Secluded, secretive and backed by science, these lair-like luxury wellness retreats promise an epic transformation for the mind, body and soul

If you’re serious about a health reset, sometimes the only way to do it is to disappear to a Bond villain lair-esque wellness retreat and emerge as a brand new you.

From a manmade island to a mountaintop hideaway far off the beaten track, these luxury wellness retreats promise seclusion and science-centric programmes in the name of body optimisation.

The Original FX Mayr, Austria

While most wellness retreats pride themselves on providing diverse offerings and lengthy spa menus, The Original FX Mayr zeroes in on one thing: gut health.

Indeed, countless experts agree that one of the most effective routes to good health is to counter the stress that modern life has put on our digestive systems. Poor diet, excessive indulgence and a sedentary lifestyle can wreak havoc on our bodies, showing up in the forms of bloating, premature ageing, stubborn belly fat, food intolerances, bowel problems, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Established over 45 years ago, The Original FX Mayr Clinic is famed for its Mayr Cure, which uses the most comprehensive medical diagnoses, personalised nutrition and targeted therapies—from Shiatsu and cryotherapy to silent dining—for a healthier gut.

It’s a rigorous programme not for the faint of heart, but one that’s balanced by the five-star, chalet-style setting on the banks of Lake Wörthersee’s lapping turquoise waves.

“Our guests are very serious about changing something in their lives,” says Gabriella Schnitzler, managing director at FX Mayr. “It could be how they approach food, or how they approach alcohol, or stress. This is something they learn to deal with here in a healthy, sustainable way.”

Forestis, Dolomites, Italy

Located deep in the Dolomites, at 1,800 metres above sea level, Forestis floats in a sea of towering pines and frosty peaks. It’s the site of a former sanatorium for tuberculosis patients; the spring water, fine weather, clean air and sunshine were thought to work wonders for lung diseases.

Today, the healing powers of the mountains have been harnessed by this chic retreat, including in its spa treatments like the signature “forest tree circle ceremony”, a pagan-esque holistic do-all for the face and body. This involves activating the healing properties of four “healing woods”—mountain pine, spruce, larch and stone pine—from surrounding trees, four healing stones and four tree frequencies, with music mimicking the trees’ acoustics playing throughout your treatment, bringing sound therapy into the mix.

The spa also has seven (yes, seven) saunas, an indoor pool and an outdoor pool with sun loungers that face soothing views of the Dolomites.

Should you want to channel your primal self, the fitness programmes pay homage to ancient Celtic tribes that once roamed the area, with activities ranging from from Wyda, a mind-body exercise often referred to as “the European answer to yoga”, to druid-inspired guided meditation.

Forestis’s sharp, eco-friendly, carbon-neutral design is the work of South Tyrolean architect Armin Sader. The property is also powered entirely by renewable energy, reflecting the resort’s close connection with and utmost respect for the natural world.

Fun fact: it is in these mountains that Roger Moore engages in an epic ski chase in the 1981 Bond film, For Your Eyes Only.

See also: A Food Lover’s Guide to Milan, Italy

RakXa, Bangkok, Thailand

Few things say villain lair like a manmade island. Take, for example, Bang Krachao, an island on Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River that has been nicknamed the city’s “green lung”. While the Thai capital’s skyscrapers are still in sight, this lush hideaway feels worlds away from civilisation.

Hidden in the depths of Bang Krachao is RakXa, an integrative medical retreat and wellness utopia where doctors and alternative practitioners come together to form treatment plans tailored to each guest.

“They work side by side to create programmes that heal from inside and out. This collaboration ensures that guests get a holistic approach to wellness,” says says Khun Dusadee, the centre’s managing director, adding that combining science with spirituality “is possible when there is mutual respect”.

Rakxa honours systems such as Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Traditional Thai Medicine, complementing them with the latest in medical technology. Its on-site Scientific Wellness Clinic is powered by VitalLife, the trusted partner of world-renowned Bumrungrad Hospital which, in the past decade, has been a go-to for health-conscious travellers flocking to Bangkok for full body check-ups.

“People understand that being well is no longer just about your physical health, but that everything is connected,” Dusadee says. “It’s about unearthing a true picture of your current state of health—to know yourself completely—so you can start your wellness journey with a clear understanding and defined goals.”

See also: The Local Edit: Model & Singer Mint Pattarasaya's Guide to Bangkok

Sangha Retreat by Octave Institute,Suzhou, China

While mainland China remains closed to tourists for now, this luxurious lab-like retreat in Suzhou, on the outskirts of Shanghai, deserves a spot on your to-go list.

Sangha Retreat is a wellness sanctuary that goes beyond your basic spa offerings—it’s a futuristic Zen lair where ancient healing techniques and modern science come together in the name of human optimisation. Here, meditation domes and medical clinics sit and operate side by side. It’s all very James Bond-meets-Doctor Strange.

The retreat is centred on a philosophy  of “quantum wellness”. Billionaire founder Frederick Chavalit Tsao explains, “Quantum wellness is, as discovered through quantum science, realising that everything, humans included, are pure energy—and energy is potential.”

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