If a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, can opulent accommodations make a health checkup seem like a holiday? High-end hotel operators hope so. Historically at these havens of self-indulgence, guests wouldn't dream of mixing gourmet meals and mud baths with MRI scans and nutrition counseling. But it's now a global trend. Teaming up with medical clinics, spa consultants, fitness trainers and nutritionists, luxury resorts are becoming five-star, silk-and-marble-adorned wellness centers that offer solutions to health issues brought on by hectic lifestyles. "Consumers are more interested in staying at lovely places that make them feel cared for now," explains spa consultant Amy McDonald. Here are three standouts.
RITZ-CARLTON SPA VILLAGE, KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA
Health and wellness treatments at the worldwide chain's Spa Villages aim to incorporate the healing cultures of the regions in which they are located. Besides such therapies as Moxa Navel Activation, an abdominal massage that improves metabolism and digestion, many guests at the Kuala Lumpur resort make time for a meditation session in the Sensory Room. Inside the darkened chamber, woofers under the floor emit vibrations that are said to calm clients' senses and heighten awareness. Each three-hour session is $360 per couple. www.ritzcarlton.com
BRENNER'S PARK-HOTEL AND SPA, BADEN BADEN, GERMANY
This recently renovated, 135-year-old resort is a landmark in Baden Baden, the renowned spa town near the Black Forest. For decades, the privileged have luxuriated in the town's hot mineral baths, reputed to have healing powers. The staff at the new Medical Spa at Brenner's examines, diagnoses and prescribes using traditional medical techniques as well as naturopathic therapies. Other professionals can cap or bond teeth, smooth wrinkles or treat skin lesions. Two-night packages including a spa visit are about $4,000 for two people. www.brenners.com
FOUR SEASONS, WESTLAKE, CALIFORNIA, U.S.
The eight-month-old Four Seasons complex represents the vanguard of the movement. The facility's California WellBeing Institute offers a full complement of medical services, from massages and meditation to blood tests and physicals. Physiologists provide personal fitness training, while nutritionists give tutorials on healthy cooking. State-of-the-art imaging devices and a proprietary DNA-damage test help five full-time doctors diagnose and treat guests. Prices for three-day sessions run up to $4,200 per person. www.fourseasons.com/westlakevillage/california_wellbeing_institute/