Valentine’s Day is almost upon us. What better way to treat you and your loved one than with a spa and wellness holiday away? In the spirit of travel, we’ve sought out five romantic places around the region that involve a little more time commitment than a 10-minute cab ride.
The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille, Kenya
This hilltop Laikipia retreat speaks to the romantics. The Sanctuary comprises four, fully-staffed private villas with majestic views of northern Kenya. For couples, you can’t do better than the Eyrie, a round bedroom where from the comfort of your bed, you can feast your eyes on the mountains outside. Now to the spa, where guests can enjoy unlimited treatments at no extra cost, whether it’s facials, manicures, Indian head massages or a variety of other massage treatments. Little wonder then that most guests spend at least a part of their day in the spa. Starts from Ksh 21,000 pp sharing.
Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Uganda
Amid the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, this is one of the few places wehre you might actually get a gorilla sighting without leaving the camp. Part of the hugely successful Sanctuary Retreats group (with Sanctuary Olonana in Kenya, closed until June), this intimate eight-tented camp is an ideal base for gorilla tracking. And what better way to wind down after a trek than to take a spa treatment. The spa offers a range of treatments from hot stone massages, full-body toning, mud wraps to foot rituals, all deliciously invigorating. Starts from $240 pp, sharing, full-board.
Ocean Spa Lodge, Msambweni, Kenya
Formerly Saruni Ocean, this southern Kenyan boutique hotel opened in 2015, and is all about wellness. The classy, thatched suites are beautifully appointed, and complimentary yoga is thrown in. The spa offers one-off treatments, or a three-day programme involving two treatments a day, while couples can enjoy a candlelit massage together. An interesting addition is the water wellness circuit, involving rain showers, vascular corridors and hydromassage pools, all of which are aimed at getting a sluggish circulatory system moving. Starts from Ksh 28,000 pp, sharing.
Essque Zalu, Zanzibar
Essque Zalu represents urban chic on an island paradise. This resort boasts 40 suites and eight private villas catering to a clientele that like their their modern creature comforts. In front of the property is a huge pool, and the resort has a forward-looking kids’ club, with imaginative offerings such as cookery classes. The Healing Earth Spa offers a long list of treatments from African-sourced oils, and there’s a sauna aromatherapy steam room and gym, too. Or take the Maasai ritual, a two-hour journey of renewal in specially-erected tents, involving foot rituals, facials, and full body scrubs. Starts from $290 pp.
Six Senses Zil Pasyon, Félicité, Seychelles
If you really, really want to push the boat out, consider this island idyll with its low-slung villas and chic interiors overlooking an azure-blue sea. This island hotel is justly proud of its spa. Five ocean-view treatment villas connected by swing bridges are wedged among the boulders, along with an elevated saltwater pool, and yoga and meditation platforms. Offering more than just massage treatments, Zil Payson offers an integrated wellness programme focused on food, meditation, fitness, all within an unbelievably enchanting setting. Double villas start from 1,850 euros (Ksh 232,000).
Shanti Maurice, Chemin Grenier, Mauritius
Mauritian family-run boutique hotel with an award-winning spa, Shanti Maurice boasts large, sea-facing rooms with private balconies. Its spa is justifiably feted, offering a range of wellbeing experiences, including the Indian and Oriental experiences, to a four-handed Balinese massage. Beyond the treatments, guests can benefit from alternative health workshops, yoga, pilates and meditation classes as well as Aquafit, promising to relax even the tensest of guests. The kids’ club also goes that one step further, offering kiddy yoga. From 225 euros pp (Ksh 28,000), sharing.