The 8 Best Wellness Resorts In The World

Kamalaya Photo Credit: Kamalaya

The most luxurious global retreats for health and well-being.


KamalayaPhoto Credit: Kamalaya


At Kamalaya, located in the tropical paradise of Koh Samui, Thailand, expect magic to happen. Within a week of arriving at this world-famous wellness retreat, a brand-new you will appear—someone who’s healthier, happier and ready to face the world with strength and a smile. Like a caterpillar, you’ll shed your stress in this tranquil, self-contained wellness jungle by disconnecting from the outside world before transforming into the proverbial relaxed and refreshed butterfly. Cell phone use is limited to in-room use only, and for just an hour a day at that. This imposed digital detox not only forces you to interact with others―there’s even a community dining table for those who really seek connection―but it allows you to be more present, mindful and aware. Guests return year after year in search of the inner peace they inevitably find here, through week-long detox journeys, sleep retreats, weight-loss programs, fitness forays and stress and burnout expeditions, among others. Regardless of what you choose, the beauty here is that you’ll find something you might not be aware you even needed. Those looking to get fit might find mindfulness through exercise, while someone on a sleep retreat might discover the root cause of their sleepless nights—and find out how to conquer it. Each day, guests get into a routine, gliding to and from the two on-site restaurants (both of which offer healthy, anti-inflammatory fare); lying poolside or on the private white sand beach; partaking of holistic remedies in the realms of Ayurveda, naturopathy and traditional Chinese medicine with treatments such as craniosacral therapy, sound healing, Reiki and spiritual healing at Kamalaya’s spa; and to the fitness center and yoga pavilion for daily Pilates, yoga, qigong, tai chi, meditation and fitness classes— bringing together diverse traditions of healing, culture and spirituality in a nurturing environment. At its heart is a cave, once used by Buddhist monks as a place of meditative retreat. The cave was, in fact, the reason that founder John Stewart, an American-born former monk, chose to open Kamalaya in this location in the first place. It’s fitting that Kamalaya—which translates as Lotus (Kamal) Realm (alaya) in the ancient language of Sanskrit— symbolizes the unfolding of the human spirit. That is its real power, if only you allow yourself to really leave your cocoon and embrace the inevitable change that will lead to a more beautiful you.

10102/9 Moo 3, Laem Set Road, Ma-Maung, Koh Samui, Suratthani 84140, Thailand

Kamalaya Photo Credit: Kamalaya


Ananda Photo Credit: Ananda


If there is one takeaway from spending time at Ananda (and there are many) it would be its location—adjacent to Rishikesh, the birthplace of yoga, along the sacred Ganges River, at the foothills of the Himalayas. As such, Ananda is one of—if not the most— authentic wellness destinations in the world for a comprehensive Ayurveda, yoga and Vedanta experience… with a dash of Western comfort sprinkled in. There are 10 dedicated programs available (as well as customized offerings), all of which start with an Ayurvedic consultation to determine your dosha. As expected, there are Ayurvedic elements in everything Ananda offers, but for sheer authenticity purposes, you might want to consider trying the Ayurvedic Rejuvenation or—naturally—the Yoga Program. While staying on a 100-acre Maharaja’s Palace Estate dotted with peacocks and monkeys, guests will experience treatments such as Shirodhara (lukewarm herbal oil poured on your third eye), Abhyanga (a traditional synchronized full-body massage), Pizhichil (an Ayurvedic oil bath) and Choornaswedena (a massage using herbal poultices); beauty treatments and a controlled dosha-specific diet are also part of the experience. The spa treatments are sensational, but to embrace the ethos of Ananda, guests should seek inner peace, whether it be through practices like Trataka (gazing on a candle flame), yoga or even a round of golf on the resort’s course, if that’s your particular way of disconnecting. Regardless of what your goal is or what program you choose, we have no doubt that you’ll leave this Indian palace feeling rejuvenated, recharged and ready to embrace everyday life again with fresh eyes, peace in your heart and a spring in your step. You just need to surrender to the spirit of Ananda. Namaste.

