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16 April 2024

Top 10 Valentine's Day romantic breaks

St Regis Resort, Bora Bora, Tahiti. (SUPPLIED)

By Bindu Suresh Rai

That time of year is here again, when your Valentine is probably dropping broad hints for you to pick up the gauntlet and plan a trip for two, somewhere far, exotic and most importantly, where romance is literally in the air.

And while some may not be too easy to please, we almost guarantee they wouldn’t walk away from our list of 10 spa hideaways without feeling the love this February 14.

So pick one that suits you best and pack away for some romance and luxury that can only go hand in hand.

Huvafen Fushi, Maldives

Tranquil waters, sun-kissed beaches and a naturalist wonderland — the Maldives was designed for romance. So what better way to indulge in this heady feeling than by cozying up with your loved one at the Huvafen Fushi resort, set within its own aqua-magical lagoon.

The island provides the utmost privacy, amidst sweeping views of blue splendour. Sand walkways that snake through island vegetation and expansive living areas decorated with cutting edge design will even please those used to the highest standards in sensual living.

Taking in views of the dazzling Indian Ocean, here you will find the world’s first underwater Aquum Spa. With four single treatment rooms and two couple treatment rooms, what would really impress your Valentine is a dip in their two underwater couples treatment rooms. Enjoy your chosen treatment whilst gazing at the wonders of the Indian Ocean in your very own aquarium. Imagine the excitement you would feel if a Manta Ray gracefully pirouetted by or a dozen tropical fish danced for your pleasure.

With treats including the Maldivian Monsoon Ritual, Hawaiian Wave Four Hands Massage and special partner packages for both of you to enjoy, the Huvafen Fushi is a must for every couple.

The Villas Bali Hotel and Spa, Indonesia

Designed to impress, a first look at The Villas Bali Hotel and Spa will simply take your breath away. What began as a vision of artist Jim Elliott, as a private home for himself, has turned into one of the most exclusive residences in the world.

Incorporating traditional Balinese architecture with modern conveniences, Elliott’s dream project soon became the talk of town, resulting in the designer creating similar villas for his friends. Over the years though, word of mouth had strangers knocking on his door and the thus The Villas Bali Hotel and Spa was born, which has now become a legendary holiday destination for relaxation and some serious spa therapy.

The Prana Spa is the icing on the cake at the Villas Bali, with a stunning decor inspired by the legendary Moguls of Rajasthan. As you enter the lofty courtyard, the full meaning of Prana will be revealed to those in search of something different and profound.

Showcased in a bewildering riot of colours combined into the traditional decor of Islamic arches and corridors, the castle creates an amazing fantasy world to fulfill your dreams of exotic pampering, as you and your partner achieve bliss under the hands of their skilled Balinese therapists.

The Prana Spa Ritual is the kicker, with a six-hour indulgence of what can only be called a decadent pleasure that includes a hot and cold plunge pool experience, a foot ritual, a Balinese massage, an exfoliating body scrub, a body polish, a relaxing facial, a manicure or pedicure, a cream bath and lunch. Whew! If this doesn’t impress your Valentine, then we don’t know what will.

Anantara Spa Golden Triangle, Thailand

Perched on a ridge overlooking the hills of Myanmar and Laos, the Anantara Resort Golden Triangle is as enchanting as the region in which it’s located. On any given day, you can explore the surrounding forest on an elephant (they even have a sunrise breakfast trek if you fancy), take a boat ride down the Mekhong river, travel on a three-country one-day jaunt (Laos, Myanmar and Thailand) or simply spend the day rejuvenating at their award-winning spa.

With therapies also provided in your own private suite, you can share a romantic bath for two in a deep terrazzo tub with a view of the Mekhong, as your private balcony opens onto the rolling terrain of three countries.

Silk, regional cottons, wooden accents and Thai artworks form the backdrop of your intimate retreat, as the healing traditions of the East translated through the skilled hands of the therapists take you to a blissful land of your own.

The luxurious spa itself embraces traditional Thai treats where you can try a massage using ancient Thai herbal ingredients to thoroughly experience the treasures of this region. Treat yourself to the Culture of Anantara, their signature treatment that begins with an aromatherapy massage with a choice of four specially blended oils.

Using a combination of strokes and acupressure techniques, this soothing and gentle massage allows the healing properties of these natural oils to penetrate into the skin, leaving you relaxed and with a sense of well being.

Followed by an absolutely delicious treatment, relax and indulge your senses while you are completely covered and polished with an exotic blend of wild honey and brown sugar with luscious ripe bananas and fresh pumpkin to moisturise and nourish the skin, followed by a beautifully romantic sensual bathing experience that awaits you.

Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Mauritius

Overlooking the blue waters of Tamarin Bay, the Taj Exotica Resort & Spa is evocative of Mauritian architecture. Promising a luxurious haven of solitude and serenity, this unforgettable resort is spread over 27 scenic acres, with no detail being overlooked at this beautiful beachside destination that boasts interiors inspired by French Colonial, Indian, African, and Arabic design.

The highlight, of course, is the Taj Grande Spa, which is a sight to behold with its water courtyard design that is surrounded with expansive lush gardens and a reflecting pool, creating the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway.

Each of the six treatment suites offer unmatched luxury, with their own private relaxation garden; and should you or your partner fancy a bit of company then head to the yoga pavilion that overlooks the garden courtyard and the glittering water pool.

Aside from your usual treats, the spa also offers external tropical showers and resting pavilions, with your very own private patio. The swimming pool is raised and secluded making for quiet, personal moments in the common relaxation pavilion.

Along with signature Indian experiences and ceremonies, the Taj Grande also offers authentic in-depth Ayurveda programmes under the guidance of Vaidyas or Ayurveda physicians. The treatments have been designed to guide guests in their internal and external journey towards a balance of the physical and metaphysical being.

Sebel Reef House & Spa, Palm Cove, Australia

The Sebel Reef House & Spa, Palm Cove, voted numero uno in the coveted 2005 Readers’ Spa Awards (Australia/South Pacific) category of UK’s Conde Nast Traveller, and selected as the 10th best spa in the world, this boutique resort is located in a secluded beachside village, only 20 minutes north of Cairns.

Here nature abounds with centuries old majestic melaleucas, coconut palm fringed beaches and tropical gardens. With only 69 rooms, the resort maintains the relaxed feel of small, sophisticated hotel. But you will feel perfectly at home with all the luxuries of an international five star resort.

The beautifully appointed spa has been stunningly interior decorated in the exotic ‘plantation colonial’ style, which can only be described as uniquely tropical for north Queensland. It boasts five purpose designed ambient treatment rooms, with three dry rooms and two wet rooms (each with their own private Jacuzzi). An internal staircase leads up to the ‘Serenity Verandah’. Things to look out for are the two Vichy Showers and a magnificent leaf-shaped signature massage table that has been handcrafted from ancient recycled melaleuca wood.

Operated by ESpa, the spa specialises in Hot & Chilled Stone Treatment, dating back millions of years, including the Kodo Gubbera hot stone treat that uses primordial rocks found only in the far reaches of the land of Kimberley Never, Never (it is as exotic as it sounds).

The specials of the hour naturally include their dual treatments, where couples, honeymooners, best friends or mothers & daughters can experience the enjoyment of treatments together.

Daintree Ecolodge and Spa, Australia

Need to rekindle that romance this Valentine? Then you can’t do better than the Daintree Ecolodge and Spa, Australia for a private hideaway for you and your partner.

A private, boutique accommodation set in an ecological environment of exquisite natural beauty, here you will find delightful rainforest villas set amongst the miracles of nature.

Nestled in a lush rainforest valley, the 30-acre property is surrounded by the world’s oldest living rainforest — The Daintree World Heritage Rainforest — (40 million years older than the Amazon!) it is the ultimate destination to capture the mood of the tropics.

Winner of numerous awards, the forest, the rain and the natural life were the inspiration for the Daintree Spa’s unique design. It is the pristine water flowing from the waterfall and the use of the property’s resources of ginger, ochres and muds that brings everything together to soothe the spirit.

Daintree Spa specialises in Aboriginal massage techniques, using powerful Australian/Aboriginal products combined to provide a purely evocative mind, body and soul experience.

With a carefully chosen selection of body wraps, massages, beauty treatments, and a state of the art Vichy shower, (get this) your Director of Tranquility is always on hand to tailor-make your personal journey into revitalisation.

St Regis Resort, Bora Bora, Tahiti

The hottest new property there, the St Regis Resort, Bora Bora has already created a buzz for its unrivaled luxury and hospitality in French Polynesia and the South Pacific.

The magnificent 44-acre resort is edged with powdery sands and a tranquil lagoon, featuring 100 exquisitely designed guestrooms, configured within over-water and beach villas — many with terrace whirlpools or private swimming pools.

While the resort itself takes your breath away, it’s the 13,000 square foot Miri Miri Spa that is designed to impress even the most stringent spa connoisseur. Located on its own private island no less, Miri Miri Spa boasts seven luxurious spa suites, featuring Tahitian and Pacific Rim treatments. The use of natural herbs and extracts from the island, including the resort’s signature crushed pearl treatment, will create an unforgettable, sensual experience.

