The goop List: 12 Exceptional Destination Spas and Wellness Retreats

Written by: the Editors of goop


Published on: May 23, 2024

Photo courtesy of Auberge Resorts Collection

Photo courtesy of Auberge Resorts Collection

Sometimes the pursuit of well-being is farmers’ market vegetables, a yoga class, and an early bedtime. And sometimes it’s booking an intensive retreat at a destination spa where you’re scrubbed down, turned inside out, and returned to the world a whole new person.

The goop List is our annual roundup of the world’s most exceptional experiences. Every edition is a labor of love, in service to you: We start with Gwyneth’s most-loved spots, go out to her friends and peers for their new discoveries and all-time favorites, and cut anything short of amazing. We go through every single spot with Gwyneth again. And we end up here, with a tight list of only incredible experiences.

In this edition, we bring you the kinds of spas that will ruin you for other spas. We consider these the best in the world right now, whether you’re looking for a gentle reset just a few hours from home or a life-altering shift somewhere far, far away.

(In case you missed it: We recently rounded up our top luxury hotels. Restaurants, coming soon.)

Mii Amo


The same way the spiritual vortex of Sedona draws seekers, it draws healers—and you can work with the best of them at Mii Amo. This spa was revolutionary when it opened in 2001. And thanks to a full renovation, completed just last year, it’s joined the ranks of our most-obsessed-over design hotels. Expect a marvel of deep-rose stucco, woolly blankets, and sunken seating. All 23 guest rooms look out at the towering red-rock walls of the canyon that surrounds the property. Its new signature restaurant, Hummingbird, serves nourishing, thoughtfully presented food—like jackfruit tacos, salmon ceviche, and citrusy salads—which you can eat in the airy dining room, by the pool, or through room service.

Mii Amo calls a stay here a journey, and it’s apt: For 3, 4, 7, or 10 days—no more, no less—visitors follow personalized programs designed by a guide to address whatever called them here. (Maybe that’s connection, solace, indulgence, or something else.) Depending on a guest’s needs, a journey might include traditional spa offerings, like enzyme wraps and lymphatic facials, as well as specialty services, like shirodhara and Reiki healing. Spiritual treatments—meditation, hypnosis, past-life regression, and more—can be emotionally intense and incredibly cathartic. Even downtime contributes to the objectives of clarity and discovery: Your guide might prescribe intuitive watercolor, hikes in the canyon, dry sauna, or private pickleball lessons. If you’re feeling energetically stuck, come here.

SHA Spain


Impressive facilities, design-forward spaces, and expansive views of the Costa Blanca’s mountainous coastline are all almost enough to distract you from the fact that you’re here on a detox. SHA was established to put guests on the road to optimal well-being. The founder rebounded from chronic health problems after aligning diet, natural therapies, and contemporary medicine, and the marriage of all three remains part of SHA’s core philosophy.

SHA is pleasurable in many ways, and you come out of it feeling amazing, but it’s no easy, breezy spa weekend. This place is serious. Guests must choose a focused program for their stay (detox, intensive detox, performance, vitality, or healthy aging). A doctor coordinates their care. Treatments lean more clinical than relaxing; massages and mindfulness have their place here, but they’re part of a bigger, more medicalized picture.

What sets this spa apart is its range: People come looking for help with sexual health, long-term cognitive ability, better skin—and somehow SHA does it all. In addition to the original spa in Spain, there’s a new location in Mexico, which we’re eager to check out.

Photos courtesy of Auberge Resorts Collection

The Well at Hacienda AltaGracia


Costa Rica’s Talamanca Mountains are home to two-toed sloths, vibrant pink hummingbirds, and hill after hill of coffee farms—and Auberge resort Hacienda AltaGracia. You could, if you wanted to, come here just to enjoy the resort’s leafy, vivid-green surroundings. Unlike many of the other spas on this list, Hacienda AltaGracia is a resort first and foremost. But we’d argue no trip here is complete without clocking serious hours at the destination-worthy spa: The Well.

Your wellness journey starts in Casa de Agua, the glassed-in bathhouse with a sumptuous thermal circuit, the centerpiece of which is a gigantic heated marble slab where a spa attendant slathers you in hand-harvested clay. From there, guests might find themselves in Ashtanga yoga postures, release blocked emotions in a craniosacral therapy session with a master practitioner, or cleanse their aura in a river-fed pool. The coffee scrubs, herbal baths, energy clearings—it’s all to the end of finding a sense of peace, and it’s hard to imagine spending a day here without achieving exactly that.

