From ancient ceremonies hosted in the Amazon rainforest to the futuristic, oxygen-fuelled endurance training in Italy, wellness treatments can extend far beyond the shiatsu massage at your local spa. It comes as no surprise that those looking for the secrets to health, youth and happiness are ready to embrace the world’s most powerful therapies – no matter how eccentric the experience may be.
The team at Health Travel are always on the lookout for the world’s leading therapies across the globe, including ancient healing techniques and groundbreaking wellness technology. From braving sub-zero temperatures in Sweden to harvesting stem cells for anti-ageing benefits in Switzerland, here are 10 of the most unique spa treatments for your next wellness retreat.
1. Experience a Tree Circle Ceremony in the Dolomites
Among the fragrant pine trees and craggy mountaintops of the Dolomites, FORESTIS taps into the healing powers of nature through mystical rituals. Unlike the traditional spa hotel, nature-infused wellness therapies takes new heights, calling upon the most curious travellers to rebalance the conscious and unconscious mind through energy and frequency.
Unknown to many, tree circle ceremonies stem from Celtic culture, which originated across Europe, including northern Italy. Spruce, larch, stone pine or mountain pine is selected by the participants through intuition, instinctively aligning with your personal wellness needs. With the chosen wood and healing stones, wrapping techniques are used to cleanse the body and reactivate the body’s own energy. We like to think of this unique ritual as a massage for the soul.
2. Virtual reality meets fitness training in the Italian countryside
Fast forward to the future with Icaros, a virtual reality fitness machine developed by leading sports scientists, software developers, and engineers. This innovative piece of kit is designed to enrich exercise through gamification, allowing you to play everything from space battles, to hunting down prey as a velociraptor. It helps to improve reflexes and coordination, and train different muscle groups, allowing you to improve fitness with thrilling entertainment.
Experience Icaros for yourself at the cutting edge medical spa, Palazzo Fiuggi. Deep in the Italian countryside overlooking the charming old town of Fiuggi, this grand old hotel is steeped in history, but its programmes are anything but old fashioned. This cutting edge medical spa draws on the latest in diagnostics and medical research to create effective treatments with lasting results.
3. Sweat it out with a Temazcal Ceremony in Mexico
This centuries old ritual has been reintroduced to the modern-day traveller at Mexico’s luxury wellness hotels. Palmaïa’s Shaman led ceremonies on the picturesque Riviera Maya are an ideal introduction to this ancient, mindful practice. Taking place in an igloo-shaped sweat lodge, water is poured over hot volcanic rocks mixed with herbs to produce a cleansing, aromatic steam. A traditional Mayan shaman guides participants through a ceremony of gratitude and rebirth for a deeply physical, mental and spiritual detoxifying cleanse.
Physically, Temazcal ceremonies help to detoxify the body, and support weight loss and better circulation, while mentally, they’re comparable to meditation, bringing and sense of balance and rejuvenation.
4. Open your heart to a cacao ceremony in Peru
Now recognised as a superfood, cacao and its nourishing properties have been used by Mesoamerican civilisations for centuries. Now, you too can experience the spiritual awakening and sense of meditation induced by the traditional ritual of a cacao ceremony. Embracing the essence of Peru, Delfin Amazon Cruises take you on a journey of culture, nature and spiritual connection down the Amazon river, where spectacular wildlife and unforgettable moments await.
The ritual of cacao begins by sharing the drink as a group, forging a sense of connection and community, before moving on to a group experience such as guided meditation, dance, or a sound bath. Aside from the nutritional benefits of cacao, sharing this intimate ritual in a sacred space can help you gain clarity, new perspectives and inspiration.
5. The wonder of beauty stem cells in Switzerland
Switzerland is renowned as the home of medical spas, and Clinique La Prairie is the shining jewel in its health clinic crown. This state-of-the-art resort boasts the groundbreaking Beauty Stem Cells treatment, a rejuvenating process designed to turn back the clock and grant you a more youthful appearance.
The primary function of stem cells in the body is to repair damaged tissue, and this regenerative property has already been applied to the treatment of various diseases. Clinique La Prairie’s pioneering treatment harvests your stem cells and uses them to rejuvenate and repair your skin. Wrinkles and other signs of ageing are eliminated while you relax in luxury with stunning lake and mountain views. Oh, and you can store them in the bio-bank for up to 30 years – proving that you really can have beauty in a bottle.
6. Harness the power of the moon in the Caribbean
The moon’s effect on health and emotions within the lunar cycle is widely known, but its transformative powers extend to more than just folklore. On the picturesque, golden sand beaches of Amanera in the Dominican Republic, Lunar Healing therapy seeks to educate and empower.
This unique experience uses larimar, a rare blue gemstone with close links to the phases of the moon. The chakra balancing properties of larimar are paired with a traditional Dominican ritual featuring the aromatic smoke of sacred wood to promote physical and emotional healing. The experience is fully guided, as you discover how lunar forces govern physical and emotional healing to fully embrace the power of the moon to your advantage.
7. Detoxify the body in a salt cave in Greece
Championed by Ancient Greeks and modern day doctors alike, salt therapy is a naturally effective treatment used to combat everything from asthma to skin conditions. Inspired by Ancient Greek healing philosophies, the spiritually-rejuvenating Euphoria Retreat in Mystras, Greece, has crafted its own salt room to aid transformation.
Bask in the calming amber glow of the salt bricks, feeling their detoxifying effects as you lie back and inhale deeply. As well as having antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, the tiny salt particles can alleviate a number of respiratory problems, including asthma, allergies, and coughs, allowing you to breathe easier.
8. Float in a sensory deprivation tank in the Maldives
Our senses play a key role in our mental and emotional wellbeing, and are frequently bombarded by the innumerable aspects of everyday life. Restore balance and embark on a mesmerisingly beautiful journey of self-discovery at JOALI BEING in the Maldives, where holistic therapies and a biophilic design aid in the creation of profound connections with yourself, and with the natural environment.
The Sensory Deprivation Room is filled with skin temperature water saturated with medicinal Epsom salts, allowing you to float weightlessly while removed from all outside stimulus. Here in the darkness, without sound, sight, or gravity, your mind, body, and spirit can be totally free.
9. Try Ozone Therapy at Spain’s leading wellness clinic
More than just part of the earth’s atmosphere, ozone can be used to have a healing, regenerative effects upon the body. The increase in oxygen supply to your blood and lungs can help to heal wounds, stimulate the immune system and improve body functioning.
SHA Wellness Clinic is Spain’s leading medical spa, specialising in highly tailored wellness programmes and pioneering treatments. The clinic’s expert practitioners and medical professionals can administer ozone therapy intravenously to improve your body’s physiological processes. The overall effect is enhanced work capacity and quality of life while you restore and relax under the Mediterranean sun.
10. Take an ice cold plunge in Sweden
Immerse yourself in the frozen beauty of Swedish Lapland, and its equally frozen waters, with this thrilling outdoor cold plunge. Practiced by wellness guru Wim Hof, the benefits of cold water exposure are numerous. Aside from reducing stress and anxiety, frequent cold water exposure can strengthen your immune system, and lead to lower blood pressure, improved circulation, and reduce inflammation. Read more about it in our Wild Swimming blog.
At Arctic Bath hotel, the cold water is the main attraction – the hotel rooms float on an icy lake, around which their holistic wellbeing approach is centred. Control your breathing and float through this magical winter wonderland, filled with snow-dusted forests, midnight sunlight in summer, and even the northern lights in winter.