and are surprised how liberating it feels. You keep breathing and making strange noises as your therapists work, until you reach an inner calm, the kind of calm you feel when you’ve been crying for hours or run a long, long way. Finally at peace, your body is laid out and covered, and you slip into a restful sleep. Ah, you think later – that’s much better than a facial.

Spa breaks can be deliciously pampering,  but their increasing attraction for many of us in our busy, digitised world is their ability to make us feel better from the inside out. The word “spa” stands for sanus per aquam – Latin for health through water – and traditionally referred to a healing place that had a natural source of mineral water. Its definition has been joyfully stretched over the years to refer to any retreat, hotel or holiday that helps us relax, take stock, rebalance and replenish our joie de vivre. And why not, when most of us feel pretty stressed a lot of the time? There are now thousands of spas all over the world vying for our attention, with expert trainers, chefs concocting tempting and healthy diets, star yoga teachers, signature treatments, state-of-the-art products, holistic exercise regimes and dedicated well-being programmes designed to sort out our sleep, bad backs, eating habits, weight problems, immune systems, mental states and much more.

In the UK, ESPA Life is now available at the classy Corinthia London (020-7321 3050; espalifeatcorinthia.com) and Gleneagles, Scotland (0800 731 9215; gleneagles.com/spa/espa-life), and offers complementary and alternative medicine such as naturopathy, osteopathy, physiotherapy and acupuncture as well as nutritional advice and personal training alongside luxury spa treatments.

Lucknam Park (01225 742777; lucknampark.co.uk) in Wiltshire will open a new well-being centre on the hotel’s fairy-tale estate at the end of this month to complement its spa. The stressed-out will have access to visiting health consultants, light, sleep and flotation therapies, emotional detoxes, burn-out programmes and a brand new range of treatments designed by “beyond organic” skincare company ila, to address the effects of prolonged stress on your adrenal glands.

For a more extended fix of TLC, head abroad. Thailand’s exceptional holistic destination spa, Kamalaya, runs reliable, year-round health programmes. Wellbeing Escapes (0845 602 6202; wellbeingescapes.co.uk) has a seven-night Sleep Enhancement programme there to help re-establish healthy and restful sleep and address other sleep issues; the price of £3,399 per person includes all treatments, classes, consultations, return flights from Heathrow  and transfers.

Decent short-haul (and more affordable) wellness retreats are also increasingly available. May will see the opening of Zening (00 357 26 321 011; zening.eu), an intriguing “yoga, meditation and wellness hotel” on the beach in the unspoilt north-west of Cyprus with five indoor-outdoor yoga venues, a vegetarian restaurant, Ayurvedic therapies and a meditation hall. The Healthy Holiday Company (020-8968 0501; thehealthyholidaycompany.co.uk) offers seven nights there from £929 per person, including full board, three yoga classes, three meditation classes, return flights from Heathrow and transfers.

Whatever you choose, taking a break for true respite is worth the time and money – whether you go for the facial or something a whole lot deeper.

Change

If you're dealing with a trauma, such as divorce, or just feel your lifestyle isn't working, try a coaching break. They don't offer solutions but listen to you and ask pertinent questions to help you to take charge. Psychologist Graham W Price (020-7858 2241; abicord.com) offers a seven-day sailing and coaching holiday at Port Grimaud, above, in the South of France for £900pp, including all meals, training, sailing and transfers. Consciousness coach Louise Ramsden (020-8265 1319; theyogacook.com) has a two-night, Build Your Own Personal Retreat, at her south London home for £595pp, including organic meals and 14 hours of one-to-one attention.

Cleanse

Detox breaks can help you to shift excess weight, soothe stressed skin, treat digestive disorders, boost your immune system and increase your energy levels. The most effective, if you're short of time, are supervised juice fasts combined with colonic irrigation, gentle exercise and supportive treatments. For a lighter alternative, choose a place that offers a raw-food detox.

For personal attention in the Cornish countryside, The Raw Retreat (01566 88 00 90; therawretreat.co.uk) hosts just one person or couple at a time in a Grade-II listed barn and has a three-night health programme for £695pp, all inclusive.

Or, for guaranteed heat in a serene environment, Lotus Journeys (0845 170 1747; lotusjourneys.com) offers an eight-night detoxification at the Absolute Sanctuary on Koh Samui in Thailand, left; the price of 66,500 baht (£1,345pp) includes daily colon hydrotherapy, yoga classes and three massages, as well as juices and supplements. Flights and transfers are not included.

Do it in a day

You can get a lot out of a day spa, but go somewhere nearby so you don't get stressed by the travelling. If you're exhausted, go for holistic treatments such as shiatsu, Thai massage or anything Ayurvedic. These seek to rebalance your energy but leave yourself time to use the facilities. The Turkish Baths & Health Spa in Harrogate (01423 556746; turkishbathsharrogate.co.uk) has sessions in its colourful, traditional baths for as little as £14.50; treatments start at £29 for an Indian head massage. The classily peaceful Ushvani (020-7730 2888; ushvani.com) in Chelsea, west London, has 90-minute holistic treatments with use of the facilities from £180. The upmarket but unpretentious Lime Wood (023-8028 6998; limewoodhotel.co.uk) in the New Forest, has a Cleanse & Mend spa day for £195, including a Voya wrap, detox lunch, use of the serene Herb House Spa facilities and Voya treats to take home.

Frolic

Who said spa breaks need to be serious? Sometimes a little bit of what you fancy does you good. Work on the 80/20 rule – if you choose to be healthy 80 per cent of the time, you can indulge for the rest of it. Yeotown (01271 343803; yeotown.com) in North Devon runs long weekends that team yoga with earthly pleasures such as cooking, surfing, belly dancing and live music; for example, it has a yoga and chocolate retreat from 9-11 March for £485pp. Or what about a spot of clubbing? Ibiza Retreats (00 34 662 093 499, Ibizaretreats.com/rockovery) offers a three-night Rockovery break, above, on the White Isle that combines Balearic nightlife with relaxing post-party care from well-being professionals; the price of €565pp includes a three-night, half-board stay at the Ibiza Rocks hotel, three juices, a detoxing massage and a yoga session.

Indulge

Pampering in a spectacular location is always worth saving for. Book treatments ahead of your stay and don't be afraid to ask for specialist therapies – a decent deep-tissue massage, for example. Elegant Resorts (01244 897516; elegantresorts.co.uk) has two nights at Monastero Santa Rosa, above, on the Amalfi Coast in Italy. This 17th-century cliff-edge monastery has been converted to house a spa in its vaults. The price of £715pp includes B&B, flights from Gatwick and transfers. Treatments start at £48.

Meditate

Meditation is designed to help us tame our "monkey minds" by concentrating on our breath, a symbol, or a mantra – and anyone can do it. Fairfield House in Somerset (01984 634503; fairfieldretreats.co.uk) has an introduction from 12-14 April for £175pp, including meals and tuition, while the London Buddhist Centre (0845 458 4716; lbc.org.uk) has regular all-inclusive weekends in the Suffolk countryside for £140pp. For a luxurious alternative, Ananda in the Himalayas (00 91 124 4516650; anandaspa.com) in India, above, has a seven-day Vedic Meditation Retreat (24-30 March) for £2,650pp including meals and tuition but not flights.

Caroline Sylger Jones runs queenofretreats.com, an independent online resource of reviews and advice on spas, retreats and healthy holidays.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning:The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Sport
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier league

The Independent's live blog of today's Premier League action

News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam