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Singular Spa Spots

by Debra Bokur

Jan 1, 2020

Nikolai Sorokin | Dreamstime.com

Travel Tips

Whether your goal is romance, a girls- or guys-only getaway, or a solo healing journey, here are some unusual spa locales to inspire you.


The Huvafen Spa in the Maldives is part of the Huvafen Fushi luxury resort, but you won’t find it at the end of a winding corridor or in a garden. Instead, the spa offers two couple’s treatment rooms located underwater. You don’t need to grow gills to enjoy the experience: The glass-enclosed sanctuary provides a personal perspective on the reef environment and the resident clownfish, stingrays and sea anemones.


If that’s a little farther than your relaxation dial can turn, stay on terra firma and enjoy your massage, facial or Dhimaalis therapy outdoors in a private wooden pavilion surrounded by delicate, diaphanous curtains while tropic breezes brush across the surface of your skin. Over-the-water treatments rooms are also available.


For a Nordic experience at the opposite end of the tropical spectrum, the thriving brewery and artisan beer culture in Iceland takes on new significance at the Bjórböðin beer spa, where beer baths are offered as wellness therapies. Located in Árskógssandi, along the country’s newly introduced northern Arctic Coast Way tourist route, the spa includes seven bathing vats constructed from African Kambala wood, along with a single small house that can be rented as private accommodations — complete with views of nearby mountains, Hrísey island and Þorvalds Valley.


Thermal pool in Iceland. Photo: Péter Gudella | Dreamstime.com


The Bjórböðin beer spa has an on-site restaurant and bar, an outdoor sauna and two outdoor hot tubs handmade from Canadian cedar. Body care products are imported from the Czech Republic, including a full range of beer-infused soaps, oils, salts, lotions, gels, masks, shampoos and conditioners.


For a uniquely enriching spa experience, several properties around the world created spa spaces in former bank vaults. In Bristol, England, the Bristol Harbour Hotel & Spa provides guests with a heated pool, steam room, hydrotherapy pool, fitness area, full menu of holistic ESPA treatments and relaxation space in the 16th-century Georgian building’s former underground vaults, which still feature the massive, original vault doors.


Old bank vaults are also the basis for Arany Spa at the Park Hyatt Vienna in Austria. The word “arany” comes from the Hungarian word for gold, and the modern spa is a treasure trove of wellness spaces that include a wet area, sauna, aromatherapy steam bath, vitality showers, multiple relaxation areas and a large pool. In Italy’s capital city, the Aleph Rome Hotel placed its spa in the property’s former underground bank vault. Along with a workout area, the spa’s spaces include a gilded hammam, marble mosaics, a Finnish sauna, a thermal Jacuzzi and “emotional” showers with multiple settings.


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