5 remote relaxing health retreats around the world
Yearning to get away from it all without sacrificing creature comforts? These five remote retreats should do the trick. Magnificently secluded but well worth the schlep, they’re as far from the madding crowds as you’ll ever want to get.
MINARET STATION, South Island, New Zealand
The helicopter flight to this backcountry outpost in the Southern Alps takes you over the deep-blue waters of Lake Wanaka, across tussock grasslands and forests of beech, and up to the head of a glacier-carved valley where New Zealand’s only luxury tented lodge sits above a braided alpine stream. Accessible only by chopper, this is quintessential South Island high country—rugged, hushed, elemental. The lodge, established by the Wallis brothers in 2011 on the highest reaches of their family’s 26,000-hectare sheep and deer station, is an escapist’s dream: there are only four tented suites arranged around a central restaurant and library, all with sheepskin carpets, under-floor heating, and hot tubs on their terraces. When not soaking up the Tolkienesque splendor of the setting, guests can hike, tour the farm, picnic on mountaintops, or hop back in the helicopter for fly-fishing outings or way-off-piste skiing, depending on the season. Whatever time of year you visit, a vast, starry night sky beckons contemplation.
64-3/443-5860; minaretstation.com; Suites from US$1,560, full-board
AL MAHA DESERT RESORT & SPA, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Nestled in a date-palm oasis deep amid the rolling dunes of the seemingly endless Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (225 square kilometers, in fact), Al Maha is a luxe vision of a Bedouin camp. Its 42 canvas-covered suites are worthy of a sheik, with four-poster beds, chaise longues, hand-knotted carpets, and antique tabletops trimmed in brass. Each also has its own private infinity pool and sundeck, the perfect perch from which to spot wildlife such as gazelles, desert foxes, and Arabian oryx; in-room binoculars are a thoughtful touch, as are the drawing supplies—easel, paper, and pastels—for those who want to sketch the Lawrence of Arabia scenery. Activities include camel riding, Bedouin-style barbecues, 4×4 desert safaris, and falconry demonstrations, though guests could just as easily stick close to the comforts of the camp, sampling the spa’s rasoul mud baths, nibbling on meze in the dining pavilion, or just staring off across the sand to the distant outline of the Hajar mountains.
971-4/832-9900; al-maha.com; From US$1,880
AMANGIRI, Canyon Point, Utah, United States
The digs may be new—Amangiri opened in southern Utah’s Canyon Country in 2009—but they blend seamlessly with their ancient surrounds, which include the 150-million-year-old rock formations that command the views from the resort’s 34 suites. Located on 242 hectares of soul-stirring wilderness, this dessert-valley retreat—one of just two Amanresorts properties in North America—is all about understated luxury, with polished concrete walls and timber-and-rawhide furniture in the guest quarters, and facilities that range from a swimming pool wrapped dramatically around a spur of sandstone, to a lounge equipped with a high-powered telescope for optimal stargazing. By day, guests can explore slot canyons by horseback, go boating on Lake Powell, and hike trails with names such as Coyote, Studhorse, Cave Peak, and Hodoo, some of which involve vie ferrate (climbs up sheer rock faces, assisted by cables and handholds sunk into the cliffs). Back at the resort, a superb spa soothes trail-weary muscles with flotation therapies and Navajo-inspired treatments.
1-435/675-3999; amanresorts.com; From US$1,100
LAUCALA ISLAND, Taveuni, Fiji
Malcolm Forbes knew the value of getting away from it all: he purchased this 12-square-kilometer Fijian isle in 1972 and recast it as his private South Seas retreat. Now in the hands of Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz, Laucala Island welcomes guests with just 25 sprawling villas—each with its own pool and wine-stocked fridges—and a host of spare-no-expense facilities: horse stables, five restaurants and bars, a fleet of sports boats for fishing and diving, and a David McLay Kidd–designed golf course. Well off the beaten track—the resort flies guests in from Nadi on its own 10-seat turboprop, a 50-minute flight—Laucala is very much a world unto itself: it has its own workshops and medical center; the kitchens use island-grown produce and livestock; spa products and shampoos are made on-site; and more than 300 smiling staff are on hand to keep everything in order, at least until their shift ends and a boat whisks them home to the island of Qamea, which lies across an azure lagoon.
679/888-0077; laucala.com; Villas from US$4,200, full-board
SHAKTI 360˚, Uttarakhand, India
There’s no easy way to reach this isolated Himalayan retreat—the fastest route involves a private charter flight from Delhi followed by a four-hour drive and then an hour’s walk along a mountain trail—but the rewards are … well, just take a good look at this photograph. Surrounded by spectacular alpine scenery in northern India’s Kumaon region, Shakti 360˚ has just four glass-and-stone guest cottages appointed with thick sheepskin rugs, woodstoves, campaign-style furniture, and beds cocooned in pashmina blankets and fluffy duvets. Given the far-flung location, there’s a minimum length of stay of three nights, but you’ll likely want to linger come October (when the camp reopens after the monsoon season) to make the most of a full roster of activities that includes hikes to secluded waterfalls and visits to local villages. For a more culturally immersive experience, extend your visit with Shakti’s Kumaon Village Walk, a rural trekking and homestay program that provides intimate access to the countryside.
91-124/456-3899; shaktihimalaya.com; Three nights from US$2,161 per person, full-board
This article originally appeared on destinasian.com.