June 12, 2012 at 8:20 AM ET
Usually relaxing involves sitting back with your eyes closed. But you might not want to even blink in these spas, where the view out the window (or from the hot tub, or even your private bungalow) will get your heart racing. From the desert of Arizona to a jungle in Belize to the 116th floor of a Hong Kong tower, we've found 13 spas worth traveling to for the view alone.
Some even encourage you to come early and sit back in the lounge, taking in views of the city, the ocean or even the jungle. Best of all, basic treatments like waxing and manicures at these spas are priced as low as $11. We also highlighted some of the best values, like a $67 tension-releasing massage at the Dead Sea or an $80 mud treatment in Belize to help soothe your skin after a day under the Caribbean sun. Combine that with a spectacular view, and there will be a lot to say ahhhh about.
Ocean views are one of the top reasons to travel to Bermuda, and the La Serena spa at The Reefs Hotel & Club delivers. The view of the soft pink sand and transparent water are pure Bermuda. Spa guests are even asked to come 30 minutes early to sip herbal tea or fruit-infused water while soaking in the dramatic views of the Atlantic from the floor to ceiling windows of the relaxation room.
Best deal: The 45-minute Exotic Lime and Ginger Salt Glow really does leave your skin smooth and stimulated ($89). 56 South Shore Road, Southampton, Bermuda, 011-441/239-0184, thereefs.com. Treatments from $20.
It's hard to find landscape more impressive than Alaska's, and The Spa at Alyeska sits in a valley surrounded by glaciers and the jagged peaks of the Chugach Mountains. Start your trip to the spa (about 45 minutes southeast of Anchorage) by taking it all in from the saltwater hot tub. Then retire to a treatment room, where you can choose services that include some of the areas natural resources like arctic mud and geo-thermal waters.
Best deal: The 50-minute Alaska Glacial Facial uses the arctic mud — said to have anti-aging properties — to exfoliate and detoxify skin ($129). 1000 Arlberg Ave., Girdwood, Alaska, 907/754-2550, alyeskaresort.com. Treatments from $29.
The Adriatic Sea is on full display on the southern shore of Croatia. Guests at the Spa by Occo at the Radisson Blue Resort & Spa at Dubrovnik Sun Gardens can turn in all directions to see the different angles of the unspoiled Elafiti islands and the stunning blues of the sea. Take advantage of the panorama from the lagoon pool and the spa garden before exploring the spa's other highlights, including a traditional coal sauna, a hammam, and an aromatherapy steam room.
Best deal: The spa features sea salt hydrotherapy treatments, including a 55-minute treatment that combines a dip in the hydrotherapy bath with one of the signature wood pulp body polishes ($83). 1 Na Moru, Dubrovnik, Croatia, 011-385/20-361-970, radissonblu.com. Treatments from $14.
Framed by the heather and woods surrounding Loch Lomond, the Carrick Spa at the Cameron House has spectacular views across the loch to Ben Lomond, especially from the rooftop terrace and infinity pool. Don't worry if there is a very Scottish misty rain falling: you can heat up in the infrared sauna, the Roman-inspired tepidarium, or the aromatherapy steam room.
Best deal: Visit the spa during the week (Monday through Friday), when prices are lower. An 80-minute massage using balms from Pure Lochside — an all-organic brand of products made in the Highlands — is $172 ($202 on Saturday and Sunday). Alexandria, Scotland, 011-44/1389-713-659, devere-hotels.co.uk. Treatments from $41.
The highrises of Chicago have some amazing views: bridges over the Chicago River, the Loop or Lake Michigan. The Spa at the Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago overlooks it all. Guests are encouraged to arrive 45 minutes before their appointment to take in that view (and spend time in the sauna). This is a Trump property, so expect some seriously over-the-top touches like treatments using gemstone-infused oils (including the $300 Revitalizing Rubies Massage, said to stimulate creativity).
Best deal: The hourlong Ultimate Urban Neck and Shoulder Massage combines acupressure, hot and cold stones, and shea butter to really relax your muscles ($150). 401 N. Wabash Avenue, Chicago, 312/588-8020, trumphotelcollection.com. Treatments from $35.
In the midst of the verdant rainforest of Belize, the Maruba Resort Jungle Spa puts you in treatment rooms as natural as the surrounding jungle. Massages, mud wraps, facials and even manicures are done in thatched roof bungalows, where you can relax amid the scent of the jungle and the views of towering palms and blooming orchids. There is a whole menu of treatments that use the spa's Mood Mud, made from local natural ingredients with potent mineral properties said to do everything from stimulate healing to encourage confidence.
Best deal: The 50-minute Mud Pack rejuvenates skin after exposure to the tropical sun ($80). 40 1/2 Mile Old Northern Highway, Maskall Village, Belize, 800/627-8227, maruba-spa.com. Treatments from $30.
