By Sharron Pankhurst
(All photos and logos provided by their respective destinations.)
It’s time to schedule some relaxation in your life…but who has space in their planner for down time? I know I don’t, but it gets my attention if the question is asked another way, “When was the last time you gave your body permission to relax?” Decide now to make your year right, by giving your body a break from the stress of living in the 21st century.
Busyness is part of everyone’s life and will always override whatever peace you try to hang onto. The Bible encourages you to make time to renew your mind. Part of renewing the mind includes ministering to the body: the temple where you reside.
Check out the five ultimate spas below—places where you can run away and experience true physical and spiritual rejuvenation. These aren’t your ordinary spa retreats. They’re five unique, exotic, and unusual retreats that aim to awaken and fulfill your senses.
Let them take you by the hand and enjoy what you’ve been missing.
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center Nashville, TN— USA 866.972.6779
—Relâche Spa
“…one thing that still remains is the Southern Hospitality that you will experience”
Visit a resort in the heart of the Bible belt that includes climate-controlled glass atriums in nine acres of winding rivers and pathways. Known as the “biggest spa in Tennessee,” the options for spa services from the Relâche Spa are practically unlimited. Review the list below regarding a few popular options, but check the website for a complete list.
Spa packages include the full use of their Steam and Sauna rooms, Locker rooms, access to co-ed Tea/Relaxation Lounge, Robes, sandals, a complimentary beverage and fruit in the lounge. These amenities are offered free for the entire day on the day of your appointment (otherwise, the cost for this luxury is $25/day).
Massages: Harmonic Couples Massage—A secluded spa haven is offered in the couple’s therapy treatment room. A perfect getaway allowing you to share a side-by-side massage. Either an Aromatherapy, Swedish, or Deep Tissue massage—your choice. Neuromuscular—Not for the weak minded but, oh, so wonderful to experience. Deep pressure is applied to specific trigger areas of the connective tissue, which allows tight, knotted muscles to relax.
Facials: Invigorating Scalp Treatment—An aromatherapy scalp treatment that complements any massage or facial. An exhilarating blend of essential oils gently massaged into your scalp will stimulate circulation and send you to heaven. Gentleman’s Hot Towel Facial—At last, someone designed a facial to meet the specific needs of a man’s skin. Nutrient-rich marine agents will address the areas neglected by everyday shaving and drying soaps. This facial was created to leave your skin feeling fresh and invigorated.
Nail, Hand and Foot Therapies: Tropical Paradise Manicure (or Pedicure): Not your average manicure, this restorative treatment begins with a relaxing soak in coconut milk, followed by exfoliation with a pure cane sugar infusion of essential oils, enzymes, and coconut oil. Enjoy the pleasure of relaxing while rich lotion is massaged into your arms to complete this memorable experience.
Ask about the “not to be missed” Skin Renewal Therapies and the Signature Body Therapies.
The Mount Grace Country House & Spa Magaliesburg— SOUTH AFRICA +27 0 14 577-5600 “…a haven of tranquility and beauty”
When I said runaway from it all, I meant it. The Mount Grace Spa is located on ten South African acres in the Magaliesburg Mountains, about one hour’s drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Mission Statement—Provide a peaceful, relaxing and beautiful environment for the weary guest with the beauty of extensive English gardens and classical music concerts held once per month in the acoustically designed Great Hall.
Interesting background: 1946—Colonel Pretorius purchased the property from the owners who called it “The Thatchstone Inn” and added improvements to turn it into a popular resort, especially for honeymooners (who still return for nostalgic visits).
1977—Hotel was sold to Mr. Haydon and became The Rockberg Hotel, a drinking hole and retreat for illicit love affairs.
1981—Property purchased by a group of investors who converted it into a church campsite called “El Hannan”--Hebrew for the graciousness of God. Financial difficulties caused the property to be sold to Chippy Brand, one of the shareholders, who converted it back to a hotel. Chippy and his wife, Cynthia, renamed the facility Mount Grace, because of the beauty of the Magaliesburg Mountains. Mount Grace is literally, mountain of undeserved favour.
