8 wellness resorts that are redefining luxury self-care

Venture far from the madding crowd at one of these peaceful wellness retreats, which promise a mix of meditative moments and hi-tech treatments.

Harper's Bazaar India

Discover exclusive havens where serene surroundings meet state-of-the-art wellness therapies. These retreats offer an escape into a world of meditative calm and cutting-edge care, blending tradition with technology for an unparalleled experience. Step into these sanctuaries of luxury and let us guide you through the ultimate self-care journey, where every detail is tailored for your well-being.

Palazzo Fiuggi, Best For A Holistic Health Check

Leading a healthier lifestyle requires a multi-pronged approach, realigning and balancing the body and brain. The week-long Complete Life Rewind programme at Palazzo Fiuggi—a beautiful building set within expansive private grounds overlooking the mediaeval Italian spa town of Fiuggi—combines a multitude of tests, treatments, and therapies to achieve just that.

A day might start with a thalassotherapy bathing ritual (wallowing in a magnesium- and salt-filled pool to draw toxins out), followed by a rigorous personal-training session, with time for some Ayurvedic therapy later on. Another could include colon hydrotherapy, a vitamin- filled IV drip and an aromatherapy massage. And with the help of the team’s expert aesthetic surgeon Dr Regina Fortunato, you can take advantage of innovative treatments and tweakments, including skin-boosting injectables and fillers.

You will be served tailor-made, nutritionally balanced menus throughout your stay—but rest assured that, unless weight loss is a goal, there are no broth-based, hunger-inducing meal plans. Perhaps surprisingly for a wellness destination, one of the biggest draws for guests is the food, served in the opulent, chandelier-lit dining-room, since every dish—and there are more than 1,000 in the hotel’s recipe book—is conceived by the garlanded German chef Heinz Beck. “We don’t want guests to feel like they’re at a clinic,” insists the lead physician Professor David Della Morte Canosci. “It’s a holiday, after all.” 

Eleven Deplar Farm, Best For An Energy Reboot

When heading to cold climates, the temptation is to hole up in a cosy corner with a box of chocolates rather than doing vigorous exercise outside. Eleven Life’s new Live Well Retreat at Eleven Deplar Farm has a counterintuitive approach, flying a select group of guests to the darkest reaches of Iceland for a taste of ‘sensory-driven’ Nordic adventure. “The time of year is very important in connecting people to place, and to themselves,” explains Hannah Smith, the head of product development at Eleven.

The retreat is centred around four pillars of health: movement, breath, nourishment, and connection. First on your agenda might be a yoga class, before you set off on horseback or cross-country skis to explore the Troll Peninsula, breaking for a lakeside lunch. (Deprivation is not on the menu: the delicious food is locally sourced, while the in-house chef, Gardar Gardarsson, was named Iceland’s finest in 2018.) The afternoon might see you undergo a Viking sauna ritual—which takes place on a hillock believed to be inhabited by elves—or a Tata Harper treatment in the 10,000-square-foot spa while, after a sea-to-table supper, a sound-healing session or a sleep-focused meditation class will prepare you for restorative slumber.

A former sheep farm, Deplar has been transformed into an oasis of pure luxury. The 13 bedrooms are furnished in a simple yet cosily elegant style—think open fires, hardwood furniture, and underfloor heating in the bathrooms—while huge windows offer glorious views.

There’s a media room to relax in, but the spa is the crowning glory. Alongside the sauna, steam-room, hot tubs, flotation tanks and treatment rooms, it is home to a geothermally heated indoor/outdoor pool with a swim-up bar. Sitting in the water, surrounded by clouds of steam while watching the Northern Lights glittering overhead, is a soul-nourishing experience guaranteed to reawaken the joy of living.

“People always want a quick fix,” explains Smith. “But this is about making little changes that have a big impact and long-term effects.” 

Lanserhof, Best For a Medical M.O.T.

The name Lanserhof has always been synonymous with medical excellence, and its newest outpost, a futuristic-looking building on the island of Sylt in northern Germany, has surpassed even its own high standards. Offering more medical services than any other wellness hotel (it has 10 full-time doctors and a further 32 specialists on its books), the 50,000-square- foot medical centre has been designed to help guests achieve optimum health. “The people who come here aren’t necessarily ill by definition,” says the group’s chief marketing officer Nils Behrens, “but they might have health problems like migraines, back pain, skin issues or digestive struggles.” On a health scale of one to 10, most people put themselves at a five to seven,” he says. “We want to get you as close to a 10 as possible.”


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You’ll meet with specialists ranging from dermatologists to psychotherapists, and undergo assessments using hi-tech equipment such as a full-body A.I. scanner with 96 cameras. The goal is to combine medical treatments with natural solutions to cure the source, not just the symptoms of any ailments. Essential to this are good nutrition and supplementing, breathwork, mindfulness and alternative therapies including acupuncture and craniosacral therapy (a gentle but effective upper-body treatment to remove energy blockages). There’s even a shaman available to guide you through a fire ritual. It might sound a bit woo-woo, but nothing at Lanserhof is for show: it’s about drawing on all possible resources to get you back to better health—and, hopefully, send you home feeling like a perfect 10. 

