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The faster and more stressful our lives become, the greater the need for
therapeutic retreats to rebalance the mind, body and soul. Norah Casey
explores the frontiers of wellness and emerging global spa trends.

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Published by Harmonia Norah, 2018-10-30 12:54:33

Destination Wellness

The faster and more stressful our lives become, the greater the need for
therapeutic retreats to rebalance the mind, body and soul. Norah Casey
explores the frontiers of wellness and emerging global spa trends.

Keywords: Wellness; Spa; Health; Mindfulness; Spirit; Body and Soul; Retreats


Destination: Wellness
The faster and more stressful our lives become, the greater the need for
therapeutic retreats to rebalance the mind, body and soul. Norah Casey
explores the frontiers of wellness and emerging global spa trends.

pod while for those willing to travel, some amazing
new experiences await, from totally silent spas to the
healing vibrations of sound baths. Spa and wellness
centres are increasingly pushing the boundaries to
counter the damaging effects of the frenetic pace of
life with experimental and innovative treatments.
For the adventurous spa traveller the menu is getting
more interesting, from the benefits of plunging the
body into freezing temperatures, the Zen-like peace
of lucid dream meditation to the power of cannabis
infused creams to ease pain and inflammation.


SILENCE Silent Spa, Austria
One of the key trends in

the world of spas is a

more radical shift

towards total detox. In

our fast moving, overly-

connected, noisy world

the beauty of silence is

rarely experienced in its

most stark and dramatic

form – ultimate noiseless

solitude. Most people see

a spa visit as an escape from the pressures of life yet

few truly switch off digitally and emotionally. The

world’s first completely silent spa opened at Austria’s

Therme Laa Hotel offering utter silence except for

the lapping of the water landscape in the

architecturally stunning tower with its own spa

suites, sole pool, steam bath and sauna (Therme-laa.

at). The beautifully restored Eremito is one of the

first digital detox spas in Italy offering serenity in

the spiritual Umbrian valleys. Guests can enjoy

silent, candlelit dinners with a no Wi-Fi/phone

signal policy ( In the historic spa town

of Baden-Baden in Germany, world renowned

Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa has installed copper

plates in the room walls to provide ‘digital kill

switches’ to remove all external distractions for

SHA Wellness Clinic, Spain guests who want a complete escape. The resort

S ometimes you need a holiday after a holiday. reports that half of its guests flick the switch at some
The planning and packing, the airport
queues and the packed flight are bad enough point during their stay ( In Ireland,
before you’ve even arrived. Then there’s the
tired kids, the grumpy other half, the cramped room the wonderfully remote Dzogchen Beara Tibetan
that looked so spacious online and the walk to the
beach which is more than the promised stone’s Buddhist Retreat Centre in West Cork offers a silent
throw away. Holidays, in the traditional sense, are
rarely the total recharge we imagine. If you’re week-long meditation retreat with a complete digital
planning a dream trip just for you then choose a
holiday from life’s stresses and excesses. Even an detox and an escape from all distractions
hour a week can help to sooth the soul in a flotation

Sound, both soothing and irritating, is already
integral to many spa treatments from ocean waves
to forest rain. The deeper and ancient benefits of
sound baths are on the rise globally and at specialist
centres in Ireland too. At the Yäan Wellness Spa in
Tulum, Mexico sacred shamanic instruments are
used to destress the body and mind. Serenity seekers


Sound baths at the Yäan Wellness Spa, Mexico developed in Japan in 1978 to help treat arthritis. It
has now extended into mainstream therapies with
are immersed in gongs, Tibetan bowls, Mayan shell lots of (largely unscientific) claims regarding the
crystals and even didgeridoos to sooth stressed benefits which range from anti-ageing (smoother
bodies through sound immersion (Yaanwellness. skin) to weight loss through boosting metabolism.
com). Of the two friends I know who have tried it one said
she was bouncing around full of energy afterwards,
In Johannesburg, the Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa the other said she took to her bed for the rest of the
uses therapeutic vibrations from bells and cymbals day. This is one stage on from plunging your body
to realign the natural energy centres of the body into an ice bath but for those who like to experiment
( then it’s available in many locations worldwide and
in Dublin at South William Spa, with a session
While in Jamaica the GoldenEye Spa, the costing €85 (
Jamaican home of Ian Fleming, author of James
Bond, blends reggae with yoga (reggaelates) and also MARIJUANA MASSAGE
offers vibrational sound healing which it describes
as: ‘Surrounded by 14 Tibetan singing bowls your While the debate over the medicinal
therapist soothes you with a harmonised sound and
vibrational healing where the bowls are sung and benefits of cannabis continues in
struck to activate the chakras and calm the nervous
system” ( Ireland, in more liberal parts of the