Tucked in a secluded area of The Mount Grace Hotel facilities, your own private luxury waits for you in the Treetops Village, nestled in a wooded ravine filled with exotic birdlife. Mountain Village rooms provide views of lush gardens (some face the Magaliesburg countryside) with mini bars and heated towel racks. Visitors to the Mountain Village are encouraged to allow an internal peace invade their senses as they focus on the structure of the main building. Completed with natural stone, the building’s façade curves to represent a baby in the fetal position.
Awarded: —Best Spa 2006—Star Readers’ “Your Choice” Awards —Best Spa 2006—Top 10 Getaway Places —South Africa’s Most Unique Spa –2004—Getaway Magazine —Best Weekend Getaway for 2003—Best of Johannesburg “Readers’ Choice” Awards”
Relax in the outdoor “Hydrotherapy Spa Garden” featuring a Jacuzzi pool, cold rock pools with a waterfall, and an “Elixir Liquid Sound Flotation Pool” designed for floating. Privacy and spa treatments are intended to accommodate individual needs.
Troubles? Problems? You’ll be in the Magliesburg Mountains in South Africa enjoying peace and serenity at one of the most exotic spa retreats in the world.
Wish you were here!
The Founders Inn & Spa Resort Virginia Beach, VA 23464—USA 757.424.5511 800.926.4466
—Flowering Almond Spa 757.366.5700 “From world-class cuisine to the ultimate in pampered spa luxury, mind, body and soul will be nourished”
Catch a snapshot of your inner self—the person you push and shove to meet deadlines. Use this unusual spa retreat, located in the peaceful beauty of a Virginian estate with Grand Georgian architecture, as a way to nurture and take care of yourself, the entire you.
Let the simple structure of their website influence you to start relaxing as you click into the spa’s list of options. You may be surprised at the variety of relaxing amenities available. Every spa has massage therapies, but the Flowering Almond Spa takes it up a couple notches. “Body Rituals” include “Lavender Dreams” and the “Moroccan Rose Body Rituals.” Look up the Moroccan Mud Wrap, the Turkish Salt Scrub, or the Malaysian Silk Body Scrub.
Imagine…a box of chocolate-covered strawberries, a breakfast buffet for two on Saturday plus Sunday Brunch in the Swan Terrace, and two 50-minute spa treatments and two 25-minute treatments—oh, did I tell you this package comes with a late 2:00 PM checkout?
Romance with balance and harmony permeates the air as you experience the Couples Spa Rejuvenation Weekend package.
After your senses are awakened and your physical body is relaxed in this stress-free tranquil setting, you’re going to appreciate sleeping late on the day you leave to go home. Note that amenities include a Fitness Center outfitted with cardio, free weights, and elliptical equipment.
— I think it’s time you schedule something unusual. Experience a “first” with your loved one!
Mauna Lani Resort at Kalahuipua’a Kohala Coast, Big Island, Hawaii—USA 800.367.2323
—The Mauna Lani Spa 808.881.7922 “a uniquely Hawaiian haven that glides you towards relaxation and fulfillment”
Location, location, location. How can you do anything when you arrive, but breathe in the flower-scented Hawaiian air and let a warm tropical breeze lure you to the shoreline. You will get that and more at The Mauna Lani Resort at Kalahuipua’a.
Twenty-three miles north of the Kona International Airport, this resort has 29 oceanfront acres with three miles of secluded beaches. The Mauna Lani Spa resembles a Hawaiian village and provides indoor and outdoor spa treatments.
“Lava Love” Designed for couples who workout together, this package provides a uniquely Hawaiian haven experience with several specialized treatments for relaxation. Want to enjoy a morning fitness walk, access to the Fitness Club, sauna, steam room, hot tub and lap pool? This is the package for you. It includes a Hula lesson and a Sunrise beach fitness workout. Insiders tip for “Lava Love” requires a minimum 3 night stay and the package includes exceptional cuisine of the CanoeHouse.
