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From Montauk to Trancoso, the best places to heal body and mind

Montauk Point © Getty Images

There is a reason everyone from Andy Warhol to the Rolling Stones have found inspiration on the Atlantic Coast. This windswept coastline seems to encourage escape from day-to-day concerns. It is a place to think, create and indulge in recreation.

Certainly, it proved so for Warhol, who assembled a starry cast of friends at his house in Montauk in the late 1970s. Everyone from Peter Beard to John Lennon and Truman Capote enjoyed Warhol’s beachside largesse. The hazy, laidback fun, which played out against the rolling waves and big blue skies of the Atlantic, didn’t just inspire them, it inspired us, too. That’s why we created the Atlantic Coast Edit.

That outdoor life, on those same undulating dunes, is still very much alive today. So, to help inspire your next trip, whenever that might be, we have scoured the coastline, to bring you the best retreats in which to kick back, relax and bring some wellness into your life.

Faena Hotel Miami Beach, USA

When the Argentine entrepreneur Alan Faena set about building this extraordinary palace on Miami Beach, he is said to have thought of it like a gigantic stage set. And one look at the enormous golden Damian Hirst sculpture by the pool confirms his success. But, glamour to one side, it also features one of the most interesting spas in Miami. The 2200-square-foot Tierra Santa Healing House offers many treatments, one we like the most is the Executive Preventative Medical Program run by Doctors Juan Rivera and Dr Matthew Cooper. From stress test to liver screenings and echocardiograms, the program is at the bleeding edge of modern wellness technology.

Faena Hotel, Miami
Playa Vik Jose Ignacio, Uruguay

The Playa Vik sits on the jutting beach in Jose Ignacio like a film star at rest. It is one of the most beautiful hotels in this very beautiful part of the world – all cool angles, vast infinity pools and an art collection to rival a city gallery. It isn’t just the works by James Turrell and Zaha Hadid that promote meditation, however – the 6-suite hotel puts on a series of yoga retreats throughout the year. The 7-day programme runs from dawn-till-dusk and has at its core a series of guided Vinyasa yoga classes, which are embellished with other agreeable things like silent walks, meditation classes and horse rides across the dunes in the evening. After that, you can retire to the cantilever black granite pool, whose illuminated floor maps out the stars of the southern hemisphere. A different kind of star spotting…

© Playa Vik
Birkenhead House, South Africa

Birkenhead House occupies an enviable position on a clifftop overlooking Walker Bay. From its terrace guests are afforded a view like few others: you can watch humpback whales and dolphins breaching the waves from the comfort of your armchair. This is the essence of Birkenhead House, it encourages guests to breathe in not just the sea air but newfound knowledge about the extraordinary biodiversity that this bit of South Africa offers. The hotel has a range of made-to-measure experiences, with sea kayaking and a surfing lesson with the General Manager being our particular favourites.

© Birkenhead House
Seawater Spa at Gurney’s Montauk, USA

Just down the coast from Warhol’s former house, you will find the grand dame of Montauk hotels. The Gurney has been dispensing hospitality to weary Manhattanites for 9 decades. After a head-to-toe refurbishment five years ago by designer Michael Kramer, it now boasts an Olympic-sized indoor seawater pool and a 32,000 ft spa, featuring Roman baths, Russian steam rooms, Swiss showers and Finish Rock saunas – quite the world tour. It is, in fact, the only true Thalasso water therapy centre in the United States. The best thing about this place, though, is probably what lies outside: acres of unspoilt beaches on which to lounge about.

© Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa
La Co(o)rniche, France

Europe’s tallest sand dunes dominate this picturesque hotel in the romantic seaside town of Arcachon, three miles north of Bordeaux. This Philippe Starke-designed hotel offers sailing trips and seafaring picnics, but what we like best is the beach outside. Climb the 114-metre high dunes and you’ll be rewarded with an expansive view of the bay, not to mention a brisk wind from the Atlantic. The seafood restaurant is rightly famed – and the hotel can organise visits to the local oyster farms to see the produce yourself.

© Getty Images
Uxua Casa Hotel and Spa, Brazil

Uxua Casa is a collection of 10 private houses on a UNESCO-protected beach in Trancoso. It is romantic, it is beautiful, and every casa comes with its own reserved sofa on the beach. But better still than all these things is the Vida Spa. Here the in-house medical director, Dr Jullian Hamamoto, fuses modern nutritional science with healing practices of local Pataxó indigenous people, to create a truly unique wellness programme. Dr Hamamoto forages plants from the local area to produce not just custom dishes and drinks for those in his care but also a range of fresh, organic spa products.

© Uxua