People are drawn to lakes, rivers, oceans and there are scientific reasons for that. Bodies of water offer an immeasurable sense of peace and allow us to escape the hyper-stimulated state of modern-day life. Research has proved that humans are pulled toward the water due to its restorative benefits as well. It’s no wonder that so many hotels and resorts are situated on the water, as travelers often want to pay a premium for shimmering and calming views. But not only that. A variety of places and properties around the globe have hidden gems and unique bodies of water that have yet to be spotlighted.
Below are some of the most luxurious places in Asia, Africa, Europe and South America that boast unique bodies of water worth traveling for.
Baur au Lac – Lake Zurich
Extending southeast of the city of Zurich, Lake Zurich is a large, scenic lake that offers endless excursions for visitors, and also supplies 70% of the city’s tap water. Guests of the city can sail the waters on a sailboat, yacht, or a public boat, wade in the lake, or pay a fee to swim in one of the badis, a public swimming area. In addition to sourcing 70% of its tap water from the lake, the city of Zurich boasts over 1200 unique drinking fountains that spew drinkable, top-quality water direct from the lake, 24/7. Some of these fountains date back to 1430, such as the Amazon Fountain at Rennweg, which is also considered a public work of art.
A stone’s throw from the lake is the Baur au Lac. A member of Swiss Deluxe Hotels, it has welcomed guests from all over the world, including celebrated royalty and artists, such as Audrey Hepburn. After a long day of swimming, boating or touring, guests can relax at the Baur au Lac Terrace and indulge in the Côte d’Azurich lifestyle, in the heart of the pulsating city.
The Gainsborough Bath Spa – Roman-Built Baths
In 43 AD in the ancient city of Bath, the Romans constructed a collection of buildings surrounding the springs which were worshipped by the residing Celts. Forming a temple dedicated to the Goddess Minerva, they erected a social complex and at the heart sat the mineral-rich thermal waters, which people would come to for the healing and calming properties. The water contains 43 minerals and for centuries has attracted visitors to the city for curative purposes.
Evidence of the Romans utilizing the waters was found under the foundation of The Gainsborough Bath Spa, the only hotel in the UK with direct access to the natural thermal waters, when archeologists discovered over 17,000 Roman coins. Reviving the ancient practice of social bathing, the property’s Spa Village Bath offers guests a one hour ‘Bath Circuit’ featuring time in three different pools, reminiscent of a Roman bathhouse.
Hôtel Lou Pinet – One of The Largest Pools in Saint-Tropez
Located in the French Rivera’s legendary town of Saint-Tropez, Hôtel Lou Pinet is home to one of the largest hotel pools in the iconic coastal village.
The pool takes a majestic center stage on the terrace and garden and connects the three houses that make up the hotel. Hidden from view, the turquoise-tiled pool blends in seamlessly with the elegant design of the hotel and is tucked away inside a Mediterranean-style garden. Enclosing the pool are stylish sunbeds with white cushions and sun umbrellas with colorful red trim.
FORESTIS – The Healing Water of Plose Mountain
Around 50 meters above FORESTIS, the renewing water of the Plose mountain emerges from an artesian spring. Since prehistoric times, it has pushed its way through the rock layers of the Ploseberg. The rock from which it springs guarantees that the purity, quality and temperature of the water remain consistent throughout the year. It is also responsible for its exceptional composition. With a dry residue of only 22 mg per liter and a pH-value of 6.6, it is among the purest and lightest waters in the world. Furthermore, it contains a large amount of natural oxygen, which promotes cell renewal. Thanks to the light, natural carbon dioxide, it restores the acid alkaline balance, and strengthens bones and teeth.
Located in the Italian Dolomites at 5,900 feet above sea level, FORESTIS showcases the connection between water and rock in nature through stone carafes in the suites and spring-water wells at various sites. The property features 62 luxury rooms and suites, all with incredible panoramic views of the UNESCO world heritage, Dolomites, and an extensive range of unique experiences. The FORESTIS Spa is inspired by the Celts who once roamed these forests and believed in the healing powers of four trees: mountain pine, spruce, larch and stone pine.
Ellerman House – Tidal Pools
Ellerman House is an iconic hotel facing the Atlantic Ocean, boasting 13 rooms and two three-bedroom villas unique designed to showcase panoramic views and manicured gardens. As the property promises to showcase the very best of South Africa, Ellerman House features bespoke experiences with a private art gallery, decadent local cuisine from Head Chef Kieran Whyte, and a lap pool on the lower terrace of the hotel.
Guests can enjoy a unique body of water at Saunders Rock Beach. A 10-minute walk from Ellerman House, Saunders Rock Beach in Bantry Bay is surrounded by beautiful white sand. A tidal pool full of salt water nestles between these rocks and serves as a unique body of water for guests seeking some privacy and minimal wind.
Singita Mara River Tented Camp – Mara River
The Mara River is shared between Kenya and Tanzania, spanning over 5,300 miles long. This unique body of water provides the only permanent source of water for the largest migration in the world and sustains large populations of other wildlife species, including hippopotamus and Nile crocodiles.
