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Last updated: 23 September 2022

Continuing our five-part Elemental Wellness Guide with the wonders of water therapy, here we dip into some of the world’s best water-based spa treatments. From thalassotherapy and hydromassages to thermal springs, ice bathing and sea sponge rituals, the healing powers of water can hydrate the body as much as cleanse the mind.

The Gainsborough Bath Spa, Bath – UK…Tapping into the original thermal springs, Spa Village Bath offers a contemporary perspective on the city’s thermal water heritage. Coupled with the historic use of aromatherapy in Great Britain, this spa, set beneath a glass atrium within the hotel, gently supports the brand’s philosophy of honouring the healing traditions of the region, while offering aquatic therapies and treatments rooted in the original Spa Villages of Malaysia. Bath Spa Rooms come with roll tops, scented candles and direct access to the thermal waters for the ultimate indulgence.

Arctic Bath, Harads – Sweden…The floating spa at this Swedish Lapland wellness retreat features an open-air cold bath for post-sauna plunges beneath the Northern sky, a cleansing ritual which strengthens the body’s immune system. All-natural products by native Swede Kerstin Florian are incorporated into a range of holistic treatments, from Swedish Arctic Massages to Sauna Gus.

Milaidhoo Maldives, Baa Atoll – Maldives…Surrounded by ocean views and the sounds of gently lapping waves, the over-water Serenity Spa at this island hideaway is inspired by the Indian Ocean. Master the art of mindful breathing with new expert-led workshops with Milaidhoo’s resident Yogi Shubh – born in Rishikesh, the birthplace of yoga in the foothills of the Himalayas where culture is centred around a core yogic way of life, Shubh learned the ancient teachings at his local Ashram in the spiritual surroundings of the Ganges River. Private sessions are available upon request, and can even be arranged on board a traditional Dhoni sailing boat, while drifting around the island’s lagoon.

Park Hotel ai Cappuccini, Gubbio – Italy…Water lovers will be spoilt for choice at this former 17th-century monastery – try a Raxul treatment, inspired by the ancient Roman Thermal baths, followed by a herbal tea in the relaxation room or a swim in the spectacular indoor pool. For a more intimate experience, the hydromassage room features a circular hydromassage, an ark shaped hydromassage that uses magnesium and potassium enriched water and a thalassic tub.

Gangtey Lodge, Phobjikha Valley – Bhutan…This all-suite Himalayan hideaway immerses guests in the ancient Bhutanese tradition of hot stone bathing, or ‘Dotsho’ which uses river rocks to heat the water, releasing key minerals that relieve aches and pains in the body. The bath itself is made of local pine wood, whilst the addition of local aromatic herbs gathered from the surrounding forests in the water further enhances the healing. The treatment starts with a foot scrub for a gentle exfoliation, followed by a luxurious de-stress massage, combining techniques from Thailand, India and Hawaii, using warm aromatic oils.

Huvafen Fushi Maldives, Malé Atoll – Maldives…Home to the world’s first and only under-the-sea spa, the Huvafen Spa is devoted to deep relaxation. With both reef-facing treatment rooms eight metres below the surface, and over-water pavilions poised above the lagoon, submerge into serenity at this ground-breaking wellness retreat where modern techniques meet Maldivian traditions.

Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa, St Bart’s – Caribbean…The spa at this lagoon-side holistic haven brings its soothing Caribbean setting in, with an open-air atrium and a Scandinavian inspired collection of vitality pools. The Nordic Baths are individually heated to different temperatures, from hot to cold – the red cedar-wood tubs are designed to strengthen the immune system, and stimulate the production of endorphins which significantly improves muscle tension. Indulge in a post-soak facial with a dedicated team of La Mer specialists.

Columbia Beach Resort, Limassol – Cyprus…Combining the richness of sea plants and marine algae, the 70-minute ELEMIS Cellutox Aroma Spa Ocean Wrap available at this beachfront boutique helps refine the appearance of cellulite and relieve the discomfort of fluid retention. The body is re-energised and skin is left feeling silky soft and smooth. The deeply detoxifying blend has been created to decongest and stimulate the system, whilst you are cocooned in a comforting foil wrap and treated to a pressure point facial massage and de-stress scalp treatment.

Can Ferrereta, Mallorca – Spain…The ‘Es Trenc’ treatment at this converted 17th-century grand house refreshes, cleanses and detoxifies through the use of sea salt and algae. The beach-inspired session begins with Dry Skin Brushing & Body Scrub with Flor de Sal d’Es Trenc, followed by a soothing seaweed wrap, ending with a Deep Marine Purifying Facial.

