Bead art by Cornelia Savory

An antidote to the high-rise city'

Singapore is going spa crazy. On an island the size of Menorca, there are now more than 3,000 spas and in most shopping malls you'll now find slimming centres, day spas and even cosmetic surgeries wedged in between boutiques and shops selling electrical gizmos.

The opening of the Aramsa Garden Spa (00 65 6456 6556; in Bishan Park - a National Park sandwiched between two residential estates - heralded a shift from everyday maintenance to sybaritic indulgence. In keeping with the park setting, the 14 treatment rooms are either open to, or open onto, flourishing gardens of palms and bamboo. Each has a sunken bath or outdoor shower. It feels like a real sanctuary. There's also a relaxation room with bright red, Fifties-style furnishings, an organic vegetarian café and intense pilates classes are held Monday to Saturday.

Before the arrival of Aramsa, the place to indulge was Spa Botanica (00 65 6371 1318; at the Sentosa Resort and Spa. Set in tropical foliage and lawns as manicured as the talons of the ladies emerging from its doors, it provides an antidote to the high-rise city. Part of Sentosa Island's most elegant resort hotel, it has as many al fresco features as indoor. There are open-sided pavilion rooms with open-air spa baths, meditation labyrinths and mud pools. The interior decor leans on Balinese design, with dark wood, pebbles and mood lighting. The menu features an aromatherapy-based list of treatments (such as a Singapore flower ritual, using local herbs and flowers), which are certain to leave you blissfully drowsy.

Sentosa Island is also home to the bizarre-sounding Fish Reflexology (00 65 6279 9229; Feet are submerged in tanks of tiny Garra rufa fish, then a tank of larger "doctor" fish, both of which nibble off dead skin cells. The sensation in the first tank is akin to tiny electric shocks, whereas the second tank of fish is so ticklish that it has most visitors in fits of giggles. The sessions then conclude with traditional reflexology.

There is also respite for the traditionalist. Frequently voted Singapore's best spa is Amrita Spa at Raffles The Plaza Hotel (00 65 6431 5600; As the location demands, it's suitably luxurious. The swish, lemonscented lobby leads to two single-sex treatment areas. Each comes with a slew of treatment rooms, as well as mosaic-tiled plunge pools of varying temperatures, a steam room, a sauna and a serene, scented relaxation room where you can snooze on a proper bed after anything from a Tropical Rain Shower to a caviar facial. SOPHIE LAM

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