Five Best: Spas over water
Treatments in the tropics: Adrian Mourby finds a cure for the winter blues
Medhufushi Spa, The Maldives
The over-water spa is a Maldivian concept that has spread across the archipelago's 87 resort islands. Medhufushi is in the Meemu Atoll, a 40-minute seaplane ride from the capital, Malé. The resort was washed away in the 2004 tsunami, but has been rebuilt, with a new thatched spa accessed via a boardwalk. It is a tranquil spot, with turtles swimming between its stilts. Treatments include Ultimate Indulgence ($140/£70 for 150 minutes of pampering). This is honeymoon territory, so couples treatments are a speciality.
Medhufushi Island Resort, Meemu Atoll, The Maldives (00 960 672 0026; www.aaaresorts.com.mv ). Doubles start at US$300 (£150), including breakfast.
Conrad Rangali Island, Maldives
Part of the new breed of over-water villages, Rangali has a clutch of beach villas and a dedicated Spa Retreat Village at the tip of Rangalifinolhu Island, consisting of 21 villas with private spa rooms, an over-water spa and restaurant. The main spa's three treatment rooms have glass floors, which offer views of the lagoon below as you are pampered. Treatments range from Thai, Shiatsu, aromatherapy and Swedish massages, to facials, holistic and skincare plans, cleansing and detoxifying treatments and soothing body wraps. Specialities include Traditional Thai Fruit Wrap (body scrub and wrap US$80/£40) and Black Basalt Hot Stone Therapy for rebalancing the body ($85/£43). The resort's restaurant, Ithaa, is the only aquarium-style undersea restaurant in the world. Located five metres underwater on a coral reef, it gives diners 360-degree views of the surrounding aquatic life.
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, Rangali Island, South Ari Atoll, The Maldives (00 960 668 0629; www.hilton.co.uk ). Double rooms start at £419, room only.
Evason Hideaway Earth Spa, Thailand
Evason is an exclusive retreat of villas near the Thai resort of Hua Hin, which was developed in the 1920s when King Rama VII built a beachside palace there. Unlike its siblings in the Maldives, the Six Senses spa is not out at sea, but perched over a lake in a circle of nine ochre domes. The Earth Spa is built from traditional materials (mud, rice husks and straw) and treatments put special emphasis on "Skin Food" – that is, nothing should be put on to the skin that could not be eaten. Treatments include Chakra Balancing Massage, Tibetan Singing Bowls Massage and the Earth Spa's own Fusion Massage, which combines four of the world's most renowned massage therapies (all massages 3,500 Baht/£55).
Evason Hua Hin & Earth Spa, 9/22 Moo 5 Paknampran Beach, Pranburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand (00 66 32 618 200; www.sixsenses.com ). Double rooms start at 16,730 Baht (£253), room only.
The Spa at Kamalame Cay, The Bahamas
Kamalame Cay is a 96-acre private island, accessible only by private ferry – or your own seaplane. The Cay prides itself on offering complete privacy to a wealthy client list. Visitors stay in individual villas that face a white sand beach and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. Each boasts a Roman "soaking tub" and a covered veranda. The spa is located down a wooden boardwalk that leads out to sea and consists of a series of open-sided rooms under tiled roofing. Signature treatments include Pineapple Body Puff and Wrap (US$115/£58), Kamalame Coconut Body Glow ($135/£68), Seaweed Botanical Wrap ($195/£98) and a two-hour couples massage for $400 (£200).
Kamalame Cay, Staniard Creek, Andros, The Bahamas (00 242 368 6281; www.kamalame.com ). Double rooms start at US$916 (£458), all-inclusive.
La Manea Spa, French Polynesia
On a coral reef facing the island of Bora Bora, Le Taha'a has 48 over-water suites and 12 beach villas with traditional grass roofs. Le Manea Spa is at the end of a coconut grove that extends over a small lagoon. The cantilevered Jacuzzi is almost entirely surrounded by the water of the lagoon, as is the two person Vichy-shower. According to the spa owners, massage is part of Polynesian medicine and philosophy, and they describe it with the Tahitian term, Taurumi. Treatments include the Mandara Experience (an 80-minute body scrub and massage for US$200/£100), Balinese massage ($160/£80) and the Balinese Blessing (foot massage, body wash and facial, $240/£120) .
Le Taha'a Private Island, Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia (00 689 50 84 52; www.letahaa.com ). Double rooms start at 103,040 Pacific Francs (£604), room only.