Located on a riverbend on the edge of Tanzania, Singita Mara River Tented Camp offers views of the Mara River and all its wildlife. This permanent, contemporary tent underpins the experience in this intimate setting with natural fabrics, canvas, stone, and raw leather blended with Masai primary colors. When the wildebeest cross through the plains in search of rainfall, guests at Mara River Tented Camp can watch lions, elephants, and zebra from the comfort of their daybed, outdoor deck, or plunge pool.
The Saxon – Flotation Pod and Hydrotherapy Pool
Designed by internationally-acclaimed interior designer, Stephen Falcke, The Saxon Spa inside the enchanting Saxon Hotel has been created as a sanctuary of the senses with dark wood, copper, linen and water featuring throughout. Central to The Saxon Spa journey is the healing properties of Himalayan salt, incorporated into the design as well as therapies. Each treatment room is ionised by a locally handcrafted Himalayan salt and recycled glass chandelier created by a local conservation project based in Alexandra. As well as making a striking centrepiece, the chandeliers actively purifies the air, stimulate circulation and increase energy levels.
The lower level is themed around hydro-based therapies, comprising a wet treatment zone where the invigorating Rasul treatment will take place. A main attraction for many at The Saxon is the flotation pod and infamous hydrotherapy Plunge Pool. While the flotation pool was incorporated to mimic the healing effects and floatation within the dead sea, the hydrotherapy pool is used to reduce fatigue, stimulate energy levels and induce a state of relaxation.
Tswalu – Sustainable Plunge Pools
Located in the Savanna Biome, Tswalu, South Africa’s largest private game reserve, lies in a transition zone between the true Kalahari ecotype and arid savannah. Conservation and sustainability initiatives such as water usage for pools were extremely important when it came to the redesign process of Tswalu’s Tarkuni lodge in mid 2021 and their new camp Loapi opening in the beginning of 2023.
In May of 2021 Tarkuni, the once private safari home of the Oppenheimer family, was redesigned by project Architect Adrian Davidson to include more natural light, while creating an easier and more peaceful flow between the relaxation, dining and outdoor areas. As part of the redesign, the swimming pool at Tarkuni was dramatically reduced in size to adhere to Tswalu’s sustainability initiatives. Adrian incorporated a raised plunge pool to keep guests cool in the summer months, remain conscious of water usage, and avoid any animal fatalities that are often seen from ground level pools. For a lodge like Tarkuni, that is commonly booked by families, A raised plunge pool was also a great fit because it allowed parents to keep a closer eye on their small children with ease.
Natural Selection – Okavango Delta
Situated in north-western Botswana, the Okavango Delta is one of the very few major interior delta systems that do not flow into a sea or ocean, comprising of a wetland system that is permanently intact. The annual flooding from the Okavango River uniquely occurs during Botswana’s dry season, forcing the primitive animals and plants to synchronize their biological cycles with the seasonal floods. The Okavango Delta is also home to diverse plant and animal life, including red lechwe, nile crocodiles, papyrus, ancient baobab trees, and Jackalberry trees. This unique body of water is a UNESCO World Heritage Site alongside several of Natural Selection’s newest Duke’s Camp.
Duke’s Camp, Natural Selection’s newest Okavango location, is pitched on raised wooden decks beneath a canopy of ebony and deadwood trees, offering a panache safari experience. During the dry season from April-October, the Okavango Delta is in full flood, the perfect time for boat activities and game viewing of elephants and antelope navigating the flooded channels. October welcomes the ‘Green’ season, when the summer rains liven up the landscape into a bright green foliage. Though the water levels tend to dwindle, Duke’s Camp unique location in the northern Okavango promises the first pulses of new floodwaters as early as February. The green season is best for bird watching and game viewing, as well as stunning sunsets over the Okavango Delta.
Higashiyama Niseko Village, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve – Natural Hot Springs
In Japan, hot springs or onsen are comprised of volcanic spring water full of natural minerals, providing users with natural health benefits from boosting circulation to reducing stress, promoting sleep, relieving pain, healing skin problems, and more. The water source for the hot springs originates from a natural mineral spring deep within the earth, which is cooled to over 100 degrees before entering the onsen.
Higashiyama Niseko Village, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve boasts a world-class onsen for travelers from across the globe to enjoy during a stay. The quintessential Japanese experience, the hot spring is surrounded by nature and views of the mountains, allowing guests to soak in the meditative environment around them.
The Singular Patagonia – The Fjord of Last Hope
The Fjord of Last Hope, at the so-called “end of the world” in Chilean Patagonia, is an inlet within the Magallanes Basin that receives the waters of almost all the surface waters of Torres del Paine National Park through the Serrano River, and occupies a valley carved by glacial action. The fjord along with the Señoret Channel forms a navigation route, which connects Puerto Natales with several protected areas of the region.
Situated directly on the Fjord of Last Hope, The Singular Patagonia features picturesque views of the natural wonder as all guest rooms are facing the water. The property also features a holistic-focused spa with a focus on Salut Per Aqu or “health through water.” The 3,000-square-foot wellness center not only incorporates the fresh glacier water into its design elements and aesthetic, but also in every treatment.
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