Five Best: Spas with a view
Every scrub-down needs a perfect setting. By Rhiannon Batten
Saturday 16 July 2005
This Indian Ocean retreat is about as decadent as they come. Sleek ocean and lagoon bungalows and pavilions set a mellow tropical tone, while bars, restaurants and a well-stocked library-lounge offer all the distractions you could need. But the real selling point here is that the resort's elaborate Aquum spa claims the world's first underwater treatment rooms (there are also plenty of others above the waterline, too, if it makes you nervous). If you're lucky you can lie back and tune out while a graceful Manta ray glides past or a shoal of colourful parrot fish swim into your line of vision.
Huvafen Fushi, North Male Atoll, Maldives (00 960 444 222; www.huvafenfushi.com). Doubles start at $660 (£367), room only.
Four Seasons Emerald Bay, Bahamas
The newest resort in the Bahamas - and the largest - the Four Seasons Emerald Bay is set on an arc of perfect Caribbean sand, tucked away on sleepy Great Exuma island. The state-of-the-art spa is in a coral-pink building in a leafy corner of the resort. If you want to maximise the view, opt for one of the stripy garden massage cabanas, surrounded by bubbling pools and bright bougainvilla. Or order a massage in your own beachside room, looking out over the white sand and clear, aquamarine water.
Four Seasons Emerald Bay, Great Exuma, The Bahamas (001 242 336 6800; www.fourseasons.com/great exuma). Doubles start at $330 (£183), room only.
Uma Paro, Bhutan
This 20-room, nine-suite hotel opened late last year, and offers indulgent hospitality in a wild Himalayan setting. The look, created by Bhutanese and Western designers, is rustic modernism; hi-tech internet access sits easily with stone fireplaces, wooden doors and traditional forms. The most appealing feature, however, is the view down the Paro valley. You won't see a lot of it from the treatment rooms themselves, but a yoga room looks out over the valley and there's a hot stone bathhouse in the adjacent forest.
Uma Paro, Paro, Bhutan (00 975 827 1597; www.uma.como.bz/paro). Doubles start at $250 (£140), including breakfast.
Daintree Eco Lodge, Australia
Targeted at indulgent greenies, this upmarket rainforest lodge would have been the ultimate recuperation retreat after I'm a Celebrity... The architecture nods towards the surroundings with 15 treehouse-style villas giving views over waterfalls, streams and lagoons. The spa takes even more advantage of the location, incorporating the setting into its products. "Wholistic" therapies all draw on local forest botanicals.
Daintree Eco Lodge, Daintree, Queensland, Australia (00 617 4098 6100; www.daintree-ecolodge.com.au). B&B from A$454 (£194) for a double.
Calistoga Ranch, USA
Opened just over a year ago in a private canyon in California's Napa Valley, the design of Calistoga Ranch is best described as wood cabin-meets-Frank Lloyd Wright. Surrounded by trees, hills and a lake, this retreat is perfect for nature-loving wine buffs - it even incorporates a private vineyard. Spa-goers should head for the Bathhouse, to enjoy treatments such as the Ranch Rubdown with laurel and eucalyptus, or the oat and brown sugar body scrub. You can indulge in the spa therapies in an outdoor tent looking out over Lake Lommel, or, alternatively in the relaxing environs of the garden of your lodge.
Calistoga Ranch, 580 Lommel Road, Calistoga, California (001 707 254 2800; www.calistogaranch.com). Lodges start from $473 (£263), room only.
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