Let’s face it: between ever-shrinking seats and disappearing inflight amenities, air travel can be a drag for many people. And crowds, delays and overpriced (and unhealthy) food options at airports only add to the stress.
Yet at the same time, people are increasingly taking trips specifically designed with wellness and relaxation in mind. In fact, the 2018 Global Wellness Economy Monitor recently confirmed that the wellness travel market is now worth $639 billion, and is continuing to grow at a rate of 6.5%. That’s more than double the growth rate for tourism overall, which hovers around 3.2% — and may explain why Hyatt strategically acquired Exhale Spas and is now letting World of Hyatt members redeem points for fitness classes and spa treatments.
Airports seem to be paying attention to the numbers, too. Major hubs around the world now offer health-minded services that go well beyond a basic chair massage. Today, anxious and exhausted travelers can find yoga classes, healthy food, nap pods, swimming pools and full-service spas in the same concourses that once offered little more than dingy sitting areas and fast food counters.
“Wellness elements in airports are becoming the norm, not the exception,” Beth McGroarty, the director of Global Wellness Institute research, told TPG in an email. “Airports are offering in-transit gyms, spas and walking circuits around their terminals, and airlines are promoting inflight meditation and stretching apps.”
So, where do you find these airport oases? We’ve rounded up a handful of the best airport spas around the world — including the top treatments at airport hotels and spa chains.
Eforea Spa at Amsterdam Schiphol
Before hopping on a flight out of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport (AMS), stop by the attached Hilton. There, on the first floor, is the Eforea Spa, where travelers can book the “intensely cleansing” salt scrub with lime and ginger. First, you’ll get a skin brushing followed by a moisturizing application of camellia oil. You’ll leave feeling like you’re already coming back from vacation. Day passes are also available from €35 ($40) and include whirlpool, sauna, steam room and fitness center access.
OraOxygen at Calgary International
OraOxygen’s twin spas — one in Departures, a second at the in-terminal Marriott — at Calgary International (YYC) were created specifically to treat the side effects of breathing pressurized, recycled cabin air and sitting in a cramped economy seat. Passengers’ favorite treatment? An hour-long, full-body massage with a 15-minute oxygen session. Afterward, you won’t even remember the flight!
Vitality Wellbeing & Fitness Center at Hamad International
An Instagram-worthy spa treatment? Yes, you heard that right. Above the Oryx Airport hotel at the South Node terminal at Hamad International (DOH) in Qatar, travelers can pay 175 Qatari rial (less than $50) for access at any time of day or night to the Vitality Wellbeing & Fitness Center. Home to a glass-encased indoor pool and a hydrotherapy tub that uses hot and cold water to relax tired muscles — and maybe even give your immune system a boost — travelers can also splurge on an anti-jet lag massage.
Absolute Spa at Vancouver International
Flying can wreak havoc on your skin. But the Absolute Spa, which has two locations at Vancouver Airport (YVR), can ensure you board your flight with a glow worthy of a first class upgrade. The Soother Facial is 60-minutes long and features ingredients such as aloe vera leaf extract and rose to hydrate dry skin — a common consequence of air travel — and reduce redness. Add on a massage to round out the healing experience.
OM Spa at Hong Kong International
Connected to Hong Kong International (HKG) by a pedestrian bridge, travelers can visit the third floor OM Spa at the Regal Airport Hotel for a small day fee. The mosaic-tiled steam room and outdoor Jacuzzi are highlights, though travelers can also book services for access to the luxurious spa suites or designated foot massage room. Signature treatments include a tamarind body scrub, Sabai hot stone massage and jasmine milk baths. Until the end of October, the spa is offering a 35% discount on a seasonal autumn spa treatment, the Thai hot compress massage, designed to relieve stiffness and fight fatigue.
TranSpa at Singapore Changi Airport
Singapore Changi (SIN) is well known for its serene gardens and butterfly sanctuary. But for travelers looking for more hands-on healing, head to a TranSpa, with locations in both Terminal 2 and 3. They offer everything from haircuts to massages, although the best menu item might be the foot reflexology that comes with a 60-minute shower for $91.80 Singapore dollars ($66 USD). Who doesn’t want that after a long flight?
SkySPA at Dallas/Fort Worth International
Jet over to the Grand Hyatt DFW for a high end spa experience during lengthy layovers — or a particularly rough flight. Opt for a $35 day pass, which includes access to the fitness center, steam room and rooftop saltwater pool, or indulge with a Death by Chocolate Body Facial. Think: chocolate sea salts, a warm chocolate mask and a moisturizing butter cream treatment. Just don’t be surprised if your seatmate seems extra cozy on the flight home.
Fit & Fly Spa at Munich Airport
Located in the Hilton at Munich Airport (MUC), this full-service spa was designed with layover passengers in mind. You can take a quick swim in the pool, relax in the sauna or chose from a wide range of treatments. A favorite? The traditional Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage, which uses long, flowing strokes rather than the intense pressure points common with other massage styles. Get access by booking a spa service, a two hour pass or a full day pass.
The Dragontree at Portland International
Located in Concourse C at Portland International (PDX), the only airport location of the popular Oregon and Colorado-based Dragontree spa specializes in aromatherapy and holistic wellness. If you’ve been running around ceaselessly, book the Pad Abhyanga, a 30-minute Ayurvedic foot massage that will give you a much-needed boost and help you kickstart your travels.
Airport Spa Chains
Though many airports are investing in stunning spas, or providing access through adjacent airport hotels, travelers can also look for familiar spa chains. Among them: XpresSpa, Be Relax and Massage Bar.
Whether you need a relaxing massage or something more, er, functional (a haircut or waxing), you can likely get it done at an airport XpresSpa near you. With 20 locations nationwide, including international outposts at DXB and AMS, the spa chain has plenty of experience executing short services for travelers on the go in 30 minutes of less. Certain XpresSpa locations even offer XpresRecover treatments like localized cryotherapy and salt booth therapy. The latter claims to detoxify, reduce inflammation and promote sounder sleep by stimulating the respiratory system.
With more than 40 locations at airports all over the globe, Be Relax is dominating the airport spa market. And their services don’t disappoint. Get a chair massage that focuses on your exact pain points or opt for all-over relaxation with a table massage. There are also oxygen and aromatherapy treatments, and you can complete any service with a visit to the steam room or a refreshing shower. Of course, they even have a juice bar to ensure you’re glowing inside and out.
While they only offer one service (you guessed it: massages) Massage Bar does these incredibly well. The company is also considered one of the pioneers of airport spa services. All of the certified therapists follow a service designed to swiftly relieve the aches and pains unique to traveling. Try the 15-minute Single Shot Massage, which tackles those problem areas at jet speed. But if you have extra time (an additional 10 minutes), add heat therapy to help those muscle really loosen up. Find a Massage Bar at Seattle-Tacoma (SEA), Nashville International (BNA), Pittsburgh International (PIT) and John Glenn Airport (CMH) in Columbus, Ohio.