The new year is the time to for relaxation and restoration, and a spa visit offers a shortcut to a new you. The following are four top destination spas to consider visiting in 2009:


Strawberry Hill, Jamaica
Where: This retreat is nested in the lush rainforest of the Blue Mountains, with a panoramic view over the capital, Kingston.

The hotel: The former home of Island Records founder Chris Blackwell is a haven of tranquillity and a shrine to his musical protégées, from Bob Marley to U2. There are just 12 airy white cottages tucked into the botanical gardens of the estate.

The colonial-style main house serves as lounge, cinema and restaurant where you’ll feast on mouth-watering homemade muffins in the morning, jerk chicken at the buffet lunch and shrimp and snapper at a smart dinner.

The spa: The Blue Mountains with their pure, clean air, is where the healthy-living, spiritual Rastafarians come to live. Visit Strawberry Hill for a complete retreat and the Caribbean's only full-service Aveda Concept Spa, which takes a holistic approach to wellbeing.

Lie back for a massage and you’ll be lulled by the usual sounds of a spa — birdsong, crickets chirruping and soothing whisper of tropical rain — but this time for real rather than on a CD.

Getting there: BA and Virgin Atlantic fly to Kingston Airport. Strawberry Hill is 50 minutes by taxi.



The Grove, England
Where: In Hertfordshire, just half an hour north-west of London, but once on this majestic historical estate, you feel like you’re in the middle of the English countryside.

The hotel: This flawless hotel is a favourite with UK premiership footballers and exhausted high-fliers, and a break here is worth the investment. The Grove is so artfully conceived that it feels like a boutique hotel despite its 227 rooms.

There’s tons to do here, from golfing on the championship course, cycling or walking through the hotel’s 300-acre parkland, tennis, swimming indoors and out, idling in the elegant drawing rooms, relaxing in the spa.

For dining, choose your ambience, from the lively upmarket all-you-can-eat of the Glasshouse to the romantic fine dining at Colette’s.

The spa: The award-winning luxurious Sequoia Spa offers steam rooms and a sauna.

Getting there: The train takes 20 minutes from London’s Euston station to Watford Junction, then it’s a 15-minute taxi ride.


Weight loss

Mayr Clinic, Austria
Where: On the shore of the pretty Lake Worth, in the Austrian Alps.

The hotel: luxury is sacrificed to efficiency at this medical spa. Your usual holiday diet of three slap-up meals a day is replaced by herbal teas and stale spelt bread, chewed 50 times. At least the views are nice.

The Spa: the Mayr Clinic is a serious medical spa that gets results. Come for a detox here and your doctor will assess your goals and see you achieve them through a strict diet, and medical treatments including blood tests, detox massages and baths, reflexology and allergy testing.

Detoxing is tiring, so you’ll need plenty of rest — you’ll nap throughout the day and bedtime is 9 p.m. Hardly rock and roll but the results are that you’ll feel like a rejuvenated, cleansed and healthier person.

Getting there: Staff will collect you from the nearest airport at Klagenfurt, or the train stations at Klagenfurt and Velden.



Hotel Gellert, Hungary
Where: This stunning art nouveau spa is right in the centre of Budapest, the capital of Hungary.

The hotel:
Built in 1918 as a spa resort, the lavish building is a tourist destination in itself.

The spa:
Budapest is right at the centre of the European continent and at the cross of a multitude of different geological areas, so the waters in Hungary benefits from many types of minerals.

The waters channelled into this majestic old-fashioned spa offer different temperatures and different healing minerals including sodium, calcium, magnesium and sulphates in its 13 pools, to resolve medical disorders including arthritis, back pain, and circulation.

Down in the changing rooms, serious ladies who pummel your back leave you with better results than your average luxury spa therapist. Outside there are sun decks, swimming pools and wave pools, as well as separate roof terraces for women and naturist sunbathers.

Getting there: Gellert is a 15 minute taxi ride from Keleti East Railway Station, or 40 minutes from Budapest International Airport.