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World's Best Spas

/ Source: Travel & Leisure

Alluring tango music? Check. A red wine body scrub? Check. During an 80-minute massage at the Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires, you know you’re relaxing in Argentina thanks to these evocative local touches.

Outfitted with Argentine leather and handicrafts, the Four Seasons’ spa proves that the most memorable treatments don’t just help travelers unwind and unplug, they actually deepen your connection to a destination. So it’s no surprise that many of the World’s Best Spas offer treatments that highlight native ingredients or healing techniques.

Earlier this year, T+L readers were asked to rank their favorite hotel spas on criteria including ambience, treatments, service, and value. The results, a group of spas in 11 countries, are the ultimate pampering destinations—and they’re set in some of the best hotels worldwide. Many of the featured spas are in countries either with noted wellness traditions (Thailand, for example, has four winners on this year’s list) or with booming spa industries. The U.S.—where the number of spas nearly quadrupled between 1999 and 2009, according to the International Spa Association—claimed six spots among the top 20 survey results.

Jamaica fared well, too, with two winners thanks to the island’s great value options and ocean views. But familiar spas had to make room for a few newcomers on this year’s list. Discovery Shores Boracay, in the Philippines, for instance, debuted at No. 7. This beachfront property won raves for spa services that incorporate virgin coconut oil and traditional Hilot massage techniques.

Meanwhile, the Four Seasons hotel spas have made a reputation for showing off their destinations, not only in Buenos Aires, but in Chiang Mai, Thailand, which uses lemongrass fragrance, and even in Las Vegas, where body scrubs are mixed with—what else?—14-karat gold.

There are other wellness trends T+L has our eyes on, from traditional Indian Ayurvedic techniques to high-tech openings from top beauty brands. But when it comes to the best in the world, a spa that connects travelers to a place will always reign supreme.

So which peaceful retreat is the World’s Best Hotel Spa? Read on for all the winners.

No. 30 Sanctuary Hotel, Kiawah Island, SC

Located on a private island 30 minutes from downtown Charleston, the Sanctuary Hotel and its 12-room spa reflect the area’s southern heritage, both in design touches (gardens of native botanicals) and the treatment menu, which includes Mint Julep Facials and Lowcountry Verbena Body Polishes.

See the full results of the World’s Best Awards.