Stress-Free 2014: 7 New World-Class Spas to Jet to Now

Issue 2 STY De-Stress Luxe New Spas Four Seasons Shanghai - H 2014
Courtesy of Four Seasons

Issue 2 STY De-Stress Luxe New Spas Four Seasons Shanghai - H 2014

From Tuscany to Puerto Rico, the newest spots to get some rest and relaxation in the new year.


Floating above one of the world's most populated cities -- Shanghai's metro area counts nearly 24 million people -- on the 41st floor of the Four Seasons Hotel (rooms from $444 a night,, Flare Spa might have the most dazzling skyline views in Asia. Its menu of signature treatments includes the extravagant Orchidee Imperiale Facial, which uses orchid extracts and face, neck and upper-back massage to target wrinkles, and the Hello, Handsome facial for men, which involves exfoliation, facial massage, a specialty mask and an eye treatment. And who wouldn't want to try the enticing-sounding Sole to Soul massage using heated bamboo sticks on specific areas of the foot to relieve tension and improve circulation? There are separate men's and women's zones, a nail and makeup salon, a 24-hour state- of-the-art fitness center and an eye-popping sky-high infinity pool that should be avoided by those prone to vertigo.

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Set on the late Laurance Rockefeller's 1,400-acre estate overlooking the azure Caribbean, Spa Botanico at the Ritz-Carlton's Dorado Beach resort (rooms from $859, starts working its magic from the moment you enter a tranquil courtyard, the air fragrant with lavender, lemongrass and eucalyptus. There are numerous indoor and outdoor showers, gardens for de-stressing in therapeutic hot and cold pools and 10 freestanding treatment pavilions where the therapies include a warmed bamboo and stone massage and the Citrus Souffle, which involves a gentle scrub, lemony cream, warm towels and a head massage. Insiders know to reserve one of two treehouse platforms to experience things like the Hammock Massage, a rhythmic massage focusing on pressure points of the back, hands and feet while ocean breezes and rustling trees lull you into a state of bliss.

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The closest thing to heaven on earth may be found at this ravishing spa from Aman Resorts (rooms from $1,088, amanresorts .com/amanzoe/home.aspx), which rests atop an olive tree-strewn hill overlooking the sparkling Aegean Sea on a peninsula in southern Greece. Check into one of the 38 freestanding villas -- each with a private pool -- and get ready for world-class pampering using Aman's famous chemical-free products. Try Watsu (a rejuvenating therapy where you're held by a practitioner in warm water and gently stretched) or get a 150- minute Signature Treatment that stimulates the lymphatic system and infuses the skin with minerals. There also is a Pilates facility, a huge pool (with another for the kids), an open-air yoga studio and tennis courts for those with more rigorous agendas in mind, as well as the resort's private Beach Club, three restaurants, a bar, boutique and even a well-stocked library -- because you might as well exercise your mind as well as your body. Producer Marty Adelstein already has checked out the hotel.

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At Essere Spa -- the new addition to Tuscany's 1-year-old five-star Castello di Casole resort (rooms from $484, -- treatments include a two-hour session in a medieval wine cellar where you'll be slathered in local honey and herbs, kneaded into bliss, then given a stress-melting scalp massage. Lots of native ingredients (olive oil, lavender, even mud) are used in massages and anti-aging facials, while more energetic activities also are on offer: Indulge in yoga and Pilates, lift weights in a state-of-the-art fitness center or hire a personal trainer to whip you into shape. The acclaimed 41-suite resort is located inside a 10th-century castle on 4,200 acres in Tuscany, where renowned director Luchino Visconti (Death in Venice) entertained such guests as Sophia Loren and Elizabeth Taylor during the '60s.


Bulgari Spa, Bulgari Hotel, London

For those who prefer a luxe spa experience with quick access to shopping, nightlife and museums, the Bulgari Spa in London’s Knightsbridge neighborhood fits the bill, with Hyde Park just around the corner and Harrods a two-minute stroll. Stretching across two floors of the five-star hotel, the posh spa (think emerald onyx and sparkling gold) is home to an impressive 82-foot-long, three-lane pool lined with green mosaic tiles, 11 treatment rooms and a private suite with two treatment beds, changing area, steam shower, and hydrotherapy bath. Spoil yourself silly with a synchronized four-handed, two-hour massage, or an Emotional Healing treatment with a man dubbed by the spa ‘the modern day wizard’ who will spend 90 minutes performing spiritual psychology, intuitive healing and body whispering. The on-site foot clinic has podiatrists who perform surgical procedures and medical pedicures, and advanced skin treatments include Mesolift, Micro Needle- and LED therapy. Actress Rosamund Pike and singer Florence Welch have been spotted at the hotel.

Lakeview Wellness Centre & Spa by L’Occitane, Scots Hotel, Israel

Any place that greets you with a warm, bubbling mineral footbath knows what it takes to soothe a stressed-out soul. Perched on the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel, the Wellness Centre occupies three stories of a castle-like 19th-century building that used to house a Scottish Hospital and orphanage (the Scots Hotel occupies most of the space). There are nine treatment rooms, decorated with black basalt stone and blue tile, yoga and pilates rooms, an authentic Turkish hammam, and relaxation rooms that look out over the water and gardens rich with jacaranda trees and date palms. The medicinal plants, essential oils and herbs of L’Occitane’s celebrated products are used in a variety of specialty treatments, including one in which you’re slathered in shea butter, grape seed oil, honey and mineral clay, then given a foot and scalp massage while your skin softens.

Spa at the Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco

Your sybaritic experience begins with a cup of tea, a hot towel and an orchid before you slide into slippers and enter the hushed sanctum of the 8,000-square-foot spa, located on the hotel’s third floor. Specializing in Asian-influenced treatments with a holistic approach, a dedicated team of therapists leads you through a series of experiences that benefit your body, mind and spirit. Their Signature Spa Therapies, for example, developed with traditional Chinese medicine practitioners, consist of a meridian, hands-on body massage and custom blended essential oils. There are New Mother and Mother-to-Be treatments, as well as an arsenal of skin therapies like the Carboxi-Express, a new anti-aging and lifting practice which uses CO2, and the Diamond Brilliant Facial, which evens skin tone, minimizes pores and lightens. In good weather, there are private yoga classes on the 40th-floor sky deck, though we’re not sure how the dramatic views will jibe with the otherwise newly zen’d out you. 

This story first appeared in the Jan. 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.