A healing retreat in the Swiss mountains
Come away from Switzerland's Bad Ragaz feeling relaxed and ready to face the world again, says Natasha Langan.
Switzerland's Bad Ragaz is the best medi-spa' in the world, according to Cond Nast's 2013 global spa round-up. But don't let the term medi-spa' put you off. Bad Ragaz isn't all about strict diets and stricter treatments as I found on my visit, the aim is to help visitors achieve a state of wellness' without any accompanying pain.
Situated in the foothills of the Alps in Heidiland in eastern Switzerland, it's a one-hour trip by train or car from Zurich or for those who favour a more luxurious approach, the helipad is five minutes away. Surrounded by breathtaking peaks, you'll be feeling healthier from the minute you start to breathe in the clean, crisp mountain air. The spa itself is centred around the natural hot Tamina spring, which feeds down from the mountain gorge into the resort.
First used by monks in the 13th century to treat the sick, the area soon developed a worldwide reputation as a source of healing waters. To this day, people including the Swiss Olympic team and tennis champion Roger Federer come to take the waters, which bubble up from the ground at a constant temperature of 36.5C.
Bad Ragaz is rightly proud of its world-class medical centre. There are 30 doctors, plus therapists and other medical professionals, offering a tailored service across a range of disciplines to their clients, some of whom have been coming to Bad Ragaz for 40 years or more. Athletes undergo treatment and train in luxury surroundings. Mere mortals use the time to focus on specific problems, such as stress management, or sleep disorders (the spa has a dedicated clinic for the latter).
For those who simply want to relax, Bad Ragaz offers first-class accommodation for up to 500 guests across three buildings, from the listed Palais to more modern spa suites, including an exclusive penthouse whose wraparound balcony offers beautiful views. The eight restaurants include the Michelin-starred btestube. There are also shops, an 18-hole PGA Championship golf course, tennis courts, a casino, and guests have access to a fleet of luxury cars and Harley-Davidson bikes. With saunas, massage and beauty treatments, you'll come away from Bad Ragaz buffed, relaxed, and ready to face the world again.
Healing Holidays (020-7843 3597; Healingholidays.co.uk) can arrange two nights at Bad Ragaz from £2,415 per person, including flights, transfers, breakfast, and a two-day health programme. The Swiss Transfer Ticket covers a round-trip between the airport and your destination prices are £96 second class and £154 first class (Swisstravelsystem.co.uk).
Three more of the world's best spas
Florblanca, Costa Rica
Winner of the best beach action' category in Cond Nast Traveller magazine's awards, Florblanca is a series of small private villas set between two of the best surfing beaches in the world, on the Nicoya Peninsula. One of the "healthiest places in the world", the air is clean, the fish dished up straight from the Pacific ocean, and the lush jungle is alive with the calls of Howler monkeys and parrots. Guests ride horses along the beach, explore the jungle, or learn to surf. Amazing food, yoga and massages will help you recover. Seven nights from £930 per person including breakfast (+ 1 11 506 2640 0232, Florblanca.com).
One & Only The Palm, Dubai
Como Shambhala Estate, Bali
Named the best destination' spa in the world by Cond Nast, this "slice of heaven" has villas hidden in lush jungle. With immaculate service and freshwater pools fed by a holy shrine, this is the best of Bali's spas. Packages include a seven-night stress-management programme that includes eight massages. Healing Holidays offers seven-night programmes from £2,599 per person full board, with activities, treatments, flights and transfers (020-7843 3597;Healingholidays.co.uk).