“Lomilomi” is a spiritual, ancient Hawaiian massage technique passed on through family generations by either the elders (kupuna) or the keepers of the secret (kahuna). The treatment begins with a prayer (pule) in the Hawaiian language and employs the use of forearms and elbows to create rhythmical and vigorous euphoria.
The Mauna Lani Spa receives December 2007 prestigious award: Spa Healthy Living, Travel & Renewal magazine awarded the “Silver Sage Readers’ Choice Award” to the spa. Voted to receive this honor by 25,000+ online voters for category of “best-loved spas from around the world.”
For those who prefer disciplined physical activity, please contact and talk to Rip Oldmeadow, the on-site Sport & Fitness Club’s personal trainer.
— Let the retreat experience truly enrich your soul
St. Joseph Institute Port Matilda, PA—USA 814.692.4954 “…life should be a constant journey of be better in all areas of our lives – professionally and personally”
Think you can’t make a difference in your world? St. Joseph Institute, founded by two people whose lives are examples of how to change the world, are doing just that, one person at a time.
Michael Campbell and Jenny Sheetz have worked together to create a haven of escape that defines the word retreat. St. Joseph Institute was designed to minister specifically to the whole you…Body, Soul & Spirit. When you visit the website, click “General Information” – Read about their backgrounds and learn about their hearts.
A philosophy supported by three key concepts is provided to all who attend. Holistic—treatments based on the interrelationship of mind, body, spirit, and emotions. Not only is the body taken care of, lasting solutions to personal, professional, and spiritual issues are treated. Ecumenical—based on Christian principles, the Institute respects people of all traditions and denominations. Service—each guest is treated as a unique individual and the goal is to identify your needs and help you work through any issues so they can be a part of your journey to wholeness. Note that the Institute’s school for holistic health care and massage therapy is licensed by the Department of Education.
Spending time alone at a spa or with your mate in a place where your soul and mind connect and inner peace begins to speak to you in the quiet moments—will turn you into a new person. In addition, it may extend your lifespan.
Three Steps to Ensure a Body, Soul and Spirit Connection:
Every night, the week before your spa date, inform your body to start relaxing. Lie in bed and listen to your breathing for 10-15 seconds. Then, start at the top of your head and work your way down the body to your toes: Tighten a specific muscle, Hold—count 1,2,3, and Relax—count 1,2,3.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised when the tenseness starts melting away.
Meditate—Let go of the distractions—turn the TV off. Just for one week, go for quiet. Every night as you prepare for bed, discipline your mind to create a list of the good things in your life, contemplate the blessings that have come your way. Answer the question, “What in my life do I have to be thankful about?”
Be purposeful in your thinking because you are headed toward a grateful heart by the end of the week.
The spiritual part of you is where you connect with God—you experience his pleasure in you. Problem is, you never slow down or have enough quiet in your life to hear or sense his presence.
As you go to the spa and experience physical relaxation, use this time to be aware of his closeness. The very molecules in your body want to worship him with you.
Get back into friendship with God.
Life is about choices—not making a decision is making a choice. Fortunately, it’s in your ballpark to make a change, do something that will benefit you. A trip to an ultimate spa will help you rediscover what it feels like to let go…relax those muscles that you work so diligently to strengthen.
Although there are spa destinations around the world providing a plethora of services, most do not have a faith-based focus. It is up to you to merge the bodily relaxation you receive at a spa retreat to reconnect your body with the spiritual part of you.
You know all about discipline, that’s how you are able to remain focused and stay physically fit. Apply that discipline now—make those reservations.

Sharron Pankhurst is the Executive Editor for the new travel lifestyle magazine, map that will launch in the spring of 2008 at . Sharron enjoys an active lifestyle with her husband Paul. They live in California. You can reach her at

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