Whether you book a day at the spa or plan to spend your entire holiday being pummeled and pampered, PASSPORT has left no hot stone unturned or therapy untried, to bring you our favorite spas from around the globe. When planning your next delightfully indulgent getaway, you’re sure to find the treatment of your dreams at one of these exceptional locations. Whether it’s a couple’s massage, mud bath, or seaweed facial, the astounding array of international spas covered here are sure to provide you with just what you need to relax and revitalize.
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA
As Beverly Hills spas compete for greater size and over-the-top luxury, there is a tiny jewel in the crown of LA spas that’s outshining them all. Tomoko Japanese spa is so understated you could easily miss the entrance on bustling Beverly Drive, but I knew it was special the moment I stepped inside. The receptionist smiled warmly, greeted me by name and suggested I slip into their traditional Japanese sandals, adding with a whisper “Don’t worry about your shoes, we’ll take care of everything.” She led me to a comfortable lounge where I sat by the fireplace while she served tea, lemon water, and impeccably placed chocolates. A few minutes later my therapist escorted me to a large private suite with massage bed, sitting area. and shower. I sipped tea during the 15-minute detox foot soak and reflexology massage which begins every treatment, then moved to the table for the Tomoko massage, which included elements of Swedish and Thai Massage plus stretching (60 min/$240 + 15 minute foot soak). Afterward, the therapist suggested I shower and relax in the suite, before heading back to the lounge, where the bliss continued with ginger tea, cold peppermint water, a Thai coconut-jelly skewer, and the creamiest mochi I’ve ever tasted. Every single design element has been considered, down to the tiny embedded light in the check presenter, which illuminated when I opened it so I could read the bill in the dimly lit room. There are only four large suites and no shared locker room, so at no point during my visit did I ever come into contact with another client, which is probably why this place is a celebrity fave. They also offer a series of couples’ massages starting at $740 for two, and even the option to have sushi from nearby Sugarfish waiting for you after your treatment. Every spa manager in LA should send their staff here for a treatment, because Tomoko is the best of the best—a master class in how to deliver a luxury spa experience.
RANCHO LA PUERTA
Founded in 1940, Rancho La Puerta in Mexico, just a 15-minute drive from the San Diego border, was one of the first wellness resorts in the world, having lured vacationers to the beautiful landscapes of Baja, California for decades. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the resort transformed into a luxurious sanctuary, but one thing remained the same: the leftist, bohemian “hippie” sensibility is clearly evident with the types of visitors, the beatnik-minded staff, and the holistic and spirituality- focused treatments. Here, it’s more about discovering your self-identity in the purest form of the free spirit, with emphasis on well-being, gratitude, and nature, taking mind, body, and spirit to the next level. In fact, visitors may even ponder deep thoughts like “why do we exist,” and “what’s the meaning of the universe,” considering the vibes and tons of “me” time. In fact, with the resort’s sprawling a 3,000 acres, it’s easy to immerse in the beautifully landscaped gardens and connect with nature without seeing another soul (83 rooms allows only 140 guests at a time). Transformative experiences are within the number of activities, from wellness classes and lectures to the spa and several outdoor saltwater pools, hiking through unspoiled landscape, attending workshop or fitness classes, or relishing in the home-cooked, health-minded meals with ingredients plucked straight from their on-site garden. Rancho La Puerta even tailors to men with male-specific spa treatments, classes like circuit training, trail running, and fitness and ropes courses. “The magic of the Ranch is that no matter who you are or why you choose to come, you seem to find what you are looking for,” says openly gay Barry Shingle, director of guest activities and fitness. “There is a sense of acceptance and support no matter what your life circumstances may be. I meet gay and lesbian guests almost weekly at the Ranch. So many gay and lesbian guests have come from places that they don’t feel accepted, so it’s important for them to feel that they are included just as all other guests are…their sexuality is a non-issue.” Rates in a Ranchera (double) from $3,250 for seven-nights program (shorter stays are available). Carretera Tecate-Tijuana, Tecate, BC Mexico. Tel: 800-443-7565.
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