Clinique La Prairie, Best For a Mind and Body Reboot

If one chooses to undergo a life transformation—with all the dark moments of the soul that entails—there’s no lovelier place to do it than Clinique La Prairie, nestled beside the picture-postcard Swiss town of Montreux. Founded in 1931, the clinic has a reputation as the world’s most exclusive health destination, with just 38 rooms and the discreet ambience of a grand old hotel. It’s the original medi- spa, built on pillars of evidence-based medicine, wellness, nutrition, and movement.

These have been refined over time—the menu now is mostly vegan and award-worthy (no starvation here!), while the revitalisation programme, which once involved foetal-lamb-liver injections, is about genetic testing and stem-cell therapy. It’s down to the dynamic CEO, Simone Gibertoni, who is leading a modernisation process that includes a range of ultra-luxe ‘longevity supplements’ to bring health home. A seven-day stay resulted in a seven-kilo weight loss and a miraculous shift in mindset. 

The Kusnacht Practice, Best For Rebalancing

At this super-exclusive treatment centre set in the serene Swiss landscape, scientific excellence is paired with first-class hospitality. With only 12 villas (one per guest) and some 90 professionals to cater for your needs—from doctors to chefs and personal trainers—you’d be hard-pressed to find somewhere where your wellness experience will be more personalised and thorough.

Kusnacht’s Bio-R programme focuses on biomolecular restoration: the recalibration of your body, mind and energy through science. Bone density, muscle health, genetics, brain age, and an extensive psychiatric evaluation are all taken into consideration when proposing treatments, the goal of which isn’t necessarily to cure a specific ailment, but to achieve peak physical and mental health.

Tailored supplementation, hyperbaric chambers, X-rays, and ultrasound scans are just a few of the services available to the practice’s ultra-high-net-worth clients (who include CEOs and entrepreneurs, royalty and billionaires) as part of a comprehensive but constantly adjusted plan. A stay at Kusnacht—from one week, though many choose to stay for six or more—is a big investment, but one that is bound to repay itself; after all, you can’t put a price on your health.

Buchinger Wilhelmi, Best For Mindful Consumption

Situated by the northern shores of Lake Constance in Germany, Buchinger Wilhelmi is known as one of the world’s leading clinics for therapeutic fasting. The property, which has just celebrated its centenary with a full renovation, is now under the leadership of Leo Wilhelmi, the great-grandson of its founder, Dr Otto Buchinger.

Days begin with tea in bed, followed by checks on blood pressure, weight and blood-sugar levels with one of the programme’s seven doctors. An optional meditation session could be followed by swims in the heated outdoor pool, Nordic walking, yoga, qi gong, t’ai chi, dance and art classes, or spa treatments.

Mindful fasting is at the heart of the plan, but there is also a focus on understanding the balance between exercise and rest, hunger and repletion, inspiration and relaxation. As Wilhelmi puts it: “While the body fasts, the mind and soul need to be nourished.” 

The Cullinan Assessment, Best For Hormonal Health

Launched at a time when there is renewed attention on the gender-health gap, the Cullinan Assessment is aimed at women at the perimenopause and menopause stages of life. Curated by the Harley Street clinic Echelon Health, the four-hour programme includes a blood test that examines hormone levels related to the female cycle, a digital mammogram, an ultrasound of the ovaries and the uterus, CT scans for coronary angiogram, bone densitometry and a mole check.

The preventive screening is designed to detect symptoms of lung, breast and ovarian cancers, osteoporosis and coronary heart disease. Following the consultation, as part of the wellness experience, clients can enjoy a CBD-oil deep-relaxation massage and a stay at the Mandarin Oriental, London.

Vivamayr, Best For Detoxing

Gut health is all the rage now, promoted by scientists as the secret to weight management and a longer life. The forefather of this belief was Franz Xaver Mayr, an Austrian doctor who concluded that the intestine was at the core of physical and mental health, and preached a set of common-sense eating habits, including chewing slowly and mindfully as an aid to digestion. Mayr’s teachings remain the guiding principles at the health resorts named after him, including Vivamayr Maria Wörth, on the shores of Austria’s Lake Wörthersee. Upon arrival, a consultation with Dr Zancolo results in a tailored regime for the rest of the stay, combining individual treatments with group activities such as stretching, yoga, and aqua gym.

Different therapies address bad habits; I had a session on breathing and posture given by a former opera singer, and another on circadian rhythms, which explains why when you eat is as important as what it is. There can be a bit of hardship involved, especially in the detox phase (I found giving up caffeine particularly challenging), but the beautiful landscape, absorbing treatments, and kindly staff combine to miraculous effect, leaving even the most stressed-out guest feeling refreshed and revived. 

This article was featured in Harper’s Bazaar Arabia’s October 2023 issue.