The Mojave desert in California is home to a place world the soul-soothing, pain
where sound pilgrims head for the ultimate
transportation in the Integration ‘energy machine’, a relieving and relaxation benefits of
unique tabernacle constructed by legendary UFO
believer and aeronautical engineer George Van marijuana massages, creams and spa
Tassel in 1950. Inspired by telepathic directions
from extraterrestrials, he designed this 38-foot-high treatments are on the rise. In the
wooden dome as an ‘an electrostatic generator for
the purpose of rejuvenation and time travel’. While USA eight states including
you may not get to do the time travel, the dome is
constructed on a geomagnetic vortex and, having California, Colorado, Portland,
undergone restoration work, it is now open to the
public for the first time for 60 minute ‘sonic healing’ Nevada, Massachusetts and
sound baths (
Washington DC allow personal use
Closer to home a range of centres offer therapeutic
sound sessions. The Sound Healing Spa in Bangor, and possession of cannabis for
Co Down offers private and organised sound baths
where, ‘You’ll be surrounded by beautiful sounds as adults with another 18 states
The Sound Healing Spa Team play a range of
Tibetan singing bowls, crystal singing bowls, gongs, allowing medicinal use. Worldwide
drums, while enjoying a wonderful experience of
sound and oneness.’ you can smoke cannabis legally in

WHOLE BODY CRYOTHERAPY the Netherlands, Spain, Jamaica, Marijuana
Whole body cryotherapy (WBC) involves freezing Uruguay, Peru and even North massage
your body (from -90ºC to -150ºC) for up to three
minutes while standing naked in a cryotherapy Korea. So, it’s no wonder cannabis-
chamber. There is a solid body of evidence about
using cryotherapy to reduce inflammation and WBC based spa treatments and beauty products are on the
is widely used among athletes to relieve soreness and
aid healing from sports injuries. Cryotherapy was rise. An important point to note is that cannabis-

based topical creams and oils can’t pass into the

bloodstream and do not get you high. The

therapeutic benefits arise from the pain-relieving and

anti-inflammatory effects and some early research

indicating that it may improve skin conditions such

as acne, eczema and psoriasis. Whoopi Goldberg’s

own brand cannabis bath soaks, rubs and tinctures

(Whoopi & Maya) launched last year, targeting the

relief of menstrual cramps. (Even Queen Victoria

was said to use a marijuana infused tincture to

relieve menstrual pain.) While currently only


Dzogchen Beara Tibetan Buddhist
Retreat Centre in West Cork

Medical Spas three to try


Where: Nestled in the lush greenery of a Where: On the shores of Lake Geneva in Where: Sha Wellness is perched in the
48-hectare coconut plantation 1.5 hours’ drive Switzerland with stunning views of the Alps. mountains near the little town of Altea in
from Manila, with beautiful pathways adorned Alicante, Spain. The contemporary, space age
with floating flowers and meandering peacocks. Why: This long-established (first opened in designed building across four floors is a well-
1931) retreat is renowned for its innovative, kept secret among the fashion set and wealthy
Why: A comprehensive medical and health life-changing medical therapies. High tech and
programme ranging from de-stress and detox holistic traditional therapies merge with a team Europeans.

to weight loss and post-cancer healing. The of 50 medical specialists on hand. Why: This is the home of macrobiotics so
farm balances mental and emotional well-being you’ll be following in the footsteps of celebrity
with the body, with five doctors on the team. Expect: The machines do a lot of the work followers such as Madonna and Richard Gere
here, so you don’t have to and the frontiers of while enjoying the oxygen bar, rooftop infinity
Expect: Signature traditional Filipino Hilot anti-aging technologies and therapies are being pool and the organic hair salon. This is the place
massage, hours of therapies and treatments constantly pushed here. Treatments include for an all over body fix from insomnia, smoking,
at the serene, pool-side Healing Sanctuary. A injections of live sheep-embryo cells to boost
packed and varied programme of treatments the immune system and intensive daily electro- weight loss to teeth discolouration, sagging
including ozone therapy, colonics, acupuncture, stimulation for weight loss and the Corpolux necks and fine lines and wrinkles.
meditation, yoga, and daily fitness options.
and the Corpotrim, originally developed to Expect: Genetic testing (if you want to know
There are also specific skin programmes keep NASA astronauts in shape (17 minutes the results, that is), phytotherapy (plant-based
and diabetic management retreats. Ventosa equals one hour of aerobic exercises). The medicine), acupuncture. Intensive weight loss
cupping treatments (hot cupping) and skin medically supervised personalised weight programmes include fasting days and colonics.
management programme includes nutrition, You can also book in for smoking cessation and
brushing help reinvigorate circulation. exercise, toning spa treatments and longer- insomnia or for a good old fashion destress with
reiki, reflexology and meditation workshops.
Need to Know: The all-vegan menu is designed term consultations over six or 13 nights.
to help you lose weight and detox. All of the spa Need to Know: The diet consists of
Need to Know: Diet and nutrition is a key part wholegrains, soya protein, seaweed and seafood
products are handmade at The Farm. of the programmes at Clinique La Prairie
(no dairy or meat).
Cost: Rates starting at circa €1,500 (single Cost: $15,000 for the 12-day BeautyMed
occupancy) for a three-night Wellness weight-loss treatment. Cost: The seven day Sha Detox is on offer for
Experience package (except peak period). Contact: Clinique La Prairie, Switzerland; Tel:
+41 21 989 33 11; [email protected]. Contact: SHA Wellness Clinic, Spain;
Contact: The Farm at San Benito, Philippines; Tel: +34966 81 11 99; reservations@
Tel: +632 884 8074; [email protected].


