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Journeys of Self-Discovery

A holistic approach to spa treatments

Holistic therapy has proved to be effective in addressing countless physical and psychological concerns. No surprise then that the best hotels in the world are bringing to their spas treatments that invite guests to go beyond the usual hour massage and explore rituals that encourage overall health and inner balance. Our Editor Julia Pasarón shares with us her latest discoveries.


Blending amid the dunes of the surrounding Wadi Khadija nature reserve, the Ritz-Carlton offers its guests not only the best pampering services but also the opportunity to discover the beauty of this land and its people, creating unforgettable memories for all. Inspired by Arab traditional architecture, the hotel spa boasts luxurious pavilions and treatment rooms where mindfulness and wellbeing techniques are combined to nourish mind, body and skin.

The Ritz Carlton Spa building showcases a modern interpretation of the intricacy and majesty of Arab architecture.

The Rainforest Experience is probably the most complete of the treatments offered. It combines European hydrothermal tradition with Middle Eastern bathing rituals across 16 different stations, all of which aim at leaving the guest feeling rejuvenated not only physically but also emotionally, as each stage of the experience goes one step further in this unique journey of holistic wellbeing. The overall benefits of this treatment include improvement of blood circulation, deep cleanse of the skin for a radiant glow, release of toxins from pores and the alleviation of muscle tension, pain and fatigue. The icing on the cake is that the Rainforest Experience also promotes profound sleep.

The first stage, the Rainwalk Corridor, takes guests through different types of temperature and pressure showers to awaken the body to the experience. This is followed by the Sole Theraphy, which combines cold and warm water, including walking against the current on a cobbled path to stimulate reflexology points. Steps three and four are steam capsules with unique scents, which are finished with a cold shower or rubbing ice on the skin.

The Rainforest treatment combines European hydrothermal culture with Middle Eastern bathing rituals, creating a rejuvenating sanctuary in the Arabian desert.

The fifth station is a relaxation break on a natural stone area, before guests walk into several sensory showers and a Brine Cavern (stage eight), which is a steam bath with liquid sea salt and eucalyptus fragrance to purify the skin and aid respiratory de-congestion. Station nine is another relaxation area with a hot tub bath complete with massage jets. An Ice Igloo follows. I know it doesn’t sound terribly pleasant, but it works wonders on cellulite-prone skin.

From here it is all easy-peasy: Sauna, Herbal Sauna and a Grotto Steam with different aromas diffused automatically. A cold shower is recommended before moving onto the second Sole Therapy. After this, the Vitality Pool is waiting for you. Here, the water is set to 30°C and contains six different types of water massaging stations. Basically, the ultimate relaxation and the ideal ending to the Rainforest journey. Discover more HERE.


A legend on its own accord, the Byblos palace hotel is located in the heart of the Côte d’Azur. Since it opened its doors in 1967, it became a favourite among celebrities, with the likes of Brigitte Bardot, Leonardo di Caprio, George Clooney and even King Charles III himself regularly enjoying its hospitality, especially at its nightclub, Les Caves du Roy.

Although the nightclub keeps offering visitors fabulous entertainment until the early hours, under the direction of Antoine Chevanne, Byblos is taking a turn towards wellness. “As a society, we are constantly connected, performing at a high level as well as travelling extensively,” he explains, “time, space and having a choice is a luxury today, and I strongly believe that our industry’s future will be guided by our ability to offer our guests the chance to reconnect with themselves.”

Patio relaxing area at the newly renovated Byblos Spa by Sisley.

With that philosophy, its fully refurbished Spa by Sisley offers a new holistic programme comprising of three stages, depending on how much guests would like to experience. Each stage features workshops and/or experiential retreats which have been created to adapt to each individual’s physical, psychological and emotional need. The first two stages are individual workshops, whilst the third stage is mainly aimed at groups; encouraging guests to refocus on themselves through three core pillars: emotion, heart and energy.

Stage one, “Inner Consciousness” presents five distinct one-to-one remedy sessions which can be booked throughout the day to cater to each individual. Whether guests are looking to boost their morning with energetic classes or find a more relaxing rhythm as a contrast from their day to day lives, the “Inner Consciousness” focuses on each guest’s self-harmony.

In the Lebanese room, couples can enjoy treatments together, such as the new Deep Atsu massage, Slim Detox or the jewel in the crown, the Holi Ga massage.

Stage two, “Epic Journeys”, is inspired by the epic adventures of the Greek mythology heroes. Conceived to incorporate the “Inner Consciousness” remedies, each of the five journeys offers a different way to encourage guests to embark on their own journey of self-discovery. These retreats are accompanied by a healthy gluten-free vegetarian menu, specially created by Byblos’ Executive Chef Nicola Canuti; using fresh produce from the hotel’s own vegetable garden and inspired by each journey.

