Destinations: The World’s Best Spa Resorts

Vacations are no longer about margarita benders and all-you-can-eat buffets. Now, wellness-based retreats have taken over our travel pastimes. Here are five of the world’s best spa resorts where you can reap the benefits. 

By Jenna Scatena


Koh Samui, Thailand 

This tropical resort on Thailand’s gorgeous Koh Samui island was named 2017’s “Worldwide Health & Wellness Destination of the Year” by the World Spa & Wellness Awards and “Spa Cuisine of the Year” by the AsiaSpa Awards. It earned these titles not just for its setting (it was built around a centuries-old cave once used by Buddhist monks as a meditative retreat), but for its integrative wellness approach, which pulls inspiration from various traditions, including Chinese medicine, naturopathic wellness and ayurveda therapies. Emotional guidance mentors and life-enhancement retreats round out the offerings.

Go: Avoid the rainy seasons in November and April.

Spa Pick: Don’t miss the Chi Nei Tsang, a traditional Taoist abdominal massage. Based on the theory that the “gut” is a “second brain,” it promotes circulation and the health of internal organs while releasing stress from the nervous system. Pair it with time in the Om Steam Cavern and plunge pools, then hit the Elixir Bar.

Play: Connecting with nature is an essential part of a trip to Kamalaya. Take it all in by taking an outdoor yoga class.

Eat: Soma Restaurant (soma is Sanskrit for “food of the gods”) has a food-as-medicine philosophy, avoiding sugar, salt and dairy and instead focusing on herbs and spices with medicinal properties. Enjoy healthy dishes while admiring spectacular views of the coast and outlying islands.

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