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When you think of a spa vacation, do you imagine being pampered to perfection or pounded into shape? Are you more intrigued by the idea of an ocean-side hot stone massage or a ten-mile hike in the mountains?

The best spa vacations can offer the opportunity to rejuvenate weary minds, bodies and spirits in luxurious surroundings or physically challenging agendas in sparse accommodations. Spend the hours in meaningful meditation or learning Yoga. Or pass the time following a regimented schedule filled with body-toning endurance activities.

There have never been more tempting options in spa vacations and in some of the most exotic locations around the world. When a spa is the destination, the choice is yours.

ROMANCE

SIX SENSES HIDEAWAY, Hua Hin, Thailand

More and more couples and honeymooners are choosing to either begin or renew their relationships at destination spas around the world. For unparalleled privacy and a world class romantic retreat, the Six Senses consistently ranks as one of the best. Bath Spa Rituals with names such as Heart Chakra Milk Spa and Romantic Petals may put you in moon to tie the knot with a Hideaway Wedding, another specialty of the resort. Reach the spa by driving or flying a shuttle from the Bangkok International Airport.

WEIGHT LOSS

CANYON RANCH, Tucson, Arizona, USA

Since 1979, the Canyon Ranch has been an encouraging source of change for those seeking a healthier way of living. Their gentle but effective motto inspires participants with “The Power of Possibilities.” Fitness director Katherine Brumfield prefers the term “lifestyle change” over “diet” at the resort and spa. Healthy gourmet meals have replaced the meager servings of lettuce and fruit that were once common at weight-loss spas. Daily walks, lectures and an expert team of physicians and nutritionists guide the path. The stunning backdrop of the painted desert mountains more than eases the transition.

YOGA

LOS ALTOS DE EROS, Costa Rica

Serious Yoga practitioners are returning year after year to renew the body and spirit at this adults only, five-star spa in the hills of Costa Rica. Sunrise and sunset Yoga classes, a Yoga immersion program and exceptional spa treatments in one of the most tranquil settings on earth make for a completely rejuvenating experience. Guests rave about the all-natural Yoga cuisine and complementary fruit smoothies. Should you decide to explore the island you’ll find lots to do nearby in the small village of Tamarindo. For a change of pace there’s a vibrant nightlife, sports fishing and a beautiful beach at Playa Avellanas. Fly into the Liberia Airport where a representative will greet you and drive you to the resort.

ADVENTURE

THE ISLAND EXPERIENCE, Ilha Grande, Brazil

The spa experience comes full circle by combining luxury and adventure on a breathtaking island off Rio de Janeiro. The week long program maintains a focus on spiritual renewal while challenging you physically with sea kayaking, snorkeling and hiking. One guest summarized their week at the resort as “Indiana Jones and the Spa Break.” Arrive in paradise via the Rio International airport where you will be met at the gate and privately transported to the lodge.

GOLF

THE WESTIN TURNBERRY RESORT, Scotland

Pure heaven for the uncompromising sportsman may very well be found here at the Westin. The best spa in Scotland happens to be the site of two championship golf courses, archery, horseback riding and mountain biking. The award-winning spa offers the choice of a fast-paced fitness studio or the serenity of hydrotherapy, reflexology and holistic body care treatments. Why not indulge in both while viewing its magnificent stretch of the Atlantic coastline? Glasgow International and Glasgow Prestwick airports are within an hour’s drive and Edinburgh International airport is under two hours away. http://www.turnberry.co.uk

ECO-FRIENDLY ESCAPE

DAINTREE ECO-LODGE & SPA, Daintree Rainforest, Queensland, Australia

The Daintree may be about as green as it gets for the ecologically-minded spa traveler. Massages and therapies inspired by Aboriginal traditions are administered in the lush natural surroundings of a rainforest. You’ll discover secluded pristine waterfalls and dine on contemporary Australian cuisine with a native twist. Each of the 15 well-appointed villas surprisingly offers all the amenities you’d expect of a more urban location. The lodge is a scenic 90-minute drive north of the Cairns International Airport. http://www.daintree-ecolodge.com.au

FAMILY FRIENDLY

ADLER THERMAE SPA & WELLNESS RESORT, Sienna, Tuscany, Italy

Many of the great destination spas are family friendly but few can compare with this Italian oasis. Parents tour the expansive wine cellar or soak in thermal healing waters while children are entertained at the popular Kid’s Club or Teen Lounge. Even the fussiest kids will love the workshops, barbeques, movies and water games designed especially for them. The whole family can spend time together horseback riding in the Orcia Valley, mountain biking or dining poolside on authentic Tuscan cuisine. Arrive by air through Perugia, Florence or Rome. http://www.adler-thermae.com

FITNESS

AMANSALA, Tulum, Mexico

Amansala makes the list for its acclaimed Bikini Boot Camp in an “eco-chic” environment. Forget the fancy amenities and plush accommodations; there are no televisions in the rustic-but-stylish cabanas. The Amansala philosophy is to get you into shape with beach or jungle power walking, body sculpting and power ab sessions. For any “downtime” there’s meditation, Mayan Clay spa treatments and plenty of sunshine. Tulum is located about two hours south of Cancun near the historic Mayan ruins. http://www.amansala.com

HOLISTIC HEALING

GRAIL SPRINGS, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Among the best spa destinations in health and wellness is Grail Springs. Guests are introduced to the Grail Holistic Lifestyle as a healthier way of living and a path to longevity. They offer a comprehensive menu of health boosting tonics, organic meals and anti-aging treatments. Evening lectures, life coaches and meditation classes are a treat for the mind and soul. Yoga, Pilates and cardio-strengthening workouts are a part of the daily activities through individually customized plans. The Feng Shui certified interior is filled with antique tapestries stone fireplaces, making this castle-like spa destination the perfect retreat. http://www.grailsprings.com

ABSOLUTE LUXURY

BANYAN TREE DESERT SPA & RESORT AL AREEN, Manama, Bahrain

Experience incomparable six-star luxury and immerse yourself in the rich culture of the Middle East at this architectural masterpiece. The tiny Arabian Gulf island is a cultural fusion of ancient Greek, Portuguese and Arabic influence with an old- world charm, reminiscent of the fabled ‘Arabian Nights’. This is the visually stunning resort where true spa connoisseurs live like royalty, if only for a few days. The Bahrain International Airport is only thirty minutes away.

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