The Palace Estate, Narendra Nagar, Uttarakhand 249175, India

Ananda Photo Credit: Ananda


LefayPhoto Credit: Lefay


Lake Garda may not be the first place that comes to mind when looking for comparisons to the Orient, but it should be: Italy’s largest lake is home to Lefay, a Westernized wellness resort that employs Eastern practices. Get your ch’i—or “life force” energy—in balance by meeting with a naturopathic doctor upon arrival, who will prescribe a customized program of energy treatments to get your mind, body and soul back in alignment. These include Tuina massages, reflexology, moxibustion and acupuncture, as well as re-balancing activities like qigong and meridian stretching, all of which have been developed by associating the principles of classical Chinese medicine with Western techniques, which aim to reactivate the energy channels. The postcard-perfect resort—which overlooks Lago di Garda from a sub-Mediterranean perch liberally dotted with olive trees—will also help you reset. Whether you’re quietly gazing at the horizon from the majestic infinity pool or pounding the pavement outside on a running circuit, outside stresses will be sure to melt away. There are five saunas—including one made of olive tree wood—a hammam, heated whirlpool and thalassotherapy pool “La Luna nel Lago” where you’ll happily float in a cave-like environment; an ice pool and ice fountain; and—for those who relax in a different way—a top-notch fitness center. But Lefay’s most unique selling point, in our opinion, is its energy garden. Each of the five areas represents a different direction, season and period of life. Whether you’re practicing Tai Qi e Qigong in the southern-facing Red Phoenix—representing the culmination of energy, the summer, noon—or doing Yoga e Qigong in the western White Tiger—the start of gathering and meditation, autumn and sunset—we have no doubt you’ll walk away at peace.

Via Angelo Feltrinelli, 136, 25084 Gargnano BS, Italy

LefayPhoto Credit: Lefay


Aro HaPhoto Credit: Aro Ha


When you’re really and truly ready for a radical change, wouldn’t you go to the ends of the Earth to get it? If so, then book your first-class Air New Zealand flight to Queenstown—which, for most Americans, not only feels like the end of the Earth, but also, quite aptly, Middle Earth—Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” trilogy was filmed here, after all. When you finally arrive in the Tolkien-esque Glenorchy—35 minutes from Queenstown in New Zealand’s majestic Southern Alps—a sense of serenity will steal your breath away and possibly even bring you to tears. It’s as if the very landscape is saying, “Let the healing begin.” But know this: You’ll have to work for it. The au naturel Aro Hā —which is run almost entirely on solar and hydro energy—forces you out of your comfort zone, starting from sunrise Vinyasa flow yoga in an airy, light-filled studio with panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu, straight to a fatiguing sub-Alpine hike. Later in the day, you’ll get your fitness on again with TRX or Pilates. (Don’t worry, though: Restorative spa treatments are part of the program, too.) Caffeine is not available (tough love, baby!) and meals consist of hand-picked produce from the on-site organic garden, used to create predominantly plant-based and gluten-free fare. And if you were planning on a solitary exploration of self, that’s not going to happen, either: Aro Hā is all about human connection, which is why there are no more than 16 guests at a time. You’ll share an eco-chic common space with one other and are encouraged to get to know your neighbors. While interaction is strongly encouraged, it isn’t mandatory, so if bonding isn’t in your comfort wheelhouse, you can skip it (though we suspect that by week’s end, the experience might have just bonded you for life with 15 new friends). Founder Damian Chaparro of L.A.’s The Ashram has brought his SoCal yogi sensibility to the Southern Hemisphere in a wonderful way, urging guests to test themselves mentally and physically, to be the change they want to see in themselves. In the te reo language, “Aro Hā” means “in the presence of divine breath,” and you’ll truly find that here—you just have to remember to stop holding it and let go.

33 Station Valley Road, Wyuna, Glenorchy 9350, New Zealand

Aro HaPhoto Credit: Aro Ha


SHA Wellness Clinic Photo Credit: SHA Wellness Clinic


If you’re seeking self-improvement and want real results, SHA Wellness Clinic should be your go-to destination. Its location—tucked away in the Sierra Helada Mountains of Spain, with 360-degree views of the Mediterranean Sea—is a perfect place to let all that healing begin. The journey to a better you won’t be easy, but at least some gorgeous surroundings should keep you sane while you’re giving up caffeine and consuming 1,000 calories a day! This isn’t to say that you will, but you might (and you likely won’t even mind—the most limiting of diet plans actually requires you to eat like clockwork four times a day). After all, every program is different, tailored to each guest’s individual needs, be it detox, fitness, weight loss, sleep recovery or stress relief, in order to achieve a new way of living, focusing on improving your well-being with natural therapies, a customized fitness plan and a healthy diet. The treatments are as high-tech and as innovative as they come, with divisions that encompass revitalizing medicine; cognitive empowerment, with a special focus on identifying and treating Alzheimer’s; dental aesthetics; regenerative medicine and stem-cell research that both identify abnormalities in your blood for treatment of chronic degenerative, metabolic and autoimmune diseases, among others; aesthetic dermatology; and even capillary health for hair problems. The MediSpa-like offerings are top notch, as well: Radiesse, Restylane; plasma facials; Juvéderm; Botox; IPL; Ultherapy; Medical LEDs; Dual Fraxel lasers; Clear & Brilliant lasers; Thermage; Bio-stimulation; mesotherapy; and the icoone laser are all available to fountain-of-youth-seeking guests. And there’s more: Through SHA’s Healthy Living Academy, a slew of complimentary activities are available to all, including workshops, lectures, cooking classes, yoga, tai chi, chi kung, meditation and even laughter therapy… because that we can all agree is the most useful universal tool of all.

