The Best New Wellness Resorts in the World: 2020 Hot List

When our team of editors and contributors set off for a year of hopscotching the globe to put together Conde Nast Traveler’s 2020 Hot List, we could never have imagined that by the time we were able to announce our winners, we would be staying home for the foreseeable future. In 24 years of putting together this compendium of the latest and greatest industry openings, we’ve never published it in a year like this. Many on this list have had to, at least temporarily, close their newly opened doors. Even still, we are proud to unveil this selection of the four best new hotels to help travelers truly reset and feel better when they leave than when they landed. Included is the first-ever wellness retreat from a leading global brand, inland and up a hill on a petite Hawaiian island (trust us, the palms and the pools mean you won’t miss the beach) as well as a multi-property circuit from the leader in wellness through the quiet, temple-dotted countryside of Bhutan. When we do start to travel again, these are exactly the types of places that will reset you for the year ahead.

1- Taj Rishikesh Resort & Spa, Uttarakhand

Turn right out of the hotel gates and a winding road takes you through the forested foothills of the Indian Himalayas to the source of the sacred River Ganges. Turn left and the road leads back into Rishikesh, a hub for Hindu pilgrims, backpacking seekers, and Beatles fans devoted enough to poke around in the igloo-like pods where the mop tops once meditated, wrote songs, and got high. Yet up until now this neck of the woods has not been equipped to cater to those hoping to find material comfort as well as spiritual enlightenment during their visit. Indian hotel heavyweight Taj has sorted out the material side of things nicely. The new Rishikesh property is an architecturally striking cluster of cantilevered pavilions set across a steep hillside; they are made of local materials, adorned with traditional motifs and arranged so that each of the 79 rooms has a view of the jade-green Ganges. The sense of place continues throughout the rest of the hotel—particularly on the menus of its three restaurants, with regional dishes that will surely be new even to connoisseurs of Indian food. Meanwhile, for sybarites of a different disposition, the spa—the largest of any of Taj’s much-loved Jiva spas, will be reason enough to make the trip to the mountains.
Insider Tip: There are free yoga and meditation classes for early birds. As the sun sets, a Ganga Aarti ceremony, a prayer to the river sung at the water’s edge, takes place, during which candlelit offerings are released into the current. Doubles from about $265.

2- Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Hawaiian hotels may differ in size and price and every repeat visitor will argue the superiority of their island, but most have a pretty predictable common denominator, the beach. Which is why the opening of this hotel is such a major shakeup. For starters, it’s 1800 feet above sea level and a 20-minute drive to the nearest sandy stretch. Then there’s the fact that it’s on Lanai, the smallest and least-visited of Hawaii’s inhabited islands. And it’s an all-inclusive, adults-only wellness retreat, meaning the usual lounging in the sun while alternating between shave ice and spam musubi snacks doesn’t make it onto the daily schedule. All to say, Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort is about as niche as it gets. It’s also quite possibly the loveliest spot to give mind-body wellness a real shot. The fitness and nutrition experts (think cheerleader meets drill sergeant with a touch of Oprah) do their part, crafting hyper custom itineraries that might focus on strength or flexibility. Relaxation gets as much focus as physical exercise—morning lakeside mediation, a watsu session in a body-temperature pool or a traditional lomi a’e massage. As does nutrition, where a partnership with Nobu means light but delicious menus with lots of local raw fish. But the real inspiration to make a hard change comes from the natural surroundings, 24-acres of the most beautiful gardens where tangles of banyan trees, mule’s foot ferns, birds-of-paradise, and heady gardenias grow to near Audrey II proportions against the backdrop of Lanai’s pine-dense Koloiki Ridge. This is a place to get fit and maybe drop a pound or two, and moreover, it’s a peaceful place for introspection and true restoration.

3- Six Senses Punakha

Six Senses is the latest of the global hotel heavyweights to land in Bhutan (following Aman and COMO), and its culturally considered approach is a natural fit for a pristine kingdom that has been largely unchanged for centuries. Both put wellness—and by default, happiness—first, for starters. A circuit of five lodges, each with its own distinct design, encourages bliss-seekers to plot a path through the major western and central valleys. Of all the outposts, rustic and intimate Six Senses Punakha is the standout. The lush rice paddies and traditional farmhouses of the low-lying countryside inspired the Himalayan-wood living room and bar that cantilevers dramatically over the pool. There is a spa and 16 calming all-wood suites split across four pale-buttermilk buildings (plus a trio of villas), all with a bukhari stove and sliding glass doors that open onto a deck where the forest-clad mountains appear almost close enough to touch. Early-morning hikes through fields of red chiles end at a tucked-away temple; white-water-rafting on the Mo Chhu River is followed by sampling moonshine-style ara wine at a nearby farmer’s home. At night, lanterns lead the way to the candle-lit terrace for dinner, where the set menu kicks off with pork dumplings and fiery chile ezzay. While some of the other lodges are more obviously impressive, this is a cocooning hideaway fitting for this magical land. 
Insider Tip: After admiring the religious paintings in the Punakha dzong, stop for a refreshing pomegranate Cosmopolitan at the makeshift bar set up by the river. Doubles from about $1188, full board.

4- Hoshinoya Guguan

The Hoshinoya group’s second hotel outside of Japan is a wellness escape where every tiny detail has been fine-tuned. The sleek outdoor hallways are shaped from slatted wood, which catches a cool breeze from the meticulously manicured, bamboo-dotted grounds. Only the background gurgle of the flowing hot springs breaks the silence in the zen gardens. And then there are the steaming mineral-rich pools, whose abundance in the country’s central mountains attracted the brand in the first place, blowing the cover on what had long been a secret weekend escape for Taiwanese urbanites. While the views from the baths are the unmistakable rugged peaks typical of this part of Taiwan, the etiquette is all Japanese. That means swimsuits off, and everyone soaks together. If this feels a little too exposed, each of the 49 tatami-matted bedrooms has its own open-air onsen fed by the mountain springs. Views—either from the private hot spring or the floor-to-ceiling windows—are dreamy at sunset, especially with a local craft lager in hand. This standout retreat is raising the curtain on a new destination for the rest of the world.
Insider Tip: Suppers pair unexpected local ingredients such as figs, dried shrimp, and matcha mochi with razor-sharp Japanese techniques. Doubles from about $597.

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