Aleenta Resort & Spa, Phuket – Thailand…The 90-minute ‘Naam’ (‘Water’) massage at the Ayurah Wellness & Spa incorporates unique synergy massage techniques and the spa’s exclusively warm aromatherapy oils. Using palm strokes and gentle stretching, pressure is applied to key meridian points of the body to improve flexibility whilst soothing sore and tired muscles.

Mykonos Riviera Hotel & Spa, Mykonos – Greece…The Oqua Spa at this sun-drenched Mykonian retreat harnesses the rejuvenating powers of the sea, collecting its mineral-rich seawaters to treat various health and beauty matters, from improving skin conditions to reducing cellulite and relieving muscular pain. Guests can restore their health and sense of wellbeing with six hydrotherapy stations in the heated thalasso indoor pool, along with choosing from a water-inspired treatment menu including an aroma bath and sea sponge ritual.

Miramonti Boutique Hotel, Merano – Italy…The spa at Miramonti brings the outdoors inside – and vice versa. Gaze at the mountains as you swim in the indoor pool. Then step outside for a steam bath amid the snowy peaks, while the Japanese-inspired onsen pool set high above Merano combines the ancient healing powers of Japanese bathing and alpine recreation.

The Terrace Club at Busena, Okinawa – Japan…Set against the backdrop of the East China Sea, this Okinawa Island wellness resort makes the most of its serene surroundings. Restore balance with bespoke wellness plans based on thalassotherapy – the healing power of seawater, which flows from Cape Busena and heated to a comfortable range at or just below body temperature in the multi-feature pool. Massaging jets, aeration, and gentle currents create a number of zones for both aquarobic exercise and relaxation, while all SLH INVITED members are entitled to a complimentary seaweed wrap.

Les Sources de Cheverny, Loire Valley – France…The Spa des Sources at this quintessentially French château features an oak wood Jacuzzi, hot thermal waters, and a thermal pool to soak away any stresses within a tranquil woodland setting.

Dormy House Hotel, Cotswolds – UK…Drift away during a state-of-the-art i-sopod floatation experience in the House Spa, more affectionately known as ‘The Tub.’ Over 500kg of Epsom salts are added to the i-sopod floatation tank and mixed with 1,000 litres of water, creating a highly buoyant environment in which guests will naturally float to the surface without any effort.

Mykonos Grand Hotel & Resort, Mykonos – Greece…Named after the Greek goddess of healing, Althea Spa Retreat overlooks the sacred island of Delos, and enjoys one of the sunniest spots in the Cycladic islands. Enjoy a relaxing thermal massage with six hydrotherapy stations overlooking the Aegean Sea, or a Sea Foam Massage with Calming Mask which reduces redness and soothes burned skin – the perfect after-sun treatment.

San Montano Resort & Spa, Ischia – Italy…The treatments at the Ocean Blue Spa range from traditional Ischia thermal baths with thermal water and mud, whose therapeutic effects have been known throughout the world since Roman times, to the resort’s swimming pool park with H2O panoramic pools overlooking Vesuvius.

Le Clos Saint-Martin Hotel & Spa, Île de Ré – France…Spend the day at this picture-perfect French villa swimming in the two outdoor pools, before an hour of water-inspired indulgence at the Spa by Clarins in the outdoor Jacuzzi, frigidarium, and sensorial shower – the ‘Spa Escape’ is complimentary to all guests of the hotel.

Point Grace Resort and Spa, Turks & Caicos Islands – Caribbean…The Thalasso Spa at this all-suite hideaway is a full-service European-style Thalassotherapy spa, housed within three, white-washed cottages open to the elements and with ocean views. Using the properties of sea water as well as applications of sea mud and select seaweed, opt for the Thalgo Scrub or Algae Wrap to feel the full effects of the sea.

137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai – Thailand…The 60-minute Aqua Therma Massage at the Nitra Serenity Centre helps with poor circulation, and increasing efficiency in the lymphatic and detoxification processes – making it a must-try treatment for couples and pregnant guests.

Pangkor Laut Resort, Lumut – Malaysia…Treatments on this private island begin with a unique Bath House Ritual, representing various bathing traditions from around Asia. This starts with a soothing footbath and an invigorating Chinese Foot Pounding, previously only enjoyed by the concubines of feudal China. From there, guests are escorted to the Bath Houses to enjoy the traditional Malay ‘circulating’ bath, and a Japanese-style cleansing with a ‘goshi-goshi’ cloth, followed by a dip in the heated Rotenburu pool.

Romeo Hotel, Naples – Italy…The ‘Aqva Journey’ at the ultra-modern Dogana del Sale Spa blends the rituals of water with the benefits of salt, from tropical rain showers, steam baths, and low-lit hydrotherapy pools to whirlpool Jacuzzis and a frigidarium with a snow cascade treatment.

