updated 12/21/2007 10:55:28 AM ET 2007-12-21T15:55:28

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Travel by: Various through 2008

The deal
We all harbor fantasies of being pampered at a sumptuous spa resort in an exotic location. While such personal treatment usually comes at a superlative cost, we've scoured the globe to recommend several sensational oases that are absolutely worth the splurge. The body and mind bliss that you're bound to experience at these top-rated spa resorts — from Arizona and Costa Rica to Italy and China — make them the perfect choice for a post-holiday destresser or a 2008 "fresh start" getaway.

Mii Amo Spa at Enchantment Resort, Arizona
Voted the No. 1 destination spa in the world by readers of Travel + Leisure, Mii Amo Spa at Enchantment Resort lies in Arizona’s red-rock country. Nestled within this top-rated property, the spa itself features 16 Southwestern-style casitas with dramatic vistas. Boston Globe writes, “Designed by Sepielli, Mii amo embraces the beauty of the canyon by minimizing the distinction between indoors and outdoors. Natural light and water are recurring themes, and interior and exterior spaces flow into one another.” Signature treatments include blue-corn body polish and Sedona clay wrap. Three-night programs start at $1,785, with spa treats, meals, lodging, and more.

Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort, Costa Rica
Located in a lush rainforest at the foot of Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano, this five-star property sports a natural thermal river with hot spring pools and lagoons, all amidst exotic gardens and tumbling waterfalls. Travel + Leisure writes, “When the ring of white clouds is brushed aside by the winds, the lava sliding down the Arenal Volcano is visible from the roadside. After dark, the dramatic eruptions (up to six times a day) are best witnessed from a naturally heated tub at the Tabacón.” Temazcal, a native sweat lodge ritual, volcanic mud wraps, and mineral water balneotherapy are just some of the unique treatments. B&B rates start at $260/night.

Villa d’Este, Italy
For some Old World pampering, book a sojourn at Villa d’Este, a stunning resort-hotel on scenic shores of Italy’s Lake Como, with a jet-setting ambience, high-end restaurants and ultra-elegant guestrooms. Frommer’s writes, “One of the most exclusive hotels in the world, this Renaissance villa is set amid 4 hectares (10 acres) of meticulously landscaped lakeside gardens. It has hosted everyone from Mark Twain to Joseph Heller, Clark Gable to Mel Gibson, Carreras to Madonna.” The on-site beauty-center and spa features special treats like power peel facials and pomegranate body treatments. Regular nightly rates here start north of €400 ($588) but special offers can often be found on their Web site.

Fuchun Resort, China
Want to add an exotic twist to your spa holiday? We recommend a trip to faraway China, with riverside Fuchun Resort in Hangzhou, a couple of hours’ southwest of Shanghai, as your final destination. Gayot.com claims you’ll “gain insight and wisdom while enjoying Asian-inspired treatments at this designer hot spot ... surrounded by tea groves, and many of the treatments performed in its glamorous spa pavilion use fresh plucked tea leaves.” Signature rituals include gem massage, silk cocoon, and longevity and energy boost. Room rates start at $271/night for a garden-view unit and run up to $813/night for a villa with an outdoor jacuzzi and private garden.

We also recommend these spa hotels
Golden Door, California: www.goldendoor.com
Brenner’s Park Hotel & Spa Resort, Germany: www.brenners.com
Hotel Hana-Maui, Hawaii: www.hotelhanamaui.com
Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos: www.parrotcay.como.bz
Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa, South Africa: www.pezularesorthotel.com
Palazzo Versace, Australia: www.palazzoversace.com.au
Mantra Resort, Uruguay: www.mantraresort.com

The dollars
All the prices above are listed per person based on double occupancy. See specific Web sites for details.

The catch
Spa treatments can be pricey and you'll add more to your tab with a la carte services. Book a combo that bundles several treatments into one package to net some savings.

ShermansTravel is a guide to top travel deals and destinations. Sign up for Sherman's Top 25 e-newsletterwhich features the best editor-screened deals from hundreds of travel providers and is delivered to over 4 million subscribers, free, each week. ShermansTravel also publishes trip ideas and travel features to inspire, guide, and go.


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