THE 8 BEST SPAS IN THE WORLD FOR 2017
These are the Condé Nast Traveller Spa Awards 2017 winners: the eight most exceptional places in the world to relax, re-align and re-energise, to lose weight or stop feeling sad or learn to sleep like a baby again
MANY OF Tulum’s inhabitants came to visit and never left. It’s the pull of nature: miles of aqua sea and white sand backed by thick Quintana Roo bush; off-grid night skies full of starlight and moonbeams. As well as honeymooners and partygoers it has drawn world-class teachers; one of these is Yaan’s wizard-like spa director, Bobby Klein. A former rock photographer who hung out with The Doors and the Stones in the 1960s, Klein was one of the first Westerners to practice acupuncture in LA. These days he’s an in-demand Intuitive Life Counsellor and his powerful energy radiates throughout Yaan’s sparkly-walled wonderland. Follow the white smoke trail of copal (a sacred resin Mayans burnt to connect to the divine) and it’ll take you down to the therapy pools and garden treatment cabins. The lo-fi style, modern with rustic touches (changing-room sinks sunk into reclaimed tree trunks, a vintage Fifties-style dresser in the relaxation area) is the creation of Sebastian Sas, who co-owns Yaan as well as Nomade, the accommodation choice of drifter fashionistas, with ocean-front rooms opening out to pristine beach. Yogis will love the (more affordable) Bedouin tents. Kick things off with a one-to-one multi-dimensional counselling with Klein, whose background in Jungian psychotherapy brings forth life-coping strategies as well as connection to your spiritual side. Healing is a big part of the 60-minute session – you lie down as he cradles your head craniosacral-style and sings soul-stirring American Indian chants. It’s a fitting start. Klein has gathered a group of local healers who meld modern spa practices with mysticism, massage and herbal medicines their families have used for generations. It doesn’t matter if your basic Spanish isn’t enough to converse; you’re in safe hands with Elizabeth for the Yäan Traditional Mayan, a mesmerising, nurturing ritual including Sobada Maya, deep organ-realigning massage that miraculously lifts the belly and eliminates bloat. Therapist Arlette has studied with Mexican tribal leaders and you feel this connection as she whispers sacred words at the start of the Four Elements treatment and rolls onyx crystals up and down the spine to unravel back tension. The Thai Temple treatment with Carolina is a physical experience of deep stretching and unravelling of muscles, combining recognisable Thai massage moves with her own delicate, precision release in long-neglected joints. Klein curated Yaan as a place to reach higher states of awareness. A lofty vision, yes, but it’s certainly one of a kind, and the more you let go of that urban armour, the more the place opens you up to self-recovery.
INSIDER TIP Allow an hour to dip into the therapeutic waters, drawn from cenotes. Spa angels clad in white smocks bring scrubs to the steam room, urge you into the cold shower, give a talk through meditation and afterwards offer sweet tea and a shoulder-melting hot pad as you lie in the shade under the palms.