The Ranch Malibu


This weeklong boot camp in Malibu encourages you to power down, let go of stress, and break less-than-healthy habits. Which is not a small task, and appropriately not a small effort: Every day starts with several hours of hiking in the (stunning) Santa Monica Mountains, and guests clock up to 60 miles a week. That has benefits for the body, yes; if you’d like, the practitioners here will do a cholesterol check and body scan at the beginning of your program and again at the end. But all that physical exertion is mentally and emotionally cathartic, too. (We don’t have to tell you twice that nature is good for you.)

Guests arrive all at once in groups of 25 and move as a cohort through the week’s programming, which includes the hikes plus daily fitness classes, meditation, nutrition lectures, and cooking demos. It’s a busy schedule, and it’s social, but not at the expense of relaxation; there’s prescribed nap time and daily massages for that, and your cottage is your own when you want a few hours solo. But we’d wager you’ll spend your downtime dipping in the pool together or gabbing in the great room, and that you’ll leave with a tight sense of community in the people you’ve met here; returners often book with the friends they made last time.

Photos courtesy of Alexander Haiden

Lanserhof Tegernsee


Lanserhof picked up its guiding philosophy from Austrian physician Franz X. Mayr, who believed cleansing the digestive system was the starting place for total health. The doctor-guided Mayr therapy system goes like this: You fast, drinking only tea and water. Then you detox, drinking Epsom salts to purge the system. And then you eat—at first, according to a radically restricted diet of sheep’s milk yogurt, buckwheat toast, and steamed vegetables—and learn to chew properly. (Thirty to forty times for each small bite.) It is intensely challenging.

That said, the central activity at Lanserhof is relaxation. Stress, they teach, really mucks up your body’s functions. The spa offers a vast menu of treatments, some traditional (like fruit acid facials and Dead Sea salt soaks), others cutting-edge (like electromagnetic sculpting). And if the pampering were not enough to distract you from your detox, the mesmerizing location might be. The facility is peaceful and the vibe contemplative—you could call it monastic, if monasteries had floor-to-ceiling windows and heavenly beds.

There are three other Lanserhof locations: Lans, the original location outside Innsbruck; Sylt, on a German island off Denmark’s western coast; and Lanserhof at the Arts Club, in London.

Chiva-Som Hua Hin


When you step out of the car at Chiva-Som, three hours from Bangkok along a beachy stretch of coast, the spa staff greets you with lemongrass tea, a cold towel, and a garland of jasmine and roses. You can relax here. Chiva-Som opened nearly 30 years ago, and it remains one of the world’s best destination spas. Because of its longstanding and worldwide reputation, it draws all types, from all over the place.

Guests can try whichever treatments call to them—there are over 200 to pick from, and the massage menu is particularly good. (Try reflexology, Thai massage, or acupressure, which are highlights.) Or they might sign up for a retreat, which offers more targeted experiences for healthy aging, headaches, digestive function, blood pressure, athletic performance, yoga, or herbalism. There are nearly endless ways to do it, but however they choose to, visitors will discover that the staff is what makes Chiva-Som special. It’s hard not to smile in response to their enthusiastic and encouraging instruction—or leave without adopting their optimistic view of life and health.

Photos courtesy of Joali Being

Joali Being


When your seaplane lands at Raa Atoll, go ahead and lose your phone. At Joali Being, a guiding philosophy of weightlessness means letting go of your regular habits for a more intuitive way of life. It’s easier to sacrifice your attachments here, digital or otherwise, and it’s no mystery why: The island, covered in immaculate palm groves and dotted with modern Maldivian architecture, is so beautiful that you wouldn’t want to miss a moment.

Visitors start their journey with a full panel of naturopaths, therapists, and movement experts, who curate immersive experiences to address guests’ goals over the course of their stay. For those who come here seeking to unravel pent-up stress, that might involve a private sound bath where you’re surrounded by gongs and chimes. Beauty obsessives might take a cooking class focused on skin-enhancing foods. Or perhaps you’ll take a workshop on DIY herbal teas, plunge into hot and cold pools in the hydrotherapy hall, or dive deep into Ayurvedic recipes for more-restful sleep. Everyone goes home feeling lighter.

Photos courtesy of Tyson Sadlo and Herd Represented

Palazzo Fiuggi


In a hilltop village surrounded by farmland, about an hour and a half from Rome, there’s the ultraluxe medical spa Palazzo Fiuggi. People have traveled to Fiuggi for centuries just for the natural spring water, which, legend has it, is healing. You’ll drink it, soak in it, and shower in it. But the real force behind Palazzo Fiuggi is the medical team, who will tailor your experience according to your goals and the health evaluation you take upon arrival.