Spa-goers at the Joya Spa at the Montelucia Resort & Spa in Scottsdale have the best views of the dramatically carved and layered Camelback Mountain from the spa's rooftop pool. Lounge and take in the view before or after your treatment. If you want to harness the spiritual traditions of the area, sign up for hypnotherapy, meditation or Tarot reading. Their list of massages is pretty comprehensive too — choose from cranial-sacral to lymphatic treatments.
Best deal: The 50-minute Cranberry Orange Body Glow includes a cranberry-orange sugar scrub and a masque of red clay (from $159). 4949 E. Lincoln Dr., Scottsdale, Arizona, 888/691-5692, montelucia.com. Treatments from $20.
Retreat 1,624 feet above the streets to the 116th floor of The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong's Spa by ESPA. The spa claims to be the highest in the world, and the floor-to-ceiling windows showcase amazing city and harbor views. Treatments include Asian-influenced techniques, like using cooling jade stone rollers to soothe eyes.
Best deal: Book a 60-minute Aromatherapy Massage and choose the jet-lag reviver. The masseuse will use either energizing or soothing oils to help you get on local time (from $127).International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Rd. West, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 011-852/2263-2263, ritzcarlton.com. Treatments from $58.
It's hard to choose which view is better: the rolling ocean or the majestic mountains that give The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa its name. The spa itself is surrounded by the wilderness of Table Mountain National Park, and the ocean sounds usually piped in at spas are actually the waves lapping against the golden sand here. Take your treatment in the shaded open-air mountain gazebos or try Arabic cleansing in the steam of the Rasul Chamber or a Hydrotherapy Capsule Bath.
Best deal: The 105-minute Apostles Touch signature experience includes hot stones from Table Mountain, shells from the beach, and fynbos — a plant found in the Western Cape said to have healing and detoxifying properties ($149). Victoria Rd., Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa, 011-27/21-437-9000, 12apostleshotel.com. Treatments from $11.
Tall cliffs and the Dead Sea come together to make up an unforgettable view at the Sea of Spa at Ein Gedi Hotel. This is the lowest dry point on the planet — 1,388 feet below sea level — and the spa attracts both locals and tourists who come to float in the water (you can't sink because of the high salt content). Slather the black mineral mud all over your body, relax for 20 minutes, and wash off in a shower on the shore. Afterward, take a swim in a fresh water swimming pool surrounded by palm trees. All this, and then a massage.
Best deal: Massages are basic, and are the perfect way to end a day in the waters. The 50-minute Swedish starts at $67. Kibbutz Ein Gedi, M.P Dead Sea, 011-972/08-658-4444, ein-gedi.co.il. Treatments from $67.
Venice's most famous landmarks are St. Mark's Square and the Doge's Palace — and that's exactly what you will see from the Bauers Palladio Hotel & Spa. The hotel is located on the island of Giudecca (a quick vaporetto ride from the main section of Venice) and the three windows in the spa's lounge look out on the signature view.
Best deal: The spa is known for its baths — a 30-minute scented soak in a king-size Jacuzzi next to a wood fire. Choose to have your waters infused with a mix of rose, almond oil, milk and honey; Himalayan salts with fresh lemon juice; or a combination of mineral salts, seaweed and bay-leaf ($113). 1459 S. Marco, Venice, Italy, 011-39/041-520-7022, www.palladiohotelspa.com. Treatments from $31.
The ancient oaks and rolling hills in the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve seem to go on forever, at least when you are looking out from The Spa at Travaasa Austin in Texas. The peaceful location also means you will hear the chirping of the endangered songbirds that call the preserve home, including the adorably named golden cheeked warbler and the black-capped vireo. The spa is located on 210 acres of serene country landscape, and treatments use natural ingredients like avocado body butter blended with essential oils of lavender, pine, orange and lemon.
Best deal: The Detoxifying Juniper, Olive Stone Exfoliation & Polish is a 50-minute treatment using juniper, seaweed, and cypress, said to increase circulation and jump-start metabolism ($130). 13500 Farm to Market Rd. 2769, Austin, Texas, 855/868-7282, travaasa.com. Treatments from $45.
Aromatherapy oils aren't really required at the northern tip of Hawaii island's Kohala Coast, thanks to the refreshing scent of the surrounding evergreen trees. Beyond the trees is the tropical valley and the crashing ocean. It's no wonder that the Maluhia Spa at Hawaii Island Retreat at Ahu Pohaku Ho'omaluhia has glass walls. Enjoy a Reiki or deep tissue massage in one of the bungalows, or try an hour-long Kukui Experience where the body is exfoliated with kukui nut scrub, then massaged with kukui oil.
Best deal: Book a one-hour Lomilomi massage, the traditional Hawaiian rhythmic technique using hands, arms, and elbows ($130). 250 Maluhia Rd., Kapaau, Hawaii, 808/889-6336, hawaiiislandretreat.com. Treatments from $55.
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