We are all about a restorative deep-tissue, muscle-melting massage, and who doesn’t love a glowy facial. But when it comes to full-on, multi-day, detox and complete mind-body-soul reset — these are our go-to global wellness spas.
We Care Spa, Desert Hot Springs, California
When I came to this desert-chic spa (the first time), I was weary. Days before my arrival, I had eliminated caffeine, dairy, sugar, animal fat, and alcohol as part of my pre-detox detox. The mantra here is detox via loads of alkalized lemon water, teas, juices, and broths — solid food isn’t served at this coveted Hollywood-style liquid-nutrition spa. To complement the detoxification process, there is an infrared sauna, digestive release massage, dry body brushing, and colonics — a cleansing like no other left me begging for ‘just one last treatment’ on the day of my departure.
Set deep in the Mojave desert (not far from Palm Springs), We Care is the place A-listers —Heidi Klum, Gisele Bundchen, Cameron Diaz, Liv Tyler, and Molly Sims, among others — regularly indulge in a wellness overhaul, especially during Awards season. The spa is the vision of Argentinian Susana Lombardi Belen, who opened it in 1986 following a divorce, as a means of raising her four children. Her adult daughter, Susan, now continues her mother’s work, recently updating the spa’s aesthetic — minimalist spacious suites, in black, gray, brown hues come with terraces overlooking the desert and clever custom circadian light fixtures to help reset internal clocks.
Most guests check-in for the week-long program, but shorter-stay options are available. Guests, on average, report a one to three-pound weight loss (per day), along with brighter (or in my case, bluer) eyes, clearer skin, and mind. We love the one-of-a-kind departure gift: a ‘check-out’ salad, with instruction (and pre-departure sessions) on how to transition safely back to solid food.
Six Senses Yao Nai Spa Village, Thailand
The view alone — of Phang Nga Bay — is worth the trip to this exotic spa, just a 30-minute speedboat ride from Phuket. Surrounded by forest and deserted beach, Six Senses Yao Noi Spa Village offers all of the heavenly treatments you associate with Thailand — traditional Thai massage and Thai Herbal massage using warm poultices of plai, ginger, turmeric, and lemongrass. But it’s the three-day, customized detox programs that truly reset your soul.
Barefoot chic at its most relaxing, this dreamy spa village features a traditional Thai-inspired longhouse with individual treatment spaces set into the lush tropical hillside. Sample the juice bar, enjoy the sauna and steam, practice yoga and meditation in the open-air pavilion and mix healing herbs and oils into body scrubs at the alchemy bar.
Opt for the spa’s three-day Puriti Detox, combining customized spa treatments with healthy, organic meals, cleansing juices, Thai herbal supplements, fitness, and yoga. For a more intense detox, continue with the three-day Yoga Immersion that includes private yoga instruction, aerial yoga, chakra meditation, and of course, Thai massage.
SHA Wellness Clinic, Spain
Health is front and center at this world-renowned medical spa set on Spain’s southeastern coast. SHA Wellness Clinic was born from the owner’s personal discovery that diet, natural therapies, and advances in western medicine helped him recover from illness. The spa is widely celebrated for its detoxing macrobiotic menu (grains, fresh and pickled vegetables, legumes, and seaweed), and targeted programming for sleep disorders, smoking cessation, weight loss, and cognition-focused plans.
Overlooking the Balearic Sea in El Abir, a quiet seaside town, the Sha Wellness Clinic — with its all-white, modernist buildings, sparkling pool, lush shrubs, and swaying palms — has all the makings of an idyllic escape. But the spa is minimalist for a reason, people come here to start their lives anew and with a clean slate. The 93 suites (we highly recommend a sea view) are stunning, and conducive for healing, with their cleansing all-white decor and pops of black simplicity. When not in treatments, bliss out in the 28-station hydrotherapy circuit that includes Roman and Turkish baths, bi-thermal showers, therapeutic water jets, and saunas.
Most programs last a week and target specific health needs, but there are variations. The 2 – 4-day programs offer a tasting menu of the spa’s signature treatments (including nutrition consultation, massage, and aqua therapy) while the 7 – 14-day programs are individually tailored and personalized toward a specific health outcome. SHA is continuously rolling out new scientific advancements and soon, new locations with SHA Mexico and SHA Emirates in the works for 2023.
Gwinganna Wellness Resort, Queensland, Australia
Australia is open for travel and for those looking not only to return to the magical land Down Under but to also reboot should head to the nature-filled, restorative Gwinganna Wellness Resort in southeast Queensland’s low-key Tallebudgera Valley. Owned by beloved Aussie actor Hugh Jackman, Gwinganna is a haven of health, fitness, and spiritual masters. Word is that the actor’s first visit to the resort was so transformative, he bought a stake in it. Forewarning — the resort’s program is hardcore. Mornings start at 5:30 a.m. with Qi Gong and no coffee. Caffeine, sugar, and alcohol are no-no’s here; it’s all about resetting the body.
Set on a hilltop in a lush valley, hidden away from Australia’s Gold Coast, it’s a true sanctuary. Suites come with cozy robes and herbal tea with kettles, while the elevated Boorabee villas, contemporary and light, have floor-to-ceiling windows and private plunge pools. While mornings are intense and focused on movement (uphill jogging, dance); afternoons are all about spa treatments (organic facials, massage, reflexology). We love the 16 lush walking trails; take a guided walk with the resident botanist, and keep an eye out for koalas.
No sugar, no caffeine, and no fluff-and-buff. Workouts are as intense as the program offerings. Among the most life-changing: the spa’s DNA test. A DNA saliva sample (submitted before arrival for lab analysis) focuses on 58 genes as they relate to inflammation, cell defense, vitamin D receptors, metabolism, cardiovascular health, fat metabolism, cholesterol, and the philosophy that a healthy lifestyle and organic diet (meals are made from ingredients grown in the onsite garden) are the keys to transformation.