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Aerial view across the pool at Lanserhof Sylt, Germany

The world’s top medical-grade spas

Combining the mind-clearing boost of a holiday with the body-healing smarts of seeing your GP, medical spas have always appealed to the weary. Now, slick advances in technology – particularly diagnostic and genomic testing – are seducing a new audience. If you’re eager to optimise your health, understand your gut, bounce back from burnout or simply learn how well you’re doing, MOT-style, these elite spas offer the very best of high-end rest and recuperation


Rooftop pool at SHA Wellness Clinic, Alicante

Best for: lightning-speed diagnostics

SHA Wellness Clinic, Alicante, Spain

Perhaps the only spa where impatience is a virtue, arrival starts in the lab, where a diagnostic run-down maps your vital data with the precision of Lewis Hamilton making a pit stop. Tech digs deep: a finger-pulse oximeter measures blood circulation, thereby airing your arteries’ dirtiest secrets, while a skin test analyses your ‘autofluorescence’ – the term given to ageing biomarkers called, funnily enough, AGEs (Advanced Glycated End products), which can predict conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Your body is up next. By analysing how your tissues resist a weak electric charge (known as bioelectrical impedance), experts identify exactly where muscle, fat and water have set up shop – while a 3D scanner records musculoskeletal form. Finally, neurocognitive games rate short-term memory, hand-eye coordination and attention, kind of like an educational Xbox. And that’s just the first half-hour. By performing a full health MOT immediately, SHA’s doctors, nutritionists, physios and PTs get you on a bespoke programme, stat. Including, in a world-first, Advanced Cellular Regeneration Therapy (€375 per 50-minute session). It’s a new machine that administers a microcurrent to transfer electrons to cells that are missing them (called free radicals). By redressing this cellular imbalance, it’s thought to perk up fatigue – making it particularly useful for long Covid.

The price of good health: Deluxe suites from €400 per night. Signature Rebalance and Energise four-day programmes from €2,300

Take off to Alicante

Treatment room at Aman Spa, New York

Best for: physical optimisation

Aman Spa at Aman New York, USA

Remember when the wellness offering at city-centre hotels meant a ropey treadmill and a Caesar salad? How times have changed. Aman New York’s spa is run by a Harvard-educated doctor, Robert Graham, and every guest is offered a 30-minute complimentary health assessment. Pioneering diagnostic tech zones in on your main concern. For cognitive performance, the Brain Gauge Pro is a computer-mouse-shaped device that emits vibrations to your fingertips to measure how corresponding parts of the brain react. For weight, the InBody 570 uses bioelectrical current to provide a more comprehensive picture of your body composition than your waistband ever could. Equally high-tech treatments include a cryotherapy chamber, where short bursts of sub-zero temperatures reduce inflammation (shrieking is optional), as well as Intermittent Hypoxic Training (IHT) – in-gym altitude training, where a face mask supplies bursts of oxygen-rich air, then oxygen-reduced air, to improve stamina. There’s also an Infrared Zone, where an elliptical machine, a treadmill and a massage roller emit infrared light – reported to bring circulatory benefits. Immersion Programs offer goal-orientated three- and five-day packages, such as rehabilitating an injury or managing stress.

The price of good health: Deluxe suites with breakfast from £1,430pp

Take off to New York

Zulal Wellness Resort harmonises with its surroundings

Best for: state-of-the-art genomic testing

Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som, Qatar

The first offshoot of Thailand’s award-winning Chiva-Som spa is also the first wellness resort in the world to blend Traditional Arabic Islamic Medicine (TAIM) with modern therapies. How modern? Think: genomic-testing modern. From an old-school saliva sample, a Vital Genomics Test uncovers your nutrigenetic profile, which shows the effect that different nutrients have on your body. Next, the Longevity Genomics Test looks at your susceptibility to chronic diseases and inheritable conditions, and spots sensitivities to allergens. It’s by understanding your unique genetic characteristics and predispositions that consultants can really go bespoke – offering lifestyle advice that’s chiselled down to a highly individualised level. Equally progressive treatments include Gyrotonic therapy – a mixture of Tai Chi, swimming and yoga performed on a reformer-esque machine that’s endorsed by Andy Murray. The Neurac Method provides therapeutic exercises designed to restore muscle coordination, which are done while suspended in body-supporting slings. Plus, Inter X – a novel handheld device – uses electrical stimulation to relieve pain in targeted places, such as back sciatica.

The price of good health: Zulal Serenity Retreats from 4,075 QAR (around £880) per night.

