Burnt out from the everyday grind, more and more travelers are now choosing wellness getaways over a vacation by the pool, cocktail in hand. And they’re willing to cross borders and fly halfway around the world to unwind.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. In the international destination spas category, readers rated properties on their accommodations and facilities, treatments, service, food, and overall value.
Related: The 2018 World's Best Awards
Founded in 1940, Rancho La Puerta was one of the first resorts Americans turned to for wellness. With its miles of hiking trails, this retreat, set on 4,000 acres in Baja California, Mexico, continues to be a hit with T+L readers. One fan had been an astounding eight times. Another praised the “quality of the classes,” which include drumming and pool Pilates, and the desert setting as “gorgeous and tranquil.”
Some travelers are willing to go even farther for rejuvenation, all the way to Bali’s COMO Shambhala Estate, a resort set high in the hills near Ubud. The 30-room property is renowned for its detox weeks, Balinese massages, and menus that emphasize clean eating: think flaked salmon with cauliflower, or spelt-flour tortillas with spiced chicken. The BodyHoliday, on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, also focuses on healthful eating, and recently unveiled a new vegan, farm-to-table dinner experience based upon the Ital-Rastafarian diet.
But the No. 1 international destination spa this year is in Europe — in the gorgeous Bavarian Alps. A repeat winner from 2017, Schloss Elmau Luxury Spa & Cultural Hideaway has four spas, including one that caters to children, in addition to six restaurants, a concert hall, and thoughtful cultural programming. Read on for more on this resort, and see how the rest of the winners ranked.