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10 calming wellness retreats

Story highlights

  • Ananda, India: Renowned for its Ayurvedic healing programs, yoga and meditation.
  • Six Senses Zighy Bay, Oman: Located in the Musandam Peninsula, with mountains on one side, beach on the other.
  • Spa Eastman, Canada: One of the country's top spas, and affordable, too.

Ah, the 21st century. Too bad no one's figured out an antidote. Wait a minute, some places have.

At these wellness retreats and spas, you don't just detox your body, your mind and emotions get a vacation, as well.

1. Simply Healing, England

Ever been tempted to try a juice fast, but not the type who suffers privation easily?

Simply Healing specializes in personalized juice detox programs at Alliblaster House, a retreat located in a 19th-century Georgian mansion, less than two hours from London.

The ambiance is smart but far from formal. Therapeutic treatments are among the best you'll find in the UK, the juices are delicious and filling and staff are kind.

Founder Vivien Kay is a keen traveler, and rooms are scattered with art and curios from her adventures. Walks in the surrounding countryside are glorious, too.

Five-day Essential Juice Detox plan from US$1,950; +44 (0)1403 822117;

2. Ananda, India

High above the Ganges in the Himalayan foothills, this retreat is renowned for its Ayurvedic healing programs, yoga and meditation, daily vedanta (philosophy) classes, wellness packages and spa.

In Sanskrit, "ananda" means "bliss," and spa addicts worldwide rave about the magical qualities of the place -- the tranquil setting, crisp mountain air, lush scenery and view of the holy Ganges.

Clients are well catered for with excursions, safaris and whitewater rafting.

Five-night Wellness Experience package from US$600, per night; +91 1378 227500;

3. Longevity Wellness Resort, Portugal

Anti-aging experts are on hand to de-wrinkle your life at the Longevity Wellness Resort in the Algarve.

A combo resort and medical spa, Longevity Wellness Resort is located inside a nature reserve about 20 minutes and a world away from the touristy beach hub of the Algarve.

Nutrition, relaxation, beauty and anti-aging experts iron out the creases and you can take off for hikes in the hills, birdwatching trips and even excursions to swim with dolphins.

Themed retreats -- with titles like "Total Balance and Awareness" and "Personal Power" -- are also available.

Two-night Longevity Welcome Ritual from US$325; +351 282 240 110;

4. Six Senses Zighy Bay, Oman

How many spas can you paraglide into? Zighy Bay's Bond-ish arrival option ranks as one of the coolest on the planet.

But it's not all adrenaline-charged. The resort is geared toward relaxation and repose, with a dedicated spa.

Located in the Musandam Peninsula, with mountains to one side and beach on the other, one could hardly ask for a grander setting. Equally tantalizing are the three-, five- and seven-day detox, fitness, de-stressing and adventure programs (with customizable options).

Five-night Sense of De-stress retreat from US$4,573; +968 26735 555;

5. Fordoun, South Africa

Dr. Elliot Ndlovu is a Zulu spiritual healer and director of Fordoun, one of South Africa's top-rated spas. The family owned place is located on a former dairy farm in the hills of Kwazulu Natal province's Midlands and surrounded by a working cattle farm.

Its motto is "Ubuntu," a Zulu phrase that roughly translates as "treat others as you would like to be treated."

The indigenous-themed treatments, walks, birdwatching, trout fishing and ballooning are all restful activities, but the star attraction is a session with Ndlovu, who a few years back traveled to the Oscars in L.A. to give readings to a bevy of A-list stars.

Two-night stress relief package from US$289 per night, based on single occupancy; +27 (0) 33 266 6217;

6. Kamalaya, Thailand

Kamalaya's Sleep Enhancement Program offers a peaceful way to recharge.

Kamalaya consistently garners rapturous reviews. It's on the island of Koh Samui and built around a cave once inhabited by a Buddhist monk.

That pretty much sets the tone. There's an impressive roster of therapists and visiting experts, as well as three different 14-day wellness programs, including ones devoted to stress and burnout and sleep enhancement.

Yoga, pilates, meditation, a library, swimming pool and landscaped gardens provide more ways to find peace and quiet.

Five-night Sleep Enhancement program from US$1,876; +66 (0) 77 429 800;

7. Spa Eastman, Canada

In Quebec's Eastern Townships, an hour from Montreal, Spa Eastman is one of Canada's top spas and also one of its more affordable.

It's in a beautiful location, with unobstructed views of Mount Orford and some good hiking options. Aside from a selection of therapies, fitness offerings and guided walks, the spa specializes in "thermotherapy" with a Turkish bath and outdoor pools.

This is also one of the few spas to offer Watsu, a sort of warm water, balletic massage that is positively stupor-inducing.

Guests can attend lectures and workshops on the art of healthy living.

Two-night health and wellness immersion package from US$711; +1 (450) 297 3009;

8. Transformational Retreats, Costa Rica

These 10-day retreats in the hills above the Pacific coast, or at an eco-center deep in the jungle, are the only in the world that specialize in "neurofeedback."

The non-invasive therapy has been used with great effect to reduce anxiety and improve concentration, confidence and well being by monitoring brain activity in real time.

Those who've tried it believe it to be a hotline to the deep state of relaxed alertness one seeks through meditation and yoga. Perceptual shifts are a benefit, too.

The retreat also offers mentoring, yoga and meditation, hikes, fantastic fresh food, therapies, massage and the pristine silence of the rainforest.

Ten-day Be Brilliant retreat from US$7,200; +506 2787 4191;

9. Gaia Retreat and Spa, Australia

Hypnotherapy, sound healing, acupuncture and even tennis coaching are available at Gaia Spa in Australia.

Subtropical Byron Bay is home to this award-winning retreat and spa. Olivia Newton-John is one of its founders.

With just 19 bedrooms and views of the Pacific Ocean, it's a magnificent healing space.

The retreat attracts some of Australia's finest healers, therapists and fitness experts, and there's everything from hypnotherapy to sound healing, acupuncture and even tennis coaching alongside spa indulgence.

Stays are tailored for guests looking for a "personal, purpose driven retreat."

Two-night spa retreat special from US$1,186; +61 2 6687 1216;

10. Amangiri, United States

Rising from the desert like a movie hideaway, remote Amangiri has welcomed some starry guests, including, reportedly, the Jolie-Pitts.

Located in the dramatic Canyon Point area of southern Utah, the spa was designed to blend into its sand and rock-strewn surroundings. Local Navajo culture and healing therapies have influenced the spa menu, there's a flotation room, fitness center, yoga pavilion (for private and group classes) and some good trails on the vast property.

Iconic Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks are easily accessible.

From US$1,109 per night;

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