available in California, the beautiful product range
is already garnering a significant following
( While not available in
Ireland, you can check out the web for a range of
salons offering cannabis based treatments,
particularly in Colorado.

FLOATATION THERAPY Flotation at Slí Beatha
There’s been a steep rise in people using flotation
tanks. Devotees claim significant mental health and Watsu underwater massage
physical benefits from the sensory deprivation and
deep meditative state of floating in warm water FIRE MASSAGE (HUŎ LIÁO)
saturated in Epsom salts, in a dark, soundproofed Not for the fainted hearted and unlikely to be
pod. The feeling of utter freedom from physical coming to a salon near you anytime soon, Chinese
stimulus creates an almost trance-like state allowing fire massage claims to have a wide spectrum of
complete freedom for the mind to drift benefits from rejuvenation to weight loss. The
uninterrupted. I tried it a few times and felt treatment involves igniting alcohol soaked cloths
blissfully zoned out after an hour’s session which placed on the problem areas and allowing them to
passed in the blink of an eye. There is a growing burn for a minute or so before being extinguished by
body of research around the benefits of flotation, the therapist using a wet towel. Fire Facials are
also known as restricted environmental stimulation popular in Chinese beauty salons, which led to
therapy, in reducing stress and anxiety. Doctors in global headlines a few years back when the practice
Sweden, home to more flotation tanks than became known. There is some science to the use of
anywhere on the planet, can refer patients for extreme heat (hence the use of sauna and steam
flotations. Here in Ireland there are a growing baths) which can encourage lymphatic drainage and
number of places offering sessions. Prices range from aid metabolism but the use of fire is not
€60 to €65 for a one hour session. Try Slí Beatha recommended by the science community.
Float House, Naas Town Centre (;
Harvest Moon Centre, Dublin (; or WATER MASSAGE (WATSU)
Float Ireland, Cork ( The marriage of zen shiatsu and water led to the
development of watsu by Harold Dull at Harbin Hot
LUCID DREAM MEDITATION Springs in California back in the 1980s. The
proximity and intimacy of the therapy is integral to
You may already have experienced a dream where watsu, where the therapist cradles the client waist
deep in water. The use of warm water and flotation
you know you are conscious of the fact that you are allows for greater flexibility in muscle stretching,
bending and arching while the therapist gentle rocks
dreaming even though you can’t control the dream the recipient. The benefits include deep relaxation
and reduced muscle tension. Many claim it helps
itself. Lucid dreaming is just that. Lucid dream with sleep disorders and insomnia. Check out Watsu
Ireland on Facebook.
meditation aims to create a ‘dream reality’ state

which reaches into the furthest areas of the mind to

promote relaxation and sleep. There are a few

workshops that pop up in Ireland but last year the

opening of the first ever Dream Reality Cinema in

Beverly Hills created quite a stir. This is a novel

experience and very accessible even to the most

meditative sceptic. The 40-minute session is in a

zero-gravity chair with virtual reality glasses and

noise cancelling headphones while watching a

meditation movie that induces the wakeful sleep of

‘dream reality’. According to the brains behind it all,

Hungarian philosopher and

Dream Reality Cinema human cybernetics researcher
Sandor Lengyel, ‘Dream

Reality Cinema is the ultimate

brain hack…With continued

practice, individuals will learn

to remember, control, and

eventually unlock valuable

information stored deep in the

subconscious mind’


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