By Becca Hensley
Photography by Parrot Cay by COMO (Shirodhara) and Ken Seet (Panchakarma)
Earth, water, fire, air, space. These are the basics of ayurveda, a millennia-year-old curative science from India that treats patients according to their element-related mind-body types, known as doshas
. With yoga and meditation at its core, the discipline is based on a quest for balance. Treatments utilize herbs, infused oils, rituals, and bespoke menus for optimal results.
1. Ananda Spa
Ananda in the Himalayas, India
Peacocks, views of the Ganges River, and a maharajah’s palace set the tone at the 78-room Ananda in the Himalayas, where a multistory ayurvedic spa offers more than 80 treatments, daily yoga and meditation practice, and guided mountain hikes. After a consultation with the staff doctor, guests set personalized program goals
ranging from revitalization to detox; meals prepared for your personal dosha
ensure total yogic immersion.
While the spa’s specialties include classic ayurvedic rituals such as shirodhara
– a balancing treatment that provides a continuous flow of soothing oil over the forehead and “third eye” – the menu draws, too, from Tibetan modalities. Try ku nye
– a massage that employs hot Himalayan salt poultices, infused with cardamom and lavender, to restore the nervous system and promote energy flow.
2. Spa and Ayurvedic Retreat
Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, Maldives
Within the Indian Ocean’s remote Baa Atoll, the 102-bungalow Four Seasons Resort Maldives occupies its own island. At its heart, the medically accredited spa complex
comprises 2.5 acres of tropical gardens, overwater spa suites, and thatched-roofed huts. Touted for its intense 14- or 21-day panchakarma
detox and cleansing programs, the spa also gets high marks for its authentic chakrablessing rituals.
3. COMO Shambhala Retreat
Parrot Cay by COMO, Turks and Caicos
Ginger, turmeric, and sandalwood waft through the Balinese-style spa at Parrot Cay, a 75-room COMO resort set on its own Caribbean isle. Complimentary daily yoga classes lure guests from the mile-long beach, as do ayurvedic therapies such as pizhychil
, which counteracts stress and calms the mind
. Virtuoso guests receive a free lunch; use yours for heart-healthy Shambhala cuisine rich in vitamins, living enzymes, and sea minerals.
“Private yoga sessions at the Four Seasons Resort Maldives take place in an oceanwide pavilion, where warm breezes and gently lapping waves enhance your asanas (postures) and pranayamas (breathing techniques).” – Jessica Griscavage, McLean, Virginia
More Spa Retreats:
Originally appeared in Virtuoso Traveler magazine, August 2014.