Carrer del Verderol, 5, 03581 L’Albir, Alicante, Spai

SHA Wellness ClinicPhoto Credit: SHA Wellness Clinic


Nihi Sumba Photo Credit: Jason Childs


When it comes to wellness retreats, the goal is always to feel good about yourself. Nihi Sumba, an island retreat near Bali, takes that self-love concept to a whole new level, by offering guests the chance to do something good for others as well as themselves. Visitors can experience the work that’s done by hotel founder and founder Chris Burch to improve health and education for Sumbanese locals through the Sumba Foundation (Burch covers all administrative and operating costs so that all donations made by guests can go directly to projects benefitting the community) during a daily tour that highlights the nonprofit’s ongoing efforts. And beyond that, of course, the aim of Nihi Sumba is to make you feel good about you. A dedicated yoga retreat wellness package includes a half-day “spa safari;” a visit to the nearby village; a clifftop breakfast and lunch; a choice of three spa treatments, from massages and reflexology to salt scrubs and mud wraps; water activities like snorkeling, paddle boarding and surfing; sunrise horseback rides; a picnic excursion to Rice Island; two private yoga experiences; and “Waves and Yoga,” a couple SUP yoga session on the water (think a more Baby and Johnny with much less dirty dancing). Who could possibly walk away from that kind of experience without feeling all of the self-love?

Sumba Island, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

Nihi SumbaPhoto Credit: Nihi Sumba


COMO Shambhala Photo Credit: COMO Shambhala


Head to the holistic Indonesian paradise that is COMO Shambhala Estate, just north of Ubud, high above the Ayung River in the Balinese jungle, for a total 360-degree wellness overhaul. Learn how to really live your best life—and once you’ve found it, how to sustain it in the real world. We can’t recommend the Cleanse program enough—which focuses on increasing energy levels, balancing hormones, improving digestion and helping to break cravings, like sugar or junk food addictions. Although it might sound painful, trust us—if you’re going to break bad habits, this is the place to do it. While abstaining from crappy comfort foods, you’ll be dining on award-winning, locally sourced, health-focused cuisine and sipping delicious juices, as prescribed by a naturopathic doctor. There are also plenty of wellness specific activities like Pilates, meditation, massages, hydrotherapy, nonsurgical anti-aging treatments, mud wraps, acupuncture and colonics, to keep you too busy to lament your lack of refined sugar and alcohol. Wellness doesn’t have to be hard work, and here, it really isn’t. Activities such as lazy river tours, Balinese-inspired cooking classes, white-water rafting and mountain biking are also on offer—all located on a 23-acre tropical property of such natural beauty that we’re confident you’ll walk away from this jungle paradise totally transformed.

Banjar Begawan, Desa Melinggih Kelod, Payangan, Ubud, Gianyar 80571, Bali, Indonesia

COMO Shambhala Photo Credit: COMO Shambhala


The Ranch Photo Credit: The Ranch


If you want real results, head to the hills—or rather, the Santa Monica Mountains—of Malibu, three miles above the Pacific Ocean, for a seven-day body reset that will not only see you shedding pounds but will leave you with a lighter mind, as well. But hear this now: You’re going to have to work for it. Your intimate group of 18 will be working out for eight hours a day— including hiking (you’ll do more than 60 miles of it on over 200 miles of trails), core and abs workouts, body toning and sculpting, meditation, weights and yoga—and eating a 1,400-calories-a-day organic, plant-based diet from The Ranch’s onsite, certified organic garden. This weeklong journey to a better body and stronger sense of self includes deep-tissue massages, pre and postprogram cholesterol testing, a body fat analysis, cryotherapy, infrared saunas and naps, which are totally essential to anyone seeking real peace of mind. Make sure to embrace the spirit of The Ranch by going all in: commit to the diet, commit to the exercise and try to disconnect from the outside world by relinquishing your cell phone. You might have to do so anyway: While this picture-perfect retreat features a plethora of amenities, cell phone reception is intentionally not one of them. Similarly, Wi-Fi is limited to in-room only, encouraging guests to not only be mindful, but to be fully present. Like the most of The Ranch’s strict, “no-options” programming, this alone is much more challenging than it seems.

12220 Cotharin Road, Malibu, CA 90265