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Where to take your spouse for a special anniversary spa experience

The COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali is part of an emerging trend in which luxury spas combine holistic wellness with traditonal Asian medicine.


Since I know less about spas than I do about astrophysics, I contacted three well-oiled experts from around the world for their recommendations. I've focused on out-of-country destinations, but see below for some pamper-tastic Canadian suggestions from readers.

New York-based spa writer Anitra Brown ( advises to first assess the type of experience your partner wants. "The most important choice is between a destination spa and a resort spa," she says.

The former emphasizes wellness in a retreat-like setting, often with classes, exercise and healthy diets. But although lines are blurring, the more casual latter – part of an indulgent package that could include decadent wining and dining – is more common. And since these resorts can include everything from golfing to poolside bars, they're also popular for couples travelling together.

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Focusing on the United States, Brown notes the popularity of Utah's Red Mountain Resort ( and California's Golden Door Spa Resort (, plus distinctive alternatives such as Virginia's Spa of Colonial Williamsburg (

But she also has a must-do hot list for our treat-minded hubby.

"Mexico's Rancho La Puerta [] is the original destination spa and still one of the best: great food and classes, beautiful mountain hiking, outstanding guest speakers and a friendly atmosphere. It's also excellent value compared to the U.S."

Back over the border, she also loves Arizona's "intimate and romantic" Royal Palms Resort and Spa (, a luxe, Spanish-look spot perfect for babymoons, anniversaries and "trysting with lovers." But for a sultry Caribbean alternative, she posits Jamaica's "very sexy" Rockhouse Hotel ( "It's quieter, off the beaten path and everything – including the spa – is built of stone. Guests can swim in the horizon pool or snorkel on the reef here. I also had an awesome body scrub with organic brown sugar, green tea and mint essential oils," she says, recommending the resort's sunset-hugging cliffside cottages for accommodation.

Further afield, London-based journalist and Tatler Spa Guide editor Suzanne Duckett ( has some tempting European recommendations – including Spain's mod-cool Sha Wellness Clinic ( "You can be full-on with spa treatments and totally detox here – or just get a tan, eat healthy and lose a few pounds," she says.

She also recommends Italy's glamorous Palace Merano (, which adds gourmet dining to its elegant, "old-school grandeur," plus France's Les Sources de Caudalie ( – "a great couples spa" in a vineyard-setting that specializes in wine-basedvinotherapy such as soaks in oversized wine barrels.

But a booze-based spa isn't the only spot both partners can enjoy. "Switzerland's Grand Resort Bad Ragaz ( has many male treatments – plus you get a Harley-Davidson to burn off extra testosterone," Duckett says. There's also an option here many wives might consider for their husbands: a sleep centre with a stop-snoring course.

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Trend-wise, Hong Kong-based AsiaSpa magazine ( editor-in-chief Vivienne Tang has spotted a rise in holistic wellness and the incorporation of traditional Chinese medicine in her region – especially in places such as Bali's COMO Shambhala Estate (, Thailand's Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary ( and India's Ananada in the Himalayas (

But her top picks are Indonesia's Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay ( for its ocean-view alfresco treatments in private cabanas; Thailand's "serene and pampering" Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai (; and Amanfayun in Hangzhou, China (, a tranquil resort surrounded by tea fields and bamboo forests.

She also adds Cambodia's Song Saa Private Island ( for those craving an extra shot of romance in a classic escapist setting.

For Duckett, though, it's important to remember for whom a trip like this is really intended. "Don't book weight-loss or anti-aging treatments for her – she'll find those for herself, thank you. The bottom line is to be realistic about what she's genuinely into: If she isn't sporty, a spa with lots of classes and activities is pointless."

Our readers write

The Ten Spa ( at the Fort Garry hotel in Winnipeg is affordable and fabulous, especially the hammam. You can book a couples retreat, or arrive early for any appointment to enjoy the spa's shower facilities and snacks, then rendezvous at the Turkish bath. As it says on its website, it's hot and steamy. – Janet Schwegel

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While I was in Kelowna this week, I visited Sparkling Hills Resort. Didn't stay there but did the tour. Outstanding setting, huge spa facility and dining. Rooms are beautiful … on my bucket list! – Doris Morin

Tigh-Na-Mara on Vancouver Island. Mineral pool; log cabin-style rooms; drinks by the fireplace – plus being able to walk to the beach to watch the sunrise. And the arbutus trees. – @AirbnbSuperhost

Ste. Anne's Spa [Grafton, Ont.] is wonderful. It's out in the country, quiet, food's excellent, spa services with Aveda products, excellent staff. Just a great escape. – @DawsonOakes

Millcroft Inn & Spa [Ontario]. Nice setting, good food, indoor pool. Neat artists' studios to visit in the area. Has manly pedicures, too. – @BlueRaveFinn

I really love Nordik Spa-Nature in Outaouais, Que. Such a treat. Love that it's Scandinavian – multiple choices for heat/relaxation – and their salt water float pool is fantastic. And their Aufguss treatment was incredible. – @jennsmithnelson

Send them to Whistler. He can mountain bike while she gets pampered at Scandinave Spa Whistler or any of the fab spas in the village. – @elisabetheats

Not a resort per se, but we loved the luxurious couples experience from Quartz Spa at Trump Toronto. – @travelingjourno

Love Fairmont Hot Springs in B.C. Amazing location. Friendly, low key, not superluxe but very comfortable – plus good food and wine, the freshest air and naturally hot mineral springs. – @margymaclibrary

The couple's room at the Wickaninnish Inn [Vancouver Island, B.C.]. The location – outside on a rock – is a very romantic place. I also like the Chi spa at the Shangri-La Hotel in Vancouver for the tranquillity, the experience and the luxury. – @StephaneMouttet

Check out April Point Resort on Quadra Island [B.C.]. It overlooks Campbell River, celebrities occasionally stay there and it is laid back and peaceful. – @CRMinibusTours

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