Here, you can go deep on medical panels you might not be able to get so quickly in the States, like heavy metal tests and DNA analysis for epigenetic markers. Your results inform the rest of your stay: Will you spend long mornings trekking through the countryside and afternoons in the thermal baths? Or will you spend the week detoxing, following your doctor visits with lymphatic massage and cleansing rituals in the hammam? Food plays a major role in healing here, too: Chef Heinz Beck crafts individually customized menus inspired by nature and your unique epigenetic profile.

Photos courtesy of Fredrika Stjärne

Shou Sugi Ban House


At Shou Sugi Ban House, total restoration feels like fate. You sense it as soon as you enter its massive wooden gates. The place is designed for serenity—it’s inspired by Japanese minimalism—and despite its location just off Route 27, it feels worlds away. The guests, who are mostly New Yorkers and Hamptonites, come to skip the socializing and focus on the art of energetic reset.

The programming is relaxed: You won’t find anything especially clinical or experimental. People aren’t here for intensive detox or rigorous hikes. Instead, guests bounce between thermal pools and enjoy a lengthy menu of massages, scrubs, wraps, baths, and facials. There’s a roster of wellness treatments focused on present-moment awareness and healing emotional wounds. And the restaurant is so good, we wouldn’t bat an eye if someone told us they came for the food alone. A few standouts from our last visit: hay-smoked scallops, fish tacos wrapped in nasturtium leaves, and breakfast rice bowls with poached eggs, seaweed, and pickled vegetables.

Six Senses Ibiza


Once you get past the perpetual unst-unst of the club scene Ibiza has become known for, you’ll find the island has a deeply spiritual undercurrent. Just like Sedona, Ibiza is an energetic vortex. Es Vedrà, a 1,300-foot column of limestone rising out of the water off the island’s southwest coast, is supposedly the source of mystical magnetism. On the other side of the island, at the northern tip of Cala Xarraca, there’s another destination for spiritual seekers and wellness lovers: Six Senses Ibiza, a deeply peaceful destination spa with panoramic views and gorgeous suites.

The Six Senses here has an exceptional wellness program, even by Six Senses standards. You could explore it à la carte—the spa menu is vast, and supplemented by functional medicine at RoseBar, the on-site longevity club helmed by Mark Hyman. Or guests might consider spending quality time with visiting masters on an immersive retreat, spending four or five days deepening their yoga practice and exploring sound baths, breathwork, shamanic drumming, ecstatic dancing, and heart-opening cacao ceremonies.

Even if it didn’t offer any of its excellent spa and wellness services, Six Senses Ibiza would be a fabulous resort, and guests should take full advantage of the island: Go cliff jumping, kayaking, or catamaran-ing across crystalline waters. Or, maybe, all-night dancing at the clubs nearby. (Those who wake up worse for wear might take advantage of the vivifying after-party detox treatment at the spa.)

Photos courtesy of Kamalaya Koh Samui

Kamalaya Koh Samui


Kamalaya, on the lush Thai island Koh Samui, combines Eastern and Western medical treatments for as full a reset as you want. There are detox programs, sure, as well as posture resets, gut-enrichment programs, and crash courses on coping with change. Or take a few sabbaticalesque weeks here soaking up lessons from a life-enhancement mentor.

When you’re not busy with past-life regression therapy, Reiki, sound baths, herbal soaks, and massages for everything (head, hands, feet, you name it), spend some time floating around the verdant grounds: You’ll find coastal yoga pavilions, cold-water plunge pools, otherworldly steam rooms, and a contemplation cave once used by Buddhist monks.

Photos courtesy of Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort, Tanveer Badal (pond), Austin John (Sensei by Nobu)

Sensei Lanai


When Larry Ellison bought the Hawaiian island of Lanai, he partnered with doctor and biomedical researcher David Agus to turn the island’s inland Four Seasons into a spectacular destination spa, Sensei. The program strikes a balance between cutting-edge and classic, and the surroundings—red clay, mountains, mist, palms, and Cook pines—are unlike anywhere else in Hawaii.

In the weeks before you arrive, your dedicated health concierge reaches out to gauge your goals and preferences. Once you’re on-site, they combine that data with your body’s biomarkers for a holistic view of your current health. Your itinerary follows: Guided intention setting. Breathwork to influence your heart rate variability. Four-hand abhyanga massage. A private lesson to optimize your tennis game. And three meals a day from the restaurant, a collaboration between Agus and chef Nobu Matsuhisa.