Take off to Doha

Reception at Lanserhof Sylt, Germany. Opening image: the outdoor pool

Best for: safeguarding heart health

Lanserhof Sylt, Germany (nearest airport is Billund, Denmark)

Alongside a sleek outpost in Mayfair’s prestigious The Arts Club, the newest resort in the Lanserhof family – whose tagline is ‘Live better for longer’ – sits on the sand-dune-swathed island of Sylt, dubbed Germany’s The Hamptons. The location wasn’t purely picked for kudos, though. A microclimate around the Wadden Sea (the world’s largest system of tidal flats, accredited by Unesco) creates humid air, rich in salt and iodine, that’s a tonic for respiratory issues. The clinic goes straight to the heart of wellness: it is led by cardiologist Dr Jan Stritzke, and the flagship package, Cardio Check-Up, focuses on reducing your risk of heart attack or stroke – around 80 per cent of which are considered preventable. Pin-point diagnostics include electrocardiogram monitoring, sleep apnoea screening and cardiopulmonary exercise testing called Spiroergometry. Essentially, by keeping tabs on your heart, lungs and vascular and metabolic system while you get sweaty, doctors can look for performance drops that may point to a medical issue. All the data gathered is put towards a nutrition and exercise regimen, built by sports scientists, to safeguard your ticker without medication.

The price of good health: Rooms from €316. Four-day Cardio Check-Up Packages from €7,991

Take off to Billund

Acupuncture treatment at RAKxa Integrative Wellness, Bangkok

Best for: the high-tech and the holistic

RAKxa Integrative Wellness, Bangkok, Thailand

There’s no knocking RAKxa’s medical credentials. A collaboration with Bangkok’s Bumrungrad International Hospital means its diagnostics are nothing if not thorough: expect blood tests, a hormone panel screening to check for imbalances, a bone analysis and nutritional tests spanning food intolerances to the gut microbiome. But alongside feeling a little like a lab rat, guests experience a very human side. Practitioners believe that in order to leave RAKxa feeling better, you must heal emotional strife – so you will be asked to share what’s new in your life and encouraged to offload. The hyper-personalised treatments – all targeted towards rebalancing health – also always include input from traditional Thai, Chinese and Ayurvedic specialists. That means that one day could involve an antioxidant IV-drip and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), where pure oxygen is inhaled in order to fill blood with enough of it to heal tissues. The next day, it could be acupuncture, Ayurvedic Marma points therapy (a massage based on energy-stimulating points) or a traditional Thai herbal bath.

The price of good health: Five-night Rebalance Programmes from £3,926

Take off to Bangkok

The Original FX Mayr on Lake Woerthersee

Best for: going skin deep… and then some

The Original FX Mayr, Austria (nearest airport is Ljubljana, Slovenia)

While there are now several competing Mayr resorts on the market – all named in homage to Austrian gastroenterologist Franz Xaver Mayr and his intestinal rebalancing therapies – The Original FX Mayr was, cue the name, the first. The idea that gut health could influence overall health was radical back in 1915 when Mayr did his first dietary fast. Today, it’s mainstream thinking, and it’s now the intricacy of the testing that’s the radical bit. The Mayr Prelab service gets cracking before you even arrive: a stool sample is used for a microbiome analysis, while a blood test checks for vitamin deficiencies and up to 88 food allergens. Once you arrive, diagnostics will dig as deep as your pockets are happy to go. New for 2024, the Mayr Med Diagnostic examines cholesterol, sugar levels, fitness capability and liver, kidney and thyroid values. Delve even further, and the Med Health Check includes a cardiac examination, an internal ultrasound and a neurotransmitter stress test. Plus, there are add-ons covering neurological, lung and urological health. With a repeat-guest ratio of more than 50 per cent, you can trust more than your gut here.
The price of good health: Single room with seven-day Mayr programme from £3,742

Take off to Ljubljana

Pool with a view at Grand Resort Bad Ragaz in Switzerland

Best for: health that’s gone belly up

Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, near Zurich, Switzerland

Bad Ragaz is a med-tech pioneer today, and it was good old H₂O from nearby Tamina gorge that put it on the map. Benedictine monks discovered the tipple’s rejuvenating powers back in 1242, when the infirm were dangled, bungee-style, to bob in the 36.5°C waters. Musculoskeletal benefits, as well as improved health of the heart, lungs, kidneys and even hormones, explain why a sophisticated medical centre – currently accredited by the Swiss Olympic committee – emerged here. Somewhat ironically, the signature treatment is now equally focused on what comes out of your body as what’s glugged down it. The My Microbiome package starts at the bottom – literally – with a stool analysis, followed by a deep-dive interrogation of your gastrointestinal ecosystem. In terms of gut bacteria, that means finding out who’s down there, how diverse your squad is and if you have an imbalance, known as dysbiosis, identified via a breath test that spots gases produced by bacteria. Qualified nutritionists and a gastroenterologist then swap notes to create an easily digestible plan for healthier gut flora.

The price of good health: Rooms with breakfast from CHF 500 (around £450). Three-day My Microbiome packages from CHF 5,250 (around £4,800)

Take off to Zurich