Any property worth its locally-sourced bath salt will know that many guests crave a sense of place when they are traveling. It’s a maxim that can be applied to various elements ranging from architecture to F&B offerings. Another area that many hotels are striving to keep hyper-local is their spas. And this applies to ingredients as well as the treatments themselves. Spa-goers can make their own scrub from the famously fragrant pepper grown on the island of Phu Quoc in Vietnam, have their muscles loosened by poultices made with fresh coconuts on the Thai island of Koh Samui and let their face feel the benefits of Japanese botanicals such as plum root, pine needles, and magnolia bark.
Banyan Tree Lang Co, Lang Co, Vietnam
Recommended treatment: Cajeput Healer
Vietnam is not short in premium regional products, with artisans around the country producing everything from fine silks to the world’s most sought after fish sauce. A lesser-known -- but equally high-spec – local specialty is the therapeutic oil teased from the cajeput trees native to the forests around Lang Co in Central Vietnam. Produced by slow cooking the leaves of the trees along with water for five hours, the oil is famed for its health benefits, which include pain relief, detoxification, and skin care. This wonder of nature is being harnessed to for customers at Banyan Tree Spa Lang Co through its “Cajeput Healer” treatment. The full body therapy uses a blend of local cajeput oil and clarity oil to stimulate blood circulation, relieve joint pain and soothe tense muscles.
Mantra Samui Resort, Koh Samui, Thailand
Recommended treatment: Yaa Jai
Jai Spa at Mantra Samui Resort blends most of its treatment products in-house, using natural ingredients harvested from its gardens. Thai herbs infuse Jai’s flagship concoctions, and homegrown lemongrass is steamed to create an aromatic atmosphere. The beloved coconut informs the signature treatment, the Yaa Jai, its milk, not oil, deployed for a deep, tension-releasing massage. Warm coconut poultices are strategically applied to tight spots to further reduce stress. Post-treatment guests leave feeling (and smelling) like a warm, soft, coconut souffle.
Fusion Resort Phu Quoc, Phu Quoc, Vietnam
Recommended treatment: Pepperation
Inspired by one of Phu Quoc’s most famous exports, pepper, the “Pepperation” program at Fusion Resort Phu Quoc, is a hands-on spa experience where visitors make their own pepper scrub that is then used in their therapy. Surrounded by the spa’s orchard of 88 pepper trees, spa-goers get an introduction to the spice before grinding it down for their treatment (and sampling some while being put to work). The freshly ground pepper is blended with turmeric powder, rice powder, and ginger powder, along with more pepper powder (green and white) and coconut oil - to create an ingredient list that wouldn’t be out of place in the restaurant. The full program also includes a Natural Living Pepper massage, using a custom-blended heating black pepper oil only available at Maia Spa. Pepperation takes around 2.5 hours, including a meditation session beneath the trees.
Palace Hotel Tokyo, Japan
Recommended treatment: Bright Lift Drainage
Palace Hotel Tokyo is the first hotel to work with Japanese skincare brand warew and the new facial was designed exclusively for its evianSPA. The 60-minute Bright Lift Drainage facial is designed to alleviate dullness and fatigue by restoring the skin’s resilience and natural glow. It starts with an invigorating scalp massage to clear the mind, followed by a gentle cleansing. The lifting treatment involves rhythmic, upward strokes and trigger-point acupressure to create a natural facelift. The skincare brand is rooted in the traditional Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi – appreciation of the beauty in transience, imperfection and impermanence – and the belief that there is also beauty in simplicity. Products harness the naturally enriching benefits of botanical ingredients grown in Japan since ancient times (such as extracts of plum root, pine needles, and magnolia bark) to deliver a range of anti-aging skin care products.
The Anam, Cam Ranh, Vietnam
Recommended treatment: Organic Mud Body Wrap
The adage to "roll in the mud" takes on an entirely new meaning at The Anam Spa; albeit a luxurious and healthy one. Based on mud sourced 30 minutes away from nearby Nha Trang, the award-winning organic mud body wrap at the Anam’s 10-treatment room spa envelops spa-goers for 45 minutes, improving skin tone and leaving the body’s largest organ feeling smooth and years younger. Rich in natural minerals stemming from geological change, mud has been used to treat a host of diseases such as chronic arthritis, insomnia, stress and skin problems like psoriasis in Nha Trang for generations.
Banyan Tree Samui, Koh Samui, Thailand
Recommended treatment: Sukhothai Heritage Package
Banyan Tree Samui’s award-winning spa has recently introduced a Sukhothai Heritage package, named after the medieval Siamese center of Buddhism and culture. Facial treatments, body scrubs, and massage feature a full range of time-honored local ingredients, such as jasmine rice, turmeric, and tamarind. And of course, as you would expect on the tropical island of Koh Samui, locally produced coconut oils are blended throughout the products to create some soothing sensations.
Azerai Resort Can Tho, Can Tho, Vietnam
Vietnamese Rice Scrub
The Mekong Delta is known as the “Rice Bowl” of Vietnam for good reason: the lush green paddies in this region yield some 20 million tons of rice annually. At Azerai Resort Can Tho, which is located in the heart of the Delta, part of this abundant harvest is tapped for its rich healing properties in a uniquely local spa treatment. Azerai’s “Vietnamese Rice Scrub” uses all-natural, locally grown rice, with no added chemicals, to exfoliate dead skin cells and cleanse the skin, while stimulating blood flow and increasing circulation throughout the body. The rice scrub, which also features ginger and saffron, is hypoallergenic and suitable for all skin types, and culminates in a sweet almond oil massage (also locally sourced) to assist with rehydration.