women

The spa with everything

Want it all, plus extras? Ellie Mitchell is bedazzled in Switzerland

Just three hours after leaving London City Airport, I pull up to the five-star Grand Resort Bad Ragaz in eastern Switzerland. The hotel is so fantastically luxe that I even get my own butler. She shows me to my suite and I try to contain my excitement as her white-gloved hands demonstrate the floor-to-ceiling glass doors that slide open to my huge balcony. I don’t know what to try first: shall I relax in the whirlpool bath while channel-surfing on my plasma TV or enjoy a herbal steam in my shower room? I’m here to spa in the heated mineral waters that spring from the Tamina Gorge. Centuries-old, the Bad Ragaz resort now comprises a network of high-end hotels, restaurants, sports facilities and a medical centre that offers health check-ups, weight-loss programmes and burn-out treatments. And it’s all based around a series of pools that use the 36.5oC spa water.

So I head out to explore the Tamina Therme ‘wellbeing oasis’. I can’t believe my eyes when I see it – it is an oasis, with different temperature pools, treatment rooms and a restaurant serving healthy food. Why would you ever need to leave? Sitting in the outdoor Jacuzzi, I think it really doesn’t get much better than this – and the water’s healing properties are a bonus.

Not surprisingly, I rise the next day feeling refreshed. At breakfast, I sip my carrot juice before it’s time to head to the treatment rooms. My therapist declares that my skin requires a Sisley facial rather than the resort’s own range of products, ToB. She takes her time, and the result is pure heaven. But I still have so much more to do; there’s aqua-aerobics, Nordic walking, Zumba, Pilates, a gym…

As I read in a relaxation ‘Napshell’ pod (like those power-nap pods, but more cocooning). I wonder if I’m daring enough to go full frontal in the Saunaworld, with its Swarovski crytal steam room and ice cave. It’s a struggle, but I can’t resist the glitz…

The resort’s not all dabbling about in water, though. There’s a great selection of restaurants – from the cosy Swiss Zollstrube restaurant to Asian via the Mediterranean. And as I enjoy my typical Swiss salmon and pumpkin dinner, I’m already planning my next visit.

The all-action spa

Fancy putting a Mexican spin on your pampering? Rachel Wood savours two very different spas.

My daily routine takes me to the gym before word most mornings, followed by a busy day in the office and a social event most evenings. As such, I rarely get the chance for me-time. I’ve always prided myself on thriving on stress, but after an especially busy few months, I’m starting to crave a less frenetic pace.

As a spa holiday novice, though, I’m a little apprehensive a bout all the lying about. How am I going to cope with the inactivity? But from the moment I arrive at Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Los Cabos, at the tip of Mexico’s Baja peninsula, it’s clear I have nothing to worry about.

Las Ventanas is much more than a spa holiday, and I’m soon writing a mental to-do list, thanks to the huge number of activities on offer, from sports and fitness to yacht excursions and desert trips. I sign up for a cookery demo held in the herb garden by head chef Fabrice Guisset and am knocking up some impressive spice tacos in no time. Of course, I factor in some relaxation, too, courtesy of the recently opened spa, which offers a full range of holistic treatments inspired by the ancient healers of Baja, who use the four elements (earth, fire, water and air) as the foundation for their techniques and treatments. First I sign up for a Sal De Mar facial for the body, then try out another new addition to the spa menu: ‘The Rosewood Complete Facial. It’s heavenly, and leaves my skin looking radiant.

Even mealtimes offer opportunities for action with a choice of restaurants, each offering something totally different, from Baja-Med fusion to sushi.

To mix things up, I swap the beach for the rainforest for my last few nights in Mexico, decamping to the other side of the country to Fairmont Mayakaba Riviera Maya Resort. About 40 miles south of Cancun, the resort is set in 47 acres of indigenous jungle. Now a convert to horizontal pampering, I quickly book the Ocean Dreams Aromatherapy Facial at the Willow Stream Spa, which uses a pineapple enzyme peel and a healing bark extract, to leave my skin feeling renewed.

My verdict on spas? This de-stressing business certainly seems to work – I’m so switched off I can barely remember why I was always so busy…

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