Let’s be honest, airports are traditionally known as the place where all semblance of relaxation goes to die. From people who start filing up before their zone number is called to harsh fluorescent overhead lighting and loudspeakers, it can take the excitement out of embarking on your next adventure.
And yet, people are taking more trips tailored for wellness and relaxation than ever before. In fact, the 2018 Global Wellness Economy Monitor confirmed that the wellness travel market is now worth $639 billion and is growing steadily at a rate of 6.5 percent, which is more than double the growth rate for general tourism.
Airports, taking notice of these numbers, have started introducing a wide range of healthful oases of full-service spas in airline premium lounges and terminals that go way beyond chair massages. The Sunday Edit guesses it is about time for those bleary-eyed, exhausted travelers to cheer up the general mood of the place and start their wellness journey early. Below are the ones we are adding to our travel bucket list:
1. DUBAI: Timeless Spa
Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3
The Timeless Spa at Dubai International Airport was also named World’s Best Airline Lounge Spa by World Spa Awards in 2017, and its list of services reflects a wide range of expertise, from 60-minute classic facials to intensive anti-aging facials, to nail therapy and body scrubs. The best part is that there is no need to rush since the spa also offers a complete spa experience with packages that go up to 180 minutes and include body scrub, massage and facial. First-class Emirates passengers are eligible for a few complimentary express treatments within the First Class Lounge. “Visiting countless airports every year, let’s just say I still get stressed every single time. The good news is that most airports have totally stepped up their game with their spas. My hubby always plans to not miss this one. Located right on the airport, you can get anything from a regular massage to a full spa day. Next time, I need to switch it up and try the full-day package,” says Claudia Padgett, luxury travel and lifestyle influencer at travel blog Zeebalife.
2. NEW YORK: Be Relax
John F. Kennedy International Airport, Terminal 5
The French spa chain, Be Relax, has more than 52 spas all over the world, but it debuted its biggest location yet at JFK’s JetBlue terminal. Sprawled over more than 1,000 square feet, it focuses on fast services like 10-minute massages and 20-minute facials, but it also offers slightly more involved services like Swedish massages, acupuncture and even waxing in private rooms. Add to that a pristine white and blue aesthetic as well as A-list products like OPI polishes and Bumble and Bumble hair products, and you have a stress-free outlook for your next destination.
3. Chicago, Newark, Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles: United Airlines Lounge
If you happen to have a 4-hour layover at cities like Chicago, Newark, Houston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, swing by United Airline’s business class lounge, Polaris, to make sure that you are relaxed and recharged pre-flight with essentials like Cowshed products from Soho House & Co. And take some time to relax in one of their signature seats that offer privacy for uninterrupted work or slathering on your pre-flight skincare regimen.
Access to the Polaris Lounge is reserved for passengers traveling in United Polaris business class on long-haul international flights (they may access the lounge before departure, during connections or upon arrival). Passengers traveling in international first or business class cabins on Star Alliance™ partner airlines may access the lounge only at the airport of their international departure.
4. PARIS: Air France Salon Lounge
Charles De Gaulle Airport, Terminal 2E
The 5,920 square-foot wellness area inside the Air France Salon Lounge space comprises two private saunas, mini sleep suites, and a relaxation zone underneath an aurora borealis-inspired ceiling that makes getting into a state of tranquility fairly easy. Plus, it is the largest of any Air France lounge. Its Clarins spa offers complimentary 20-minute facial treatments for all lounge guests — which makes long layovers almost desirable — and a detox bar offers healthy juices and snacks. You do not have to fly business class to take advantage of all the amenities, you just have to have a Flying Blue membership of traveling a long-hail flight. “I always leave extra time when I’m flying out of Charles de Gaulle. The Air France Business Lounge is the perfect way to refresh before a long flight. If you have an extra-long layover, the spa has well-stocked showers and a detox juice bar,” says Allison Diliegro, a luxury travel writer.
5. BANGKOK: Royal Orchid Spa
Thai Airways, Concourse D
Located across from the Royal First Class lounge in the Bangkok International Airport, the Royal Orchid Spa has also been repeatedly nominated for the World’s Best Airline Lounge Spa by World Spa Awards in the last four years. Only Thai Airways passengers departing as first or business class have access to its 7,000-square-feet facility, which offers a complimentary 60-minute Touch of Silk full body oil massage (only for first-class passengers), or other 30-minute services for a business class like a neck and shoulder massage. Other amenities include steam rooms, sauna rooms, and a 32-seat lounge stocked with healthy snacks.
6. ABU DHABI: Six Senses Spa
Etihad First Class Lounge, Terminals 1 & 3
Abu Dhabi International Terminal’s Etihad first and business class lounges are home to Six Senses, the five-star Bangkok-based wellness hotel brand. It has been named World’s Best Airline Lounge Spa by World Spa Awards three times in the last four years. Its massive space hosts a relaxation area, gym, prayer rooms and even a separate VIP room where butlers serve the likes of Hennessy cognac and other rare liquors. The spa offers 15 and 25-minute complimentary massages to relieve tension, body treatments such as Jetlag Leg with a scrub and cooling compression for the legs, and facials and eye treatments that promise to bring back the glow lost the minute we stepped into the recycled air of an airplane cabin. Other treatments include express manicures, blowouts, shoeshines and shaves all on a walk-in basis. You can also purchase additional services. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited hundreds of luxury spas and this is probably one of the few that stands out amongst the best of the airport spas. In particular, their holistic Realignment Massage is a perfect fix to re-energize you and release back tension when you’re on a layover during a long-haul flight (which I usually am, when I’m in Abu Dhabi),” says travel journalist Sarah Harvey. If you are not flying first class, you can still enjoy a full-service TOSA Spa in Terminal 3, and an express treatment center in Terminal 1.
7. CALGARY: OraOxygen Wellness Spa
Calgary International Airport, Departure Level and Arrivals
Whether you are leaving from Calgary or arriving here for vacation, you have the opportunity to get sit back, relax and enjoy a treat at one of two OraOxygen sites. Get vacation-ready upon airport arrival with OraOxygen’s signature oxygen session — which helps boots oxygen in the body — alongside a menu of facials, nail services and massages to relieve muscle tension and improve circulation at the departure level site. Then, combat the doldrums that come at the end of vacation with a mani/pedi combo and waxing and threading at the arrival level site. The most popular treatment looks to be a 60-minute full-body massage combined with a 15-minute oxygen session, open to all travelers. But for true emergency situations go for the 75-minute body exfoliation and hour-long facial with the whole works to go into your travels your freshest and most exuberant self.
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