[an error occurred while processing this directive] What's the hottest destination for 2005? Health resorts, if industry predictions are anything to go by. With 1.7 billion of the planet's 6 billion people classed as overweight or obese by the U.K.-based International Obesity Task Force, the dangers of diets high in fat, sugar and processed foods are more apparent than ever. And spa directors are eager to help. "Most spas initially offered pampering treatments, but with growing competition and a need to differentiate, spas are expanding services to focus on health and fitness," says Naphalai Areesorn, president of the Thai Spa Association. Christine Galle of the Chiva-Som resort agrees. "Holidays for a specific health purpose are becoming more popular," she says, "including detox, weight loss, fitness or handling stress."
That means more people are passing up the lavish meals and lazing around usually associated with holidays, and are preparing instead for the nausea, headaches and grumpiness that can occur when fatty foods, caffeine and alcohol are flushed from the system. The good news is that detox programs get easier after the initial shock. "What was strange was that there was no hunger at all," says Kurt Thompson, a Seoul-based marketing-research manager, of his weight-loss vacation at the Farm a health retreat in the Philippines' lush Batangas province. The self-confessed "300-pound man mountain" shed 12 pounds (5.4 kg) thanks to "green juices and cleansing drinks, along with massages and lots of natural supplements." The absence of temptation was also a big help. "These days there is so much encouragement to eat," says Leann Cruz, who runs another Philippine spa, the Malapacao Island Retreat. That's true unless you happen to be at one of the following resorts. Contemplating a flab-fighting furlough? Here are four global destinations to consider:
FASTING ARINA, JAPAN This weight-loss resort, tel: (81-26) 267 7608, is located in Nagano, and mountain scenery is all you're likely to feast on. Resort president Takeo Hayashi says visitors "do nothing" except let their organs get some well-earned rest.
SPA SAMUI, THAILAND The trailblazer among the country's detox spas, Spa Samui, tel: (66-77) 230 976, was set up on the island's Lamai beach in 1992 by Californian Guy Hopkins, who began looking into wellness treatments after his mother succumbed to cancer. A supervised seven-day Clean-Me-Out fast is offered.
SOMATHEERAM BEACH RESORT, INDIA Choose from 28 wellness programs at this highly regarded Keralan spa, tel: (91) 471 226 8101. A five-time winner of the state's "best Ayurvedic center" award, it also has dozens of therapists on site, and offers music, art and dance programs should you need a break from all the treatments.
MAYR HEALTH SPA, AUSTRIA Claiming to tackle more than mere weight loss, the Mayr Health Spa, tel: (43-427) 325110, offers a system of "intestinal regeneration" based on the theories of founding physician Dr. Franz Xaver Mayr. A pristine setting near the country's Wörther See and its adjacent golf course might keep your mind off the Spartan diet.