Spa holidays for mind and body

Katie Brooks looks at three far-off – and one not so far-off – spa retreats.

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Katie Brooks looks at three far-off and one not so far-off spa holidays

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"A spa for me is about switching focus from mind to body. It is not about mindfulness, but that far more blessed state: mindlessness," says David Aaronovitch in The Times Magazine. The Hilton Head Health, on Hilton Head island, South Carolina, is where the self-proclaimed spa addict can do just this. Although "less medicalised" than some spas, Hilton Health's niche is "weight loss without too much pain", achieved by low-calorie diets, plenty of exercise and lifestyle coaching from the hotel's weight-loss experts. The food makes up in quality what it lacks in quantity, because, frankly, "if you're going to starve people who are paying good money, you'd better give them their few calories in a really delicious form".

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is the kind of place where "if I hear the phrase, This place saved my life', once, I hear it a dozen times". Not that the spa over-promises and under-delivers; relaxed and unwound guests can confidently expect to get home and discover that "yes, you do now finally fit into that fabulous but risky jacket you bought in the Paul Smith sale five years ago".

From $488 a night (HHHealth.com).

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Kamalaya, on the Thai island of Koh Samui, is full of repeat offenders, says Ute Junker on Stuff.co.nz. It's not hard to see why. Overlooking the sea, Kamalaya has a "sense of tranquility, a nurturing atmosphere that instantly makes you feel better, no matter why you are here".

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Choose between la carte spa treatments and a tailored programme. "Whichever option you settle on... you will be spending a lot of time in the spa." This is, after all, the heart of Kamalaya.

From THB56,542 for three-nights (Kamalaya.com).

Icelandic retreat

"The Retreat, Iceland's first five-star hotel, lives up to its name," says Louise Roddon, also in The Times. The ultra luxe, supercool spa hotelis all about "sleek bobs... and luxury monotone separates", featuring understated yet stylish furnishings that "lull you into a comatose state of wellbeing". Each of the Retreat's 62 rooms have "oodles of lovely Nordic-chic things to gaze at and touch", as well as a "relaxed version of a butler".

Outside the rooms' enormous windows is "an ever-changing scene of oatmeal greys and greens, milky blues and browns" depicted in the surrounding Icelandic lagoon and lava fields. So stunning are the views that the hotel lives by the philosophy of no televisions, since a glimpse outside will prove to any cynic that "the landscape is entertainment enough".

The spa sits on Iceland's famous geothermal pool, the Blue Lagoon, yet the spa enjoys a seclusion that is as refreshing as it is rare. Guests can enjoy "daftly wonderful showers and white urns filled with loopy algae, silica and crystalline scrubs", before dinner in the aptly named Lava Restaurant.

From €1,132 a night (BlueLagoon.com).

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But why go all the way to Thailand?

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If Koh Samui is a tad too far away, Kamalaya (see above), or a taste of it at least, has come to Lime Wood in the New Forest, says Fiona Duncan in The Daily Telegraph. The recently opened spa oozes country-chic, with attention paid to "all the little details: oak doors, lush colours and soft lighting, giving a relaxing and content atmosphere". Guests can expect "authentic, intensive programmes of Eastern healing and spirituality" alongside "full English breakfasts and muddy country walks".

Whether you want to take part in group meditation, yoga, spa treatments or cookery classes, the retreat gives visitors "a taste of Kamalaya magic without the jet lag". A two-night stay will leave you feeling "agile, uplifted and at ease".

From £1,495 per person (LimeWoodHotel.co.uk).

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