Elite Spring Villas, Anxi – China…Hot spring pools bubble with hot natural mineral water drawn from deep beneath the mountains at these heritage-inspired villas. Rich in metasilic acid content, the thermal water here is particularly beneficial for moisturising the skin and delaying skin aging, and also has auxiliary curative effect on chronic rheumatism, arthritis and other diseases. Enhance your hot spring soak with one of their fourteen different tea and herb-infused sachets inspired by the Chinese five elements promoting different medical efficacies. Beauty-focused guests can choose a rose sachet to maintain their youth, while health-conscious guests can choose to soak with a dang shen (codonopsis root) sachet to replenish their qi (energy). Each villa comes with its own hot spring pool for private soaking.

Castle Hot Springs, Arizona – USA…More than 200,000 gallons of mineral-rich water flow through three separate pools each day at this desert oasis and winner of the ‘Most Mindful Wellness Retreat’ at the SLH Awards 2020. The hot springs well up from deep within the desert surface and offer pristine 115-degree waters filled with revitalising minerals, while guests staying in the Spring Bungalows can enjoy private soaking tubs filled with the relaxing thermal water.

Sowaka, Kyoto – Japan…Bath amenities at this restored ryokan are made with Japanese camelia oil supplied by Kyoto’s most renowned beauty brand, Kazurasei Shinise – while the hotel’s water is drawn from its own underground spring.

Stoke Park, Buckinghamshire – UK…A sweeping tropical aquarium greets all guests in the atrium of The Pavilion Spa, setting the scene for the heated indoor pool and outdoor hot tub. Opt for the ‘Thalgo Algae Wrap’, a full body exfoliation using Thalgo products harnessed from the sea – the sea mineral-rich algae is then applied to the body, helping to nourish the skin and soothe conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. The treatment ends with a relaxing scalp massage to help ease away any stresses before an application of moisturiser.

The Mist Hot Spring Hotel, Xuchang – China…Taking its name from the natural steam that rises around it, this lakeside retreat seems to float above the landscape. The 14 outdoor and five indoor hot spring pools take centre stage, for a luxuriating soak in some of China’s finest geothermal waters.

Pädaste Manor, Muhu Island – Estonia…The treatments of this 16th-century island sanctuary are inspired by ancient Estonian herbal traditions while drawing on the Baltic Sea views – from the seawater hot tub gently heated with a wood-burning oven to the Siberian cold tub for icy dips between sauna sessions.

Tiara Miramar Beach Hotel & Spa, Theoule-sur-Mer – France…Set over two levels and overlooking the Mediterranean, Tiara Spa makes an idyllic spot to spend an hour (or a day) or two. Follow laps of the pool with an outdoor Seaside Massage with Sothys spa therapists, available throughout the summer to soak up the French Riviera sun.

Tanjong Jara Resort, Dungun – Malaysia…This South China Sea-facing haven dedicates a whole spa village to rejuvenation in its purest form. Its Sucimurni philosophy echoes ancient Malay traditions centred around mind, body and soul wellness – the unique restorative Malay treatments have been handed down from generation to generation, ensuring their authenticity, and therapeutic value, including scented steam experiences and floral bathing.

Nimb Hotel, Copenhagen – Denmark…Inspired by the Hammams of Istanbul, Nimb Wellness is an indulgent oasis with a cosmopolitan edge. After warming the muscles in the Moroccan hammam, continue into the treatment room for the Raindrop Massage – this unique combination of classic in-depth massage and raindrop techniques involves deep spine treatment, which by using essential oils strengthens the health of the spine and raises energy levels.

Correntoso Lake & River Hotel, Villa La Angostura – Argentina…Treatments at this lakeside beauty at the foot of the Patagonian Andes have wonderful views over Nahuel Huapi Lake, including a swim in the spectacular heated pool.

Hôtel Le Cep & Spa Marie De Bourgogne, Beaune – France…The award-winning Spa Marie de Bourgogne is truly an every-sense experience, from 130 water jets of different intensities and temperatures, water-warmed mattresses for shiatsu-style massages and sensory showers (with ‘tropical rain’ and ‘ocean drizzle’ settings) to an aqua-biking cabin for a full water workout.

Canaves Oia Suites, Santorini – Greece…The outdoor treatment rooms at this serene sanctuary are elegantly carved into the rocks with unrivalled views of the caldera and the volcano – simply sit back on the ergonomic heated seats and enjoy a steam bath with and herbal infusion, followed by a cleansing tropical shower.

The Franklin, London – UK…The Anoushka Hempel-designed, residents-only hammam treatment room is situated on the lower ground floor of this English townhouse – instead of using thermal water, hammam treatments use hot steam, providing a deep and invigorating cleanse, as well as other benefits, including a boosted immune system and relaxed mind.