The third and last stage, “Byblos Constellations” is about embracing your individual conscience and shine bright within a collective group. A bit like in Greek mythology gods could transform into constellations to travel time and transfer their wisdom through light. The five group workshops available on this last phase of Byblos’s holistic programme are organised over a three-day weekend, with guests being able to book between one and five classes per theme. Book your experience HERE.


One of the most popular locations in Italy since Roman times, Lake Como is a magnet for A-listers, who flock here to enjoy its glorious sunshine and understated pleasures. Celebrities such as George Clooney, Madonna and Richard Branson, all own properties in the shores of this tranquil paradise. For those who don’t have a home here, Grand Hotel Tremezzo is THE place to stay. With views spanning the crystalline waters towards Bellagio and the Grigne mountains, three generations of the same family have been offering guests the best of hospitality all’italiana.

From th T Spa, guests enjoy unparalleled views of Lake Como.

Sitting between the 18th century Villa Emilia and the hotel, T Spa offers a truly unique experience tailored to meet the personal needs of each guest. With that philosophy and drawing on the natural properties of the plants growing on the shores of Lake Como, T Spa has created a total body experience that calms the mind and soothes the body, addressing three of our senses: hearing, touch and smell.

The ritual starts with a full-body exfoliation using everlasting flower, sage and mint, lavender, nettle, bay leaf, sorrel, and arnica – using only the skin brush in order to assist blood circulation – continuing with a treatment that warms and relaxes tired muscles using ultrasoft packs of lavender and finishing with an incredibly relaxing head-to-toe massage.

All products are from Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, a line benefitting from centuries of artisanal experience and indigenous, natural ingredients to guarantee the utmost excellence. Santa Maria Novella was founded in Florence in 1612 and is possibly the most famous pharmacy in the world, with centuries of expertise in herbal medicine and perfumery.

Santa Maria Novella is the oldest pharmacy in Europe. It was founded in 1221 by Dominican friars, experts in herbs and plants used for therapeutic purposes.

The ritual is inspired by ancient cultures and completed with avantgarde treatments – always performed by highly trained practitioners, to ensure its effectiveness from a therapeutical point of view. The aim is to induce a deep state of rest to facilitate the regeneration of neurological levels.

In my opinion, this is an excellent treatment to be performed on the terrace or outdoors since the goal is to totally alleviate the tensions generated by our frenetic lives and restore calmness and serenity. The views from Grand Hotel Tremezzo are superlative, which I believe entitles me to add sight as the fourth sense revitalised by this ritual. With all the stress having been literally brushed off your body, the relaxing properties of the different herbs used in the treatment calming down your mind as well as the specially designed sounds, you’ll find yourself ready to fall into the deepest sleep you’ll have had for years. Book your stay HERE.


In Hinduism, Akasha means the basis and essence of all things in the material world, the first material element created from the astral world (Akasha – Ether, before Earth, Water, Fire and Air). The eponymous Holistic Wellbeing centre at the five-star Hotel Café Royal in central London offers guests a chance to return to that source of all creation. From nutrition to meditation, yoga to Watsu, you can enjoy expert treatments, therapies and personal training offered at a hotel which has been a favourite of personalities from Oscar Wilde to Princess Diana and David Bowie in its 150 years of history.

The latest offering by Akasha Holistic Wellbeing is a programme of Electronic Music Meditation, in partnership with the world-renowned spiritual mentor and meditation guide Belinda Matwali. Electronic Music Meditation is a practice developed by Belinda herself as a session of active meditation divided in 4 sections. The first section begins with cathartic shaking or movement to hypnotic techno or electro music, then breathing or kriyas to house music before the tempo moves to ambient and shifts into more gentle pranayama – the practice of breath regulation, humming or spatial awareness exercises, followed by laying down for guided meditation with functional music that has isochronic tones to enhance theta brainwaves.

Electronic Music Meditation is based on isochronic tones that enhance theta brainwaves.

In plain English, isochronic tones are single tones that come on and off at regular brief intervals, creating a beat that’s like a rhythmic pulse. They’re often embedded in other sounds, such as music or nature sounds and are used in the process of brainwave entrainment. Brainwave entrainment techniques are being studied as a potential therapy for a variety of health conditions, such as pain, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety.

Classes take place on the 3rd Friday of every month. Booking includes 90-minute access to the facilities at Akasha before or after the class. Reserve your place HERE.

Words: Julia Pasarón

Opening picture by Alejandro Piñeiro Ameiro, Pixabay.

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