Imagine getting a massage in the middle of the desert under the light of a full moon, relaxing in a luxury spa while gazing at the turquoise sea, or bathing in mineral-rich natural springs surrounded by palm trees.
It’s these kinds of unique experiences – the ones that allow travellers to immerse themselves in beautiful environments while giving their wellbeing a boost – that have contributed to the growing trend of wellness tourism. And with a mix of fabulous natural surroundings, welcoming people and a wealth of feel-good experiences available, whether you want to dip a toe into wellness, or jump straight into the plunge pool, Saudi makes the perfect destination for a holistic holiday.
“Saudi is full of gorgeous scenery, where tourism and wellness effortlessly collide,” explains Riyadh-based wellness guru Ghalia Almadani. “Think untouched islands, turquoise seas, mountains, deserts, oases and even volcanic craters, paired with yoga, hiking, meditation, spa treatments, sports and camping.”
To help you plan the ultimate feel-good break, we’ve curated the best in wellness across Saudi from treatments to resorts and holistic experiences, so you can enjoy a holiday with serious benefits.
For a truly tranquil retreat, head to Habitas AlUla, a desert sanctuary close to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hegra, which combines luxury accommodation with an astonishing array of treatments in its outdoor wellness agora. Signature treatments include an Essence of Arabia hydrating massage and the Thuraya Experience detoxifying massage, while for a totally unique experience, why not go for the Moon & Star new or full moon massage under the stars? Also on offer are three and five-day Ayurveda programmes, which include personalised treatments, physiotherapy, yoga, fitness and nutrition. Between September 29 and October 16 the AlUla Welness Festival will be returning, themed around the healing power of silence.
Other must-experience Saudi retreats include Nofa Riyadh, located just 45 minutes from the city yet in a world of its own. This Radisson Collection Resort has a safari park where you can see big cats, Asian elephants, zebras, Arabian oryx, giraffes and flamingos. You can relax by the pool or the two freshwater lakes, go horse-riding, or play a round on one of the best 18-hole golf courses in Saudi. Soon to open is a world-class spa where you will be able to enjoy relaxing, restorative massages and facials.
Hot and cold springs
Nestled in the east of Saudi, in the oasis of Al-Ahsa, you’ll find more than 150 naturally occurring springs of hot, warm and cold water. Considered to have healing properties because of the high concentration of minerals in the water, the most popular are Al-Jawhariah, Um Sab’ah, Al Khodoud, and Al Harah. You can bathe in the springs, shaded by palm groves, and even take some of the crystal-clear water away with you in a bottle.
For luxury spas, look to Saudi’s excellent hotels, including the multi-award-winning Al Faisaliah Spa by ESPA in Riyadh’s Al Faisaliah Hotel. Its signature treatments, such as the ‘Arabian Pearl’ – a hot stone massage combined with lifting facial – mix western and eastern philosophies.
At the two-storey Durrat Al Riyadh Resort & Spa, cradled in one of the city’s green oases, you can indulge yourself with candlelit treatments or yoga sessions, or simply swim in the tranquil indoor and outdoor pools.
In Jeddah, the simply divine spa at Assila, a Marriott Luxury Collection Hotel, offers a wide range of rejuvenation and beauty treatments in super-stylish suites with panoramic views over the city. There is also a heated indoor pool, a lavish rooftop pool, a Turkish bath and a health club. Spa treatments include body scrubs, facials, manicures and pedicures.
Soon-to-open and set to raise the bar of wellness holidays even higher is Saudi’s newest tourism destination, AMAALA, on the country’s undeveloped northwest coast. Combining wellness with sport, arts and culture, the first phase of this luxury development will include exquisite spa facilities plus luxurious hotels in the most stunning Red Sea coastal location.
From its diverse terrain to its thriving art and music scene, Insta-worthy food and natural wonders to travel for, Saudi is ready and waiting for you to discover. For more incredible, off-the-beaten track ideas for sites to see, experiences to try, and places to stay, check out Visit Saudi