A must treat for you and your partner, the Luminous Pearl Body treatment of luxury leaves dull lack luster skin glowing, hydrated and radiant. Starting with a skin silkening scrub with natural marine actives to whisk away impurities, every inch of your body will be drenched in a restorative body emulsion that is spiked with natural pearl powder and body firming kamani oil. Exotic Tahitian black pearls are used to apply the Absolute Pearl Light Concentrate, creating an opalescent pearl shimmer for the entire body.

Banyan Tree Phuket, Thailand

Bordered by the golden sands and gentle waves of the Andaman Sea, Thailand, Banyan Tree Phuket is an oasis of peace and tranquility. A tropical paradise of extraordinary natural beauty, it has earned the honour of being voted one of the world’s best places to stay by Condé Nast Traveler, among many other accolades.

Exuding seclusion, luxury and romance, this exotic hideaway boasts only the finest facilities and ambience. Drawing on Asian traditions that date back centuries, this intimate retreat blends romance and serenity with exotic sensuality. The architecture of the intimate spa pavilions draws upon local inspiration to blend seamlessly with the beauty of the natural environment.

From the extravagance of a Spa Pool Villa to the romance of an Intimate Moments partner massage, the Banyan Tree Phuket has created a spa culture that literally uplifts all your senses. Start off with a luxurious spa bath decorated with lavender and jasmine petals, as you embrace wafts of calming incense.

Following the romantic flower bath in your own sunken bathtub or Jacuzzi, indulge in a sensual partner massage. Scented candles, aromatic oils, orchids, wine and tranquility music will be set up in your villa, creating an unforgettable setting. Perfect for relaxation, rejuvenation and indulgence.

Pangkor Laut, Straits of Malacca, Malaysia

If you are looking for a real island adventure then a room at Pangkor Laut has your name on it. This privately owned island is located three miles off the West Coast of Malaysia in the Straits of Malacca and situated here is the internationally acclaimed Pangkor Laut Resort.

Although the island encompasses a total of 300 acres, only a fraction has been developed to house the resort and its estates. The rest is covered by lush and unspoiled two million year old rainforest, with coves of beautiful beaches surrounded by an emerald sea.

There are 148 Malaysian-style luxury villas in the main Pangkor Laut Resort and eight magnificent estates in a nearby, secluded cove. As the island is only accessible to the guests of the resort and estates, it makes the perfect private holiday or a honeymoon getaway.

The resort offers a wide range of facilities and activities, including the award-winning Spa Village, one that extols the healing cultures of the region and offers an abundance of Malay, Chinese, Indian and Thai practices.

The Village is a collection of low buildings spread over four acres on a quiet bay between the sea and the rainforest. Designed to soothe and refresh the senses, the complex comprises eight treatment pavilions, a deluxe Belian Treatment Pavilion, Healing Huts, which include Chinese herbal, Ayurvedic and Malay Huts, a Wrap House where the menu changes daily with Ayurvedic, herbal, seaweed and Chinese herbal wraps.

We could tell you more, but seeing is believing.

Wildflower Hall, Himalayas, India

Cozy up this Valentine and head for the hills to the Wildflower Hall mountain retreat in Shimla, India. Situated at 8,350 feet in the magnificent Himalayas, the Oberoi run Wildflower Hall is a fairytale luxury resort set in the 23 acres of virgin woods of pine and cedar.

The former residence of Lord Kitchener, and rebuilt to a new magnificence, Wildflower Hall recreates the grand style of the colonial era. Enjoy beautiful views of mountains and valleys from the rooms, restaurants, the outdoor Jacuzzi and the heated swimming pool. Nature lovers can explore the Himalayas, while others can indulge in ultimate pampering at the luxurious spa pavilions.

The Oberoi Spa by Banyan Tree offers holistic treatments based on Ayurvedic, Asian and Western therapies to relax, rejuvenate and inspire.
Energised by the pure mountain air and inspired by the spirit of the Himalayas, embark on a luxurious spa journey where you can enjoy the serenity of private spa suites that are surrounded by the soothing views of cedar forests and majestic peaks.

While you take in the spectacle of the snow-capped Himalayas, enjoy the therapies offered, including the Aromatic Massage, Balinese Massage, Head and Shoulder Massage, Hawaiian Massage, Thai Massage and a Wild Lavender Scrub.

And once you have pampered yourself to heaven and back, enjoy the numerous pursuits such as river rafting, mountain biking, horse riding, trekking, archery, ice-skating (in winter) and golf.