From taking the waters to taking a hike, Europe’s best health retreats have all bases covered.
Six Senses Douro Valley, Portugal
There’ll be no forgetting you’re in Portugal’s Douro Valley, one of the world’s oldest and prettiest wine regions, when you stay at this luxe outpost of renowned hotel operator Six Senses. The retreat embraces its location, offering grape- and citrus-based therapies in the beautifully appointed spa and outdoor activities such as guided hikes through the vineyards, mountain biking and contemplative ambles in the woods.
Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, Switzerland
The Swiss are spa experts and the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz is a case in point. More like a wellness ecosystem with two unique hotels plus Spa Suites, the property takes advantage of the naturally heated, mineral-rich waters of the alpine region around striking Tamina Gorge. There’s a thermal spa, medi-spa and a daily roster of activities that leave you with no time to lie idle (unless that’s part of the treatment).
Bringing Eastern traditions to the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park near Spain’s sublime southern coast, Shanti-Som is an obvious choice for a healing holiday. Offering Pilates and yoga retreats, detox and weight-loss programs and an Asian-Middle Eastern fusion menu, this deluxe spa with an arresting mountain backdrop will aid your transformation, inside and out. At Portugal’s Six Senses Douro Valley (below), reward yourself with a spa treatment après hiking and wine tasting.
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Lanserhof Tegernsee, Germany
Consider Lanserhof to be the supergroup of Germany’s retreat scene and this resort in Tegernsee, in the Bavarian Alps, its breakout star. Leading the field in medi-spa treatments, its holistic combination of natural healing, psychology and cuttingedge medicine informs each personalised program. Away from the high-tech clinical areas, the stunning alpine setting offers its own attractions, including an open-air pool positioned to soak up the views and walking paths through the magnificent landscape.
Euphoria Retreat, Greece
A Zen-like wellness hideaway in a pine forest behind the 13th-century town of Mystras, the aptly named Euphoria Retreat is at the forefront of medi-spa practice. A pinprick blood test is taken on arrival and analysed for biomarkers to tailor your diet and exercise schedule. The futuristic indoor-outdoor hydrotherapy pool is the hub of the four-level spa, which is built into the mountainside and also has a cold plunge pool and Finnish sauna. Delving into the surrounding ranges in the Peloponnese is a picturesque way to combine performance and pleasure.
Adler Spa Resort Thermae, Italy
South-east of Siena, in a part of Tuscany where ancient thermal springs have drawn qantas.com/travelinsider 143 Alexander Haiden health seekers since the Etruscans, this resort spa offers immersion in naturally heated waters. Take a dip in the former travertine quarry or a steam bath in the atmospheric grotto, eat as boldly or as barely as you like at the in-house restaurant (the menu swings from hearty Tuscan dishes to a calorie-restricted “longevity diet”) and balance your wellness Yin with the Yang of tastings at the area’s renowned wineries.
Domaine La Butte Aux Bois, Belgium
Few retreats have their own two-Michelinstarred restaurant but this luxury bolthole in Belgium’s Lanaken district is no ordinary escape. A historic country estate on the edge of Hoge Kempen National Park, it combines the best of indoor and outdoor pursuits. Jogging on forest trails and boot camps with a personal trainer are eased with massages and mud treatments on the quartz sand spa table and gentle yoga classes. Restaurant La Source is the reward for all that exertion.
Spa Marin Du Val André Thalasso Resort, France
With the wonders of northern Brittany on its doorstep, this thalassotherapy retreat is all about the life aquatic. Situated near 2.5-kilometrelong Val André Beach, it flaunts a marine spa that has an enormous heated hydro-active seawater pool with an aquatic fitness course, underwater jets and geysers, plus aquabeds for rest and recuperation. Just add two steam rooms and a cardio room where you can enjoy water views while you sweat.
Befitting its middle-of-the-Mediterranean location on the quiet island of Gozo, just off Malta, Amchara promises plenty of sunshine to go with its strict fasting regimen. Not for the faint-hearted, the agenda encourages juice fasts and detoxing along with yoga and meditation. If liquid lunches and boot camp sound too intense, there’s the option of a tailored menu based on the raw, vegan and Paleo approaches and a pool designed for lounging.
The Retreat at Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Iceland’s Blue Lagoon – a milky-blue pool of geothermally heated water surrounded by moss-covered lava fields – at last has the resort it deserves. Opened last year, The Retreat makes the most of its locale with in-water massages and a subterranean spa, where treatments use ingredients such as seawater, silica and algae. The sophisticated suites embrace the landscape, including rooms with direct access to the lagoon.